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A Journey Through Ceylon

from £2325
Explore the colour, history, culture and wildlife of Sri Lanka.
  • Product Code 47350
  • Holiday Type Pioneer Holidays, Sightseeing And Walking Holidays
  • Grade Grade 2
  • Holiday Duration 16 Nights

Guided Walking Holidays - Explore Ceylon On Foot

This is an intriguing, spectacular and welcoming country, an emerald teardrop falling from the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka speaks to your senses. Be captivated by the sight of elephants playing in Udawalawe National Park, listen to exotic birds calling in the rainforest, walk through sweet smelling tea plantations and breathe in the fresh ocean air from a sunset walk on the beach.

We fly to Colombo before heading north to Habarana to visit the sacred archaeological sites at Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, places which developed under Buddhism in the years before Christ.

Kandy’s exotic streets are full of interest, with bazaars and temples including the Temple of the Tooth, one of Buddhism’s holiest sites. A highlight might be the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, 147 acres of variety of trees, plants and flowers.

We head south again to the mountain region around Bandarawela: 19th century colonial Britain transposed to Ceylon. This is the centre of tea production and we’ll visit a plantation. Sri Lankans will tell you this is the area that produces the world’s finest tea. We also walk to Lipton’s seat for fine views and discover the Horton Plains, Sri Lanka’s highest plateau. Descending from the highlands we reach Udawalawe for a game drive in the National Park, where you can see elephants. We take in local walks including a visit to one of the last remaining regions of natural rain forest.

We have a brief stop at the colonial city of Galle (‘Gaul’), a fascinating and beautifully situated city, with time at a beach hotel to enjoy a little R&R after a fascinating itinerary. Our final night in Sri Lanka is spent in Colombo with plenty of time to see the highlights of the capital.

Holiday Highlights

  • Immerse yourself in the archaeology and culture.
  • Meet the elephants at Udawalawe National Park.
  • Stroll amongst tea plantations.
  • Enjoy Galle, a relaxed colonial town by the sea.
  • Unwind at our beach hotel towards the end of the holiday.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights from Gatwick to Colombo via Istanbul plus en route stop in Male (Turkish Airlines)
      Airport transfers
      Half board en suite accommodation plus 3 lunches
      A local English speaking guide to enhance your experience
      All transport to complete
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised program, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 2

  1. Day 1

    We depart from London Gatwick to Colombo via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.

  2. Day 2

    On arrival in Colombo Airport we take the short drive to our beach hotel at Marawila to check in and relax.

  3. Day 3

    We drive north (3½ hrs) to Habarana for 3 nights. On arrival we can enjoy a highlight of the holiday, climbing the rock fortress at Sigariya, a UNESCO world heritage site. The fortress is a pilar of rock standing out from the surrounding plateau. It is a 200m climb up rock steps but the view from the top rewards the climb. We will spend about 2hrs climbing up and down and enjoying the rock murals and views.

  4. Day 4

    A full day visit to the well preserved ancient site of Polonnaruwa, including an impressive group of monuments of Buddha carved out of the granite. We can enjoy the local museum, a pleasant 30min lakeside stroll and a chance to explore the city which extends over a huge area. The terrain is generally flat.

  5. Day 5

    We have a short transfer from the hotel to Hiriwaduna followed by a 2 hour stroll around a local reservoir. This is an excellent place to enjoy the birdlife. On occasions crocodiles can be spotted in the water. Also keep an eye out for monkeys. We will have to walk through streams on occasion so bring some suitable footwear. Later we arrive at a banana plantation which we visit by bullock cart. In the village we get a chance to  visit a rice plantation where we can enjoy a local lunch. Late afternoon we have the opportunity to visit Dambulla Caves. A highlight here is the rock carving of the Buddha 14m long.

  6. Day 6

    We then continue to Kandy for 2 nights, stopping en route for a short walk on the Riverstone Plateau. The undulating grassy plateau is home to one of the highest densities of butterflies in the country. Lunch is included today and will be taken at the historic Sir John's Bungalow with its superb view of the Knuckles Range, so named by the British as they felt it resembled a clenched fist. The walk passed paddy fields and terraces is about 3kms with some steep sections. The paths are generally good underfoot.

  7. Day 7

    We visit the botanical gardens at Peradeniya – the largest in Sri Lanka. We have a city tour of Kandy, former capital and UNESCO world heritage site. The highlight here is a visit to the Temple of the Tooth where a relic purported to be Buddha’s tooth is kept. It is Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist shrine.

  8. Day 8

    From Kandy we drive to our next centre, Bandarawela for 3 nights. We’ll visit a tea plantation and tea factory en route. We will be shown the procedure in tea production and have a chance to walk amongst the tea plants as time allows. You will be told the best tea in the world is grown here. Anticipate being offered a cup so you can decide for yourself. We continue to Bandarawela and should have time for a stroll around town before dinner at the hotel.

  9. Day 9

    We start early with a short journey to Pattipola by local train. However please note Sri Lankan trains can suffer reliability issues so we cannot guarantee anything. We continue for a half-day walking excursion out to Horton Plains to explore the grasslands and forests leading to the escarpments and spectacular views. The views are often best enjoyed in the morning as clouds can come in in the afternoon. The walk is a 3hr circuit, we will climb about 200m and cover 10km over the ground. It can be hot and humid and the paths slippery underfoot so our pace will be steady. We will be rewarded by the view of the spectacular by the view of 'World's End', a 1000m cliff face and Bakers Falls, a local waterfall. after the walk. Later in the day we will hopefully (see above) take another ride on a Sri Lankan train. Built by the British in the 1930's the trains retain a certain charm.

  10. Day 10

    We have a morning walk to Lipton’s Seat. The Scottish tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton used to survey his burgeoning empire from here. We will climb about 150m and descend 400m through agricultural land. The whole walk is about 6km  on generally good trails. We will also visit Ravana Ella waterfalls set amongst stunning scenery.

  11. Day 11

    First thing we walk to Mini Adams Peak. The climb is 300m up the peak and offers panoramic views across the countryside. We retrace our steps to return. The whole walk takes about 2hrs but there are options for those who prefer something slightly longer.  We drive down from the plateau to Udawalawe to spend 2 nights in the foothills of the central highlands. There may be the possibility of an evening walk along the shore of Udawalawe Lake.

  12. Day 12

    We enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and the first half of the day relaxing at the hotel pool. In the afternoon we experience a game drive in the Udawalawe National Park before returning to the hotel for dinner. We travel in open top 4x4 vehicles offering excellent wildlife viewing. We have a good chance of spotting wild elephants along with buffalo and possibly crocodile. The birdlife is very impressive too. Please bring a pair of binoculars. We visit in the afternoon as elephants are generally more active later in the day.

  13. Day 13

    En route to Kosgoda (2 nights) we stop briefly at Mulkirigala Rock Temple. Next to Galle on the south coast to enjoy the seaside and the atmospheric fortified city centre. We will have lunch at the Rampart Hotel, a fine old colonial building, before continuing to our beach hotel.

  14. Day 14

    We have a day of rest and recuperation by the sea. A good time to write the postcards, take a dip and discuss the experiences with your fellow travellers.

  15. Day 15

    We transfer to Colombo with time for a sightseeing tour of the capital and overnight in our city centre, seafront, colonial hotel.

  16. Day 16

    Later in the day we will return to Colombo Airport for our overnight flight to the UK.

  17. Day 17

    Arrive in the UK

Travel Details

  • Flights: Gatwick-Colombo via Istanbul, 31Oct Heathrow (c14hrs + en-route stop in Male), Turkish Airlines.            
  • Arrival transfer by road (c1hr).
  • We can offer regional flight options and often there will be up to two transfer vehicles (which may include coaches, minibuses or taxis) from the airport to the hotel and vice versa which will minimise any waiting time at the overseas airport.
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • Visa is required. 

Trip Map

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Club Palm Bay

The Club Palm Bay is in a secluded area of the country and has its own section of private beach, as well as accommodation overlooking a peaceful lagoon bordered by lush greenery. A large outdoor swimming pool that caters to all abilities with various depths is available for a cool break from the warm weather. Friendly staff are on hand to make your stay a pleasant one, whether you are taking a drink at the bar or ordering at the restaurant. Spacious and clean rooms are decorated in warm tones and have views of the lagoon or garden. They also come with TVs, safes and en-suite bathrooms.

Mount Lavinia Hotel

The Mount Lavinia Hotel stands out for its special colonial heritage (read about its intriguing history here) and its unique setting on a rocky promontory that juts out from the coast. Colonial era charm combines with exceptional service, where you can easily wander on to the beach for a stroll. It is located 12km from central Colombo, and as a result benefits from a quieter more tranquil environment. Rooms have hints of old world charm, with antique furniture and understated elegance. They come with en-suite facilities, mini bar, air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, tea and coffee making facilities and satellite TVs. The hotel also comes with a range of facilities including, a shopping arcade selling everything from Sri Lankan garments to jewellery, gym, spa, restaurants, bar and outdoor swimming pool that has terraces overlooking the Indian Ocean.

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