Be enchanted by Sri Lanka on an unforgettable 11-day journey. Explore Sigiriya rock fortress and refresh your spirit at the unusual Golden Temple of Dambulla, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stroll spice gardens and tea plantations, and ride through Wilpattu National Park with a forest ranger in search of elephants and leopards. Come away with a deep understanding of why early Arab traders called this island country “Serendib,” a name that gave English speakers the word “serendipity.”
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included.
Depart early and visit a coconut plantation, learning about farming and popular coconut based products. Continue north to Wilpattu National Park, known for its leopard population. Explore the park by jeep and meet with a local expert to learn about conservation efforts and the issues of human encroachment on wildlife reserves. Spend the night at a safari camp located just outside the park. (1B, 1D)
Travel to the sacred city of Anuradhapura–a UNESCO World Heritage site. Walk through the ruins and discover ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples. Enjoy some free time this afternoon, during which you may opt to rent a bike. (1B)
Take a walk through Habarana, a rural farming village, and learn about daily life. Relax during a canoe ride on the lake, ride on a bull cart, enjoy a local lunch, and venture into the rice and vegetable fields. Later, continue to Dambulla for the evening. (1B, 1L)
Head to the legendary rock fortress of Sigiriya, a World Heritage site. Climb to the top of Lion Rock—crowned by the ruins of a fifth-century royal city—and take in stellar views at the summit. Afterward, enjoy some free time to explore Dambulla. (1B)
Our next destination is the Golden Temple of Dambulla, which has drawn Buddhist pilgrims for more than 22 centuries. Venture into this extraordinary rock sanctuary to admire ancient Buddhist murals and statues. Then visit a spice garden in Matale to learn about the therapeutic uses of local spices. Continue to Kandy and enjoy a tour of the Temple of the Tooth, believed to house a tooth of the Buddha. This evening, listen to some traditional music at a cultural show. (1B)
Today, visit the impressive Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya, considered a national asset. Explore the lush grounds and visit the orchid house and the giant fig tree on the great lawn. Afterward, visit Sthree Craft Shop and Café, a G for Good-supported social enterprise that helps local women and youth. Here we enjoy a handicraft demonstration, lecture, and afternoon high tea. Later, take advantage of some free time to walk through the city and around Kandy Lake. (1B, 1L)
Travel through scenic mountains to the tea-producing town of Nuwara Eliya. Stop at a traditional tea plantation in the central highlands to gain insight into the process of growing tea and its effect on the Ceylon region. Enjoy a cup of pure Ceylon Tea, then continue exploring the English countryside setting –once governed by English and Scottish planters.Walk along grassy lanes, taking in stunning views of this countryside hamlet. Opt to enjoy high tea at the historic Grand Hotel. (1B)
Enjoy a picnic breakfast and a hike in Horton Plains National Park, keeping an eye out for macaques and wild boars. Continue to our tented camp on the border of Udawalawe National Park, the best place on the island to see large populations of Asian elephants in the wild. This evening, enjoy a cooking demonstration by the camp chef and learn about local specialties. (1B, 1D)
Set off on a game drive to spot elephants, monkeys, water buffaloes, and monitor lizards, as well as numerous bird species. Afterward, enjoy a lecture at the Elephant Transit Home, a haven for orphaned elephants who are rehabilitated then released back into the wild, many directly into Udawalawe National Park. (1B, 1D)
Drive to Negombo and enjoy free time to explore the city and check out the beautiful Portuguese and Dutch architecture. (1B)
Depart at any time. (1B)
Offered in partnership with G Adventures, our National Geographic Journeys line blends fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
Call to speak with a specialist about this trip.
All trip prices are per person based on double occupancy. If you're traveling on your own, we'll pair you up with a roommate of the same gender so that you can pay the same rate as other travelers. Prices are subject to change without notice and do not include airfare. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars.
During your trip, sometimes it's just more convenient and comfortable to have your own room. That's why we offer the "My Own Room" option - a single room all to yourself.
My Own Room Option: From $1,649
Arrival transfer, transport between destinations and to/from included activities, and activities as listed in the itinerary. The optional rafting excursion on the Kelani River is at an additional cost.
Comfortable, mid-range hotels and resorts that reflect the local character (10 nights)
10 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners. Allow an additional $220–290 for meals not included.
Private air-conditioned van/ minibus, boat, tuk-tuk
You can do whatever you wish during your free time on tour, but if you're in need of suggestions, we've got them. Details about any optional experiences for this trip will be available during the booking process. Please note, these are at an additional cost.