Discover the lesser-known Sri Lanka. Exploring the country’s remote north and east, this itinerary includes offbeat locations, meals with families and a touch of adventure. Meet interesting local people and learn about the history and culture of Sri Lanka. Including a range of accommodation, the tour concludes with longer stays at a standout wildlife lodge and an elegant tea planters’ bungalow, allowing you a chance to relax.
Outgoing travellers with a sense of adventure or second-time visitors to Sri Lanka who want to delve a little deeper in the country
Upon arrival in Colombo you will be met at the international airport and transferred to your hotel a short drive away at Katunayake.
Depart for Puttalam, a town on Sri Lanka’s northwest coast, and along the way stop at a family home for a traditional home-style lunch of rice and curry. Savour the unique flavours and spices of family cooking. Continue to your accommodation and you have the remainder of the day at leisure.
Discover Puttalam today. The town is home to one of the largest lagoons in Sri Lanka and has a predominantly Muslim population. See the coloured houses and residents riding traditional cycles as you explore the city. You can also visit nearby Kalpitiya, known for its seasonal dolphin and whale watching.
Drive to Mannar, a sea port used to trade spices, ivory, gems and pearls long ago, and now a forgotten gem of northwest Sri Lanka. Visit the Dutch Fort of Mannar, a key position for controlling the spice trade, and learn a little of the history of this town.
Explore Mannar and surrounds today. Visit Ketheeswaram Kovil, one of the ancient Hindu temples associated with the Indian epic Ramayana. Continue to Arippu and see Doric Bungalow and the Dutch Fort. Later in the day head to Thalaimannar, the closest land point to India.
Depart for Jaffna, the northernmost peninsula of Sri Lanka, and discover a place unlike anywhere else in the country. Cut off from the rest of Sri Lanka for almost three decades of civil conflict, time seems to have stood still in Jaffna. In the afternoon, take a gentle city tour of Jaffna by bicycle.
Discover Jaffna and its surrounding coastal areas today. Begin with a visit to Nallur Temple, the largest Hindu temple in Sri Lanka. Afterwards, continue to Kasurina Beach, Kayts Jetty, Hanuman temple and other local sights. Enjoy a seafood lunch in the traditional Jaffna style at a village home along the coast.
Travel by local ferry to Delft Island, the remotest part of Sri Lanka. A barren island with modest sights, discover the strategic importance of Delft and see the wild horses of Delft, the first of which were left by the Portuguese more than 400 years ago. Lunch will be prepared fresh and served in a family home on the island.
Head to Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, stopping first at Anuradhapura, before continuing on to Habarana. Anuradhapura, ‘the City of Kings’, was once the seat of power in Sri Lanka. Today it remains an active religious site. Visit the sacred Bodhi tree and see some of the city’s ancient stupas and archaeological sights. Proceed to Habarana and check into your hotel.
Visit the magnificent Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of Sri Lanka’s biggest drawcards. Climb the 1,200 steps of this powerful site, stopping to marvel at the Sigiriya cave frescos as you make the climb. Pause at the top to catch your breath and take in the panoramic views of the surrounding area. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Depart for the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the second-oldest kingdom in Sri Lanka. See its remarkable sculptures and temples with intricate carvings. Continue toward the east of the country and a chance to interact with a local family with a rustic homestay experience.
Enjoy breakfast in the garden of your homestay, before setting off to explore the town of Batticaloa. See the villages and temples affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on this gentle tour, guided by our expert local host Mala.
Drive to Gal Oya, Sri Lanka’s least-visited national park and the only park in the country where you can safari by boat. Stay at the only lodge near the park with an enthusiastic team of wildlife specialists and researchers. The lodge offers a range of enjoyable activities, and is also a pleasant place to relax with its inviting swimming pool and excellent meals.
Head to the reservoir at Gal Oya National Park for a boat safari and enjoy a picnic breakfast at a remote island within the park. Look for crocodiles, elephant, deer and monkey from your boat. In the afternoon you can take a guided bird walk from the lodge with one of their resident naturalists or visit the research centre at the lodge and learn about the wildlife studies underway on site.
Depart for Sri Lanka’s tea country and discover the cooler climate and lush green countryside abundant with tea bushes. Experience life on a working tea estate with a two-night stay at a planters’ bungalow that has been converted into an elegant hotel.
Immerse yourself in the history of Ceylon’s tea industry. Enjoy a plantation walk and visit the site where the first tea bush was planted by James Taylor. Walk to Taylor’s Seat and enjoy the panoramic views of the tea country below, before visiting a tea factory to learn about tea production.
Drive to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s biggest city and its capital. The contrasts between the old Sri Lanka and the new can be found everywhere in Colombo. Check in to your hotel and the afternoon is at your leisure. For those wanting to experience a little of contemporary Sri Lanka, we recommend visiting Dutch Hospital for dinner and shopping.
Enjoy the morning at your own leisure. Later in the evening, a guided walking tour with a resident guide will take you to the areas around Galle Face Green and Slave Island and introduce you to some of country’s best street snacks as you go.
Morning at leisure before transferring to the airport for your departing international flight.
We loved the generosity and friendliness of the Sri Lankan people. It is a beautiful country with so much diverse culture. History, monuments, religion, food and peoples. Thank you Sri Lanka Unbound for organising a memorable visit.
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