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 20
Carbon offset
295kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Imagine the once fearsome giant lion's head that marked the entrance to Sigiriya’s Lion Rock, then climb up to a 200 metre high abandoned palace fortress
  • Get up close to elephants in Udawalawe National Park, and learn about the nearby organisation that works with orphaned or abandoned baby elephants
  • Jump in a jeep to safari though national park, and feel the excitement and anticipation of maybe spotting a leopard
  • Watch the skills and precision of the local fishermen, and soak up the noise and smell at the Negombo fish market
  • See Buddha’s famous sacred tooth in Kandy, then watch out for the local monkeys as they hunt for snacks, drinks, trinkets – anything they can get their hands on!
  • Canoe down the picturesque yet feisty Kelani River, pass where the famous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ was filmed, and enjoy watery fun surrounded by stunning forests
  • After a fun and activity-filled Sri Lankan adventure, spend a few days relaxing on one of the country’s most beautiful beaches

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. You’ll begin your adventure in Seeduwa, situated halfway between the historical town of Negombo and the commercial capital of Colombo. Seeduwa offers the opportunity to visit the beach, go on a Negombo Lagoon Safari boat trip, or relax by the pool after your flight.
There are no activities planned today so you are free to arrive any time. A welcome meeting will begin at 6pm in the hotel where the guide will introduce you to other members of your group and collect your insurance and next of kin contact details, so please ensure that you have these with you at the meeting.

Family tip:
Pack swim suits close to the top of your luggage so that no time is wasted before taking a refreshing dip in the cool waters of the hotel pool.
This morning after breakfast we head inland to Dambulla and the "dry zone" in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle. Our journey will take us through pleasant countryside and will take approximately 4-5 hours with comfort stops. The evening is free to rest ahead of our day tomorrow.
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.
Grab a packed breakfast for a very early start this morning as you drive approximately 1.5 hrs to Parakrama Lake. As you drive through Minneriya National Park at dawn, keep your eyes open for wild elephants, sleeping bats, and naughty monkeys swinging along the telephone wires.
Parakrama is one of Sri Lanka’s greatest man-made lakes, having an approximate surface area of 22,600,000 m2 and known as ‘Wevas’, it was created by 'Maha Parākramabāhu' who was the king of Sri Lanka from 1153 to 1186. The king built this reservoir as part of a complex and sophisticated irrigation system which led to great prosperity for his country.
Local people will take you out in their catamarans to explore the lake, have a delicious breakfast on a small island, and take in the 360-degree stunning view of the lake, local birdlife and forest beyond.
Return to shore, bid farewell to the fishermen and their families, and head off to your hotel for a refreshing break before exploring some nearby ancient ruins around 2pm. Polonnaruwa was the capital from the 10th – 12th centuries and its monuments tell part of Sri Lanka’s history.

Family tip.
Keep the kids involved in historical visits by taking pens & paper and playing games like “spot the ……..”And don’t forget your binoculars; you never know what wildlife is waiting to be spotted on the horizon.
Leaving Polonnaruwa this morning, break up your journey to Kandy by stopping off to explore Dambulla properly and learn its fascinating history (approximately1.5 hours). The Sinhalese King, Valagam Bahu, took refuge here when he was ousted from his capital. He transformed five caves of a granite outcrop into a rock temple decorated with statues of Buddha and frescoes, some of which are over 2,000 years old but still as brightly painted as ever. The steep 150 metre ascent to the top of the rock will reward you with more magnificent views down to the jungle and forest below. You’ll then travel southward along the main trunk road to Sri Lanka’s second city and the physical and spiritual heart of the country – Kandy (approximately 2 hours). Keep an eye on the landscape as you’ll pass through a fertile spice-growing area and plantations where coffee, cacao and rubber are cultivated. This evening you’ll visit the Dalada Maligawa, the famous Temple of the Tooth. This is a 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. Your accommodation for the next two nights will be here in Kandy.

Family tip:When visiting the temples you have to take your hats and shoes off. Do not leave your shoes at the side of the road or the monkeys will run off with them. Store them with the "shoe keepers" for a small charge or put them in your bag.
The royal city of Kandy is a pleasant city surrounded by lush green hilly countryside, and it’s home to a picturesque lake, old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants. It was once the capital of the last Sri Lankan king, and the area managed to resist European control for hundreds of years, long after the coastal areas surrendered. This morning you’ll visit the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens – among the best in Asia – which has an immense fig tree and exquisite orchid collection and lots of space for kids to run around in. In the afternoon, walk through the town to take in the sights of Kandy, including an exploration of the bazaar area and a visit to the citadel in time for sunset over the lake. The rest of your 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. Be sure to try some Sri Lanka food specialties today, like ‘short eats’ and Kothu Roti.

Family tip: Do not miss the exciting opportunity to visit Kandy market, a good chance to buy some beautiful wooden souvenirs and if the kids are fussy eaters, there is a Pizza Hut.
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 before heading to our accommodation. Tonight we will stay in rustic accommodation in Kitulgala.
Today you'll drive about 80km (approx 3hrs) to Nuwara Eliya along windy roads lined by green slopes of tea leaves. This old British hill station is the heart of the tea growing industry and full of colonial charm. Built entirely during the 19th century, its quirky architecture reflects what you'd normally expect to find in an English country village, which will make you feel like you've stepped back in time. Once known as 'Little England' by British colonialists, it’s a fascinating mix of water buffalo and brick Victorian buildings, golf courses and tea plantations. En-route you will visit Devon and St Clair's waterfalls – the 97 metre high Devon waterfall is one of the most scenic in the country, while St Clair is sometimes exaggeratingly called the ‘Little Niagara of Sri Lanka’. Devon Falls are named after a pioneering English coffee planter – the failure of those plantations due to disease lead to the cultivation of tea, and the rest is history. This afternoon you’ll visit a tea factory to learn about the country’s most important export. You’ll see every step of the tea making process, from bush to cup, and sip on some local brews. Head to your accommodation and enjoy the views across the hills and tea plantations.
Begin the day by joining the locals in a relaxing and scenic train journey from Nuwara to Bardarawela (just over 2.5hrs ) Along the way, look out for lush green hills, dramatic waterfalls and tea pickers deftly plucking the tips of the plants. Bardarawela is another hill town once popular with British plantation managers.
After stopping for lunch, take a stroll round this unhurried hill-country town where the people enjoy a simple way of life.
Tonight you will get back to nature with a memorable experience camping in a clearing set in the hills of a tea mountain. Take a gentle 3km hike up to the camp which is lit with hundreds of fairy lights, and tonight’s dinner will be served to you as you relax listening to the sounds of nature. Surrounded by the Haputale mountain range, Horton Plain Range and Hakgala Mountain Range you will awake to the most amazing views.

Note: First class tickets are not always available therefore if tickets cannot be purchased for the whole of your group, the journey will be taken by mini bus.

Family tip;
As you go up into the mountains, the temperature can drop quite considerably, therefore a fleece or light weight jumper would be handy for the later part of the evening. A little bus follows you up the mountain and takes your bags so if you tire at any point you can just hop in the back.
Begin the day, if you dare, with a refreshing open air shower. Once you have enjoyed your breakfast, take a gentle stroll back down the hill where your bus awaits to take you on to the Elephant Transit home at the edge of Uda Walawe National Park.
As you descend south from the highlands you will stop on route at Diyaluma Falls, one of Sri Lanka’s most spectacular waterfalls. Arrive at The Elephant Transit Home at feeding time and see the elephants from a viewing deck just meters away! Run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, the centre provides food and shelter for orphaned or abandoned elephants with an aim to releasing them back into the wild.
After lunch, take the rest of the afternoon to relax by the beautiful cooling pool.

Family tip;
Don’t forget your camera!
The excitement begins as you start the day by being collected from your hotel by a safari jeep. Hold on tight as the wind rushes though your hair as it whisks you off to the Uda Walawe National Park for your three hour safari trip around the park. The park has an amazing array of animal and bird life, with herds of elephants more numerous than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. If you are lucky you may also catch glimpses of Macaque and larger monkeys, or leopards and spotted dear. Who will be the first to spot the camouflaged crocodiles?

Family tip;
The safari is quite dusty so bring sunglasses, especially for little ones, avoid wearing white or light colours – they will only get dirtier, take plenty of water and those ever useful wet wipes for a good clean up afterwards.
Continue northwest along the coast today towards the perfectly preserved colonial township of Galle (approximately 2 hours), a blend of European architecture and South Asian traditions. Here you’ll visit the fabulous 400-year-old Dutch fort, exploring the winding passageways and maze of gallery-filled narrow streets, as well as the International cricket stadium. Travel on to the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery (approximately 1.5 hours), which was set up to help protect Sri Lanka’s turtles against the threat of extinction. This remarkable project has helped four million baby turtles get into the sea. Then, just up the coast is the beach town of Bentota – what better way to finish this Sri Lankan adventure than relaxing by the pool and enjoying some beach life. Bentota beach is made up of a wide stretch of sand backed by dense thickets of palm trees, and is one of the most attractive beaches on the island. You'll spend the next three nights here. Enjoy relaxing on the beach and sharing stories about your incredible Sri Lanka adventure. Low-key, quiet, and relaxing, Bentota is also the perfect place for water sports, with the turquoise waters are excellent for swimming, snorkelling, bodysurfing and diving. Sri Lanka’s hypnotic essence will remain with you long after you come home. The trip comes to an end on Day 14. 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. Those on group flights will be transferred to the airport for the flight back home.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
14 breakfasts, 1 dinner
Transport
4x4 Safari Vehicle, Canoe, 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 4.25 out of 5 based on 4 reviews in the last year.

Sri Lanka Family Holiday , July 2016

Sri Lanka Family Holiday , March 2016