A Culture-Rich & Active Adventure to Sri Lanka for Sarah and Family

Duration 12 days
Price guide
From
  PP
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An active and cultural adventure into the heart of Sri Lanka. Learn the secrets of Sri Lankan cuisine in Colombo and the Cultural Triangle. Go sightseeing on bikes and feel awe-struck at the ancient capital of Anuradhapura. Kandy appears from the misty clouds, a wonder of culture, religious significance and stunning natural surroundings. Travel by train to the Tea Country and settle in for immersive experiences in the lush green rolling hills.

Trip highlights

  • Exclusive Kamatha dining experience
  • Adventure by bicycle among ancient capital of Anuradhapura
  • Travel by road to spot elephants, monkeys and buffalo
  • Visit the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Take a train to the Tea Country
  • Try tasty snacks on a Street food tour in Colombo

Bespoke trips with Jacada

We design one-of-a-kind journeys incorporating luxury in all its forms. Our bespoke trips include:

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers
  • Private tours and experiences
  • Full support from your travel designer and concierge
  • Help with restaurant recommendations and reservations
Black and white illustration of two guides pointing to a building in the distance
  • Days 1–2 Colombo
  • Days 2–4 Cultural Triangle
  • Days 4–5 Kandy
  • Days 5–7 Tea Country
  • Days 7–8 Negombo
  • Days 8–10 Galle
  • Days 10–12 Balapitiya
A Culture-Rich & Active Adventure to Sri Lanka for Sarah and Family
Price guide
  PP
  • Days 1–2 Colombo
  • Days 2–4 Cultural Triangle
  • Days 4–5 Kandy
  • Days 5–7 Tea Country
  • Days 7–8 Negombo
  • Days 8–10 Galle
  • Days 10–12 Balapitiya

Itinerary in detail

Every Jacada trip is tailored to your personal preferences and interests. Below you’ll find a sample itinerary to inspire your own custom-designed journey.

Days 1–2

An overnight in Colombo

Start your trip in Colombo, on the western coast of the island and spend a night in the sprawling city, home to over five million people. Colombo has a fascinating history, centred around an ancient fort and once Portuguese trading post, with a modern-day culture and atmosphere that remains intriguing and energetic.

The city is dotted with temples, shrines, cafes, markets and is best explored by tuk tuk. There are some idyllic beaches to be discovered a little way along the coast.

Days 2–3

Two nights exploring the Cultural Triangle

Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were the three great Sinhalese capitals, and together they form an area known as the Cultural Triangle. The heart of Sri Lanka’s ancient civilisation, this historic region is crammed full of temples and monuments and its ruined cities are fascinating places to explore.

Exploring the Cultural Triangle

Anuradhapura by bicycle

Dating back to the fourth century BC, Anuradhapura was the spiritual and secular capital of the island for well over a millennium. At its height, the city was dotted with monasteries and home to over 10,000 monks; many monasteries and colossal dagobas can still be seen today. Today, this privately guided cycling tour takes you through a dozen sites, such as the three largest man-made stupas in Sri Lanka and the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi fig tree. You will bike along flat terrain, making stops along the way for pictures and to enjoy the scenery.

Kamatha dining experience at Uga Ulagalla

The Kamatha, a dining experience set in the centre of a working paddy (rice) field will allow you to explore Sri Lanka’s flavours. You will sample dishes, learning the cooks’ favourite recipes and how traditions are reflected in the myriad of fragrant spices and seasonings. You’ll also learn about utensils used for some 2000 years, hand-made clay pots and open wood fires. Enjoy lake fish and free-range meats, plus breads and old-world rice, the signature crop here.

Nachchaduwa scenic drive with Uga Ulagalla

Explore the area by four-wheel drive on a journey in search of cultural, natural and history highs. Take in ancient reservoirs, lakes, farmland and villages as you travel through areas of indigenous forest and observe local fishermen. You may come across herds of domesticated buffalo, varieties of birds and tree-hopping monkeys, and possibly wild elephants. All sightings are mapped and tracked and every jeep drive assists in elephant conservation efforts. Stop for sundowners at Nachchaduwa Lake, a vast reservoir framed by dense pockets of forest and distant hills.

Other possibilities

For children

For adventure

Uga Ulagalla's Junior Rangers

Younger guests can join Uga Ulagalla’s Junior Ranger Program which has been designed to teach curious minds about nature, wildlife and the environment in a fun and engaging way. Over a morning or afternoon, we take children on an exciting journey of natural discovery.

Explore Sigiriya

The iconic Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, was the site of a city and forest, built around and on top of a huge column of rock in the 5th century by King Kasyapa. Abandoned soon after his death, it was then used as a Buddhist monastery. You’ll explore the gardens and archaeological remains below before scaling the 1200 steps to the top for an amazing view.

Days 4–5

Two days in Kandy

A world of ancient kings, ornate temples, lush gardens and vibrant traditions, Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka and its cultural capital. In the midst of hills and surrounded by paddy fields and tea plantations, the town is the home of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), the country’s most important religious shrine. Browse the bustling market places with bright, fresh produce, local delicacies and fragrant spices.

Exploring Kandy

Three Temple Loop

Today you’ll enjoy a walk to three compelling temples. Located in the Central Highlands, just a few kilometres to the south west of Kandy, a seven kilometre path links the Embekke, Lankathilake and Gadaladeniya temples. The path will take you past fertile rice fields and through small bustling towns lined with colourful houses, where you’ll see women swathed in vibrant saris. Along the way, chat to friendly locals and sip tea in tea stalls. The three temples can also be conveniently linked by car.

Temple of the Tooth

The Temple of the Tooth houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Monks of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple. Continue on to explore Kandy itself with your chauffeur guide.

Other possibilities

By night

By day

Private Kandyan dance show at Kings Pavilion

According to the legend, the origins of Kandyan dance lies in an exorcism ritual known as the Kohomba Kankariya, which was originally performed by Indian shamans who came to the island, from which the locals adopted the dance. After the performance enjoy a delicious meal at Kings Pavilion.

Bird watching around Santani

Around Santani there are 114 species of birds, including 15 of the 34 endemic species. Join the naturalist with some binoculars and a field guide in the morning and spend a couple of hours observing resident birds on this trail before breakfast.

Experience a Sri Lankan train journey

Scenic train tride to the Tea Country

Board your train in Kandy and depart for the Tea Country, winding along hillside railways and through dewy, lush, bright green tunnels of palm, guava and carambola trees. Pass through small train stations and get a glimpse of everyday life within the Cultural Triangle as the vast rolling tea estates come into view.

Days 5–7

Two nights in of immersive experiences in the Tea Country

Undulating hills blanketed in green plantations, Sri Lanka’s Tea Country is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. You’ll see the hills dotted with experienced tea-pickers quickly but meticulously harvesting leaves by hand, baskets slung across their backs. Skilful workers deftly pluck the most flavoursome and aromatic parts of the bushes – the topmost leaves and buds – which are then sent to nearby factories to be dried and processed. The first tea plantations were established in Kandy in the 1860s and now most of the scenic central region’s elevated slopes are covered in contoured rows of maintained plants.

Explore the estates

A private tea tour with Ceylon Tea Trails

A guided tour of the Dunkeld Tea Factory is a quintessential tea experience for those visiting Sri Lanka. Here, you will delve into all aspects of tea – from a look back to the early days of “planting” and the lifestyles of the early colonial plantation owners, to the manufacturing process, to how flavours are created to suit various palates. What went into creating the perfect cup of refreshing Ceylon tea in 1867 were equal parts science, art, sleight of hand, and a spot of luck, and little has changed since.

Days 7

A pause in Colombo

Return to Colombo for a foodie experience, before continuing to Negombo for your final night.

A taste of Sri Lanka

Snack and sip like a sailor

Old Colombo was once a hustling and bustling port city. The hard-working laborer had little time for a hearty meal, so make did with high-calorie or sweet snacks. Late evening was spent in a watering hole where many alcoholic beverages might be consumed. The next morning’s hangovers would be treated by a frothy, sugary strong tea. These bold dietary habits still carry on thanks to some surviving establishments. Visit street food carts and taste delicacies as you hear the stories behind them, visit a historic tea shop and take a tuk tuk to an old British mason mansion turned hotel for a distilled coconut toddy.

Days 7–8

Relax in Negombo

Negombo is a buzzing and vibrant city, prosperous port and a wonderful place to experience everyday life in Sri Lanka. There’s plenty of history to discover, particularly a distinctive heritage evident in the old fort and several canals that run to the coastline. Negombo is a wonderful place to relax. Swaying palm-fringed private estates and wide yellow-sand beaches offer a place to regroup after your adventure.

Days 8–10

Two nights exploring Galle

Spend two nights in the atmospheric town of Galle exploring its fascinating history, architecture and culture. The unmissable Galle Fort juts out to sea and stands as a testament to the importance of this region in the spice trade in the 16th century. The Portuguese, Dutch and British left their mark on this city, including the fort itself. Today the walls and everything inside them are a UNESCO World Heritage Site including the Victorian lighthouse, grand churches and mosques, all in a sultry tropical setting.

Spice traders and merchants have been replaced by a cosmopolitan crowd of artists, writers, designers and poets, and Galle’s small streets are packed with boutique shops, buzzing bars and cafes, as fishermen on their stilts continue as they always have done.

Immerse yourself in Galle's fascinating history

A walking tour of Galle Fort with an expert archaeologist

Spend your time in Galle discovering the historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument that is the Galle Fort with a special archaeologist guide. First built in 1589 by the Portuguese, and extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century, Galle Fort has an interesting, and at times dramatic, history. As you learn about dates and stories, enjoy walking the ramparts and walls of this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site as palms shake and the deep blue sea stretches out in front of you.

Other possibilities

On land

At sea

Discover Galle's art scene

Just outside Galle meet your guides at their local temple, the inspiration for many artists in the area. Spend the next few hours visiting the home of a prominent batik artist, mask maker and a puppet workshop. Stop for tea, snacks, a visit to the harbour and Asia’s largest reclining Buddha.

Enjoy a blue whale-watching tour

Set out early this morning for the best whale watching conditions and the calmest oceans. Boarding the boat at Mirissa, you will set sail for the Indian Ocean on a shared trip to spot the world’s biggest mammals, before returning back to land by mid-afternoon.

Days 10–12

Two final nights in Balapitiya

Balapitiya, on Sri Lanka’s west coast is lined with palm trees, stretches of idyllic sandy beaches, wildlife filled rivers that meet the ocean, huge granite boulders that add drama to the serene lush coastal landscapes and strong sense of art and folk culture.

Not far from the capital and with easy access to the charming town of Galle, Balapitiya is a rather lovely stop to relax and unwind with a host of activities and experiences at your fingertips from culinary classes, wildlife tours to observe turtles and water sports on the open waves.

Soak up Sri Lankan life

Sri Lankan Cooking Experience at Kumu Beach

Together with the chef from Kumu Beach’s delicious restaurant you will create a Sri Lankan feast of different curries to share together for dinner or lunch. You will learn about spices and different methods of preparing each of the delicious curries. The chef will go shopping for vegetables at the local market, extending the invite to anyone who really wants to get under the skin of Sri Lankan cooking.

You will learn how to cook using clay pots or ‘chatties’, said to be the secret behind the authentic and distinctive flavours in Sri Lankan cuisine and used across the island for centuries. Villagers in rural villages still use them for cooking on an open hearth.

Why book with Jacada

Pesonalised design

We’ll plan your trip around your personal interests, tastes and preferences, providing honest advice based on first-hand knowledge.

Authentic experiences

Our expert guides and brilliant Concierges are hand-picked for their ability to bring your destination to life with care and passion.

Positive Impact

We seek out unforgettable experiences that benefit both local communities and the environment.