Elephant Trails

12 days from £1,495pp

Discover the capital of Colombo as a family. Visit shops, hotels, churches and the oldest clock-tower in Asia. Trek around a reservoir in Hiriwadun and watch as egrets flock to long-dead trees to roost.

See the World Heritage Site of Sigiriya, famous for its Lion rock, then explore the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa by bicycle. Get up close and personal with wild animals at Minneriya National Park and visit the wonderful 5 cave complex of Dambulla as you make your way to Kandy, then journey on the hill country Badulla Train for spectacular views of the countryside.

Visit the Elephant Transit Home and join a safari at Udawalawe National Park, then transfer to colonial Galle before rounding off your holiday at a beautiful beachfront location where you can either relax or enjoying some kayaking or other watersports.

Highlights

  • Take a walking tour of Colombo through back streets, past shops, churches and forts with a local guide who knows the city like the back of his hand!

  • Spot roosting egrets in the Hiriwaduna wetlands

  • Visit the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe, a temporary home to Sri Lanka's orphaned elephants

  • See who wins the ‘bravest member of the family’ award at the 'Worlds End’ plateau which features a dramatic thousand feet sheer drop

  • Create your own traditional mask with a local mask maker in Galle

Itinerary

This exciting trip to Sri Lanka includes international flights, transfers, accommodation and selected excursions.

From the first conversation until you arrive home from your holiday, you’ll be looked after by one of our Travel Designers who has travelled extensively in the region and will give advice from their personal experience on how to make the most out of your trip.
All of our trips are entirely bespoke and we will continually refine your itinerary until it’s perfect.

 

Day

Location

Type

1

Colombo

City

You’ll touch down in Colombo where it’s time for your family holiday to begin!

Cinnamon Lakeside is the perfect place to unwind after a long flight. It's right next to Beira Lake in the city, and has a large outdoor pool, a garden and a playground for the kids to explore.

Things to do

2-4

Minneriya National Park

Wildlife/ Activity & Adventure

This morning you'll set out on a walking tour of Colombo accompanied by a local guide who knows all the best nooks and crannies of this colourful city. Best still, if the kids have heaps of questions it’s up to someone else to answer them! You will meet at the Dutch Hospital Shopping precinct and enjoy three exciting hours as you’re guided through streets, shops, hotels and churches, one of which houses the oldest clock-tower in Asia.

In the afternoon you will transfer to Habarana where you’ll stay at the Aliya Resort, in a spacious family room with separate sleeping areas and views over the surrounding countryside. Cool off in the swimming pool or burn off any excess energy by renting one of the bicycles and heading out for a ride.

On day 3 you'll get off the beaten track as you make your way to the village of Hiriwaduna. Boasting a stunning reservoir, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a trek in the fresh air along a shaded gravel path. You’ll walk past trunks of long dead trees that attract roosting egrets then stop for a delicious picnic breakfast in the cool shade. With full bellies you will continue on over the reservoir towards the home of a Chena farmer. Introduce your family to his family and enjoy a refreshing king coconut before finishing your trek.

Next pay a visit to the World Heritage Site of Sigiriya, which rises 200 meters from the scrub jungle and is encircled by a moat, rampart, and beautiful water gardens. 

On day 4 you'll visit the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa, which you will be exploring by bicycle. Discover the ruins of the Royal Palace and the Gal Viharaya; a trio of splendid Buddha statues carved out of rock and assuming various positions. There’s a dramatic audience hall, a lotus bath, the 12th century Polonnaruwa statue and the Parakrama Samudra lake.

In the afternoon, you will be heading to Minneriya National Park to get up close and personal with the wild animals that live there. This 6,656 hectare park is an important elephant corridor that allows you to get within close range – keep your eyes peeled for the elephants, leopards, fishing cats, sambar deer and the endangered rusty spotted cat.

Things to do

5

Kandy

General Tour

Rise and shine! You’re off to Kandy this morning, stopping at the wonderful 5 cave complex of Dambulla on the way. Dating back to the 1st century BC, Dambulla was used as refuge by an ancient king who commissioned magnificent carved images within the living rock. Later kings made further improvements and most of the paintings are from the early 19th century.

In the afternoon the family can come together to watch a cultural show featuring performances passed down through the generations, each with their own story to tell, then in the evening, you’re off to visit the most sacred temple in the whole of Sri Lanka, the Temple of the Tooth, where the tooth relic of Buddha is held!

Things to do

6-7

Nuwara Eliya

Activity & Adventure

The spectacular Sri Lankan countryside is yours for the taking on day 6. You'll board the Badulla Train and enjoy a scenic journey through rolling plains of tea, bridges and beautiful panoramic views as you head to your next destination, the colonial style Jetwing St Andrews hotel. Here you'll be staying in a quirky family room with an attic! Explore the grounds, play billiards, rent a bike or perhaps even try horse riding.

Be sure to save a little energy - on day 7 you will be heading on an early morning visit to Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka's highest plateau standing dramatically at 7,200 feet above sea level. The conditions here are cool and pleasant to walk in, but you may get a nervous bead of sweat on your brow when you see 'Worlds End’; a plateau plunging straight down in a thousand feet sheer drop. Keep your eyes peeled for colourful butterflies and rare highland birds.

Things to do

8

Udawalawe National Park

Wildlife

You’re about to get your elephant fix! You’re off to Udawalawe where you will visit the Elephant Transit Home, a programme sponsored by the Born Free Foundation to help raise orphaned elephants and return them to the wild. There are about 40 juvenile elephants living at the home at any one time, getting ready to be released into Udawalawe National Park. The Elephant Transit Home encourages the elephants to stay as wild as possible, and to this end you can't get up close and personal - but you will be able to see them at feeding time which is a lot of fun! You will no doubt fall in love with these gentle giants at Sri Lanka's leading, sustainable elephant home.

9-10

Galle

Wildlife & Beach

There’s no such thing as too many elephants, which is why we have arranged a morning safari at Udawalawe. Although they are wild, they are known to be cheeky and curious, so please listen to the advice of your guides! You can also see several species of deer, wild boar, wild buffalo, jackal and perhaps even an illusive leopard.

Surrounded by mountain ranges, the park is a mixture of grassland and shrub jungle, as well as teak plantations, water holes and the large Udawalewe Reservoir and the Walewe River, which ensure a supply of water for the wild animals that inhabit it.

In the afternoon, it’s time to say goodbye to the park as you transfer to colonial Galle, where you'll spend two nights in the Library Suite. This stunning hotel features a courtyard pool and the whole of Galle Fort is right on your doorstep.

The following morning you will visit the Galle Fort where the Portuguese first landed in Sri Lanka and which was fortified by the Dutch during the 17th and 18th centuries. Old Dutch Churches, houses and narrow alleys still bearing Dutch names all still stand. You'll also have the opportunity to create your own souvenir as you paint masks with a local mask maker. Keep it traditional and paint your own devil's mask with vibrant colours for a great souvenir, or go rogue and paint something entirely different.

Things to do

11-12

Galle

Beach

Your family holiday is nearly at its end, but there’s still plenty of time to relax together and discuss the wonderful sites you have seen and experiences you have shared. Your last days will be spent at leisure at the Avani Kalutara, with a beautiful beachfront location and a huge swimming pool where you can relax. If your family is more active, there’s kayaking and other water sports available.

Map of your trip

Things to do on this trip

Other trips you may like