Sri Lanka,

Northern Sri Lanka, Off the Beaten Track

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Tailor-Made Tour
13 Days
From £3083
GEOIP Not Available
Beach
Snorkelling and Diving
Budget
Off The Beaten Track

Tour Introduction

13 Days from £3083
GEOIP Not Available
per adult.

Off limits during the civil war but fully opened up over the last few years, the north of Sri Lanka still remains wonderfully unspoilt and little visited. Here, in the company of your private driver cum guide, you can find hidden gems such as Wilpattu National Park with its large leopard population, sloth bears and deer, plus Minneriya National Park which plays host to an annual gathering of hundreds of elephants. Trincomalee is blessed with white sand beaches, snorkelling and great whales and Ranweli combines beaches and wildlife viewing on a fresh water lagoon. You can now snorkel with up to three species of great whale: blue, Bryde’s and sperm – a truly breathtaking experience. The cultural sites of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla complete the perfect balance of wildlife, beaches and culture in the quiet north.

Full Itinerary

Price from £3083
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Arrive Colombo

Arrive Colombo, pick up by private transfer to Ranweli. Just 45 mins from the airport, Ranweli is a haven of peace and relaxation with small beach, freshwater lagoon and a checklist of 120 species of bird.

Staying at Ranweli Holiday Village. Includes Breakfast.

Day 2
Ranweli

Enjoy a morning’s wildlife watching by boat in the freshwater lagoon and waterways. Free afternoon to relax and explore.

Staying at Ranweli Holiday Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 3
Wilpattu National Park

Pickup from hotel and drive (approx 3hrs) to the Wilpattu area. Check-in to your hotel and settle in.

Staying at Palm Garden Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Wilpattu National Park

Enjoy morning and afternoon private game drives by private jeep in Wilpattu National Park to look for leopard, wild buffalo, wild boar, fishing cat, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, monitor lizard and hundreds of bird species including rollers, bee-eaters and kingfishers. A unique feature of Wilpattu, the largest and one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka, is the existence of nearly sixty villus - natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater and attract abundant wildlife. The park currently attracts very few tourists and remains wonderfully unspoilt.

Staying at Palm Garden Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Wilpattu National Park

Enjoy further morning and afternoon private game drives by private jeep in Wilpattu National Park.

Staying at Palm Garden Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Anuradhapura and Sigiriya

Today you will visit two of the top UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Cultural Triangle. Anuradhapura was the country’s first capital and the centre of the island's Buddhist civilization. It is home to the world’s oldest historically documented tree (over 2,200 years old), the Sri Maha Bodhi, a cutting of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress creates a formidable impression as it rises from the surrounding countryside. Climb the iron ladders to the top and explore the Water Gardens, frescoes of beautiful maidens and the Mirror Wall with ancient graffiti. Continue to your new hotel at Habarana by late afternoon.

Staying at Habarana Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Polonnaruwa and Minneriya

Spend the morning at another of Sri Lanka’s top cultural sites: Polonnaruwa, the country’s second Buddhist capital and home to four massive images of the Buddha, cut from a single slab of granite. In the afternoon, you will visit Minneriya National Park, home to the famous ‘gathering’ of hundreds of elephants that come here to find water during the dry season months (especially August and September). Other sightings can include deer, two species of monkey, pelicans, leopards and sloth bears. Out of season you will visit ‘Eco Park’ where wild elephants congregate.

Staying at Habarana Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 8
Trincomalee

Drive with your private driver/guide to Trincomalee on Sri Lanka’s beautiful east coast. Closed during the civil war, this area has remained wonderfully unspoilt with a beautiful white sand beach. Your private guide can (on request) take you to see the Hindu temple and old Dutch fort in the town before heading to the beach, and will leave you during your time by the sea.

Near the hotel is Pigeon Island which offers good snorkelling (baby black tip reef sharks are common) and from February to August pilot, blue, Bryde's and sperm whales and large pods of dolphins can be seen both on boat trips and occasionally from the shore.

PLEASE NOTE: From mid-March to mid-April, it is now possible to snorkel with up to three species of great whale: blue, Bryde's and sperm. Small boats with experienced whale guides depart at sunrise and go 30 miles or more offshore for six hours in search of the leviathans. When found, the experienced guide will position the boat carefully and give the word for you to drop into the water to watch in wonderment as the whale glides gracefully by. One warning: there is a short one-month window and the good guides are limited in number, so early booking is essential (up to a year or more in advance) but well worth it. It is a marine experience like no other: a complete wow-factor which you will remember for ever.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 9
Trincomalee

Free day to relax on the beach or take (optional) snorkelling and whale watching trips – blue whales can be seen in season (March to August) on boat trips.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 10
Trincomalee

Free day. Optional: Perhaps visit Pigeon Island, a nature reserve with good snorkelling. During the boat trip to the island, pods of dolphins are often seen. Lunch on the island.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 11
Trincomalee

Free day to relax before the trip home.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 12
Dambulla - Colombo

Depart after breakfast for your long (6 hour) drive back to Colombo. Stop en route to visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating from the first Century BC: the site comprises five caves and a picturesque facade carved into the side of a steep rock face housing ancient statues and paintings depicting the Buddha and his life. Arrive in the outskirts of Colombo in the late afternoon.

Staying at Tamarind Tree. Includes Breakfast.

Day 13
Depart Colombo

Drive to the international airport and check in for your flight home.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Tour Accommodation

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Habarana Village by Cinnamon

Overview

Habarana Village by Cinnamon is a large hotel set within 27 acres of lush parkland in Habarana, in the centre of the Cultural Triangle.

Accommodation is in one hundred and eight private chalets spread throughout the gardens arranged like a small village. The chalets feature natural colours and traditional décor and are very spacious with comfortable beds. Each chalet has a private bathroom, air-conditioning, cable TV, minibar and tea and coffee facilities.

The main building houses a good restaurant with both a al carte and buffet options available, bar, fitness centre and spa offering a range of ayurvedic treatments, while outside is a large swimming pool with sun lounging deck.

The surroundings of the hotel are lovely and the property planted many native trees and has restored the lake which is used by both wildlife and local people. If you are lucky you could even see an elephant coming to drink here. There are numerous trails through the local forest to explore with abundant wildlife in the local vicinity.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a World Heritage site considered the eighth wonder of the world and built in the fifth century AD, and other archaeological sites can be explored in day trips from the hotel.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
108
Facilities

Restaurant, swimming pool, spa, fitness centre, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi (public areas), mini-bar, tennis court, gift shop and laundry and room service.

Optional Activities

Cultural and archaeological tours in Sigiriya, hiking and bird watching.

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Trinco Blu by Cinnamon

Overview

Trinco Blu by Cinnamon opened in May 2010 (then known as Chaaya Blu) and was the first hotel in the area north of Trincomalee since the civil war ended to have been completely refurbished and brought up to a good international four-star standard. The area is fast becoming one of Sri Lanka’s premier beach locations, with some of the finest beaches on the island plus ample scope for diving and snorkelling.

There are three accommodation options: Suites, Beach Chalets and Superior Rooms. All are en suite and equipped with cable TV, minibar, safety deposit box, direct dial phone and many rooms have balconies and views towards the sea.

Outside there is a large swimming pool and the daily buffets served three times a day at the restaurant are very good. Other facilities include a bar and communal lounge area with air-conditioning and free WiFi is available throughout the property. A PADI-certified dive centre is located on site and provides scuba diving trips, while the hotel arranges snorkelling trips separately.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
81
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, communal lounge, large swimming pool, free WiFi, pool table, laundry service, room service and 24-hour reception service. All rooms are en suite and have cable TV, mini bars, and air-conditioning, safety deposit boxes and have complimentary toiletries. There is a dive operation on site.

Local Wildlife

The Trincomalee coastline is superb for whale watching, especially during the months of March/April and August/September when the world’s largest mammal, the blue whale can be seen with regularity often within a 30-minute boat ride of the shore. Large schools of spinner dolphins are common and small groups of sperm whales are occasionally seen and there is even a chance of finding a pod of false killer whales, or turtle.

Optional Activities

Snorkelling, diving, whale and dolphin watching boat trips and various other water sports can be arranged.

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Palm Garden Village

Overview

Palm Garden Village sits in 50 acres of lush private land originally used for chena (shifting) cultivation, close to the city of Anuradhapura.

Its location is perfect for sightseeing tours and, being set amongst lush gardens with a large swimming pool, is ideal for relaxation and recharging of batteries after a busy day of exploring.

There are 60 en suite rooms including 10 suites styled to give a home from home feel, all with air-conditioning, writing desk, large wardrobes, minibar and satellite TV. The lush gardens, in which many native tree species have been planted, attract many birds, squirrels, endemic toque macaques adn deer. Elephants occasionally visit the lake at the far end of the grounds, particularly in the dry season. There is a large swimming pool with sun terrace, a pool table, a restaurant and bar.

The restaurant has a good spread of Sri Lankan and European cuisine presented in a buffet and there is a nice bar for drinks and light snacks. Other facilities include a games room, gym and an ayurvedic health centre and spa to enjoy.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
60
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, gym, sauna, massage room, ayurvedic health centre, large swimming pool, satellite TV, mini-bar, air-conditioning, games room and gym.

Local Wildlife

The forest surrounding the lodge is home to a good selection of birds, and elephants and deer can sometimes be seen visiting the tank (reservoir lake) in the evenings. The endemic toque macaque is commonly seen in the trees around the hotel.

Sri Lanka Wet Zone

Ranweli Resort

Overview

Ranweli Resort is situated 18km from the International Airport on an almost-private beach accessible by pontoon ferry. A balance of western comforts and indigenous aesthetics in the furnishing and interior decor of the hotel create an ambiance reminiscent of this ancient land. There are 84 small chalets nestled in 20 acres of lush tropical foliage. All rooms are air-conditioned and solar power is used for hot water. Each has a telephone, safety deposit box, comfortable beds and a small seating area.

The hotel’s checklist of birds exceeds 120 species and it is recognised as a ‘bird-friendly’ hotel by the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka. Birdwatching walks and boat trips explore the local mangroves where impressive numbers of water and forest-edge birds can be observed, and the large water monitor lizard is also frequently spotted. The resort offers a good range of other leisure activities including tennis, table tennis, squash, volleyball, bicycle rental, canoeing and safe swimming in pool or sea.

Facilities include a good restaurant which offers an excellent spread of different cuisines including fresh seafood, local specialities and international favourites. There is also a bar, large swimming pool and BBQ facility, and massage treatments are available or request.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
84
Facilities

Private bathrooms, restaurant, bar, lounge area, air-conditioning, free WiFi (public areas) room service, luggage storage, laundry service, currency exchange, gift shop, swimming pool, safety deposit box, telephone in room.

Local Wildlife

Boat tours along the local rivers and mangroves can produce great bird watching with kingfishers, bee-eaters, birds of prey and huge water monitor lizards commonly encountered.

Optional Activities

Bird watching, boat trips, canoeing, cycling, tennis, table tennis, volleyball, squash and swimming.

Sri Lanka Wet Zone

Tamarind Tree

Overview

Very convenient for Colombo airport, the Tamarind Tree is set amidst a lush arboretum, which includes an ancient tamarind tree. The accommodation is in simple but spacious villa rooms and suites (some with two bedrooms) with traditional décor and feature private bathrooms, air-conditioning and cable TV.

Tamarind Tree has a restaurant serving Sri Lankan and some international cuisine and a well-stocked bar with pool-side service.

There is a large and inviting swimming pool with sun loungers in the garden to enjoy and other facilities include a business centre and Wi-Fi (charges apply) and room service.

The hotel is just a 10-minute drive from the International airport, but has a quiet location and a surprising number of birds can even be seen in the gardens. It is not a luxury hotel but serves as a convenient transit on arrival or just before departure.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
61
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, swimming pool, arboretum, WiFi (charges), room service, currency exchange, 24-hour reception desk, concierge service, laundry service and luggage storage.

Optional Activities

City tours of Colombo.

Route Map

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Ranweli Resort: 7.282688, 79.840704
Trinco Blu by Cinnamon: 8.617670, 81.217570
Habarana Village: 8.032215, 80.751927
Palm Garden Village: 8.314722, 80.345331

Departure Dates

This tour has no set departure date and can be tailored to suit your travel requirements. Contact us for more details.

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:

Sri Lankan Airlines direct from Heathrow to Colombo

Best Visited:

January to January

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Alan Godwin

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965

We were absolutely thrilled by the whole experience and can only commend the helpfulness and friendliness of everyone who made our holiday so special. We cannot speak highly enough of all of our guides who were extremely knowledgeable and went above and beyond to enhance  our Sri Lankan wildlife encounters. We felt very privileged to be with guides who have so much expertise.

Dr AH - Essex