Small group holiday to Sri Lanka
Optional single supplement from £440 - £450.
Minimum age 16.
Description of Small group holiday to Sri Lanka
This may be a small group holiday to Sri Lanka but its carefully crafted itinerary thinks big, with an eclectic mix of both cultural and natural highlights as well as some wonderful adventure activities packed into these two weeks.
From the first day you are immersed in ancient heritage, the first stop on our figure of eight tour of the island being Dambulla ancient cave complex with no less than eighty caves packed into one giant rock. These are no ordinary caves either, five of them being packed with valuable religious icons. This is when you realise that Sri Lanka is no ordinary country either.
More cultural wonders located in spectacular places await, including the giant and beautifully imposing fortress at Sigiriya, and one of the country’s finest ancient kingdoms and indeed UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Polonnaruwa.
From ancient sites to fine wildlife sights, we spend time out in the magnificent Yala National Park, where we take a game drive to glimpse some of its treasures, including elephants, sloth bear, wild buffalo and leopard, with the highest, concentrated leopard population in the world. Although that is still only 35, so sightings are rare. Birdlife isn’t rare, however, with over two hundred species flying around the park’s forests and wetlands. There is much more birdlife to be seen on our day at Giritale Tank, ancient reservoirs that are now beacons for birdlife with everything from kingfishers to kites swooping in at some stage.
Urban visits on this holiday include a few days in and around Kandy, in the heart of the country, a city that is famous for having been ruled by the Kings of Kandy since the 15th century. It then became part of the British colonial set, meaning that it has a wonderful combination of post colonial architecture here and in the surrounding hill country plantations, but also sacred sites such as the Temple of the Tooth which contains a sacred tooth belonging to the Buddha. Another important urban stop is Galle, on the south coast, where life revolves around the old fort founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese and now a maze of places to shop, eat, stay and enjoy the coastal ambience.
Getting out onto the hills and wilder areas of Sri Lanka is also an option on this holiday with trekking opportunities through the rainforest region of Kitulgala, and an option to go white water rafting here too when the waters are high enough. The Adam’s Peak trek here is certainly high and tough enough for those willing and able to take on this four hour ascent of this 2,243 m sacred summit through the night in order to be there for sunrise. Another more accessible trek is at Horton Plains, a 2000m high plateau where we go trekking through misty forest where sambar and purple faced monkeys roam. Leading, finally to World’s End one of the country’s most stunning viewpoints.
Another added bonus for travellers on this holiday is the chance to go whale watching on their free day, if they are lucky enough to be visiting between November and April. This is peak season to see the high numbers of blue whales and other cetaceans that visit the waters off Dondra Head on the island’s southern tip. Often called the teardrop island, this experience leaves many a traveller somewhat dewy eyed.
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8 Reviews of Small group holiday to Sri Lanka
Reviewed on 09 Feb 2020 by Linda CooperBrilliant, absolutely brilliant! Read full review
Reviewed on 25 Jan 2019 by Tim StapenhurstThe most memorable part of the holiday was Adam's peak, white water rafting, the "incidental"/smaller activities such as the visit to the coconut house. Read full review
Reviewed on 23 Feb 2019 by Tessa Bruce-LockhartWe did have lunch with a local farmer which was delightful, and I hope it helped them. Read full review
Reviewed on 25 Mar 2018 by Ian RavenThe most memorable moment was at Kaudulla National Park when we saw about 150 elephants. Read full review
Reviewed on 14 Oct 2018 by Tony WickVery interesting and satisfying. Read full review
Reviewed on 13 Aug 2017 by Kathryn PlantThe breadth of activities from walking through wilderness to cultural visits and swimming in the Indian ocean was the most memorable. Read full review
Reviewed on 02 Mar 2017 by Elizabeth DeveryFor me it was really the whole thing, as seeing the country where my mother and aunts were born and grew up was very interesting. I particularly enjoyed the puja at the Temple of the Tooth as our tour leader managed to get us to the front and we were also able to see the Tooth reliquary and another shrine not normally open. Read full review
Reviewed on 09 Oct 2012 by Dianne WilliamsExcellent variety, well run and an excellent guide... Take a good camera, you will want to photograph almost every thing you see, the island is fantastic! Read full review
PlanetWe are very conscious of the environment and try to limit our impact on our surroundings as much as possible. All of our vehicles used on this tour are subject to annual eco testing and we monitor this closely in order to reduce our carbon footprint. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and use markets to purchase traditional crafts. We also leave a positive impression by visiting important National Parks, ruins and museums- our entrance fees to which contribute to their upkeep. For example, our game drives in Yala N.P. promote animal welfare and financially contribute to conservation projects in the area.
Accommodation and Meals
All of the hotels we stay in are dedicated to hiring local staff and using freshly sourced produce wherever possible. This helps to benefit the surrounding community by providing employment opportunities and income alternatives where they may be otherwise hard to come by. We also try to select accommodation which has strong environmental policies. Where meals are not provided, we suggest that clients spread their commerce to small local businesses and try some authentic food. The local cuisine is predominantly vegetarian, with lots of rice. You can enjoy everything from traditional spicy curries to stalls selling tasty sweets and deserts. We stop for local delicacies whilst cycling and visit a farmhouse for lunch.
We have financially co-sponsored a local Tsunami relief project, which has enabled 25 families to be rehoused and for two schools to be equipped with toilets, running water and outdoor swings. In collaboration with a German operator and the village temple, we have helped towards 10 large water tanks and an eye clinic in a remote village with a donation of 200 pairs of glasses. We also assisted a principal agent of Unicef in development of day care and education of school children of the estate sector labourers in the hill country. Whilst visiting the Back to Life project we stay at a hotel re-built by our local operator after the original building was demolished by the Tsunami.
Local Craft and Culture
There are plenty of opportunities to engage with local culture on the several visits to towns, villages and historically important sites and events. During the summer months our visit to the Temple of the Tooth may coincide with the Buddhist Kandy festival, which is a long honoured celebration of a relic thought to be found on the island. We may be able to see a performance of traditional Kandian dancing and fire walking here. There are many places to buy handcrafted souvenirs along the way (e.g. Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya) but one of the best places might be the Gem Museum at Kandy. Here clients can learn about the traditional methods of gem extraction.