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Family highlights of Sri Lanka

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9 day

Tour Type

Daily Tour

Group Size




Start and end in Negombo! With the Explorer tour Family highlights of Sri Lanka (West Coast), you have a 9 days tour package taking you through Negombo, Sri Lanka and 8 other destinations in Sri Lanka. Family highlights of Sri Lanka (West Coast) includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.

Join us on an action-packed family adventure across this spiritual island. Search for leopard in Wilpattu National Park, staying overnight in a tented safari camp; cycle the backroads to discover ancient Buddhist cities in ancient Polonnaruwa and raft the white waters of the Central Highlands. Blessed with sun soaked beaches and a breadth of fun activities, its little surprise that Sri Lanka is one of our most popular family holiday destinations.

Wildlife – search for groups of Asian elephants, leopard, sloth bear, spotted deer, buffalo, sambar and mongoose

Beach time – relax on the tropical beaches of the Indian Ocean and take a surfing lesson (west coast version only)

Get active – White water rafting on the Kelani River, ideal for beginners or intermediate rafters

We offer an east and west coast version of this family holiday to benefit from the best weather conditions on each coast, staying on the east coast over the summer holidays and October half term and switching to the south west coast over Christmas, February and Easter.

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  • Relax on tropical beaches and take a surfing lesson
  • Explore the deserted ancient city of Polonnaruwa
  • Climb Lions Rock for remarkable views of Sigiriya
  • Search for elephants, leopard, sloth bear and mongoose

Trip starts in Negombo

Arrive in Negombo, a beach resort a short distance from Sri Lanka's capital city situated on the Indian Ocean. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Negombo at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Colombo's Bandaranaike International airport (airport code CMB), which is 14km, 40 minutes from the hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day there is the option to head to the beach or make use of the hotel facilities which features a swimming pool and gardens overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Day 2: Take a jeep safari in search of leopards in Wilpattu National Park, overnight tented camp.

Leaving Negombo we travel north following the coastal road to Wilpattu National Park. Here we will leave our bus and change to jeeps for an afternoon safari through the park hoping to spot Sri Lanka's most elusive resident, the leopard. Despite Wilpattu National Park's location in Sri Lanka's dry zone, it boasts nearly 60 lakes and is renowned for leopard, elephant and sambar deer sightings. Tonight we stay in a large fixed tented camp located close to the Southern boundary, on the boundary of a lake surrounded by bush forest. Each tent is well appointed with raised beds and comfortable mattresses, there is plenty of space to move around; en-suite private bathrooms are located in adjoining individual tents. Pillows, bed linen, towels, a flashlight and an umbrella are also provided. In the evening guests are invited to retire to the campfire after dinner.

Day 3: Share a meal with locals in Habarana, travelling by canoe and tuk tuk; cycling tour of ancient Polonnaruwa.

Heading inland we drive two hours to Habarana, the cultural hub of Sri Lanka. Tuk tuks are the transport of choice here, and we'll switch out the bus for a tuk tuk ride to the community's vegetable garden. Walk around and help the villagers select a choice of homegrown vegetables, which will all go into preparing our traditional Sri Lankan lunch. Watch as delicious curries and fluffy rice are prepared and try out creating a traditional spicy sambar. After sharing the meal, we have the chance to take a serene canoe ride on the village lake. After spending time in the village we make our way back to our bus and onto Polonnaruwa, just under an hour's drive. This afternoon we visit the ancient city by bicycle and on foot, taking in the spectacular ruins of the Royal Palace and its Audience Hall, Bathing Pool and Quadrangle - a wonderfully compact collection of ruins. We stay overnight close to Polonnaruwa.

Day 4: Climb to the top of Sigiriya's dramatic Lion's Rock and explore Kandy's markets.

An early transfer this morning takes us to the start of our ascent up the imposing Lion Rock for the climb to the redoubtable Sky Fortress, soaring dramatically up from the flat central plains. The ruins of this 5th century World Heritage site fortress are one of Sri Lanka's major attractions. A switchback series of steps (sometimes very steep and somewhat precarious) ascends to the top and half-way up, tucked beneath a sheltering overhang of rock, are the famous Sigiriya Damsels. These frescoes, their ancient colours still glowing, once covered an area of some 140 metres in length and are the only ancient non-religious paintings to have survived into modern times. On arriving at the summit (200m) we are presented with some magnificent views of the surrounding countryside, as well as the remains of what is left of the palace of King Kassapa. Leaving Sigiriya we drive to Kandy located just outside the city. We wander through the lush Royal Botanical Gardens which boasts more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, medicinal plants and palm trees. Join our tour leader for a short walking tour of Kandy which will include visiting the town's narrow streets lined with old buildings and colourful and interesting markets. You may wish to continue shopping at the Kandyan Art Association's workshops, which has plenty of brassware, batik, lacquer work and other craft items which make excellent souvenirs or presents. Buddhists from all over the world come to this delightful old highland town specifically to visit the Temple of the Tooth, the Dalada Maligawa., there is the option to visit the temple, should you wish. Late afternoon we transfer to our hotel located 18km outside of Kandy overlooking the waters of Victoria reservoir, allowing easy access to Kandy without the hustle and bustle of the city centre. The hotel has beautiful gardens, an open air restaurant and swimming pool overlooking the reservoir.

Day 5: Drive to Kitulgala, adventure capital of Sri Lanka. White water rafting and jungle walks. Stay in a jungle Camp.

Our drive this morning takes us to Kitulgala, a journey of around two hours. Set amongst the fertile and lush western highlands with towering cliffs and wild water, the Kelani Ganga provides some of the best white water rafting in the country. The grade 2-3 rapids provide us with the perfect combination of fun and excitement, as we spend the afternoon rafting down the river towards our eco lodge accommodation in the jungle outside Kitulgala. We cover a seven kilometre section of the river through eight rapids. It will usually take approximately one to two hours to cover the section but this depends on water levels. Taking lunch en route, we should arrive at our overnight lodge late this afternoon and, after a chance to freshen up. This evening there will be a chance to join an optional trek across the river and through the jungle to a hidden waterfall. Our night spent at Kitulgala is more basic with ten eco lodge tree houses roofed with palm leaves set two meters above ground level. Huts are open to the forest, providing a close to nature feeling, the sounds of the river running close by only adds to the feeling of being in the wilderness. All beds are fitted with mosquito nets.

Day 6: Continue to the Indian Ocean town of Hikkaduwa, free afternoon on the beach and marine park.

Wake up to the sounds of the jungle. After breakfast head to the coast to Hikkaduwa. Our hotel is located on the beach in Hikkaduwa, which is famous for its marine sanctuary, wide palm dotted beach and coral sanctuary. If we're lucky we may get to see turtles and other marine life just off the beach.

Day 7: Morning surf lesson in Hikkaduwa. Rest of the day free to enjoy the beach

The next day and a half is free to enjoy the laid back ambience and turquoise waters of Sri Lanka's southern coast. Rich in colonial history and golden beaches, the region offers us a wealth of options to enjoy the most of our time here. In the morning we have a surf lesson. Hikkaduwa is one of the premier surfing destinations in Sri Lanka. Our two hour lesson can be tailored for beginners or more advanced surfers to make the most of your time on the Indian Ocean. Other activities include snorkelling trips and for those wanting pure relaxation there are plenty of spots to enjoy an Ayurvedic massage. You could also pay a visit to the city of Galle and its historic colonial fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that remains one of the best preserved examples of colonial fortification in the world.

Day 8: Free morning on the beach. Train journey from Hikkaduwa to Colombo, continue to Negombo.

Enjoy a free morning on the beach. This afternoon we take a local train from Hikkaduwa to Colombo with fine views of the Indian ocean as we make our way up the west coast. With many Sri Lankans using the coastal network every day it is the perfect opportunity to meet local families. We make the final part of our journey by bus, returning to the small town of Negombo for our final night in Sri Lanka.

Day 9: Trip ends in Negombo

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Negombo. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Negombo at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Colombo's Bandaranaike International airport (airport code CMB), which is 14km, 40 minutes from the hotel.

  • Well-trained professional chauffer
  • First Aid facilities
  • Drinking water and snacks
  • All required and necessary approvals
  • All applicable Gov. taxes
  • Extra beverages, food and snacks consumed
  • Costs of any additional activities
  • Any personal gear not mentioned in this description
  • Tips for the staff
  • Any other expenses not mentioned in ‘Included in the Package’ section

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