Experience Sri Lanka with Seven Senses
14 Days / 13 Nights
Explore Colombo on a street food tour with a local, climb the Sigiriya rock fortress, stay in a tree house, and homestays. Visit off the beaten path destinations such as Pidurangala or the Ritigala Archeological site. Head to Dambulla Caves, visit the evening ceremony in Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. Have a village walk, go shopping to the market, then cook lunch with your host at your homestay. Following day you will spend time in Gay Ola National Park, an unexplored treasure of Sri Lanka. Observe the wildlife from a boat on Gay Ola lake including crocodiles, deer, elephants and many rare and endemic species of birds. Head to the highlands for some walks, continue to Horton Plains National Park to hike in the cloud forests, visit a former British outpost, Nuwara Eliya, before returning to Colombo by train and having an amazing last night with your hosts in Villa Hundira.
Our itineraries are suggestions and are fully customisable according to your needs, interests and budget.
Treat these itineraries as inspiration and one of our experts will create your uniquely tailored holiday with your requests in mind so that you can truly experience Sri Lanka with Seven Senses.
Day 1. Arrive Colombo - Street Food Tour (-/-/-)
Ayubowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka!
On arrival to Colombo, clear immigration and customs. Proceed to the arrival area where you will be met by your private chauffeur guide and transferred to your hotel. Check in at the hotel and relax for a bit. Later ‘Rashan’ will visit you to taste some amazing street food in the busy streets of Colombo.
When it comes to cities, you always find some interesting characters who studies about the city and delves deeper to find its true spirit and share it with others - Colombo has Rashan; a walk with him will take you through the Galle Face green and to the inner roads of Slave Island. Come see it now before it all changes as Colombo is undergoing modernization and many of its architectural gems will be gone in a couple of years.
Our favorite part of the program is walking through the crazy streets of the Slave Island. You will meet a lot of locals here and you can experience how their daily lifestyle is spent. No frills or scripts here, simply local life as it is! Also Rashan will take you to a street Food joint (yeah that’s how it is best described) where you can have a Kottu Rotti, an everyday Sri Lankan meal not to be missed and best enjoyed on the street.
Return to your hotel and spend the rest of the evening at leisure. Overnight at Lake Lodge, Colombo.
Day 2. Colombo - Sigiriya (B/-/-)
Have a scrumptious breakfast at the hotel and take off towards the Cultural Triangle of the island. Ancient archeological sites, living culture and great hiking all made for incredible travel experiences.
On arrival at our lodge time to relax and take a walk to the river in anticipation for the climb to Sigiriya – Sri Lanka’s most fabled archeological site.
In the evening, visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
Sigiriya, the marvelous rock fortress also known as Lion Rock is a rare jewel among the many treasures in Sri Lanka. The site was the domain of King Kashyapa whose aim was to build an impregnable fortress and within it, a heavenly abode. Beyond the legends it is an imposing site and a must see in the island.
Rising over the dry plains of the Sigiriya district, the tough climb of 1200 footsteps up this flat-topped monodon ends with the most scenic bird’s-eye view of the emerald plains and leafy villages beneath.
The skeletal layout of the ancient city within the fortress marvels its observers with the grandeur and complexity of 5th century urban-planning of Sri Lanka.
On the way to the top one can observe the famous Sigiriya frescoes of the buxom, wasp-waisted maidens bearing flowers, amidst the wilderness and ancient ruins. The smoothly glazed ‘Mirror Wall’ located a few steps away has sealed the expressions of ancient visitors, inspired by the vibrant frescoes.
The Sigiriya experience takes approximately 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the pace at which you wish to ascent. Take time to soak up the views from the top.
Overnight at Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya (Tree house).
Day 3. Sigiriya - Pidurangala - Ritigala - Sigiriya (B/-/-)
Early this morning visit a massive rock formation located a few kilometers North to the wondrous Sigiriya Rock Fortress – Pidurangala! Be prepared to climb. The hike takes about one hour depending on fitness – the last part is a bit tricky over rocks but it can be done with care. It is all worth it once you reach the top and are rewarded with views of a green carpet of forests punctuated with Sigiriya rock in the distance. Breathe in the fresh air while you are on top of this magical place. This is hands down our favorite spot, the views are better than from Sigiriya and since is a bit off the beaten track no tourists here.
Thereafter transfer back to the hotel and spend some time at leisure.
In the afternoon prepare for Ritigala Archeological site.
Think Indiana Jones – well that is a bit exaggerated but Ritigala in a way has that feel of an undiscovered world away from the most famous sights in Sri Lanka. Make sure you take time to explore in depth and walk all the way to the higher part of the complex. The archeological site bears a certain mysterious nature owing to the long meditational pathways that open into the thick jungle and large stone-lined reservoirs. Take time to sit down and connect with nature in this ancient sacred meditation grounds.
Spend the rest of the evening at your tree house enjoying the birds call and the fresh cool breeze.
Overnight at Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya (Tree house).
Day 4. Sigiriya - Dambulla - Kandy (B/-/-)
After breakfast, take off to the hill capital of the country – Kandy! En route stop over at Dambulla and visit the magnificent cave temple. Dambulla Cave Temple, also known as the ‘Golden Temple of Dambulla’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dambulla is considered to be the largest best-preserved cave temple complex in the country with an enviable collection of statues, stupas, carvings and breathtaking paintings all packed together in a small space. Its dimly lit five caves will tell you exquisite stories about Lord Buddha’s fight against temptation, his life and battle scenes.
Resume your journey to Kandy. Kandy belongs to the fabric of legends. While Sri Lanka was under Portuguese and Dutch rule the Kings of Kandy remained defiant and independent. It was much later during the British rule that Kandy finally fell to the largest empire in the world.
Today Kandy is a big city that still retains touches of its colonial history in buildings such as the Queen's hotel, a beautiful 19th century neoclassical beauty. The Temple of the Tooth is no doubt the city biggest pride and you will have the privilege to visit this amazing place. Visit the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy in the evening in time for the evening ceremony.
Your overnight is at a homestay in Kandy which is about 30 minutes away from the city. The home offers comfortable accommodation and is tastefully decorated with antiques which has been passed on for generations.
Overnight at The Kandyan Manor, Kandy.
Day 5. Kandy - Village Walk - Home Cooking (B/L/-)
Enjoy breakfast with a view of the garden at Kandyan Manor, it will set the tone for a great day ahead. We begin with a walk around the area; depending on the time of the year you might see rice fields, plenty of tropical fruit and even some spices like nutmeg. Then it is time to jump in a tuk tuk and head to the local market where we will stock up on some goodies for the cooking ahead. Keep your eyes peeled at the market for the Ayurveda doctor who sells all kinds of ointments and herbal medicines.
Back in the house Suzy will be waiting in her kitchen to start a memorable cooking demonstration. We are not talking about just any kitchen; her home has a super traditional wood fire stove complete with clay pots, an ancient miris gala, a grinder for chilies and the best part is the view of the lush forest and gardens. The food deserves another chapter, curries made with the freshest ingredients with grandmother technique and done in the old ways. It is Kandyan home-cooked food at is best. Most likely it will be the best meal of your trip!
Spend the rest of the evening at leisure reading a book by the garden or simply relaxing.
Overnight at The Kandyan Manor, Kandy.
Day 6. Kandy - Gal Oya (B/-/-)
After a home cooked breakfast at your lodgings take off to Gal Oya for some interesting activities and wildlife like you’ve never seen before. The drive will take you past the hills of Sri Lanka and down the road the views are stunning. The change from Kandy to the lowlands is quite dramatic, almost like going to another country!
Gal Oya is an unexplored treasure in Sri Lanka. A National Park surrounded by water and Islands, where a unique experience awaits. It is rustic but it has all you need: wonderfully appointed lodgings, an excellent team of local guides and some of the best food to be found in the country – one thing they do not have here: phone signal, so make the calls you need, because for the next few days you will be cut off from the outside world.
Check in to your lodge and spend the rest of the day at leisure enjoying the fantastic views it has to offer. This is by far one of our favourite nature reserves and the lodge has simple design yet is elegant in its own way – this is one of the highlights of the trip. Overnight at Gal Oya Lodge, Gal Oya (Bungalow).
Day 7. Gal Oya National Park (B/-/-)
Today enjoy a boat safari at the Gal Oya National park which is truly a unique experience. You will have the privilege to have a picnic breakfast at a remote island within the park itself. This is one of the trip highlights, a chance to enjoy the solitude and calm in a remote part of the island.
A great opportunity to observe the wildlife from the stunning Gal Oya Lake: including crocodiles, deer, elephants and many rare and endemic species of birds. This experience is the only one in Sri Lanka that enables you to spot wildlife from the water and to truly immerse yourself in the animals’ habitats. You may be lucky enough to see elephants swimming between islands or bathing at the lake’s edge.
In the afternoon head out for a walk to enjoy the beauty of the area around the lodge and enjoy the abundant birdlife the area is known for. There are a number of possible routes, from leisurely strolls around the lake to more strenuous hikes up impressive granite mountains to enjoy stunning view of the surrounding mountains.
Return to your lodge and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight at Gal Oya Lodge, Gal Oya (Bungalow).
Day 8. Gal Oya National Park (B/-/-)
Another day in Gal Oya with a trek to Monkey Mountain! For the adventurous early risers, a 1.5hour uphill trek first thing in the morning is a must. Up at the top, dramatic 180 degree views over the large forested valley await. An early start allows you to watch the sun rise over the hills in the distance, observing the neverending jungle canopy below. After you’ve finished, return for a well earned breakfast and enjoy the rest of your day.
Should you feel a bit lazy there is a lovely swimming pool to relax at while reading a book or simply enjoying the views.
Overnight at Gal Oya Lodge, Gal Oya (Bungalow)
Day 9. Gal Oya - Ella (B/-/-)
Today head on to the hills of Ella where you get to enjoy fresh cool climate and Ella’s stunning views! Breakfast at the lodge and then proceed to Ella where you will spend two nights.
This is one of Sri Lanka’s prime hiking destinations yet at the same time is the perfect spot to unwind for a few days, read a book, or enjoy a cup of tea.
Back in the 1920's the British extended the train line all the way to Badulla an amazing feat considering the wild forested valley that had to be crossed. Perhaps the most remarkable feat is the Demodara Nine Arch bridge. It was one of the architectural marvels of its day back in British Ceylon. This massive train crossing is built entirely of stone, bricks and cement, there is not a single piece of steel in the structure. Some say that WWI halted a shipment of steel so the engineers had to do without, when it opened back in 1921 it was also known as "Ahas Nawaya Palama” or the 9 Skies Bridge.
Overnight at Waterfalls Homestay, Ella.
Day 10. Ella (B/-/-)
After breakfast at the hotel visit the Little Adam’s Peak in Ella. If you are looking for a leisurely hike we suggest heading to the Little Adams Peak - this can be easily done on your own as the trail starts at the 98 Acres hotel - the hike itself takes about one hour, and the views of the valley and surrounding hills is stunning. The best weather is early morning when the skies are clear and the morning air is fresh and cool.
Those looking for a more challenging trek should head towards Ella Rock. The walk will take you along the railroad tracks and into a hanging metal bridge - those with vertigo don't look down! The hike continues past an eucalyptus forest. Here the climb can be a bit steep and you need to be in good shape to attempt it. On the top the views from Ella Rock are stunning, specially on a clear day. As with little Adams Peak is best to do this walk early morning starting at 5.45 am. We work with some local farmers that will guide you all the way - they are not guides but they speak a bit of English and you will be supporting them directly as an extra income.
Overnight at Waterfalls Homestay, Ella.
Day 11. Ella – Horton Plains National Park (B/L/D)
Wake up early today and take off to the Horton Plains National Park for a camping experience like never before. It is recommended that you reach the National park as early as possible to enable you to capture the most stunning views it has to offer. Your host will pick you up from the entrance.
Known to Sri Lankans as Maha Eliya Thenn which translates as the big open plain, the extensive Horton Plains National Park is the biggest watershed in the country. The plateau runs at an average height of 2.000 to 2.300 meters above sea level. So much for facts, what is really striking about this place is the barren high hill grassland combined with cloud forest and the fresh crisp mountain air.
Hiking in the coldish weather with wind in your face surrounded by swathes of grassland, then moving through some cloud forest with trees covered in moss and with towering ferns is simply something anyone who loves to trek should do in the island.
There is wildlife as well; you might encounter the beautiful sambar deer, a timid creature, keep your eyes peeled for it.
The hiking is about 10km and can take a bit over three hours, arriving at World's End and gazing down a sheer drop of a few hundred meters with no railings is nothing short of mystifying. Overnight at campsite in tent.
Day 12. Horton Plains National Park – Nuwara Eliya (B/-/-)
Enjoy an early morning trekking at the Horton Plains National park. The most stunning views here are known to be witnessed somewhere between 6.00 am – 6.30 am. Wake up a little early to catch a
glimpse of an amazing sunrise like you’ve never seen before.
Leave the campsite closer to noon and take off to Nuwara Eliya for overnight stay. Check in to your hotel as you may need to refresh yourself with a nice hot bath and relax a bit.
Later in the day take a walk in the city and visit a tea plantation.
Nuwara Eliya is the answer to the Colombo heat. During British rule in Sri Lanka the highland town become a refuge for families of the elite escaping the baking temperatures of the capital, it also offered a sugary version of "home" complete with a horse race track, a golf course, a Victoria park, botanical gardens and an eclectic mix of neo-tudor buildings and even Scottish bungalows.
Much has changed since the hey days of the town in the 20's and 30's yet the climate is still gorgeous even with a cool drizzle and sometimes fog. Today Nuwara Eliya is a town re-inventing itself. After the civil war and with the advent of tourism colonialism became something to be embraced: at least in terms of a revival for commercial reasons. Old derelict bungalows got patched up, and the guidebooks dubbed the town as "Little England".
The reality is somewhere in between, with the right kind of eyes you can see the faded glories of the past, yet the present offers and interesting pastiche of a regular Sri Lankan town that wants to
look at the past yet is not quite sure how to face the future.
A must read before coming to Nuwara Eliya is Running in the Family by Michael Ondatje. It tells us the story of a dysfunctional family of tea planters; it certainly will add perspective to the whole experience.
Return to your hotel and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight at Avian Breeze, Nuwara Eliya.
Day 13. Nuwara Eliya – Colombo (by Train) – Thalahena (B/-/D)
After a delicious breakfast at the hotel, drive to the train station in order to catch the train to Colombo. Traveling by train is a beautiful and affordable way to see the country and snap some fantastic pictures along the way. The route from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo offers some dramatic views of the mountains, tea plantations; the rugged beauty of Sri Lanka.
Once you reach Colombo, your chauffeur guide will pick you up from the Train station and take you to your luxury stay in Thalahena. A wonderful place to unwind and collect our toughts in preparation for the flight home.
Villa Hundira is a luxury villa that offers you comfortable accommodation and stylishly decorated interior. The family who lives there are quite friendly and will make your last night on our island most memorable. Take a dip in the pool and relax for the rest of the evening or simply spend your time at leisure. The owner of the Villa used to be a world champion in moto-cross; he has some cool stories to tell.
Villa Hundira has a great cook and his flavors for local curries are right on point. Enjoy a nice spread of a typical local meal here before you return home!
Overnight at Villa Hundira, Thalahena (Standard Room).
Day 14. Thalahena – Airport - Departure (B/-/-)
Breakfast. Check out and transfer to Colombo's International Airport for your flight to your onward destination.
Stop for your last Tambili on the way to the airport!
PRICES AND INCLUSIONS
14 DAYS / 13 NIGHTS FROM £2,420 per person
based on 2 people travelling together
The price includes:
Accommodation in shared double room with private bathroom
Meals are as stated in the programme
Transfers and tours with local English-speaking Chauffeur guide in private air-conditioned vehicle
All entrance fees as mentioned in the program
Meals as mentioned in the program without drinks (B/L/D) = (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
The price does not include:
Return flights from the UK to Colombo. Request a quote from us.
Anything not specifically mentioned above.
Optional tours, camera fees.
Tips to the guide and driver, porters and waiters.
Visa fee for Sri Lanka.
Personal costs such as drinks, laundry, etc.
Peak season surcharges
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