Sri Lanka Safari Holidays Leopards Yala Park

Cultural Highlights + Yala Safari + Pasikudah Beach


LPL14C
14 NIGHTS
FROM £1,895
International flights quoted separately
From April to September the rains come to the south coast, so if you want to visit Sri Lanka during these months to enjoy its wildlife & amazing cultural sights, finish your holiday relaxing on the superb beaches of Pasikuda or Trincomalee on the northwest coast, which has an opposite season to the south. Visit Yala, tea country, Kandy & Sigiriya. English speaking guide, all transfers, game drives & excursions included.
Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Udawalawe Yala Kandy Pasikuda
• 
Colombo
• 
Galle
• 
Uduwalawe
• 
Yala National Park
• 
Nuwara Eliya
• 
Kandy
• 
Dambulla
• 
Habarana
• 
Sigiriya
• 
Trincomalee Beach
• 
Colombo
• 
Galle
• 
Uduwalawe
• 
Yala National Park
• 
Nuwara Eliya
• 
Kandy
• 
Dambulla
• 
Habarana
• 
Sigiriya
• 
Trincomalee Beach
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 Sri Lanka as we travel 4.5-hours 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 3
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 continue 2-hours 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 4
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 5
Today we leave Yala and travel 4.5-hours to Nuwara Eliya in the heart of tea country.
 
Time permitting, we can 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 can also 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.
 
We continue to Nuwara Eliya, enjoying spectacular views of the countryside with its tea plantations as we wind our way through the hill country. We visit a local tea factory before checking into our hotel.
Day 6
We leave Nuwara Eliya this morning and, subject to the availability of tickets, transfer to Nanu Oya station to board the 2-hour train to Kandy - travelling in the first class carriage (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 its tea plantations, as you wind through the hill country. Your guide will meet you at Kandy railway station in this bustling capital that is a religious and ancient capital of kings. In the evening enjoy a cultural show, with dancing and fire walking.
 
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 7
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 8
We leave Kandy this morning and travel 1.5-hours to Habarana.
 
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.
 
We continue to our hotel in the small town of Habarana.
 
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 9
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 10
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.
 
We then continue 2-hours to the seaside town of Pasikudah on the warm east coast, with its magnificent Indian Ocean beaches. Check in and relax on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
 
Please dress appropriately when visiting sacred sites, with shoulders and knees covered.
Days 11 To 13
At leisure to relax and enjoy the white sandy beaches of Pasikudah.
 
With one of the longest stretches of shallow coastline in the world, you can walk miles and miles in these crystal clear sea waters. There are also watersports available, including wakeboarding.
 
The best scuba diving in Sri Lanka can also be found here, at nearby Pigeon Island and Nilaweli Beach.
Day 14
Transfer to Baticola for your flight to Nayakakanda airport, north of Colombo.
 
Here you will be met and transferred to your hotel situated near Colombo International Airport.
Day 15
Transfer to Colombo Airport for your flight home.
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