- See Sri Lankan elephants
Asian elphants roam free in Udawalawe
- The world's highest density of leopards
Look for leopards in Yala National Park
- For the full safari experience...
Spend three very special nights under canvas in the National Park
- Exotic flora
The Peradeniya Botanic Gardens near Kandy has a superb collection of orchids.
- All Inclusive
Discover Sri Lanka’s wildlife
Sri Lanka is one of the best places in Asia to go wildlife watching! This island paradise boasts vast swathes of protected land where you can creep out on dawn and dusk safaris. Spot elephants, leopards, buffalo and endangered sloth bears, see monkeys haunting the ruins of ancient cities and sacred temples, catch wild pigs snuffling in the undergrowth and hear exotic birdcall.
11 nights in hotels and 1 in flight
32 meals: 11 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 11 dinners
- Free bar open 10am to 10pm on 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
- Sundowner drink in memorable location
- Use of audio headsets on all guided tours
- Porterage at all hotels
- Botanist guided tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya
- A Thevava ceremony at the Temple of the Tooth
- Tour a tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya
- Scenic local train journey to a hill station
- Visit the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe
- Game drive in Udawalawe National Park
- Dawn and dusk game drives in Yala National Park
- Guided walking tour of Galle
- Cookery demonstration
- Talk on Sri Lankan culture
Day 1 UK to Colombo, Sri Lanka
Take Saga's UK door-to-door travel service to the airport and fly overnight to Colombo.
Day 2 Colombo to Chilaw
Receive a garlanded welcome then head to the locally rated 5-star Anantaya Spa Resort in Chilaw, a peaceful oasis with a mangrove-fringed lagoon on one side, and a sandy beach on the other. Relax in style and enjoy the tropical warmth and exotic birdsong as you stay overnight on an all-inclusive basis. D
Please note: 2020 departures will stay at the locally rated 4-star Suriya Resort in Waikkal instead.
Day 3 Chilaw to Kandy
Pay a visit to a local Negombo fish market – expect noise and a pungent odour – then follow the snaking road up to the historic former kingdom of Kandy. Stay two nights at the locally rated 4-star Cinnamon Citadel Hotel. The hotel is built on the site of the ancestral home of Dunuvila, a minister to the former King of Kandy, and stands on the outskirts of town. This evening you’ll be treated to a special walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya guided by a botanist. Look out for orchids, the mighty cannonball tree, avenues of palm trees and free-range macaques. B, L, D
Day 4 Kandy
Learn about traditional Kandyan dancing and meet students of the art at Bellwood Dancing School. The afternoon is at leisure. Perhaps wander down to Kandy Lake, which was created in the early 19th century by the area’s last ruler – he housed his harem on its island. There are masses of shops, and traders in the city and don’t miss the chance to browse a Sri Lankan supermarket, it’s a whole new retail experience. Later visit the sacred Temple of the Tooth to see the Thevava ceremony. B, L, D
Day 5 Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
Learn about Sri-Lankan gem production from a wholesaler, then head into the beautiful hill country, stopping to visit one of the great tea plantations, where the finer points of tea cultivation and production will be revealed. Taste a cuppa of the local leaf. Stay two nights at the locally rated 4-star The Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya, built in 1891 in the style of a Tudor manor house and former home to the British Governor of Sri Lanka, Sir Edward Barnes. There are two restaurants, a bar, coffee shop, indoor heated pool, gym and a billiard room. It’s cooler here, so expect log fires if temperatures drop. Free Wi-Fi is available in public areas. All 154 rooms have a satellite television, mini-fridge, tea and coffee-making facilities and a hairdryer. B, L, D
Day 6 Nuwara Eliya
Dubbed ‘Little England’, the temperate climate here attracted British colonialists, the buildings are pure colonial-era with the odd dash of mock-Tudor fantasy. Explore as you please. Alternatively join either an optional early-morning trekking expedition to Horton Plains National Park to see the spectacular view from World’s End and the sambar deer and purple-faced langur monkeys, or a colonial architecture tour. Later learn about the life of tea pickers on a village visit. B, L, D
Day 7 Nuwara Eliya to Ella to Udawalawe
Take a scenic local train ride through the highlands from Nanu Oya to Ella, then continue past the tea plantations that cloak the mountains on to Udawalawe, although please note that this train ride, and seats on the train, are subject to availability. Stay two nights at the locally rated 4-star Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort. This environmentally friendly hotel occupies a seven-acre site close to the Udawalawe National Park. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, gym and outdoor swimming pool. All 53 air-conditioned guest rooms have a satellite television, telephone, minibar, kettle, hairdryer and free Wi-Fi. B, L, D
Day 8 Udawalawe
See orphaned elephants being fed at the Elephant Transit Home at Udawalawe. The Foundation works with the orphans to prepare them for being safely returned to the wild when they are around four years old. Look forward to your first game drive this evening when you may see herds of Asian elephants. This is an area of undulating country, open grasslands and reservoir, meaning that elephants are relatively easy to spot. It's also an important habitat for birds and wild cats. B, L, D
Day 9 Udawalawe to Yala
Head for one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest National Parks. In the evening hop in a jeep and head off on a game drive in Yala, which boasts one of the world’s highest density of leopards – keep your eyes peeled in the hope of spotting one – with no predators to fear here they are slightly less reclusive. Stay three nights, either at the locally rated 4-star Cinnamon Wild Yala in a jungle chalet on the borders of Yala National Park, or for the full wildlife experience, sleep on the borders of the national park under canvas at the locally rated 3-star Kulu Safari Camp, and dine by candlelight beside a blazing fire. All your needs are tended to; the tents are comfortable with beds, air-conditioning, and all essential bathroom facilities, plus you’ll be served delicious meals by candlelight beside a bonfire. This special stay at Kulu Safaris is available for a supplement. B, L, D
Day 10 Yala
Go on an early morning jeep safari in wildlife-rich Yala to try to spot elephants, water-buffalo, monkeys, and even crocodiles. B, L, D
Day 11 Yala
Spend the day as you please. Bird lovers might like to join an optional excursion to Bundala National Park which is home to over 200 species of bird, a number swelled by migrating species October to April, and you can join an optional evening game drive. B, L, D
Day 12 Yala to Galle
Head for the former Dutch-colonial trading port of Galle for an in-depth tour of this atmospheric UNESCO-listed city. Galle is a quiet town with an old-world atmosphere and a long history, and it's said that King Solomon sent his merchant ships here many years ago. The town sprung up around the harbour and the fort, which was captured by the Dutch in 1640. The fort became an archaeological reserve in 1969 and is arguably the best-preserved Dutch fort on the island. A short walk from the town centre, it is well worthwhile taking time to explore the historic ramparts. Stay overnight at the locally rated 5-star Tamarind Hill, a luxurious heritage hotel with an atmospheric colonial interior. B, L, D
Day 13 Galle to Colombo, Sri Lanka to UK
Transfer to Colombo Airport for your return flight and included UK VIP door-to-door travel service home. B
Bundala National Park
An identified ‘Important Bird Area’, Bundala supports some 200 species of birds, including the black-necked and painted stork, Eurasian spoonbill and black-headed ibis, and mammals such as mongoose, leopard, wild boar and even-toed ungulates such as the shy and diminutive mouse deer.
Optional on 12 nights itinerary
Horton Plains National Park
This beautiful highland plateau has its own ecosystem. Cool and damp, it is covered by montane grassland and eerie cloud forest. Sambar deer roam in large herds, and it is home to purple-faced langurs and toque macaques. Look for species of birds found only in Sri Lanka, several of which are only found on the plains including the dull-blue flycatcher, the Sri Lanka wood pigeon and the Sri Lanka white eye. Numerous birds of prey also reside here.
Please note: this excursions is not suitable for those with walking or health difficulties.
Optional on 12 nights itinerary
Pre-holiday extension, including breakfast
Before your tour, stay at the Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa in the heart of Dubai (available only when flying with Emirates).
Alternatively, upgrade to the JA Ocean View Hotel, for a supplement.
Post-holiday extension, half board
After your tour stay two nights at Tamarind Hill, a heritage hotel.
Sri-Lankan Cultural Triangle
Pre-extension - Half board - 2019 departures
Discover some of Sri Lanka’s most iconic and famous cultural sights including ancient Anuradhapura, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa, and Golden Temple of Dambulla. You will join your main tour with the rest of the group back in Chilaw as per day 2 of the main itinerary.
This tour involves some long but rewarding journeys. If in any doubt as to its suitability, please speak to our Travel Consultants.
In 2019 this itinerary varies slightly.