Sri Lanka Safari Holidays Leopards Yala Park

Cultural Highlights + Yala Safari + Southwest Coast


LPK14C
14 NIGHTS
FROM £2,395
International flights quoted separately
From December to March enjoy this grand tour of Sri Lanka - including all the cutural highlihts, as well as beautiful Peradeniya Botanical Gardens in Kandy, Nuwara Eliya in Tea Country, the wildlife of Yala National Park & historic Galle Fort - before relaxing on the warm Indian Ocean  beaches of the South Coast. English speaking guide, all transfers, game drives & excursions included.
Holidays Sri Lanka Grand Tour Safari Yala National Park
• 
Colombo
• 
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
• 
Dambulla Temple
• 
Sigiriya Rock
• 
Kandy & Temple of the Tooth
• 
Nuwara Eliya
• 
Yala National Park
• 
Uduwalawe Park
• 
Galle Fort
• 
South Coast Beaches
• 
Colombo
• 
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
• 
Dambulla Temple
• 
Sigiriya Rock
• 
Kandy & Temple of the Tooth
• 
Nuwara Eliya
• 
Yala National Park
• 
Uduwalawe Park
• 
Galle Fort
• 
South Coast Beaches
Day 1
You will be met at Colombo Airport and transferred to your hotel in the commercial, industrial and cultural centre of Sri Lanka.
 
Check in and relax in this harbour city, situated on an ancient trading sea route.
Day 2
This morning your driver/guide will collect you from your Colombo hotel and introduce you to the beauty of central Sri Lanka as we travel 4.5-hours to the small town of Habarana.
 
Along the way we stop at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage that cares for baby elephants lost or abandoned in the wild. Here you can see the orphans being bottle fed with milk before they continue to the river to bathe, giving you the opportunity of close-up photographs (daily feeding times: 09.15, 13.15 and 17.00), but please be aware that for safety reasons the elephants are chained at certain times.
 
Check into your Habarana hotel and relax in your warm tropical surroundings.
Day 3
This morning we travel 30-minutes to Sigiriya - also known as Lion's Rock -  a massive 5th century fortress and palace ruins surrounded by extensive gardens and reservoirs. Here you can climb 1,200 steps to the top of this amazing fortress in the sky that is now a World Heritage site, with the reward of incredible views. Ancient rock paintings are also on display. And don’t overlook the small museum near the entrance.
 
Return to your hotel for lunch, before enjoying an afternoon jeep safari in Minneriya National Park where you can hope to see wild Asian elephants. They are particularly numerous in August and September when they migrate along a corridor from neighbouring parks to feed on the fresh grass on the lake bed - an annual event known as "The Gathering".
Day 4
This morning we drive 1-hour to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa - the capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th centuries following the fall of Anuradhapura and today a World Heritage site.
 
Here you can explore these magnificent ruins, which contains some fine examples of Buddah statues and marvel at this ancient civilisation, before returning to Habarana.
 
The afternoon is free to relax at your hotel, where optional activities include riding an elephant, touring the local town in a bull cart or enjoying an Ayurvedic spa treatment.
 
Please dress appropriately when visiting sacred sites, with shoulders and knees covered.
Day 5
This morning we travel 1.5-hours from Habarana to the bustling hill capital of Kandy.
 
Along the way we stop at Dambulla to explore its famous Golden Rock Cave Temple, a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site for 22 centuries. This vast isolated rock mass with five caverns filled with statues is the largest and best preserved cave monastery in Sri Lanka and is a World Heritage site.
 
We also stop at Matale Spice Garden, before checking into your Kandy hotel in this religious and ancient capital of kings. Here we can visit the Royal Palace.
 
In the evening enjoy a cultural show, with dancing and fire walking.
 
Please dress appropriately when visiting Dambulla temple, with shoulders and knees covered. There is a steep uphill walk to the temple, so this excursion is not suitable for people with mobility issues.
Day 6
Today we visit the sacred Temple of the Tooth, that houses a tooth relic of the Buddha. Religious pooja ceremonies, when the golden casket containing the tooth is revealed, are held daily at 05.00, 09.30 and 18.30 - so this is the best time to visit.
 
Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage site partly due to this temple. Its principal Buddhist complexes have considerable importance – the high priests of the two best known, Malwatte and Asgiriya, are the most important in Sri Lanka and the Asgiriya Maha Vihara has a large reclining Buddha image.
 
Afterwards we visit the beautiful Peradeniya Botanical Gardens with its rare collection of indigenous tropical flora, including its famous Orchid House. We suggest you ask your hotel to pack a picnic today, so that you can enjoy it in the botanical gardens.  
 
Please dress appropriately when visiting the temple, with shoulders and knees covered.
Day 7
We leave Kandy early this morning and, subject to the availability of tickets, transfer to Peradeniya station to board the 2-hour train to Nuwara Eliya in the heart of tea country - travelling in the first class observation car at the rear of the train (but be warned, this is an interesting cultural experience. It is not luxurious and the views you get will depend upon the seat you are allocated).
 
Enjoy spectacular views of the countryside and the many tea plantations, as you wind through the hill country. Your guide will meet you at Nanu Oya railway station and take you to a local tea factory, before you check into your hotel.
 
Please note that train tickets can only be booked 14 days in advance, with preference given to government officials. When train tickets are not available, a scenic 2-hour road transfer through the hill country will be substituted.
Day 8
Today we leave Nuwara Eliya and travel 4.5-hours to Yala National Park.
 
Along the way we visit the cascading Ravana Waterfalls, with its backdrop of mountains and valleys. In Hindu mythology Sita, the wife of Rama, was hidden in caves behind these waterfalls when she was kidnapped from India and brought to Sri Lanka.
 
Time permitting, we can also detour to visit the ancient Buddhist temple at Buduruwagala with its amazing seven statues dating back to the 10th century, set in a very tranquil setting well off the beaten track.
 
We continue to Yala National Park, the premier game reserve in Sri Lanka covering an area of nearly 400 sq miles (1,000 sq.km). It is famous for having the highest density of leopards in the world, but sightings of these magnificent animals are not guaranteed and you need to take at least 2 or 3 jeep safaris for a good chance of a sighting. Enjoy your first jeep safari on arrival at Yala.
Day 9
Rise early today to enjoy the wildlife of Yala National Park - home to 44 different species of mammals and also known locally as Ruhuna National Park. Whilst famous for its over 35 leopards, you can also see water buffalo, elephants, spotted & barking deer, wild boar, sambar, crocodiles, jackals, monkeys and mongoose. Sloth bears are also present but are rarely seen.
 
Bird life is particularly rewarding including excellent raptor sightings, many aquatic birds, wild peacock, jungle fowl (the national bird of Sri Lanka), hornbills, orioles, pelicans and the rare black-necked stork. Over 200 different bird species can be seen, including many that migrate to escape the northern winter such as white-winged black terns, curlews and pintails.
 
As the monsoon & thorn forests makes game viewing difficult, the best time to visit is at the end of the dry season (February to April) when water levels in the park are low and the animals come to the waterholes to drink. Two jeep safaris per day are included - one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon.
 
Yala National Park is closed during September. Please be prepared for some rough roads and be aware that it can be very busy, especially over weekends.
Day 10
Today we travel 2-hours from Yala to Udawalawe National Park.
 
Enjoy a jeep safari on arrival at this wildlife reserve that was created to provide sanctuary for animals displaced by the Udawalawe Reservoir and offers the best sightings of wild Asian elephants in Sri Lanka. It is also an important habitat for water birds, water buffalo, spotted & barking deer, wild boar, sambar, jackal, mongoose, leopard, jungle and fishing cats - although these nocturnal animals are rarely seen.
Day 11
This morning we visit the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home that cares for orphaned calves and re-introduces them into the wild, where you can get close to these gentle giants. We then travel 3.5-hours to the fortified town of Galle.
 
Galle Fort has a colourful history, as it was originally built by the Portuguese and later heavily fortified by the Dutch. It is today a World Heritage site, with a multi-ethnic and multi-religious population living within its walls. After checking into your hotel, we suggest you explore the town on foot.
Day 12
We leave Galle this morning and travel 2.5-hours along the coast via small coastal towns such as Tangalla and Dikwalla to your South Coast beach resort.
 
Check into your hotel and relax on the shores of the warm Indian Ocean.
Days 13 To 14
At leisure to relax and enjoy the sparkling Indian Ocean beaches of the warm South Coast.
 
You can swim in the sea or suntan around the swimming pool, whilst enjoying the local culture and food. Indulge yourself with a spa treatment, as this region is renowned for its Ayurvedic remedies that cleanse body, mind and spirit. And walk for miles and miles along the wide sandy beaches, framed by coconut palms.
 
You can also participate in many different water sports on Bentota Lagoon.
 
Optional excursions include a visit a local turtle hatchery; a boat ride on the river; or a canal boat safari to islands where you can see water birds, monkeys & water monitors. Day excursions are also available to historic Galle Fort, and to local Buddhist temples and shrines.
Day 15
Transfer 2.5-hours to Colombo Airport for your flight home.
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