Discover the beauty of Sri Lanka's beaches and tea plantations with your family

Take the kids on an intrepid adventure to the island paradise of Sri Lanka. Set adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean, this tropical land offers fascinating ancient history in incredible natural settings, making its sites ideal for inquiring minds to explore. Inspire children with the chance to get up close to wild elephants, turtles and perhaps even an elusive leopard. Challenge the family to something new, from bird-spotting from a catamaran and canoeing down a river to camping in a tea plantation. Set against an enthralling cultural backdrop and pristine white sand beaches, Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination to enjoy as a family.

Start
Katunayake, Sri Lanka
Finish
Bentota, Sri Lanka
Countries
Sri Lanka
Themes
Family, Wildlife
Code
HHFL
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 5
Group size
Min 2 Max 16
Carbon offset
295kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Climb to the summit of Lion Rock
  • Explore the remains of Sigiriya’s fortress
  • Visit an elephant sanctuary
  • Marvel at the ancient city of Polonnaruw
  • Visit the mighty Temple of the Tooth
  • Canoe down a jungle-flanked river
  • Take tea in Little England
  • Camp in an idyllic tea plantation
  • Set out on a jeep safari through Uda Walawe National Park
  • Relax on palm-fringed beaches

Itinerary

Welcome to Sri Lanka!

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Seeduwa is located on the Negombo Lagoon, about 10 kilometres away from Colombo International airport.

After arriving in Seeduwa, there will be plenty of time for relaxing by the swimming pool and to meet the other members of your group, there are no activities planned for today.
Before we leave the coast behind, we visit the fish market in Negombo to watch the fisherman sorting their catch for the day. We then head inland to Dambulla and the "dry zone" in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle. Enroute we will visit a hand loom factory where an old tradition is being revitalized. The rest of the day is free to relax by the pool or perhaps take an optional bike ride.

This morning we drive a short distance from Dambulla, where we have the opportunity to climb to the summit of Sigiriya’s famous Lion Rock using a series of steps and walkways which zig-zag their way up the seemingly impenetrable rock cliffs. The site was occupied long before the citadel was built at the end of the 5th century, and it later became a monastery before falling into disrepair. From the base, a moat surrounds impressive water gardens of landscaped beauty. To reach the summit, we’ll ascend 200m, passing an overhanging rock under which superb portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the rock wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit of the rock are the extensive remains of King Kasyapa’s summer palace from where there are breathtaking views.

A great way to see lots of village life is cycling through it! This afternoon we will take to bikes, you may see fishermen at work, families washing their clothes and possibly even bathing by the lake. This ride will be a great way to experience the local lifestyle while also seeing some beautiful countryside and wildlife.

In the late afternoon we will return to your accommodation.
Very early this morning we drive for one and a half hours (complete with packed breakfast) to Parakrama Lake. We will drive via Minneriya National Park arriving at dawn, a very mystical way to start the day as the plains are covered in mist! Parakrama Lake is known as one of Sri Lanka’s greatest man-made lakes and we can watch the changing hues as the light comes up. These man-made lakes are known as 'wevas' to the Sri Lankan people and were created to provide irrigation. It’s a fun, friendly experience as we wait alongside the wives and young children of fisherman, who’ve gone out to retrieve their fishing nets laid out the night before - a great way to get to know the locals!

After the fishermen have sorted their catch, it’s time to head out on a catamaran across the lake; a real adventure! We may even be able to spot white bellied fish eagles, brahmini kites, ibis, cormorants and other native birds as we travel. In the middle of the lake is a small island, a rocky outcrop that provides great 360° views of the lake and forests beyond.

NB – The catamaran ride is subject to water levels and not usually available from June to September.

Bidding the fishermen and their families’ farewell, we continue to your new hotel to check in. After a little time to refresh and to have some lunch, we'll continue to Polonnaruwa at about 2pm in order to explore the ancient ruins. Polonnaruwa was the capital from the 10th – 12th centuries, following the decline of Anuradhapura. Here we can explore many monuments which pay great testimony to the city’s important role in Sri Lanka’s history, such as the Royal Palace complex and the Gal Vihare complex, with four impressive Buddha images cut from a single slab of granite. In the late afternoon we will transfer back to your accommodation in Polonnaruwa, maybe in time for a swim.
Leaving Polonnaruwa this morning we break our journey stopping off to explore Dambulla properly, to learn its fascinating history. The Sinhalese King, Valagam Bahu, took refuge here when he was ousted from his capital. He transformed the five caves of this granite outcrop into a rock temple, decorated by statues of Buddha and frescoes, some of which are over 2000 years old but still as brightly painted as ever. The steep 150m ascent to the top of the rock rewards us with more magnificent views down to the jungle and forest below. You then travel southward along the main trunk road to Sri Lanka’s second city, Kandy, a journey of around two hours. We'll pass through a fertile spice-growing area and plantations where coffee, cacao and rubber are cultivated.

This evening we’ll visit the Dalada Maligawa, the famous Temple of the Tooth. This is the major shrine where pilgrims have revered Buddha’s tooth since the 16th century; its gilded roof seems to act as a beacon to visitors throughout the day and into the evening. Our accommodation for the next two nights will be in Kandy.

The royal city of Kandy is pleasantly set on the edge of a lake surrounded by hills. It was once the capital of a kingdom, and managed to resist European dominance for hundreds of years - long after the coastal areas surrendered.

This morning we will visit the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, with their immense fig tree and exquisite orchid collection and lots of space for kids to run around in. In the afternoon we walk through the town to take in the sights of Kandy including a visit to the bazaar area and a visit to the citadel in time for sunset over the lake.

The rest of our time here is free to explore. Take a nature walk at Udawattakele Sanctuary, close to Kandy, which offers the chance to see flowers, birds and monkeys amid 160 acres of tropical rainforest. Kandy is perfect for those who enjoy walking - the town has many hidden corners to explore and views from walks around the lake are spectacular.
Leaving Kandy you take a bus journey (approx 2.5 hours) through the green ranks of tea bushes which cover the higher hillsides on our way to Kitulgala. We continue our drive through this beautiful landscape, descending to Kitulgala, to arrive around lunchtime.

Located amidst thick forest on Sri Lanka’s second-longest river, the Kelani, Kitulgala is rapidly becoming something of an adventure centre and is a great place for a variety of activities. The river, setting for the epic film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ is an ideal location for swimming and other water-based activities. The surrounding forests with their wide variety of flora and fauna offer you a variety of spectacular walks, with some stunning views over the valley.

This afternoon we will first cross the Kelani River on a suspension bridge used by the local villagers. Then we'll proceed to walk through the small village and the forest reserve on the opposite bank and finally re-emerge on the bank of the Kelani River to take a canoe to get across to the night night's accommodation. Tonight we will stay in rustic accommodation in Kitulgala.
Today we will enjoy a short but very scenic train journey for a couple of hours to Nuwara Eliya, the heart of the tea growing industry and full of colonial charm. Built entirely during the 19th century, it's quirky architecture reflects what you'd normally expect to find in an English country town, which will make you feel like you've stepped back in time. Enroute you will visit Devon and St Clare's waterfalls.This afternoon we will visit a tea factory to see the process of making one of our favourite drinks in action. You’ll see every step of the tea making process, from bush to cup!

Today we set off through the hills once again. Along the way we’ll see tea pickers deftly plucking the tips of the plants and throwing them into the baskets carried on their backs. Taking the twisting roads of hill country, we'll pass through the lush greenery of this region. Today's journey will end at Bandarawela, another hill town once popular with British plantation managers, tonight we camp ,nestled in a clearing cut into the side of a tea mountain. The tents are very spacious, clean and modern and you will drift to sleep listening to nature's very own orchestra.
After breakfast, head off to Orient Hotel. Explore Bandarawela on your own or relax at the hotel. Bandarawela is an unhurried, unpretentious hill-country town which exists to supply the needs of the tea plantation workers, farmers and its hardworking inhabitants. The people of Bandarawela enjoy a simple way of life; where school children and grandparents together work the family plot for the home’s requirement of fruit and vegetable and also tend their cattle and goats.
Another distinctive feature of Bandarawela is the colonial flavor still preserved in the many old buildings including the Bandarawela Hotel and the old Cargill’s Supermarket.
This morning we'll continue south where we'll visit the Diyaluma Falls, one of Sri Lanka's most spectacular waterfalls, before venturing approaching Uda Walawe National Park. The 308km sq park has an amazing array of animal and birdlife; herds of wild elephant are more numerous here than anywhere else in Sri Lanka.

After lunch, we will visit the nearby Elephant Transit Home. Run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation and set up in 1995, it provides shelter for orphaned or abandoned baby elephants, releasing them to the wild when they are strong enough to survive in their natural habitat. We will visit the Elephant Transit Home at feeding time and see the elephants from a viewing deck approximately 10m away; a great chance to learn more about Sri Lanka’s national animal.

Once feeding is over, we'll embark on a jeep safari inside the park. If we are really lucky you may also catch glimpses of macaque and larger monkeys, leopard, spotted deer and crocodile. This is a real safari experience; kids will love the thrill of coming across a herd of wild elephants; it’s nothing like a zoo or safari park!

Late on this afternoon, we continue our journey south to reach the coast at Nonagama. Here we’ll take a short drive along the coast road west and soon arrive at your hotel near the small fishing village of Tangalle where we'll arrive early evening in time for dinner.
We leave Udawalawe behind and transfer to Galle where we visit the fabulous old dutch fort and the International cricket stadium. We then proceed north via a turtle hatchery for a 3 night stay in Bentota where we can end the holiday relaxing by the pool and enjoying some beach life.
Bentota is a historical place described in ancient messenger poems (sandeśa kāvya). The Galapatha Viharaya is one of a cluster of five ancient temples in the region.[1] In the 17th Century the Portuguese built a small fort at the mouth of the Bentota River (Bentara Ganga), which in Sinhala was called Parangi Kotuwa, meaning the fort of the Portuguese. The river marked the southern extremity of Portuguese held territory in Sri Lanka. The Dutch subsequently allowed the fort to fall into disrepair, converting one of the large buildings within the fort into a colonial rest house for Dutch Officers travelling between Colombo and Galle. The British subsequently converted the rest house into a coastal sanatorium. Sir James Emerson Tennent (1804-1869), the colonial secretary of Ceylon (1845-1850) in his book, Ceylon, An Account of the Island (1859), stated that the rest house at Bentota, situated within a little park, deeply shaded by lofty Tamarind trees on the point of the beach where the river forms its junction with the sea, is one of the coolest and most agreeable in Ceylon. The British introduced the railway in the early 19th century, mainly to transport the coconut produce from the deep south to the capital, building a permanent bridge (Bentota Palama) to cross the river.
Enjoy relaxing on the beach and sharing stories about your incredible Sri Lanka adventure
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. With charming people, mysterious ruins and some of the best cuisine in the world, Sri Lanka’s hypnotic essence will remain with you long after you come home.
End the holiday relaxing by the pool and enjoying some beach life
The trip ends today. Those on group flights will be transferred to the airport for the flight back home

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart your accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
14 breakfasts, 2 dinners
Transport
4x4 Safari Vehicle, Kayak, Private Bus
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 night), Guesthouse (1 night), Hotel (12 nights)
Included activities
  • Negombo - Fish Market Tour
  • Climb Lion Rock
  • Boat ride Polonnaruwa
  • Polonnaruwa exploration
  • Dambulla - Cave temples
  • Temple of the Tooth
  • Kandy exploration walk
  • Canoe on Kelani River
  • St Clare Waterfall
  • Bandarawela walk
  • Diyaluma falls
  • Jeep Safari Uda Walawe National Park
  • Elephant Transit home
  • Galle Dutch Fort

Dates

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Important notes

Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
Minimum age for children on this trip is 5 years old.

A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 14 years and under at time of travel.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Sri Lanka Family Holiday trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 2 reviews in the last year.

Sri Lanka Family Holiday , March 2016

Sri Lanka Family Holiday , March 2016

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