Wild and Sacred Sanctuaries

Deep exploration of the island nation's impressive array of national parks and reserves
Overview

overview

Seek out Sri Lanka's fascinating mammals and birdlife, and explore its ancient sanctuaries on this diverse overview trip.  Sri Lanka is a teardrop-shaped island nation off India's southeast coast and is rich in natural and cultural beauty. A world apart, it offers a fantastic combination of diverse wildlife, Buddhist ruins, tropical forests, beaches, and other worldly landscape for your discovery and enjoyment. In the country's distinctive and unique natural areas, observe many indigenous mammals, birds (more than 200 species), other animals, and plants of the island while based at ecolodge accommodations that afford easy, direct access to these rich environmnents. Sri Lanka is also home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, several of which you'll visit. On this trip, you will visit the wildlife parks of Wilpattu, Minneriya, Horton Plains, Udawalawe, and Yala, as well as Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Galle, and Colombo.

This trip also combines well with travels in southern India. Contact us for more information on how to make the most of your time in this amazing corner of the world.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Wattala
    Relax at your beachfront hotel

    You will be met on arrival at Colombo International Airport and transferred to your hotel in Wattala, where the remainder of the day is yours at leisure prior to dinner at your hotel.

    Consider arriving a day or two earlier to spend relaxing or walking along the soft, sandy beaches of your shoreline hotel.

    Meals
    Dinner
    Lodging
    Pegasus Reef Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Wilpattu National Park
    Black-winged stilt in Wilpattu National Park

    After breakfast, transfer to Wilpattu National Park, where you'll board a safari vehicle to travel to your campsite within the park. The unique feature of this park is the existence of "willus," natural, sandy water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. There are around 60 of these willu basins throughout the park, which is also the largest and one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is also among the top national parks in the world, renowned for its leopard population. After a camp lunch and a bit of leisure time, head out on an evening game drive, then return to your quarters, a luxury mobile tented camp, your base for the next two nights.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mahoora mobile tented camp (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Wilpattu National Park
    See elephants and other threatened species in the park

    After a hearty camp breakfast, head out on a morning game drive in Wilpattu in search of some of the 31 known species of mammals in the park, including threatened species such as elephants and leopards. The park is also home to a rich variety of birdlife such as storks, owls, eagles, cormorants, egrets, and more. You'll return to camp for lunch and some leisure/relaxation time, then head out for an evening safari, looking for noctural creatures which don't come out until dusk.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mahoora mobile tented camp (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Habarana
    Enjoy the vantage point on your elephant-back safari

    After breakfast, transfer to Habanara, a small town that's a good base for wildlife and an excursion to Minneriya National Park. In the afternoon, head out on an elephant-back safari in search of twilight and noctural wildlife.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Chaaya Village Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Minneriya/Sigiriya/Habarana
    Marvel at the rock fortress of Sigiriya

    Transfer from Habanara to visit Sigiriya, where you will climb the 5th century rock fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site built by King Kashyapa in the 1st century A.D. The “Lion Rock” is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 meters from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70-hectacre fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens, including the renowned water gardens, ring the base of the rock. Visit the world-renowned frescoes of the “Heavenly Maidens” of Sigiriya, which are in sheltered pocket of the rock and are seen as you approach a spiral stairway.

    Afterward, head back into Minneriya National Park for a game drive in search of elephants and other wildlife. Return to Habarana for the evening.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Chaaya Village Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Wasgamuwa National Park

    Following breakfast, embark on a safari in Wasgamuwa National Park, located within the Matale and Polonnaruwa districts. Herds of Sri Lankan elephants are commonly encountered here, as well as various bird species unique to the island. In the evening, head back to camp for dinner.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mahoora camping
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Kandy
    Temple of the Tooth

    After breakfast, head for Kandy, the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Kandy conjures visions of splendor and magnificence. Drive around Kandy Lake, built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798, visit the Kandy town, and stop at the Temple of the Tooth. Wrap up the day with a Sri Lankan cultural show!

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Amaya Hills (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Peradeniya/Nuwara Eliya
    You'll encounter smiling faces from the locals everywhere!

    In the morning, set off for Peradeniya, a 147-acre garden built by the Sinhala King. The garden contains numerous pavilions, an actagon conservatory, a giant Javan fig tree, and an orchid house. After exploring the garden, transfer from Peradeniya to Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka's most popular hill resort. In addition to providing brilliant mountain views, Nuwara Eliya is the core of Sri Lanka's tea country and produces a significant share of the world's best tea. You can also see Sri Lanka's highest mountain here, Pidurutalagala (8,282 ft)

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jetwing St. Andrews Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Horton Plains National Park
    "World's End" at Horton Plains National Park

    Drive about two hours to Horton Plains National Park, a protected area in the central highlands of the island. Rich in biodiversity, Horton Plains is home to many species endemic to this region. The main attraction here is "World's End," a dramatic 4,000 foot drop-off that is believed to be the finest view in Sri Lanka. The seven mile hike around the park offers fantastic views and possible wildlife sightings. Return to your hotel at Nuwara Eliya.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jetwing St. Andrews Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Udawalawe National Park
    Wild elephant and its young at Udawalawe National Park

    After breakfast, transfer to Udawalawe National Park, famous for spotting herds of elephant, spotted deer, sambur, barking deer, water buffalo and jackal on its 30,821 hectares of land. When you're not admiring one of these animals, appreciate the beauty of the surrounding mountain range.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Kalu S. Hideaway (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Situlpahuwa/Tissamaharama

    Head to the town of Tissamaharama with a stop at Situlpahuwa, a monastic settlement that formerly housed 12,000 inhabitants. The settlement has been restored and is now an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Continue on to your lodge at Tissamaharama, your base for exploring Yala National Park.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Chaaya Wild Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: Yala National Park
    You're in luck if you see some of Yala's majestic leopards

    In the morning, head to Yala National Park in search of wildlife. Get ready to see elephants, wild boars, buffaloes, leopards, bears, deer, and crocodiles. The park is located in the southeastern corner of the island, so you will also have some great ocean views! Return to your hotel, where you have the rest of the day free to relax. Afternoon safaris are available at additional cost.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Chaaya Wild Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 13: Galle
    Visit imposing Galle Fort

    Depart for Galle, which was once the chief port of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was named by the British), now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also well known for its handmade lace. You'll visit Galle Fort, originally built by the Portuguese and later extended by the Dutch in 1663.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel and Spa (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 14: Colombo/Onward

    Leave for Colombo. Depending on time of departure, explore the city's Hindu and Buddhist temples and British colonial buildings. Transfer to the airport for your flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Dec 1-14, 2014
Feb 5-18, 2015
Nov 30-Dec 13, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$4,595
The cost quoted is the Land Cost and is subject to change. This covers accommodations, transfers, activities, touring, guide services and meals as described in JOURNEYS' Trip Notes. The quoted Land Cost will apply when group size falls in the specified range and when travel is on the indicated dates.
Single Supplement:
$1100
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
14 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
3
Standard tented camps and boutique hotels
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
Standard tented camps and boutique hotels

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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