Tailormade tour Active Family Tour of Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

13 nights/14 days

Negombo • Sigiriya • Polonnaruwa • Kandy • Yala • Galle • Bentota

Families will love all that Sri Lanka has to offer. On this active family touring holiday, we have chosen hotels that are very welcoming to families whilst providing an authentic flavour of Sri Lanka. You experience all aspects of Sri Lanka: wildlife, culture, scenery, history and beaches.

Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,730 per person.

Luxury tour with driver-guide of Sri Lanka for families offering an insight into culture, scenery, wildlife and beaches

This 13-night touring holiday of Sri Lanka with a driver-guide is tailored for families who wish to have an authentic and immersive experience of all the country has to offer. You can spot elephants in the wild, mess about on the beach, visit a turtle hatchery or go on a whale-watching trip as well as visiting impressive cultural heritage sites. Many of the hotels we offer have family rooms or inter-connecting rooms. Additional activities can be arranged to tailor the day-by-day visits to your own interests. This holiday can be undertaken staying in a range of hotels. To make things simple initially we are giving a Luxury option and a Value option. Each combination is based on tried and tested hotels within given price ranges but any other hotels we feature in the respective regions can be included instead and of course, Luxury and Value hotels can be mixed.

Highlights

Negombo • Sigiriya • Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage • Hiriwaduna Village • Polonnaruwa • Gal Vihara • Minneriya • Dambulla • Kandy • Ella Gap • Yala • Yala National Park • Galle • Ambalangoda • Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery • Bentota

Day by day

On arrival in Colombo, you will be met by your English-speaking chauffeur guide who will accompany you throughout your journey of Sri Lanka in an air-conditioned vehicle. Drive to Negombo, a town which is set amid lush groves of coconut palms, breathes the spirit of the sea and shows its interesting colonial past with many historical buildings. You will stay here for 1 night.

Today, depart for the Cultural Triangle (approximately 4 hours), a melting pot of heritage, culture and wildlife and home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Sri Lanka boasts a phenomenal eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, four of which are in the dry Central Province. Between them they tell a fascinating story of Sri Lanka’s civilisation. You will stay in Sigiriya for 3 nights. En route, you will visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, (approximately 1 hour from Kandy). Pinnawala is a government-run elephant orphanage, where abandoned or injured elephants are reared. They live in a large enclosed area and are herded to the river twice a day for bathing. There may be an element of a zoo about Pinnawala but it does offer the best chance to get close to these magnificent animals. The number of elephants has increased to more than 65 now, with more then 25 babies born as a result of the captive breeding programme.

This morning set off to climb the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya, with its rocky abode and water gardens. This World Heritage Site is one of the island's most awe-inspiring archaeological sites and a prime tourist attraction. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Palace on the summit of the 600-foot high rock. On one of the stairways the only known ancient work of Sinhala secular painting survives in the form of frescoes of 21 life sized damsels still shining in their original colours. You can stroll through the ruins of palace and gardens down below and admire the rock without climbing up all the steps. However, to fully appreciate Sigiriya, you have to climb a series of steep, and sometimes narrow, steps taking you up one side of the rock to the summit. At the top you get majestic views of the surrounding jungle and you can walk around the foundations of the palace, replete with bathing pool. Part-way up the rock, you can divert to climb a spiral iron staircase to view the famous Sigiriya frescoes. Later this afternoon, you will be driven the short distance from Sigiriya is Hiriwaduna Village, where you will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the local villagers. You can help in some of their daily tasks, such as farming and cooking, or even be taken on a bullock cart ride through a banana plantation, tasting the ripe bananas along the way!

After breakfast, leave for the world heritage site of Polonnaruwa via Habarana, Minneriya and Giritale (approximately 2 hours’ drive). In the 12th Century AD, the mediaeval capital of Polonnaruwa was one of the great urban centres in South Asia. Today, the well-preserved ruins give you the chance to experience the grandeur of this period and marvel at the artistry of the island's early craftsmen. Highlights are the Royal Palace and Council Chamber, and the graceful Buddha statues at Gal Vihara, the pinnacle of Sri Lankan rock carving. The site also hosts many distinctly South Indian-style Hindu temples. Set amongst gently undulating woodland, the monkeys, giant lizards and birdlife in abundance, the historical site is visited using a combination of driving and on foot; or else hire a bike and cycle around (best visited early morning or late afternoon because this is the dry zone). On your return journey, as you pass through Minneriya, it is likely that you will see wild elephants, sometimes in large herds. This is the site of the ‘Elephant Gathering’ between July and October, where up to 300 elephants can be seen gathering around the tank in the late afternoon.

After breakfast, head south towards Sri Lanka’s hill country. En route, you will visit the beautiful cave temples of Dambulla, another World Heritage Site. Used as a refuge since the 1st Century BC, each cave is filled with murals depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life and gilded statues of the Buddha in various poses. The temple is spiritual and mesmerising with no less than 150 Buddhist statues in the five caves. There are images of Buddhist deities all around and the fantastic frescos on the walls and ceilings portray the life of Buddha. This visit will include a 10-15 minute uphill climb on foot, but you are rewarded with the most fantastic views overlooking the plain. You will then continue on your journey to Kandy, which was the last capital of the Sinhalese kingdom and is today still an important cultural and spiritual centre. On the way pause to visit a famous spice garden and authentic arts and crafts centre. Explore this picturesque lake-side city with its wealth of antique and gemstone shops, a bustling market and numerous restaurants. You will stay in Kandy for 2 nights.

Have day at your leisure to explore Kandy. This royal capital of the hill country is a UNESCO world heritage site, built beside a placid lake surrounded by hills. Thanks to these natural fortifications, the Kandyan kingdom held out against colonial invaders for centuries. It was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings during the Portuguese, Dutch and British rule and finally ceded to the British in 1815 after an agreement. To the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and the World, Kandy is one of the most sacred sites as it is the home of the “Dalada Maligawa” - Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. This tooth of the Lord Buddha is said to have been brought from India in the third century and there are three daily ceremonies of homage by white-robed pilgrims. In the evening, join the crowds to visit Kandy’s famous Temple of the Tooth and enjoy a traditional Kandyan dance show. This is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists, containing the tooth relic of Lord Buddha.

This morning enjoy more mountain scenery on the way to Ella Gap, where the mountains dramatically drop down to the plains of the south, continuing to the south-east coast of the island. This nature resort is located in ten acres of jungle bordering the entrance of Yala National Park and the Indian Ocean. A variety of wild animals are seen in the grounds, such as monkeys, wild boar and the occasional elephant. Yala is most famous for its leopards and has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, offering the best chance to see them in the wild. This is a very dry terrain with little shade, bordered by a beautiful coastline and interspersed with watering holes. Daytime temperatures reach around 30c, so it is a dry heat with little rainfall. You will stay in Yala for 2 nights.

Begin early this morning for a wildlife safari by jeep. Elephants, sloth bear, sambhur and buffaloes are amongst the animals also seen in the park. You will see that Sri Lanka is blessed to have the opportunity to showcase a huge amount of fascinating wildlife, all of which you will experience during your safaris. Because of the high density of leopards in Yala, the lack of other carnivores means that the leopard is the top predator, so adults and cubs can be remarkably relaxed during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the jeep which can lead to some excellent photographic opportunities. On an afternoon safari, watch out for crocodiles basking in the evening sun.

After breakfast, you will depart for Galle (approximately 3 to 4 hours). Visit the historic Galle Fort and Galle cricket stadium. There are myriad narrow streets to explore within the city walls and some lovely small shops selling crafts, jewellery and antiques. You will stay in Galle for 2 nights.

During your day in Galle, there is time to take an optional guided tour of the Galle Fort but also to visit low country tea estates, take a river boat trip or visit the Kottawa and Hiyare Rainforests or Samakanda organic farm. A whale and dolphin watching trip can also be arranged from Mirissa (December to April).

Drive north along the coast to spend three nights in a beach hotel in Bentota. Along the way, you will stop at Ambalangoda where wooden mask carvings are made and see the traditional methods of creating these masks and stop at the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery.

Bentota itself is best known for its long, picturesque stretches of sandy beach and whilst here. Boat trips on the river are increasingly popular; take a raft to enjoy the silence of the mangrove swamps.

On your third day in Bentota, you may wish to explore the town of Bentota itself, which straddles along the main road from Colombo to Galle and offers an insight into local life and customs. There is a modern shopping centre and a marketplace. There is also a handicraft centre on the roadside south of the town.

Transfer to the airport (approximately 1.5 hours) for your departure.

We were incredibly impressed by our guide/driver. He helped make the trip. The holiday exceeded our expectations.
Mrs A, January 2019

Holiday price guide From about £2,730 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including economy flights.

Holiday Code SLDG02

Luxury tour with driver-guide of Sri Lanka for families offering an insight into culture, scenery, wildlife and beaches

On arrival in Colombo, you will be met by your English-speaking chauffeur guide who will accompany you throughout your journey of Sri Lanka in an air-conditioned vehicle. Drive to Negombo, a town which is set amid lush groves of coconut palms, breathes the spirit of the sea and shows its interesting colonial past with many historical buildings. You will stay here for 1 night.

Today, depart for the Cultural Triangle (approximately 4 hours), a melting pot of heritage, culture and wildlife and home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Sri Lanka boasts a phenomenal eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, four of which are in the dry Central Province. Between them they tell a fascinating story of Sri Lanka’s civilisation. You will stay in Sigiriya for 3 nights. En route, you will visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, (approximately 1 hour from Kandy). Pinnawala is a government-run elephant orphanage, where abandoned or injured elephants are reared. They live in a large enclosed area and are herded to the river twice a day for bathing. There may be an element of a zoo about Pinnawala but it does offer the best chance to get close to these magnificent animals. The number of elephants has increased to more than 65 now, with more then 25 babies born as a result of the captive breeding programme.

This morning set off to climb the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya, with its rocky abode and water gardens. This World Heritage Site is one of the island's most awe-inspiring archaeological sites and a prime tourist attraction. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Palace on the summit of the 600-foot high rock. On one of the stairways the only known ancient work of Sinhala secular painting survives in the form of frescoes of 21 life sized damsels still shining in their original colours. You can stroll through the ruins of palace and gardens down below and admire the rock without climbing up all the steps. However, to fully appreciate Sigiriya, you have to climb a series of steep, and sometimes narrow, steps taking you up one side of the rock to the summit. At the top you get majestic views of the surrounding jungle and you can walk around the foundations of the palace, replete with bathing pool. Part-way up the rock, you can divert to climb a spiral iron staircase to view the famous Sigiriya frescoes. Later this afternoon, you will be driven the short distance from Sigiriya is Hiriwaduna Village, where you will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the local villagers. You can help in some of their daily tasks, such as farming and cooking, or even be taken on a bullock cart ride through a banana plantation, tasting the ripe bananas along the way!

After breakfast, leave for the world heritage site of Polonnaruwa via Habarana, Minneriya and Giritale (approximately 2 hours’ drive). In the 12th Century AD, the mediaeval capital of Polonnaruwa was one of the great urban centres in South Asia. Today, the well-preserved ruins give you the chance to experience the grandeur of this period and marvel at the artistry of the island's early craftsmen. Highlights are the Royal Palace and Council Chamber, and the graceful Buddha statues at Gal Vihara, the pinnacle of Sri Lankan rock carving. The site also hosts many distinctly South Indian-style Hindu temples. Set amongst gently undulating woodland, the monkeys, giant lizards and birdlife in abundance, the historical site is visited using a combination of driving and on foot; or else hire a bike and cycle around (best visited early morning or late afternoon because this is the dry zone). On your return journey, as you pass through Minneriya, it is likely that you will see wild elephants, sometimes in large herds. This is the site of the ‘Elephant Gathering’ between July and October, where up to 300 elephants can be seen gathering around the tank in the late afternoon.

After breakfast, head south towards Sri Lanka’s hill country. En route, you will visit the beautiful cave temples of Dambulla, another World Heritage Site. Used as a refuge since the 1st Century BC, each cave is filled with murals depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life and gilded statues of the Buddha in various poses. The temple is spiritual and mesmerising with no less than 150 Buddhist statues in the five caves. There are images of Buddhist deities all around and the fantastic frescos on the walls and ceilings portray the life of Buddha. This visit will include a 10-15 minute uphill climb on foot, but you are rewarded with the most fantastic views overlooking the plain. You will then continue on your journey to Kandy, which was the last capital of the Sinhalese kingdom and is today still an important cultural and spiritual centre. On the way pause to visit a famous spice garden and authentic arts and crafts centre. Explore this picturesque lake-side city with its wealth of antique and gemstone shops, a bustling market and numerous restaurants. You will stay in Kandy for 2 nights.

Have day at your leisure to explore Kandy. This royal capital of the hill country is a UNESCO world heritage site, built beside a placid lake surrounded by hills. Thanks to these natural fortifications, the Kandyan kingdom held out against colonial invaders for centuries. It was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings during the Portuguese, Dutch and British rule and finally ceded to the British in 1815 after an agreement. To the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and the World, Kandy is one of the most sacred sites as it is the home of the “Dalada Maligawa” - Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. This tooth of the Lord Buddha is said to have been brought from India in the third century and there are three daily ceremonies of homage by white-robed pilgrims. In the evening, join the crowds to visit Kandy’s famous Temple of the Tooth and enjoy a traditional Kandyan dance show. This is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists, containing the tooth relic of Lord Buddha.

This morning enjoy more mountain scenery on the way to Ella Gap, where the mountains dramatically drop down to the plains of the south, continuing to the south-east coast of the island. This nature resort is located in ten acres of jungle bordering the entrance of Yala National Park and the Indian Ocean. A variety of wild animals are seen in the grounds, such as monkeys, wild boar and the occasional elephant. Yala is most famous for its leopards and has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, offering the best chance to see them in the wild. This is a very dry terrain with little shade, bordered by a beautiful coastline and interspersed with watering holes. Daytime temperatures reach around 30c, so it is a dry heat with little rainfall. You will stay in Yala for 2 nights.

Begin early this morning for a wildlife safari by jeep. Elephants, sloth bear, sambhur and buffaloes are amongst the animals also seen in the park. You will see that Sri Lanka is blessed to have the opportunity to showcase a huge amount of fascinating wildlife, all of which you will experience during your safaris. Because of the high density of leopards in Yala, the lack of other carnivores means that the leopard is the top predator, so adults and cubs can be remarkably relaxed during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the jeep which can lead to some excellent photographic opportunities. On an afternoon safari, watch out for crocodiles basking in the evening sun.

After breakfast, you will depart for Galle (approximately 3 to 4 hours). Visit the historic Galle Fort and Galle cricket stadium. There are myriad narrow streets to explore within the city walls and some lovely small shops selling crafts, jewellery and antiques. You will stay in Galle for 2 nights.

During your day in Galle, there is time to take an optional guided tour of the Galle Fort but also to visit low country tea estates, take a river boat trip or visit the Kottawa and Hiyare Rainforests or Samakanda organic farm. A whale and dolphin watching trip can also be arranged from Mirissa (December to April).

Drive north along the coast to spend three nights in a beach hotel in Bentota. Along the way, you will stop at Ambalangoda where wooden mask carvings are made and see the traditional methods of creating these masks and stop at the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery.

Bentota itself is best known for its long, picturesque stretches of sandy beach and whilst here. Boat trips on the river are increasingly popular; take a raft to enjoy the silence of the mangrove swamps.

On your third day in Bentota, you may wish to explore the town of Bentota itself, which straddles along the main road from Colombo to Galle and offers an insight into local life and customs. There is a modern shopping centre and a marketplace. There is also a handicraft centre on the roadside south of the town.

Transfer to the airport (approximately 1.5 hours) for your departure.

Holiday price guide From about £2,730 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including economy flights.

Holiday Code SLDG02

Our prices include ● Return scheduled flights with British Airways or Sri Lankan Airlines to Colombo in economy class
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Negombo
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Sigiriya
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Kandy
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Yala
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Galle
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Bentota
● Private English-speaking chauffeur-guide in an air-conditioned Japanese car throughout the itinerary
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Visas (A visa is a requirement for entry to Sri Lanka and can be obtained on line from www.eta.gov.lk)
● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, payable locally to the hotel
● Camera fees where applicable
● Optional excursions – to be pre-booked and at a supplement

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour
Negombo
Jetwing Beach

Jetwing Beach is a luxury 4-star boutique hotel in a beautiful coastal location. Excellent spa facilities and a wide variety of dining facilities - including the unmissable signature dining experiences - afford guests a relaxing and idyllic experience.

Deluxe room

Sigiriya
Cinnamon Lodge Value option

Cinnamon Lodge is a luxury 4-star plus hotel in a beautiful rural location. The delicious 'destination' dining and luxurious spa facilities alongside the stunning lakeside setting afford guests a truly tranquil and restorative experience.

Superior room

Aliya Resort and Spa Luxury option

Aliya Resort and Spa is a luxury 4-star hotel with a stunning natural location among grassy plains with views of Lion Rock. Contemporary, chic design, excellent dining facilities and an Ayurvedic spa afford guests a serene experience.

Deluxe room

Kandy
Amaya Hills Value option

Amaya Hills is a 4-star hotel in a stunning location among the Kandy Hills. It provides excellent value for the more budget-conscious traveller, with luxury facilities including an open-air pool with spectacular views and an Ayurvedic spa.

Superior room

Mahaweli Reach Hotel Luxury option

Mahaweli Reach is an elegant 4-star hotel in a beautiful riverside location. Delicious cuisine, comfortable accommodation and excellent spa facilities afford guests a tranquil and indulgent retreat from the bustle of nearby Kandy.

Deluxe room

Yala
Jetwing Yala

Jetwing Yala is a luxury 5-star boutique hotel in a beautiful coastal location. Nestled between the Yala National Park and the Indian Ocean, guests can enjoy delicious cuisine and excellent spa facilities in this sublimely secluded retreat.

Superior room

Galle
The Fort Printers Value option

The Fort Printers Hotel is a charming, exclusive small boutique hotel in a fantastic central location. Excellent cuisine, luxurious accommodation and a serene walled garden with pool make this the ideal haven from the bustle of Galle.

Double room

Galle Fort Hotel Luxury option

Galle Fort Hotel is an award-winning small luxury boutique hotel located in the old Dutch Fort. Delicious cuisine and serene atmosphere make it a tranquil haven from the bustle of Galle.

Double room

Bentota
Avani Bentota Value option

The AVANI Bentota Resort & Spa is a luxury 4-star plus coastal hotel with excellent spa facilities and convenient proximity to nearby cultural attractions and other possible stop off points in Sri Lanka.

Standard room

Taj Bentota Resort & Spa Luxury option

The Vivanta by Taj is a 5-star hotel in a beautiful beachside location. Excellent cuisine, Indian spa facilities and a wealth of experiences afford guests a truly relaxing and indulgent experience.

Superior charm room

Holiday price guide

From about £2,730 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including economy flights.

Holiday Code SLDG02

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