- Stilt fishermen in Galle
Although a Singalese port linked to the time of King Solomon, the Portugese laid the first stones for present day Galle in the 16th century before being conquered by the Dutch. Galle is also famous for the traditional art of stilt fishing.
The UNESCO World Heritage city of Dambulla in central Sri Lanka, is home to a wonderful cave temple with statues and paintings dating back to the first century BC, although the caves were in use even earlier than this.
- Yala National Park
Yala National Park offers an opportunity to see the native leopards, which are the island’s top predator. The park also supports many other species of birds and animals, including elephants and the Malabar pied hornbill.
- Birdwatching in Bundala
This serene network of lagoons, salt pans and mud flats plays host to a wide variety of wildlife. There are 150 different species of birds including flamingos and crested hawk eagles making it an ideal destination for an avid birder.
- Local flights
- Top performer
- VIP door to door
- Save £
- Half board plus
Discover Sri Lanka's cultural heritage of ancient cities and temples on this thrilling tour
On this intriguing tour you can experience the elegance of a bygone era – Sri Lanka's colonial past – with stays in four heritage properties and discover the historic attractions of bustling Colombo, sacred Kandy, Nuwara Eliya hill station and Galle Fort.
12 nights in hotels and 1 in flight
30 meals: 12 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 12 dinners
Free bar open 12 hours on three nights of the tour
- Optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK Branch and additional cancellation rights on overseas holidays for over 50s, or a price reduction if not required (cover is subject to medical questions)
- Return flights and transfers
- Saga tour manager
- Welcome drink reception
- Porterage at all hotels
Excursions and visits
- Colombo city tour
- Dambulla Cave Temple and Matale spice garden
- Udawalawe Elephant transit home
- City tour of Kandy
- Botanical garden and tea estate
- Game drive in Yala National Park
- Visit to the shrine of Lord Skanda and Temple of Kiri Vehera
- Bundala Bird Sanctuary
- Guided tour of Galle
- Cultural dance performance
- Cookery demonstration
Day 1 UK to Colombo
After taking Saga’s included UK door-to-door travel service to the airport, depart in the evening for your overnight flight to Colombo.
Day 2 Colombo
Arrive in the morning for an overnight stay at the locally rated 4-star Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo. D
Day 3 Colombo to Habarana
Get a panoramic taste of Colombo city with its tuk-tuks and mopeds on a tour that takes you past stupas and the bustling bazaar. Then escape the chaos of the city and follow a scenic route past pineapple farms and paddy fields to Habarana. Stay two nights at the locally rated 5-star Cinnamon Lodge. Visit the hotel's organic farm and enjoy a cookery demonstration of traditional dishes. B, D
Day 4 Habanara-Sigirya-Polonnaruwa
Today is at lesiure. Optional excursions to Sigirya Rock Fortress and Polonnaruwa in the afternoon. B, L, D
This excursion takes you to Sigiriya’s famous ‘Lion Rock’ which was the brief capital of King Kassapa I some 1,500 years ago. Two colossal paws still stand either side of ancient limestone steps, a reminder of the lion figure that once guarded the entrance to the lofty palace gardens on the summit of this 370-metre-high granite rock. Cuts and grooves carved out of the rock face will give you an idea of the size and shape of the original lion structure. Sigiriya is also well known for the Maidens of the Clouds, paintings of 21 beautiful women found on a sheltered ledge.
You will find the ruins of the ancient Sinhala civilisation at Polonnaruwa, which became Sri Lanka’s capital between the 11th and 12th centuries. Highlights include the ruins of the king’s council chamber, the Royal Citadel and the Vatadage Relic House. Another will undoubtedly be the Gal Vihare where unknown artists carved four separate images out of a granite cliff face: the great reclining image of the Buddha entering nirvana is 14-metres long and is generally held to be the most impressive of the sculptures. Also of interest are the reservoirs – they are so large that one, the Parakrama Samudra, is bigger than Colombo Harbour!
Day 5 Habarana-Dambulla-Matale-Kandy
Head for the hill country and cooler temperatures, stopping to explore UNESCO-listed Dambulla Cave Temple. Join white-robed pilgrims visiting this venerable cave complex that is packed with murals and figures of Buddha, and other gods and goddesses. Keep an eye out for monkeys that snatch and grab floral temple offerings. Stop at a spice garden in Matale to learn more about the cultivation, trade, and uses of local spice. Continue to the locally rated 4-star Cinnamon Citadel Hotel in the historic former kingdom of Kandy for a two-night stay. Tonight take in a riotously colourful and athletic performance of traditional dance. B, L, D
Day 6 Botanic Garden and Kandy city tour
Explore the Royal Palace and the ornate golden-roofed Temple of the Tooth, home to a sacred tooth relic of Buddah that attracts thousands of pilgrims. By way of contrast visit the Royal Botanic Garden of Peradeniya and admire its orchid collection and towering exotic trees. You’ll also visit a gem lapidary, and take a shopping tour in Kandy. B, L, D
Day 7 Kandy-Nuwara Eliya
Travel to Nuwara Eliya which lies nestled in a wooded basin at the foot of Mount Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka’s highest peak at 2,555 metres. The cool, crisp climate makes the region unlike anywhere else in Sri Lanka and is a serene retreat far removed from the hustle and bustle of Colombo. The town still retains a Victorian English appearance and is famous for its tea production. You'll get to look around one of the tea estates and factories to learn all about tea cultivation, the finer points of production, and have a cuppa of the local leaf. Stay overnight at the locally rated 4-star Araliya Green City Hotel in Nuwara Eliya, a former colonial retreat. B, L, D
Day 8 Nuwara Eliya-Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home-Yala
Travel to the locally rated 4-star Cinnamon Wild Yala for a three-night stay, stopping en route to see orphaned elephants at Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home. The Foundation works with the orphans to prepare them for being safely returned to the wild when they are around four years old.Cinnamon Wild Yara is situated at Kirinda, bordering the Yala Wildlife Sanctuary and the Indian Ocean, on the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka. Spanning 10 acres of jungle and endless miles of beach, the resort combines untamed beauty with surprising luxury. B, L, D
Day 9 Yala-Kataragama-Yala
Go on a jeep safari in wildlife-rich Yala National Park with a knowledgeable local guide to see elephants, water-buffalo, monkeys, crocodile, all manner of exotic bird life, and perhaps even a leopard. In the evening visit the holy town of Kataragama, one of the 16 places consecrated by Buddha. Here visit the Shrine of Lord Skanda and the Buddhist temple of Kiri Vehera that dates back to the 3rd century. B, L, D
Day 10 Yala
Champagne breakfast at the hotel, and, if your visit is in term time, visit a local school supported by the Saga Charitable Trust, the rest of the day is at leisure, you might like to watch the wildlife from the hotel observation decks. B, D
Day 11 Yala-Bundala-Galle-Beruwala
Leave early this morning for the pleasures of the coast, travelling to Beruwala, which is on the south-west coast of the island about 70 kilometres south of Colombo. Along the way stop to visit the bird sanctuary at Bundala, an important centre for aquatic birdlife. Look for spoonbill and pelican before heading to the former Dutch-colonial trading port of Galle for a walking tour of this atmospheric UNESCO-listed city. The town sprung up around the harbour and the fort, which was captured by the Dutch in 1640. The fort is now an archaeological site. Continue to the locally rated 4-star Cinnamon Bey for a three-night all-inclusive stay. The hotel is set on Sri Lanka's west coast, famous for its golden sands. B, D
Day 12 Beruwala
At leisure, or perhaps join an optional excursion. B, L, D
This river safari takes you past six islands, and includes a visit to a cinnamon plantation. Cinnamon, a small evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka, has been cultivated since antiquity for the spice obtained from its bark.
Day 13 Beruwala
Day at leisure, you might want to spend it on the wonderful beach. B, L, D
Day 14 Beruwala to UK
Travel to Colombo Airport for your return flight, arriving for your included UK door-to-door travel service home. B
Pre-holiday extension including breakfasts
Before your tour, stay at the locally rated 4-star Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa in the heart of Dubai (available only when flying via Dubai).
Alternatively, upgrade to the contemporary locally rated 5-star JA Ocean View Hotel, set on The Walk overlooking the sea.
Sri Lanka's 'Gold Coast'
All-inclusive post holiday extension
After your tour, extend your stay in Sri Lanka at the locally rated 4-star Cinnamon Bey, giving you a full week on its golden west coast.
To the East Coast
Sri Lanka mini tour pre-extension, half board
DAYS 1-2: UK-Colombo-Chilaw
Fly overnight from the UK to Colombo, arriving on day two. Stay one night at the locally rated 4-star Anantaya Resort& Spa. The hotel lies in a secluded spot, to the front is the Indian Ocean and a kilometre of sandy beach dotted with palm trees. To the rear is a lagoon, ringed by mangroves. Facilities include two restaurants, two bars, two outdoor swimming pools and a tranquil spa. Saga guests receive a 10% discount on all treatments. Afternoon at leisure, look forward to dinner in the hotel. D
DAY 3: Chilaw-Wilpattu-Thirappane (approximately 265 kilometres)
Transfer to Wilpattu National Park for an included wildlife safari. This national park is home to wildlife including deer, elephants, wild boar, sloth bears, leopard, and all manner of birds. Head to the locally rated 5-star Ulagalla Resort for a two-night stay in one of the hotel's extravagant private chalets, where glass walls offer panoramic views of either the garden, paddy fields or lake. All chalets have a private deck and secluded plunge pool! This boutique hotel boasts 58 acres of beautiful ground, facilities include a huge infinity pool, Auyrveda spa, gym and restaurant. B, D
DAY 4: Thrippane
Enjoy a day at leisure or perhaps join an optional excursion to the sacred city of Anuradhapura. B, D
Optional excursion: Sacred city of Anuradhapura (half day)
The sacred city of Anuradhapura was established around a cutting from the 'tree of enlightenment' – the Buddha's fig tree. Discover a vast complex, rich in architectural wonders, Stupa, temples and crumbling ruins.
DAY 5: Thrippane-Pasikuda
Embark on a scenic drive to Sri Lanka's glorious east coast for a three-night stay at the locally rated 5-star Uga Bay. Set along the beachfront, just metres away from the pristine beaches of Pasikuda Bay, this hotel is perfectly positioned for relaxing. Stay in the hotel's stunning Beach or Ocean Studios with a private balcony or terrace. Hotel facilities include a restaurant, bar, infinity pool, gym and spa. B, D
DAY 6: Pasikuda-Trincomalee-Pasikuda
Look forward to an included excursion to Trincomalee this morning, one of the largest and best sheltered harbours in the world. The British explorer Samuel Baker remarked "Few things surpass the tropical beauty of this harbour." Visit hot springs, the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Harbour Mouth, a fish market, Fort Fredrick, Knoeshwaram Temple and Lover's Leap. The rest of the day is free for you to relax back at your hotel and make the most of the facilities. B, D
DAY 7: Pasikuda
Today is at leisure for you to relax and enjoy the tropical surroundings of Pasikuda Bay. B, D
Optional excursion: Whale and Dolphin watching (half day)
Sri Lanka is fast becoming a major hot spot for whale and dolphin watching with May to October being peak months for sightings. During these months it is likely (but cannot be guaranteed) that you will see Sperm Wales and Blue Whales.
Please note: this excursion is only available between May and September.
Optional excursion: Pigeon Island (half day)
Pigeon Island National Park is one of the two marine national parks of Sri Lanka. A nesting area for rock pigeons, this beautiful island boasts powdery white sands, crystal clear waters and impressive coral reefs, teeming with colourful fish, reef sharks and turtles.
DAY 8: Pasikuda-Habarana (approximately 115 kilometres)
After breakfast bid the east coast farewell, and travel to Habarana to join Day 3 of the main tour at the Cinnamon Lodge Habrana for the rest of your Sri Lankan Adventure. B, D
If Yala National Park is closed on government advice due to drought conditions on Day 9 of your stay, you'll visit Udawalawe National Park instead.