Sri Lanka: Highlights of the Sacred Island

Sri Lanka: Highlights of the Sacred Island

14 Days From



Sri Lanka: Highlights of the Sacred Island

14 Days Starting and ending in NEGOMBO

Visiting: Negombo, Wilpattu National Park, Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Maduru Oya, Mahiyanganaya, Dambana, Knuckles, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains (lasang), Belihuloya, Sinharaja Forest, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Ahangama, Galle, Colombo

Tour operator:

Wild Frontiers

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 12

Physical rating:

Low, Low

Age range:


Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Please contact Wild Frontiers with any specific dietary requirements

Tour operated in:

Sightseeing, Walking

Private Available:

Request A Private Tour

$4411 Exclusive Tourhub Members Discount: -$208

NB: Prices correct on 20-May-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

Meaning ‘Sacred Island’, Sri Lanka is blessed with a rich wealth of scenic beauty, endemic wildlife and World Heritage treasures. Home to the Sinhalese since the late 6th century BC and colonised by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, this exciting, 14-day adventure takes us into the beating heart of this extraordinary island.Aside from visiting some of Sri Lanka’s most iconic highlights, including the rock-cut fortress of Sigiriya and the UNESCO riches of Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Kandy, Galle and Polonnaruwa, we’ll also meet Sri Lanka’s diverse and endemic wildlife, such as leopards, elephants and birdlife. We’ll embark on jeep safaris in Wilpattu and Maduru Oya National Park, nature trails in Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve and have the chance to see blue whales off the southern coast, as well as contribute to conservation with some tree planting.A visit with the ancient Vedda tribe of Dambana, a cooking class in a local home and a discussion with a Buddhist monk provides an opportunity to delve deeper into Sri Lanka’s unique and ancient culture. We’ll hike to the World’s End in the misty grasslands of Horton Plains National Park and to hidden villages and waterfalls of Knuckles Forest Reserve, and also soak up the colonial splendours of the tea country before ending the tour on Sri Lanka’s beautiful south coast.


  • Go on safari in Wilpattu and Maduru Oya National Park, and walk a nature trail in Sinharaja Rainforest in search of native wildlife

  • Discover the ancient sites of Anuradhapura, Dambulla Cave Temple and Sigiriya Rock Fortress on foot, as well as Polonnaruwa by bicycle

  • Enjoy a Sri Lankan cooking class in a local home, meet the Vedda tribe of Dambana and a Buddhist monk in Kandy

  • Hike to the picturesque villages of Knuckles National Park and to the top of World’s End in Horton Plains National Park

  • End the tour on the beautiful beaches of the southern coast, where Galle’s colonial wonders and the chance to go whale watching awaits

  • Plant native trees and go on a night walk in search of endangered grey slender loris at Sam Popham Arboretum


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Day 1 : Arrive Negombo

Location: Negombo

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Goldi Sands or similar

Meals Included: Dinner

The tour starts this afternoon at the hotel in Negombo, the closest coastal town to Colombo Airport. In the evening we can enjoy a welcome dinner as we unwind with beautiful sunset views and ocean breezes.

Day 2 : Negombo – Wilpattu

Location: Negombo, Wilpattu National Park

Accommodation: Camp

Accommodation Name: Big Game Wilpattu or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast this morning we depart Negombo and drive north to Wilpattu National Park, the largest national park in Sri Lanka, stopping en route at a Kaffir Village. This afternoon we will go on a safari in the park following dirt tracks through mostly dry, dense forest, stopping at watering holes and lakes. The park is home to a variety of flora and fauna including leopard, elephant, sloth bear, mongoose, buffalo, crocodiles and a myriad of birdlife. We then will enjoy an al fresco dinner at our tented camp, where there will also be the chance to go on a night walk in search of nocturnal wildlife.

Day 3 : Wilpattu – Anuradhapura – Dambulla

Location: Wilpattu National Park, Anuradhapura, Dambulla

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Sigiriana Resort & Spa or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

An hour’s drive takes us to Anuradhapura, the first capital of Sri Lanka, dating to the 5th century BC, and the most celebrated of Sri Lanka's ancient ruined cities. We will explore the widespread site which includes the first temple to be built in the island, the largest stupa on the island and the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree - which was planted from a sapling taken from the original tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Continuing to Dambulla, our next stop is at the sacred Buddhist caves, a UNESCO World Heritage setting and an important pilgrimage site that is home to a staggering collection of temples and statues that date back to the 1st century BC. We end the day at our hotel where we will spend the next two nights.

Day 4 : Dambulla: Sigiriya, Village Trail & Arboretum

Location: Dambulla

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Sigiriana Resort & Spa or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We make use of the morning’s cooler temperature and begin the day summitting Sigiriya’s famous “Lion Rock”. Built during the 5th century and one of Sri Lanka’s major attractions, the fortress sits on top of the imposing granite monolith of Lion Rock, some 200 metres above the surrounding countryside. Accessed by way of a steep staircase, from its lofty heights the 360 degree views out across the lush landscapes are truly spectacular. This afternoon we learn more about rural life on a village walk, followed by tea and snacks provided by a welcoming family in their home. Our final stop of the day is at the Sam Popham Arboretum, a sanctuary for native flora and fauna in the area, including an endangered sub-species of the grey slender loris. We will plant a native tree in the arboretum before going on a night walk in search of the loris.

Day 5 : Dambulla – Polonnaruwa – Maduru Oya – Magiyangana (Christmas Eve)

Location: Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Maduru Oya, Mahiyanganaya

Accommodation: Kevans Casa or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

An early start today sees us heading for the UNESCO setting of Polonnaruwa, the country’s old medieval capital. The ruins of the ancient city lie on the eastern shores of Topa Wewa Lake and a chance to explore it by bicycle provides a unique insight into its once great past. Following an early lunch, we continue on towards the Maduruoya National Park, where we can enjoy a three-hour jeep safari. Home to a variety of fabulous wildlife, this less-visited park is best known for its herds of Asian elephant. We will then transfer to our hotel in Mahiyanganaya for the evening.

Day 6 : Magiyangana – Dambana - Knuckles (Christmas Day)

Location: Mahiyanganaya, Dambana

Accommodation: Camp

Accommodation Name: Big Game Knuckles or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, we head to Dambana village - home to the last remaining indigenous tribe in Sri Lanka. There, we will spend some time with the local Vedda chief, learning more about the traditions and history of Sri Lanka’s indigenous people and enjoying a walk around the village and surrounding area. This afternoon we journey into the highlands and Knuckles Forest Reserve, where we will settle into our tented camp for the evening.

Day 7 : Knuckles: Hiking

Location: Knuckles

Accommodation: Camp

Accommodation Name: Big Game Knuckles or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We will spend the day hiking through the picturesque landscapes of Knuckles Forest Reserve. Beginning in the remote village of Pitawala, we will be able to observe day to day life, visit the village temple and enjoy a cup of tea and snacks in a local house. The 4-hour trail will take us past paddy fields, beautiful landscapes and water streams. We will meet our vehicle at the end of the trail, which will take us to start point of our next trek. The 2-3 hour walk to Sera Ella rewards us with a wild swimming spot beneath one of Sri Lanka’s most gorgeous waterfalls.

Day 8 : Knuckles – Kandy

Location: Knuckles, Kandy

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Thilanka or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning sees us setting off for the nearby city of Kandy, the last capital of the ancient Sri Lankan kings, and one of the country’s cultural and spiritual gems. We will be invited into a local house for a cooking lesson in order to discover the key spices and ingredients that make up Sri Lanka’s delicious cuisine. After sampling our tasty creations, we have some free time to relax or explore Kandy. Why not visit the immaculately kept botanical gardens, containing over 5,000 different species of flora, the revered Temple of the Tooth, home to Buddha’s left canine, go shopping for souvenirs or perhaps enjoy an Ayurvedic massage? This evening sees us travelling to Bahirawakanda Temple to meet with a Buddhist Monk, an intimate cultural exchange opportunity.

Day 9 : Kandy – Nuwara Eliya

Location: Kandy, Nuwara Eliya

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Blackpool or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We will leave Kandy this morning to visit a village that specialises in the production of traditional drums. The artisans have been crafting Sri Lankan drums, used in religious and cultural ceremonies, for generations, and will show us the different stages of the creative process. We will then be taken to Gampola/Nawalapitiya to catch the train (subject to availability) to Nuwara Eliya, the British colonial capital of the Hill Country. The cooler climes of this area, at the foot of Sri Lanka’s highest peak (2,524m), are a welcome retreat. This afternoon we visit a tea factory and processing plant of the world famous "Ceylon Tea". The evening is free to walk through town or relax at the hotel.

*Train tickets are subject to availability and are difficult to obtain during peak times, especially seated tickets. There may be the option to ride in the standing class for a few stops and then drive the rest of the journey. On the rare occasion, the tour leader will decide to take the journey by road only.*

Day 10 : Nuwara Eliya – Horton Plains - Belihuloya

Location: Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains (lasang), Belihuloya

Accommodation: Belihuloya Rest House or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Leaving early, we’ll head next for the misty grasslands of Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka’s highest and most isolated plateau. Armed with a packed breakfast, we’ll climb through a landscape of giant eucalyptus trees, reaching the park in time to walk to World’s End before the encroaching mist obscures the views below. Returning to the vehicles around mid-morning, we’ll then set off for Belihuloya, from where we’ll cycle or walk to a local natural swimming spot. We return to the hotel in time for tea at our hill country retreat.

Day 11 : Belihuloya - Sinharaja

Location: Belihuloya, Sinharaja Forest

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Sinharaja Adventure Resort or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We begin the day driving to the contrasting environment of Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve, a World Heritage Site and the only remaining virgin rain forest in all of Sri Lanka. Arriving in time for lunch, we will have the afternoon to stretch our legs on a walk through the forest. A footpath takes us through the heart of this primeval rainforest as we walk alongside our guide and learn more about the forest's many layers. Sinharaja is a haven for endemic flora and fauna and is most known for its abundance of birdlife.

Day 12 : Sinharaja - Ahangama (New Year's Eve)

Location: Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Ahangama

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Insight Resort or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Following breakfast, we will have another guided walk through the forest before departing for the beaches of Sri Lanka’s southern coast. Our hotel is situated in the village of Ahangama - the perfect tranquil spot to unwind towards the end of our journey.

Day 13 : Ahangama: Galle (New Year's Day)

Location: Ahangama

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Insight Resort or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A free morning provides an opportunity to relax around the hotel or join an optional whale-watching excursion. Sri Lanka is becoming one of the best places to see both Blue and Sperm Whales, which can be found off the island's southern coast between November and April. This afternoon has then been set aside to visit the historic trading port of Galle, home to the largest European fortress left in Asia. Colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th century, it is still infused with a graceful charm and a wealth of ageing colonial buildings. After our tour we will have our final dinner in this historic setting.

*Please let us know at the time of booking confirmation if you would like to book the optional Whale Watching excursion (currently approximately £65/$85, subject to change).*

Day 14 : Galle – Colombo

Location: Galle, Colombo

Meals Included: Breakfast

Driving back along the coast to Colombo this morning, we will arrive in the Sri Lankan capital mid-morning where the tour officially ends. Those on the suggested group flights will be transferred directly to Colombo Airport.

What's Included


    Minibuses and a train*.*Please note that train tickets can be difficult to obtain during peak times. There may be the option to ride in standing class for a few stops and then drive the rest of the journey. On rare occasions, it may be necessary  to take the journey by road only.


    13 x Breakfasts, 12 x Lunches, 13 x Dinners


    Contributions to carbon offset & tree planting projects for all bookings


    Maximum: 12


    The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate


    All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary


    All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary



What's Not Included

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour
ationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatoryTips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documentsInternational .Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UKAirport .Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights.Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs


Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour 

For this tour UK passport holders currently require an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) for Sri Lanka, which must be obtained before departure.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Key Aspects to Consider

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, however, please note the following:-Several days involve 3-4 hours of hiking or walking, and one day involves 7 hours of walking. You must also be able to walk up Sigiriya Rock Fortress, which has several stairs and steps with little shade.Three nights of the tour involve staying in basic tented camps with small en suite facilities but no air conditioning.Train tickets are subject to availability, so there may be the chance you will have a standing ticket, however alternative transport will be arranged for those who do not wish to take this option.

Check out our Q&As

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights

  • What is the maximum group size?


  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?


  • Do you require a visa for this holiday?

    For this tour UK passport holders currently require an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) for Sri Lanka, which must be obtained before departure.

    Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    We have a complete Covid-19 hub here:

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Over 70% of passengers on our group tours are solo adventurers. Unlike many tour operators, we don’t believe in charging solo travellers a premium, so if you are happy to share a room with a fellow traveller of the same sex, you will pay exactly the same as a couple..Occasionally you may even end up with your own room. You can travel as a single traveller on any of our holidays, from our escorte

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?


  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Since 2002

  • Do I need to be double-vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel with you?

    In most cases, yes. Not only are many destinations making double-vaccination a requirement of entry to the country and/or access to restaurants, museums etc., but additionally on all our group tours for the foreseeable future, for everyone’s peace of mind, we are asking that all clients be double vaccinated.

Reviews from travellers on this tour

Catherine Wilkinson  

Catherine Wilkinson

My first Wild Frontiers trip blew my expectations

My first Wild Frontiers trip blew my expectations away - I'm not sure I'll be able to cope travelling with other companies now!

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Dec 20, 2025 - Jan 02, 2026
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    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of wild frontiers charges.

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    You will have the right to transfer without any transfer fee, from any of our trips at ANY time if your trip is not Covid Viable (see below).*
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    If your trip is not Covid Viable, by 30 days prior to departure at the latest, we will cancel your holiday and you can either transfer your funds to another departure or have a refund.**

    We will only consider a trip Covid Viable*** if pre-departure it meets all of the following criteria:

    There is no national lockdown or ban on foreign travel for the period when your trip is due to depart.
    Destinations on the tour must not be on the UK’s Red List. ****
    No destinations visited on the tour have in place any significant COVID-19 restrictions for travellers.
    Tourist visas (if required) are available.
    There is reliable airline access to/from the start/end of the trip.
    Following an assessment by both Wild Frontiers and our local partners we are confident that your trip is able to run in both a safe and enjoyable manner.*****

    ** If you were originally booked to travel before 30 April 2020 and transferred to a later date, or if you have a tailor-made booking, there may be some irrecoverable costs which we cannot refund. Please speak to us and we will be able to advise you if this is the case for your booking.
    ***Since our HQ is in London, Covid Viable status for our Group Tours will be assessed on UK-based travellers. However we are fully aware that many of our clients live in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and beyond. As such, when we deem a trip to now be Covid Viable, everyone booked will have a chance to review their own personal situation before deciding whether or not to remain booked on the trip. Anyone wishing to, will have the option to transfer without fees to another trip at this time. For tailor made bookings, we may also able to consider additional countries’ travel advice when deciding if a trip is Viable. Please discuss this with us at the time of booking.
    **** This relates to bookings from UK clients only. We may operate trips to destinations which the British FCDO advise against travel for Covid reasons. If this is the case, anyone wishing to will have the option to cancel with a refund or transfer to another trip. In some cases we may choose to offer a tour to a Red destination but these will be at both clients’ and Wild Frontiers’ discretion and will be subject to alternative conditions to be discussed on an ad hoc basis.
    *****If a destination, that we have deemed to be Covid Viable, subsequently fails any aspect of the criteria for two consecutive weeks, you will have the right under our Covid Promise to transfer without any fees.

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