18 day tour
Sri Lanka Adventure
- Perfect combination of cultural and natural highlights
- Visit the Hindu city of Jaffna in the far north
- Relaxing end of your holiday at the beach of Talalla
This 18-day adventure tour offers you the very best of Sri Lanka. It is a perfect combination of cultural and natural highlights and off the beaten trek destinations. Stroll around century old magnificent stupa’s in Anuradhapura, go on safari in Wilpattu and Minneriya National Park, and visit beautiful Jaffna in the northern tip of the island. Jaffna still receives few visitors, bus has impressive Hindu temples and old fortresses. You make a spectacular train journey and explore the rainforest of Sinharaja. Your Sri Lanka holiday ends relaxed at the beach of Talalla.
18 day adventure tour of Sri Lanka:
Route: Negombo – Anuradhapura – Wilpattu – Jaffna – Sigiriya – Minneriya – Kandy – Ella – Sinharaja – Galle – Talalla – Mirissa
Day 1 – Airport to Negombo
After arriving at the airport, your driver will meet you and bring you by car in about 20 minutes to your hotel in Negombo. In Negombo you can visit its centuries old fishing industry, taste various sea food, or visit traditional fishing villages in the surrounding.
Day 2 – Negombo to Anuradhapura
After breakfast your driver will bring you to the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura, which is 4 to 5 hours drive. In the afternoon you have time to explore Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world. It had been the capital of Sri Lanka for centuries and is now one of the country’s most important historical cities. The old city is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site and draws many pilgrims, which gives it a unique atmosphere. Anuradhapura also has a number of giant stupas, called dagobas in Sri Lanka. Very special as well is the Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred tree of no less than 2,200 years old, and according to some the oldest tree in the world. It is a stitch of the sacred tree under which Buddha reached enlightenment. Pilgrims from all over the country and beyond come to do their rituals and offer flowers.
Day 3 – Anuradhapura; optional safari Wilpattu National Park
Today you can go on safari in Wilpattu National Park. You can choose to do a full day or half day safari (picnic meals will be provided). Wilpattu is located 30 km west of Anuradhapura. The National Park has a good network of gravel roads, particularly between the water holes which are the best places to observe wild life. Wilpattu has a unique complex of over 50 wetlands. The safari is accompanied by a specialist local nature guide to help you spot the animals. You have a chance to see a leopard, elephants, sloth bear, deer and endemic birds.
Day 4 – Anuradhapura to Jaffna
After breakfast, your driver will bring you to Jaffna in the far north of the island, which is about 4 hours driving. Jaffna is inhabited mostly by Tamil Hindu. It is interesting to see the differences in culture with the rest of Sri Lanka, which is mainly Buddhist. In the afternoon you can visit the Hindu temple Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil, devoted to Hindu god Lord Murugan. This is one of the most sacred places of worship for the Hindu community of Sri Lanka and is close to Jaffna town centre. The annual Nallur Kovil festival attracts thousands of devotees and visitors. The temple is filled with intricate artwork and statues of gods and deities of the Hindu culture.
Day 5 – Jaffna free day
Today you have a free day to explore Jaffna. Wander through Jaffna’s streets, visit the market, eat local food etc. You will surely notice the hospitality of the local people. The star-shaped Fort Jaffna is the most important fort of the region. It was built by the Portuguese in 1616, and taken over by the Dutch in 1658. The Dutch influences are still clearly visible. In the fort you will find the house of the governor, the Kruyskerk church and Dutch houses. You can also choose to go to the nearby beach, or to visit the island Neduntheevu, also called Delft, the name the Dutch colonials gave to the island. Here you find the ruins of a Dutch fort partly built from coral.
Day 6 – Jaffna to Dambulla to Sigiriya
After breakfast your driver will bring you in about 6 hours to the ancient rock fortress city of Sigiriya. On the way you make a stop at the Dambulla Cave Temple, home to magnificent Buddha images and rock paintings of vivid colors and shapes. It was constructed and painted around the 2nd Century BC (Anuradhapura era) and construction continued up to the Kandyan era of the 18th century, forming an unbroken line of history and painting styles of Sri Lanka for 2500 years.
Day 7 – Sigiriya; optional cycle tour, optional safari to Minneriya National Park, optional Hopper tasting
In the morning you can do a cycling trip in the surroundings of Sigiriya and Habarana, visiting rural villages together with a local guide. The tour allows you to see vegetable fields, rice fields and various crops farmed by villagers. Besides these areas are hot spots for wildlife and nature. The cycle tour goes through jungle and villages and takes about 4 hours. A great way to to get to know “The real Sri Lanka”!
In the afternoon you can do a safari in Minneriya National Park. Minneriya National Park is famous for gatherings of herds of wild elephants. The gathering is the largest known meeting place of Asian Elephants in the world. During the dry season of August to September, herds up to 300 elephants are seen within a few square kilometers. Minneriya has recorded 24 species of mammals, over 170 species of birds and 25 species of reptiles, of which 8 are endemic.
In the evening you can try some hopper, a delicious Sri Lankan specialty. Hopper is authentic Sri Lankan dish prepared out of rice flour and coconut milk, using a hopper pan. It looks a bit like a pancake, but tastes so much more special. Nibble into delicious, crispy egg hoppers and plain hoppers accompanied by dhal and chicken curry, so yummy it will just melt in the mouth. This three-hour dining experience might just turnout to be one of the highlights of your Sri Lankan tour.
Day 8 – Sigiriya to Kandy
After breakfast you can climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Sigiriya was built as a complex city and a fortress by King Kashyapa during his regime of 477 to 495 CE. It has been an UNESCO world heritage site since 1982. In the heat of the day the climb can be a bit tough, but when you arrive at the top you will be rewarded by an amazing view of the surroundings.
After the climb of Sigiriya your driver will bring you to Kandy, a drive of about 2 ½ hours. In the afternoon you have time to stroll around this pleasant city.
Day 9: Kandy; optional cooking class
Today you have a free day in Kandy. In the morning you can choose to take a cooking class with a local family living in the mountains around Kandy. You visit Kandy market and go shopping for the ingredients for lunch. Your driver will bring you to the countryside to a mountain side cottage. The surrounding of the cottage are home to squirrels, monkeys and birds. After a refreshing fresh fruit juice the cooking class starts. You learn to cook a typical Sri Lankan meal, getting involved in the process of chopping veggies, grinding herbs, pounding spices and scraping fresh coconut. You learn how each dish is prepared using just the right amount of spices and herbs to preserve the nutrition and goodness. You will also learn some interesting facts and even some secret tips about traditional Sri Lankan cooking. After the class you will enjoy your delicious Sri Lankan meal seated on the veranda.
In the afternoon, you can visit the famous Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) to attend the evening sermon. The Temple of the Tooth is one of the most sacred places for Buddhists from all over the world, as it houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 10 – Kandy to Ella
Today you make a spectacular train journey to Ella. The train ride from Kandy to Ella is known as one of the most scenic train trips in the world. The train finds its way through green mountains and tea plantations. Your driver will pick you from Ella railway station and will transfer you to your hotel in Ella.
Day 11 – Ella; optional hike to Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak or visit to a tea estate
Ella a peaceful, scenic village in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Today you can make a trek to Ella Rock. You start from Bandarawela. The trek goes partly along rail tracks, through forests and mountains with panoramic views. You climb Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak. The trek is approximately 4 hours.
You can also choose to embark on a tuk tuk (rickshaw) ride and tea estate trail to Dambatenna Tea Factory and Lipton Seat, followed by a scenic tea estate walk with an expert guide. This trekking trip takes 3 to 4 hours.
Day 12 – Ella to Galle
Today your driver brings you to Galle, a 5 to 6 hour drive. You will notice how the landscape changes during the drive. Soon you leave the mountains behind you and you arrive in the low lands, filled with rubber and banana plantations and fields with rice, corn and sugar cane. Also the drive along the coast is beautiful. Sometimes you see fishermen on stilts, an interesting sight. Galle is a beautiful colonial town, located in the southwestern tip of the island.
Day 13 – Day off in Galle
Galle is an important historical landmark with its fortified city, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and later developed in the 17th century during the Dutch Colonial period. The Dutch Fort in Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European colonisers. Stroll around the colorful streets full of history.
Day 14 – Galle to Sinharaja Rainforest
Today you will again notice how diverse Sri Lanka is. After breakfast your driver will bring you to Sinharaja. After about 3 hours driving you suddenly find yourself amidst the rainforest! In the afternoon you can take a guided walk in the rainforest. Sinharaja Rainforest is one of the most important bio diversity hotspots in Sri Lanka. The hilly virgin rainforest was saved from commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve is only 21 km (13 mi) from east to west, and a maximum of 7 km (4.3 mi) from north to south, but it is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Day 15 – Sinharaja Rainforest, Talalla Bay
In the early morning you can do another guided walk through Sinharaja Rainforest. And then it is time to go to the beach! Your driver will bring you to Talalla Bay, a drive of approximately 4 ½ hours. Talalla Bay is a beautiful, sheltered crescent shaped cove, fringed by palms and about 2 kilometers long. Close by is the town of Tangalle.
Day 16 – Talalla Bay free day
You are free to spend the day on this beautiful beach as you see fit. Relax enjoying the sun, sea & sand or perhaps engage in some of your favorite water based sports.
Day 17 – Talalla Bay; optional whale watch excursion Mirissa (November until March)
Today you can choose to embark on a whale watching trip from Mirissa and Dondra Point. From November until March this is one of the best places in the world to see blue whale colonies in their natural habitat. Dolphins are regularly spotted as well. The BBC documentary titled “Ocean Giants” featuring the mesmeric world of whales and dolphins was filmed around Sri Lanka and according to them 30 Blue Whales were sighted in a single day! There is a 95% chance of spotting Sperm Whales and great chances of spotting Blue Whales as their migration path from Africa to Australia is just off Dondra Point.
Day 18 – Talalla Bay to Airport
Your journey through Sri Lanka comes to an end today. A transfer will be organized from your hotel to Colombo airport, where you will board your flight home.
See our other travel suggestions for more ways to explore Sri Lanka.
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