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Sri Lanka - Temples, Safari and Beach

14days from
£2,660*per person



A meticulously crafted merge of meandering around ancient sites, marvelling at the country’s natural spectacles and moments of total enlightenment. Immerse yourself in the atmospheric, temple-teeming cities of Colombo, Polonnaruwa and Kandy, pausing for steaming cups of Ceylon tea and reflecting on the past from atop ruins and fort ramparts. Sit amongst fragrant spice gardens to watch a cookery demonstration, join an expert botanist on a guided walk, and learn about the ins and outs of the country’s gem industry. Carefully curated experiences allow for interactions with local wildlife, encompassing a visit to an elephant rehabilitation centre and game drives into the the heart of Yala National Park. After all the adventuring, the tour slows to the pace of the swaying palm trees that fringe the shores of a beachside resort, set overlooking the Indian Ocean.


  • Set off on your flight, departing from your chosen airport to Sri Lanka.
  • Today, you’ll arrive at the airport in Katunayake, meet your tour manager, and be transferred to Colombo, where you’ll check into your hotel, overlooking Beira Lake. You can spend the evening settling in and maybe having a drink in the lobby lounge before dinner.
  • Following breakfast, you’ll set off on a tour of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city and commercial capital. The tour will travel into the heart of this diverse hub, passing by Buddhist and Hindu temples, interspersed with modern buildings. You’ll then return to your hotel, maybe opting to meander along the Galle Face green – an ocean-side urban park. Perhaps visit the Galle Face Hotel, with dramatic views of the Indian Ocean, for afternoon tea or a sundowner (payable locally). The tour will then continue to Dambulla, which is home to the largest, best-preserved cave temple complex in the country. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this expansive complex is also one of the most important Buddhist monasteries. The rock ceiling is coated with paintings, and the interior is lined with the highest number of Buddha statues found in one place. Your guide will lead you around the cave, which encompasses a monastery and five sanctuaries. After your day of adventuring, you’ll travel to your next hotel, ringed by forested landscape, and embrace a relaxed evening and dinner.
  • After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll board the coach and travel to the town of Polonnaruwa, littered with ancient sites and archaeological monuments. Here, you’ll also see a sprawling man-made reservoir named Parakrama Samudra, which translates to ‘the sea of Parakrama’. Another striking point of interest is the towering rock temple, Gal Viharaya, featuring four Buddha statues that have been cut into the stone. The more energetic can choose to explore the area on bike – this can be arranged by your guide for an additional fee. In the afternoon, you’ll travel to Sigiriya Rock Fortress and can choose to climb to the top if you’d like. This fortress, built into a rock boulder, towers above the jungle and dates to the fifth century. As you slowly ascend, you’ll learn about how this structure served as the royal citadel for over 18 years and pass by rock paintings lining the walls. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll be able to admire the ruins and the incredible vista of the surrounding scenery. You’ll then be transferred to your hotel to freshen up and unwind before it’s time for dinner.
  • Rise and tuck into breakfast before checking out of your hotel and travelling to Matale for a visit to a spice garden. Here, surrounded by fresh herbs and produce, you’ll sit down to watch a cookery demonstration. Your next stop of the day is Kandy, a centrally located city, enclosed by mountains, tea plantations and rainforests. The highlight of this excursion is the 16th-century Temple of the Tooth – an important Buddhist temple, which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha. You’ll be able to view this relic in the two-story inner sanctum and watch the holy ceremony of the ‘Thevava’ or auspicious offering that takes place three times a day. When the ceremony has ended, you’ll conclude this action-packed day by boarding a tuk-tuk for a ride through the streets of Kandy. The tour will then continue onto your next hotel, set on the banks of the Mahaweli River. Spend the evening settling in, perhaps have a dip in the outdoor swimming pool and enjoy dinner.
  • After breakfasting this morning, you’ll join experienced botanist, Bandara Palipana on a guided two-hour walk through Peradeniya’s beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens. Palipana has worked in the gardens for over 30 years and will lead you along the flower bed-fringed paths, retelling stories of the garden’s history and pointing out the various collections, specifically the priceless 300 varieties of orchids. These gardens, which include more than 4000 species of plants, can also be explored in a buggie. Those intrigued by Sri Lanka’s fabled gem industry can take advantage of an opportunity to visit a local producer in the city. During this visit, you’ll learn about how gems are mined and cut for sale in the marketplace while watching the various processes and chatting to a veteran artisan. Later in the day, the tour will travel back to the hotel, and you have the evening to take things at your own pace before dinner. You can also opt to watch a cultural show of traditional dance and drumming this evening.
  • You’ll check-out once you’ve had breakfast today and venture on a scenic three-hour drive to Nuwara Eliya. This journey promises plenty of photogenic sights, ranging from sloping tea terraces and factories to thundering waterfalls and stretches of vegetable fields. On route, you’ll stop over at a tea factory and learn the process of Ceylon tea making. Upon arrival, you’ll feel the temperature drop slightly as you enter this highland community. With its Tudor-style houses, manicured gardens, and Victorian-like bungalows, Nuwara Eliya has become known as ‘Little England’. You’ll meander around the charming Haggala Botanical Gardens, Gregory’s Lake, or the Seetha Amman Hindu Temple. The tour will then continue through to the fruit and vegetable markets. There’ll also time for a break for a cup of freshly brewed Ceylon tea paired with some homemade strawberry jam on toast. If you’re into golf, you can tee off at the Nuwara Elya Golf Club (payable locally). The tour will then continue to your next hotel, housed in a colonial-style property, where you can relax and have dinner.
  • After breakfast, the tour will be taking to the rails of the countryside. You’ll start by boarding the train* from the Nuwara Eliya railway station and traversing for around three and a half hours past tea plantations, tumbling streams, and plunging waterfalls. You’ll then arrive at the hill station of Ella. You’ll be met at the station and driven to a viewpoint of Ella Gap where you can gaze at the spectacular Rawana waterfalls. Following your train trip, you’ll board the coach again and the tour will move onto Yala, so you can check into your next hotel, situated outside the Yala National Park, and have dinner. *On rare occasions, the train journey may be replaced by road transportation as the service is controlled by local government and out of our control. Any changes to the service are often last minute and hence this highlight may be subject to withdrawal. 
  • Awake early and join your local ranger for a morning game drive into Yala National Park’s protected scrubland and forest. One of the oldest and largest national parks, this expansive area is home to sloth bears, leopards, and elephants.   In the late afternoon or evening, you have the option to set off on another safari in search of wild boar, mugger crocodiles, and wild buffaloes, as well as the 200 species of birds that inhabit the park. For the rest of your day, you can spend your time dabbling in the hotel’s facilities and lounging on the sundeck before dinner.
  • Have breakfast, check-out of your hotel and then travel to an elephant transit home in Udawalawe. Here, you’ll be able to partake in a morning feeding session at this home that cares for orphaned elephants, rehabilitating them with the aim of re-introducing them back into wild. The tour will then travel to the city of a Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is famous for its fortress. You’ll discover more of this structure, which dates back to 1588 in a tuk-tuk. At dusk, you can also climb the ramparts, and after you’ve reached the top, sip on a cup of Ceylon tea, or maybe a stronger tipple (payable locally) while watching the sun set. You’ll then travel to Beruwala and check into your final hotel on the shores of the Indian Ocean before dinner.  
  • Take it easy during your last few days by embracing the shoreside splendours of this resort or exploring the surrounding areas. Nab a spot on the pristine beach or beside the pool or indulge in a treatment at the Ayurvedic spa.
  • Bid farewell to Beruwela today and transfer to the airport to catch your overnight flight home. 
  • You'll arrive back in the UK at the end of an enlightening Sri Lankan adventure.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Discover the charms of Sri Lanka’s largest city, Colombo
  • Venture into the expansive Dambulla Cave Temple Compex
  • Uncover the ancient sites and historic monuments of Polonnaruwa
  • Choose to join an optional excursion to Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Watch a cookery demonstration in Matale and visit the 16th-century Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Decide to watch an optional Kandy cultural show in the evening
  • Set off on a guided walk with a botanist through the Royal Botanical Gardens
  • Enjoy a scenic drive to Nuwara Eliya and stop off at a tea factory
  • Journey on a ‘Toy Train’ ride throughout tea plantations from Nuwara Eliya to Ella
  • Venture into Yala National Park on a half-day game drive in search of wildlife
  • Opt to go on another game drive in the late afternoon or the evening
  • Spend time in an elephant transit home, learning about the rehabilitation programme
  • Ride around the fortress of Galle on a tuk-tuk and see the sunset from its ramparts
  • Lounge along the shores of the Indian Ocean at a five-star resort in Beruwala

Our Price Includes

  • 11 nights' dinner, bed, and breakfast accommodation in Colombo (1 night), Habarana (2), Kandy (2), Nuwara Eliya (1), Yala (2) and Beruwala (3), plus two nights on an airplane
  • Return flights from your chosen airport to Colombo
  • Colombo city tour
  • Dambulla Cave Temple excursion
  • Visit to Polonnaruwa Archaeological Site
  • Cookery demonstration in Matale
  • Tour to Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth Relic
  • Guided visit to Peradeniya Botanical Garden
  • Visit to a tea factory
  • A ‘Toy Train’ ride from Nuwara Eliya to Ella
  • A half-day game drive in the Yala National Park
  • A visit to Udawalawe elephant transit home
  • A tuk-tuk ride in Galle and Galle Museum
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel and transfers
  • Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager
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Dates and Prices

September 2024
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Price from:£2,660
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Sri Lanka - Temples, Safari and Beach Touring Hotels -

A five-star resort looking out over Beira Lake and set around an expansive outdoor swimming pool, lined with palm trees. Dining options include three sophisticated restaurants, and there is a caf'e, a lobby lounge, and a members-only library. An on-site spa and gym, as well as squash and tennis courts are available. Refined guestrooms feature views of the lake or city and TVs, mini-bars, tea/coffee-makers, and Wi-Fi.

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Other Information

Small group tours

Group sizes on each departure on this tour are restricted to a maximum of 24 people. The usual group size is between 16 and 20. As a result you'll be able to travel in smaller vehicles, enjoy experiences and encounters (and in some cases even stay in wonderful little places) that are denied to larger groups.

Passports and visas

British citizens require machine readable passports when travelling overseas. A visa is also required for entry to Sri Lanka. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent out about eight weeks before departure. Your passport must contain one blank page and be valid for six months beyond the entry date to Sri Lanka. The current visa charge is £25 for British Citizens.

Foreign Office Travel Advice

Visit to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

Luggage allowance

You're permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.

Special requirements

If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

Disabled access

The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made. In many developing countries access is sometimes not as easy as at home. Should you have walking difficulties, getting around monuments and attractions may be harder and, in some cases, impossible. Should you have any concerns whatsoever please do contact us prior to travel.

Travel vaccinations

Requirements and advice can vary over time, and from person to person, so please contact your GP about eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or any other preventive measures.

Itinerary changes

Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

Changes to your hotels

Should circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.

Road Conditions

In developing countries road networks are continually being improved and expanded, which can mean that, from time to time, roadworks and rough road surfaces can extend journey times. Some journeys are made on winding mountain roads and passes, which may also make for slow travelling - although the scenery is usually worth it! Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads.

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Holiday provided by Newmarket Holidays

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: fully flexible booking policy, covid-19 cancellation cover insurance as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Newmarket Holidays (ABTOT 5509, ATOL 2325, ABTA V7812), you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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