Immersive Sri Lanka: Mists, Spices, and Elephants
Delve into the rich lives and heritage of the warm Sri Lankan people. Hike, play, plus head out on safari during this exciting itinerary designed exclusively for inquisitive Wild Nectar travelers.
Sri Lanka: Drink It In
An emerging destination in world travel, the small island country of Sri Lanka offers an amazing variety of experiences in close proximity. This itinerary designed expressly for Wild Nectar's curious and energetic traveler, showcases the richness of Sri Lankan life along with safaris among elephants, leopards, peacocks, turtles, 34 endemic bird species and more. Explore ancient Buddhist archaeological sites and age-old cities. Play cricket, cook a meal, or join a traditional alms giving ceremony with locals. Experience breathtaking views of this country where our place in the environment pervades all aspects of life. This is a custom program to fit your dates.
Travel Curator’s Insights:
- • Discover the wonders of a Sri Lankan safari where you might see leopards, elephants, deer, buffalo, monkeys, peacocks and a dizzying array of other birds.
• Drink in spectacular scenery from viewpoints you'll earn with some moderate yet rewarding climbs.
• Get closer to locals than you would on other programs with this expert operator who has been in the region for over 34 years.
Trip Sustainability Awards
Fantastic advances in minimizing carbon footprints at locations.
On the East African Energy Renewal Board
Runs local educational facilities for children.
Day 1: Arrive Colombo / Negombo
Ayubowan & Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon disembarking from your flight, you will be met by a member of the airport staff at the aerobridge, who will be carrying a placard with your name on it. You will be guided through immigration formalities and escorted to the reserved Silk Route Lounge. Here, you will meet a member of our team and will be introduced to your National Guide, who will accompany you throughout your stay in Sri Lanka. Refreshments will be served at the lounge while your luggage is collected from the belt and taken through customs on your behalf by the staff at the airport. Once your luggage has been cleared through customs and delivered to the lounge, porters will accompany you through a special VIP track to your private vehicle. You will then take a 20-minute drive to your lovely hotel and check in for a much-deserved rest. This day does not include meals.
Accommodation: Taru Villas Riva
Taru Villas Riva: Experience traditional Sri Lankan heritage through this charming 180 year restored manor house. Taru Villas – Riva is one of the finest luxury boutique hotels in Negombo offering a personalised service within the comforts of this renovated Walauwwa. Immerse in the tranquil surroundings of this old, colonial mansion nestled in a lush shaded garden of colourful plants and towering coconut trees.
Day 2: Negombo / Puttalam / Wilpattu
Today after a leisurely breakfast, we head north on a 2-hour drive to a village on the outskirts of Puttalam to learn about a forgotten and eccentric community in Sri Lanka. The locals know them as Kaffirs. Descending from Africa, especially from the regions of Mozambique and Tanzania, they love to dress up in bright colours and talk about the life that their ancestors began from. The history of these African descendants is not a light-hearted story. They were first brought to our island by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British in forms of slaves and soldiers as they were fighting for control over Sri Lanka.
After an insightful morning into an almost forgotten community in Sri Lanka, we proceed an hour North-East on the Puttalam-Anuradhapura road and check in at the Wilpattu Safari Camp, which is located just on the border of the Wilpattu National Park. An Eco-rustic, yet comfortable and experiential tented camp on the south-eastern border of Sri Lanka’s largest national park. After getting settled into your tent, enjoy lunch at 02:00 PM and then embark on an afternoon private jeep safari in the Wilpattu National Park.
Wilpattu is a huge reserve, covering nearly 800-square miles. Dense jungle and beautiful little lakes known as villus dot the surround and provide habitat for the leopard and sloth bear, which may be spotted drinking at these water holes. Spend two to three hours exploring the park. Your expert naturalist guides will help you spot a wide array of wildlife including, but not limited to, spotted deer, wild boar, water buffalo, jackal, elephants, crocodiles, several different species of birds, sloth bear and finally, the elusive leopard. Back at camp, enjoy cocktails around the camp bonfire, recounting your adventures and sightings of the day. Then, enjoy a sumptuous dinner in a true-to-form, safari style way. This day includes all meals.
Accommodation: Wilpattu Safari Camp
Wilpattu Safari Camp: Wilpattu Safari Camp is located in a five acre patch of forest tucked in between seasonal rice fields, chena cultivations and the Wilpattu National Park. As their philosophy is to provide guests with an environment that is peaceful and quiet, the camp has been limited to 4 guest tents that can accommodate 8 guests.
Day 3: Wilpattu
Today, you'll enjoy two more safaris in the Wilpattu National Park. Your first private game drive starts at 06:00 AM, with a light breakfast. Spend the early morning hours exploring the park and searching for wildlife.Return to camp with time to relax and have lunch before heading out again this afternoon. Your second private game drive begins at 03:00 PM and will have you back at the campsite by sundown. This evening, gather around a bonfire for another sumptuous dinner under the stars. This day includes all meals.
Accommodation: Wilpattu Safari Camp
Day 4: Wilpattu / Sigiriya
Early this morning, embark on your final private game drive. Alternatively, if you have had excellent wildlife sightings, perhaps sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at camp. The choice is yours! Check-out of the campsite and take a 2-hour drive to Sigiriya and check in at the charming Water Garden.
Later this afternoon, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Sigiriya. After an ancient prince killed his father to claim the throne, he was forced to flee to his pleasure palace and convert it into a fortress to guard against his opposition. The spectacular citadel of Sigiriya built on a giant rock rises sheer and impregnable out of the plains below. Spend the morning exploring the grounds of the fortress and if interested, climb this remarkable 5th century archeological site which is made unforgettable by its dramatic setting. A moat, rampart and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens ring the base of the rock and the frescoes of the 'Heavenly Maidens' of Sigiriya. The experience takes approximately 90 minutes to three hours depending on the pace at which you wish to ascent. Return to the Water Garden by sunset. This day includes breakfast and dinner.
Accommodation: Water Garden
Water Garden: The breathtakingly beautiful Sigiriya hotel boasts a modern day water harvesting design revisiting the 2,000 year old water garden on Sigiriya Rock.The villas are set amongst an expansive property and its perfectly articulated landscape. Flanked by winding tributaries and veiled by the abundant flora, the 30 immaculately appointed villas combine chic, spacious interiors, secret gardens and exclusive private plunge pools.
Day 5: Sigiriya Your Way
Today you will have full leisure to explore the many sites that the cultural triangle has to offer. Choose from a compelling array of options:
Option 1: A Private Demonstration of Sri Lanka’s Indigenous Martial Arts – Angampora followed by a traditional Alms Giving Ceremony at a rural monastery | Half Day Morning Touring Option
Option 2: UNESCO World Heritage Site – Anuradhapura followed by Mihintale and a Private Meditation Session with a Local Monk | Full Day Touring Option - Lunch Included
Option 3: Play a game of soft ball cricket with the locals. | Morning or Afternoon Touring Option.
Option 4: Kep Ela Elephant Experience with opportunity to feed and bathe a rescued working elephant | Morning or Afternoon Touring Option
Option 5: Visit to a Native Ayurvedic Doctor | Morning or Afternoon Touring Option
Option 6: UNESCO World Heritage Site – the royal, ancient city of Polonnaruwa followed by lunch at a local farmer’s house. | Morning Touring Option - Lunch Included
Option 7: Private Game Drive in the Minneriya National Park to see herds of wild Asian Elephants | Afternoon Touring Option (can be paired with the visit to Polonnaruwa - option 6) This day includes breakfast.
Accommodation: Water Garden
Day 6: Sigiriya / Dambulla / Matale / Kandy
We checkout after breakfast and begin our journey towards Kandy. On route, stop by the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Dambulla Cave Temple, known for its richly painted cave temples. Some of its frescoes are over 2,000 years old. Another highlight is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, some 15 meters long.
Sri Lanka is the capital of a rich variety of spices that determined its history, spices being the cause of many an invasion. Fragrant Clove, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Mace, Pepper, Cocoa and Vanilla amongst others account for a diversity of cooking styles and applications. Today’s Lunch will be at the Private Spice Garden where we learn how different spices are grown. You will also be able to take part in a hands-on cooking class at the spice garden, to prepare a Sri Lankan curry.
Arrive in the Peradeniya town and visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens is one of the largest of the botanical gardens of Sri Lanka and the finest of its kind in Asia. Before it was decreed as a Botanical Gardens it used to be a pleasure garden in the days of the kings of old Kandy, and during WWII the gardens were the headquarters of the allied command for the pacific. Afterwards, proceed to your hotel in Kandy and check in at Kings Pavilion. This day includes breakfast and lunch.
Accommodation: Kings Pavilion
Kings Pavilion: Perfectly placed in the cosy confines of the misty mountains and verdant forestlands, Kings Pavilion Kandy, transports you back to an era of bliss; a time when great kings ruled the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Bringing you a profound sense of peace with its luxurious offerings, our Kandy hotel, lets you slip into a sense of serenity and lets you enjoy the retreat that you have been longing for all along.
Day 7: Kandy / Ella
Today we have an early start as we make our way to the Kandy railway station to board the 08:47 AM train to Ella (pending availability). This is one of the most scenic train rides in Asia. The dramatic landscape of the highlands stirs the senses as you wind past lush tea plantations, majestic peaks and rushing waterfalls. Upon arriving at the Ella station at 03:15 PM, we take a 10-minute drive and check in at your beautiful resort and spend the evening at leisure. This day includes breakfast and lunch.
Accommodation: 98 Acres Resort & Spa
98 Acres Resort & Spa: 98 Acres Resort and Spa is an elegant, chic hotel that stands on a scenic 98 acre tea estate surrounded by a stunning landscape. The uniquely designed resort blends well with nature, and consists of charming chalets mostly made of recyclable substance. Discarded railway sleepers are put to good use in the making of decks and walls at the resort. Rough, hewn granite lends simple elegance to the floors of chalets adorned with thatched roofs of ‘Illuk’ straw that adds to their rustic beauty.
Day 8: Ella
Today, you will spend the full day exploring the highlights of this charming town. Ella translates to 'waterfall,' a name fit for this little town located in a hilly nook, owing to its stunning vistas adorned with cascades that trickle down its rugged terrain. This one-of-a-kind locale offers some of the most scenic sights in Sri Lanka. Begin the day with a hike to Ella Rock. The panoramic views this somewhat strenuous hike provides are touched with mists and mysterious beauty. Proceed to the Nine Arch Bridge. This incredible historical viaduct built entirely from stone, bricks and cement (with no steel) was created in the British era of Sri Lanka.
After lunch at a local café, hike to Little Adams peak. Little Adams peak is an easy hike unlike its big brother in Hatton. It is 1141 m in height and from the entrance it takes up to 30-45 min for the hike. Views from the summit are incredible. 360 degrees panoramic views with clouds rolling in, is a treat to watch for any traveler. You will also encounter friendly locals joining in the climb with you and those who are descending, greeting you with their warm smiles. At the top, witness a breathtaking sunset. This day includes breakfast and lunch.
Accommodation: 98 Acres Resort & Spa
Day 9: Ella / Galle
Strange as it may seem, the story of Ceylon Tea begins with the end of coffee due to the coffee blight in 1865. Old Ceylon's up-country plantations were devastated – but the planters didn't give up their ambition of cultivating the rich soil of Sri Lanka. Their ambition bore fruit and it has ever since the first crop of tea was thrown into the central highlands of Sri Lanka. You will visit a plantation, and observe how the plant is grown and harvested. From here you will travel to a factory, and learn about the whole processing procedure and how different types of teas are created. Bid farewell to the tea country and head south on a 3.5 hour drive to the Fort Bazaar in Galle. You will have the rest of the day at leisure. This day includes breakfast.
Accommodation: Fort Bazaar
Fort Bazaar: Begin your Galle quest at Fort Bazaar, a handsome merchant’s home-turned-boutique hotel with 18 stylish guestrooms and fresh, contemporary interiors invoking a Middle Eastern vibe. Positioned on Church Street within a UNESCO-listed 17th century fort, this spa hotel in Galle promises serenity, high-end service and gourmet modern dining.
Day 10: Galle Your Way
Today, you will have the full day at leisure to explore in and around this historic city. Here are some options:
Option 1: Specialty Galle Fort Walking Tour followed by a cooking demo and lunch at a local family’s residence | Morning Touring Option (lunch included)
Option 2: Visit to Cinnamon Estate and Lunch at the Top House | Morning Touring Option (lunch included)
Option 3: Visit the Stilt Fishermen of Koggala and learn about their traditional techniques | Afternoon Touring Option
Option 4: Visit the Turtle Conservation Project with Private Turtle Release and Arrack Sundowners | Afternoon Touring Option This day includes breakfast.
Accommodation: Fort Bazaar
Day 11: Galle / Colombo / Airport / Home
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then depart on the two-and-a-half-hour drive back to Colombo. Or as an option, visit the local fish market followed by a private boat expedition in search of whales and dolphins. (6:00AM start time)
Arrive Colombo early this afternoon and enjoy a drive around the capital—a fascinating city with a cozy mixture of past and present and the commercial center of the country. The original trading settlers—the Portuguese, Dutch and British—have all left in their wake churches and monuments, names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages, which have been absorbed into the speech of Sri Lankans. Visit the Barefoot Gallery, an iconic brand in the Sri Lankan textile industry started by Barbara Sansoni over 50 years ago. Working almost exclusively with women in small workshops throughout Sri Lanka, Barefoot products are all made and designed in Sri Lanka by locally artists and craftsmen. Sit down at their garden café for an alfresco lunch.
Later this afternoon, embark on a private heritage tour of Colombo with your host, Mark. The walk begins at the Old Dutch Hospital. Every city has a character that loves it, studies it, and shares his knowledge and passion with those who want to learn about it. Colombo has Mark, Shanelle & Sri. Their walking tour will take you through the years of the Portuguese and Dutch Fort right at the heart of the city to the most recent British period. Start with a visit to the outer streets of Pettah where your tour will commence. Along the way, you will explore a handful of the many lively streets that sell everything from textiles to electronics to spices. Hidden within these streets you will find yourselves coming up to the Old Dutch Museum where you can feast your eyes on the pristine architecture of the mansion that was built in the latter part of the 17th century and was initially the residence of Count August Carl Van Ranzow.
After Mark drops you off at the Dutch Hospital, sit down for a Special Farewell Dinner tonight at the Ministry of Crab, one of the most popular restaurants in Sri Lanka and listed in the top 50 restaurants in Asia. After dinner, return to your hotel to freshen up and then head out to the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in time for your flight home. We have arranged a special VIP Departure Service for your comfort and convenience. This day includes all meals.
Day Room Accommodation: The Kingsbury
The Kingsbury: Bejeweled as one of the finest five-star Colombo hotels located in-between Galle Face Green, the World Trade Centre and the Dutch Hospital Precinct.
Please Note: The itinerary above and rates below are estimates only. Actual availability and pricing have not yet been confirmed. Confirmation of arrangements will begin upon receipt of deposit. The deposit is applied toward your final balance due and is non-refundable unless we are unable to confirm your arrangements as outlined or confirm acceptable alternatives. The sooner we receive your deposit, the better your chances that we will be able to accommodate you on the above program at the estimated price.
Day 5 Activities: Some activities listed on Day 5 will require an additional surcharge.
Train: Please note that the train tickets are only available for purchase 30 days prior to the train journey date and are strictly subject to availability.
Activity Level: To reach the top of Sigiriya Rock, there are nearly 1,200 steep and narrow stone steps up and then down. There are handrails in place. Anybody in reasonably good condition will be able to venture to the top and it's certainly worth the effort. To reach Dambulla Caves, there is a short, but fairly steep incline with over 300 steps. We will use a special entrance in the back to alleviate the upward climb, but you will make the walk down the nearly 300 steps to the main entrance and exit of Dambulla. Anybody in reasonably good fitness condition will be able to visit this site also without issue.
If you're someone who has been everywhere, or if you're hoping to go somewhere off the beaten path and not heavily-touristed, Sri Lanka is an excellent choice.
Joy Martinello, Founder
What’s Included & Cancellation Policy: