A Family Wildlife Adventure to Sri Lanka
A memorable 13-day discovery of Sri Lanka's wonderful wildlife and culture for families
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Privately guided family tours with local experts
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Safaris in Yala, Gal Oya and Minneriya National Parks
- Private transfers
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
Explore the wonderful wilds of Sri Lanka on this unforgettable luxury family adventure.
Your 13 day trip begins with a night in colonial Galle Fort on the southern coast, heading into the rural hinterland for an authentic taste of everyday life here. You’ll then follow the shoreline round to Yala National Park and two days of safari in search leopard, elephants and more in this vast protected area, staying at an immersive camp with excellent guides.
Next venture inland to the rolling plantations of Sri Lanka’s Tea Country for a hike among the hills and pickers from the wonderfully relaxing Ceylon Tea Trails, before two more days safari in Gal Oya National Park, a truly off the beaten track wilderness which you’ll have virtually to yourselves.
Return to (ancient) civilisation in Kandy and the Cultural Triangle, including two nights at the eco-chic Vil Uyana, from where you can head out at night to spot wide-eyed Loris in the trees, witness the world’s largest gathering of Asian elephants in Minneriya National Park and meet the monkeys of Polonnaruwa’s 8th century ruins.
Example Trip Itinerary
VIP meet and greet at Colombo airport
Private transfer to Galle
Accommodation in Galle
- 18 rooms and suites
- Restaurant and bar
- Private cinema
A cool retreat from the hot streets of historic Galle, Fort Bazaar takes up residence in a completely and immaculately restored 18th-century merchant’s townhouse right in the heart of town. 18 cool, chic rooms are arranged around a central courtyard, all spacious with high ceilings and four-poster beds. The family suite has two bedrooms. Branching out from the breezy courtyard you’ll find the acclaimed Church Street Social Restaurant, a bar, private cinema, library and spa. Walk out the front door and find yourself close to a range of boutique shops and the 300-year-old walls, making this the ideal place to soak up Galle Fort’s brooding atmosphere.
- 30 rooms and suites
- Two-storey Garden House
- Spa and yoga pavilion
Built in 1684 and converted into a hotel in 1863, the Amangalla is a beautiful historic property with plenty of old-world charm. The hotel features 30 rooms and suites, all with high ceilings, original Burmese teak floors and large windows that look out over the gardens, the harbour or the Extending the length of the hotel on the ground floor is a beautiful verandah with colourful floor tiles and palm trees. Here you can enjoy afternoon tea or a refreshing drink as you sit and watch the world go by. Step inside and you’ll find yourself in the Great Hall with its lofty ceilings, period lighting and overhead fans. The dining room sits at one end, an elegant space with crisp white linen and antique silverwear. Here you can enjoy traditional Sri Lankan dishes centred around what the chef finds that day in the local markets. At the other end of the hall is the lounge, the perfect place to enjoy a cup of Ceylon tea or an evening cocktail. There is also a library with a range of books on the history, culture and arts of Sri Lanka. Relax and unwind at the spa which features hot and cold plunge pools and a sauna, as well as treatment rooms where you can enjoy traditional Sri Lankan therapies. Take a dip in the refreshing waters of the outdoor pool, surrounded by the lush greenery of the garden or enjoy a morning yoga class in the yoga pavilion to set yourself up for a day of exploring.
Spend an evening soaking up the unique atmosphere of Galle, a stunning town at the southern edge of Sri Lanka with fascinating colonial history evident at every turn through its eclectic assemblage of architecture. It's walls and everything inside them are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with beautiful Dutch fusion architecture, a commanding Victorian lighthouse, grand churches and mosques, all in a sultry tropical setting.
Experience the diversity and beauty of rural Galle. This stunning part of the island is best known for its Fort and beaches but in Galle’s hinterland areas the jungle, rice paddy, and quaint mud roads that make up the small villages surrounding the town are an attraction in their own right.
Your journey begins with a boat ride down the Kapu Ela River accompanied by a local naturalist, who will point out wildlife as you pass local village hamlets and cinnamon plantations. Next, take a leisurely 9km (5.5 mile) ride through rural Galle, its paddy fields, small villages and markets, ending with refreshing herbal tea.
Private transfer to Yala National Park
Yala National Park
Accommodation in Yala National Park
- Six classic and two luxury tents
- Dining, bar and lounge area
- Modern game drive vehicles
- Camera and lens hire
Leopard Trails Yala Camp provides an immersive and intimate safari experience right on the edge of Yala National Park. The camp comprises eight tents – six classic and two luxury – all of which are air conditioned with en suite bathrooms, personal outdoor showers, charging points and just canvas separating you from the wilderness outside. The luxury tents are more spacious and can accommodate families. A fire, bar, lounge and dining area sit at the camp’s heart. Dining is a convivial experience, with chefs serving up authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, an endless array of colourful and fragrant curries and sambols, and Western dishes. There are twice daily game drives into the park accompanied by an in-house naturalist who is ever willing to share their knowledge of the Yala’s wild elephants, leopards, sloth bear, mugger crocodiles and numerous birds on nature trails. For younger guests, there is a Junior Ranger Programme where they can learn about tracks, bird calls and wildlife conservation.
- En suite tents
- Tailor made mobile safaris
- Specially adapted 4WD vehicles
Kulu translates as untamed, a most fitting name for this authentic, ecologically minded safari camp. The base camp has large custom made tents secured on raised wooden platforms, each with a small deck area for an evening drink, en suite bathroom and hot shower. Expertly guided game drives on modified Land Cruisers, kayaking and jungle walks will let you really get a feel for this stunning region. The camp is ideally situated to explore the multiple sectors of Yala National Park, with the majority of safaris in Block 1. However, for guests staying three or more nights, full-day excursions into the far less frequented Blocks 3, 4, 5, and Lunugamvehera National Park can be arranged. For truly tailor-made camping experiences, mobile safari options can be planned to suit specific requests in smaller, yet still comfortable tents. This is an adventurous option for groups looking to get entirely off the beaten path, and that Kulu’s mobile clients include world renowned nature documentary filmmakers is testament to their expertise.
- 14 thatched suites with plunge pools
- Swimming pool
To the southern edge of Yala National Park, the luxurious Chena Huts sit overlooking a beach where turtles lay eggs at night and elephants venture down from the jungle to play in the surf. It is bordered by forest and a saline lake home to ibises, painted storks and even flamingos. There are just 14 thatched ‘huts’ set around the property, though calling these sweeping thatched pavilions – each with a living area, bedroom, freestanding bathtub and shaded outdoor deck with built-in 5m plunge pool – is an understatement. The Basses restaurant takes its name from the nearby reefs and lighthouse and is suitably nautical in its theme. Private dining experiences can be organised, whether on the beach under the stars or by a camp fire surrounded by nature. There’s also a swimming pool with poolside bar concealed behind a waterfall and an Ayurveda spa in which to unwind. As well as safaris into the Ruhuna block of Yala National Park, other nearby attractions include fabulous birding in Bundala National Park, and the Great and Little Basses reefs, off which blue and humpback whales congregate and dolphins frolic. Kataragama, an ancient forest shrine on the edge of Yala that attracts tens of thousands of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims in July and August, is close by too.
Occupying the south-eastern corner of the island, the vast Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s second largest national park and also its most popular. The park itself is divided into five blocks, two of which, Ruhuna and Kumana, can be explored on guided game drives, and stretches from the sea inland, encompassing some 979 square kilometres (378 square miles) of forest, wetlands and savannah. This varied landscapes provides a vital home for hundreds of Sri Lankan elephant, sloth bear, crocodile and rare wild water buffalo, as well over 200 bird species.
But it is the leopard, found here in perhaps the highest concentration in the world, that are iconic of the park. Their secretive nature means spotting Sri Lanka’s top predator is still a challenge, but accompanied by a skilled guide and a little luck, there a few better places in the world to find these enigmatic cats.
Private transfer to the Tea Country
Accommodation in Tea Country
- 26 rooms
- Five bungalows
- Meals and drinks included
- Spa treatments
With astounding views out over green tea fields and misty mountains, the Ceylon Tea Trails resort is the ideal place from which to explore this breathtaking part of Sri Lanka. Dating back to colonial times, five spacious bungalows feature antique furniture and exemplary, personalised service. With between four and six rooms, they are perfect for families and small groups. All of the 26 rooms and suites, which are named after tea planters who lived there, are elegantly outfitted in natural colours and materials, and make for a tranquil escape. Spend time out on the veranda in the fresh mountain air enjoying the views of Castlereagh Lake, the Bogawantalawa Valley and Dunkeld Estate; or curl up with a book in front of a fire. Take long, leisurely walks through the tea plantations learning all about the ancient process of making tea, enjoy a tempting spread of sweet treats on the lawns or have a light lunch at the pool side. Sri Lankan-inspired meals at Ceylon Tea Trails feature the freshest of seasonal produce with home grown vegetables, herbs and teas from the estate. Rates at Tea Trails are fully inclusive of meals and drinks. Make the most of the calming surroundings and start the day with an aromatic bath, or treat yourself to a selection of therapeutic spa treatments in your room. Get a healthy dose of fresh air and explore some of the walking and biking routes through the mountains, or enjoy a game of tennis or croquet.
Undulating hills blanketed in green plantations, Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. You'll see the hills dotted with women 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 painstakingly maintained plants.
A leisurely walk or an adventure trek is a delightful way to experience the varied landscapes, exotic flora, abundant birdlife and the relaxed rhythm of life here. Take in vistas of mountain lakes, manicured tea gardens, forests and doll’s house villages. A guide can be provided or self walk on marked trails which are selected for varying levels of ability.
Private transfer to Gal Oya National Park
Gal Oya National Park
Accommodation in Gal Oya National Park
- Seven chalets
- Two bedroom villa
- Restaurant and bar
- Swimming pool
On the north-western edge of Gal Oya National Park, occupying 20 acres of its own wilderness, Gal Oya Lodge is a beautiful and ecologically exemplary safari lodge. There are seven spacious stone, wood and thatch bungalows nestled in the forest, each one specially placed to take advantage of the spectacular views. Each has a private living room which joins onto the bedroom, both rooms featuring floor to ceiling windows and doors which open onto a private veranda, as well as en suite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers. The highest point is reserved for a two-bedroom village, ideal for families and friends, each bedroom with wraparound verandas to catch both sunrise and sunset over the canopy. A restaurant, bar and swimming are at the heart of the lodge, backdropped by the green mountains beyond, laid back areas cooled by the breeze. Venture into the neighbouring Gal Oya National Park on jeep safaris in search of wildlife, take to the lake by boat with a chance of seeing elephants swimming between the islands, explore the countryside on walks accompanied by a naturalist guide, picnic one sandy banks of a river or meet the aboriginal people of Sri Lanka, the Veddas, on unique cultural experiences.
Gal Oya National Park is something of a hidden gem, one of Sri Lanka’s least visited national parks due to its remoteness, yet it is a place of beautiful landscapes home to vibrant wildlife. Centred around the vast Senanayake Samudra reservoir, the park is covered in evergreen forest and swathes of savannah, while the lake itself is peppered with islands which were once hilltops. It is one of best places in the country to see elephants, who can sometimes be spotted swimming between the islets on boat safaris, following the routes of their traditional migration 60 years after the waters rose.
Other animals in the park include Sri Lankan leopard, langur, toque macaque, sloth bear, wild boar, mugger crocodile, water buffalo and deer, as well as some 150 bird species which can be seen in flocks numbering in the thousands by the water. There is also a rich cultural aspect to the region, with the ancient Brahmi inscriptions in Henebedde Cave and sacred shrine at Dighavapi, said to have been sanctified by the Buddha during his third visit to Sri Lanka, as well as being home to the indigenous Vedda people.
Private transfer to Kandy
Accommodation in Kandy
- Nine rooms
- Massage treatments
Set in a tropical garden near Kandy, this restored manor house, which dates from 1804, is the ideal place for a private getaway. The hotel blends contemporary décor and luxury with elegant antiques. Nine rooms, each with its own character, are named after Sri Lankan butterflies, and local fabrics, stylish furniture and modern amenities ensure guests are comfortable from the moment they arrive. At mealtimes, take a seat on the veranda and enjoy fresh fusion and a variety of international dishes. However, to get a true taste for Kandy, the speciality is traditional Sri Lankan cuisine – and don’t miss the twice weekly feast of local curries. Take care of your physical and spiritual wellbeing by booking a session with the in-house masseur and Ayurvedic therapist. Treatments on offer include energy healing, full body and head massages and reflexology. Enjoy a game of cricket with the Kandy House team, unleash your inner artist using art supplies from the hotel, or learn how to play carom, a combination of billiards and shuffleboard. Alternatively, simply while away your afternoons in the infinity pool gazing out at the paddy fields. While the hotel creates a sanctuary you may not want to stray too far from, there are lots of activities nearby to keep the more adventurous traveller happy. Visit temples, gardens and tea plantations and seek out some of the World Heritage Sites the region boasts.
- Seven rooms
- Infinite pool
- Collection of classic cars
Located on top of a hill a few minute’s tuktuk ride from the bustle of central Kandy with a fabulous view over the sacred city and mountains behind, The Elephant Stables is a charming boutique hotel marrying colonial Art Deco glamour and modern comfort with a Sri Lankan twist. Once the private home of Sir Cuda Ratwatte, a former mayor of Kandy, many elephants were once housed in the gardens, hence the name. The Elephant Stables has seven rooms including spacious rooms with balconies and a collection of stylish suites, most of which have separate bedrooms and thus ideal for families, including a vast royal tent. All rooms have complimentary minibars, air-conditioning and DVD players with a collection of vintage Sri Lankan films. There’s a bar, living room, reading room and spa while outside there is an infinity pool with a truly fabulous view. The hotel also has a collection of vintage British cars from the 1950s and early 1960s, including a mustard yellow Mini Moke, which are huge fun on local drives around Kandy and longer trips such as to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The restaurant serves hearty breakfasts, light European lunches, afternoon tea and set menu dinners which feature traditional Sri Lankan curries, Asian Fusion or Western cuisine.
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. Nestled in the midst of hills and surrounded by tropical 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, or spend the day exploring the opulent temples and learning about the city’s rich history. The dense downtown area is surrounded by tropical rainforest, so look out for exotic monkeys swinging overhead.
The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens is the largest of the botanical gardens of Sri Lanka and one of the finest in Asia. In the Mediterranean climate of Kandy, the gateway to the central highlands, the Gardens lies at an elevation of 460 meters above sea-level, tightly bounded on three sides by the loop of the River Mahaweli. Your expert botanist guide will take you on a leisurely walk around, sharing interesting and insightful stories about this place and Sri Lanka.
Private transfer to the Cultural Triangle
The Cultural Triangle
Accommodation in The Cultural Triangle
- 36 rooms
- Restaurant and bar
- Swimming pool
With a strong focus on the environment and eco-friendly practices, Jetwing Vil Uyana is inspired by the reclaimed agricultural land on which it is built. Make yourself at home in a luxurious waterside suite and gaze out through the reeds towards paddy fields and forests. The hotel is built on a man-made wetland system, making for a beautifully tranquil escape from city life. The 36 rooms are spacious and stylish, with a focus on materials that blend in with the surroundings, and bold splashes of accent colour. With a serene rural atmosphere, the rooms offer modern conveniences to ensure the utmost comfort of guests. Whether you are in the mood for a light meal, a refreshing cocktail or Eastern and Western dishes, there are a variety of choices at Vil Uyana. For an exceptional evening, book a private spa dining experience, or select one of the other signature dining options. Whatever you choose, the backdrop will be as inspiring as the food. Focus on your overall well-being and take advantage of the therapeutic and traditional treatments at the Jetwing Vil Uyana Spa.
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.
Considered a haven for wildlife, the private nature reserve at Vil Uyana which is made up of wetlands and forest habitats is home to numerous species of birds, mammals, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians. The reserve also contains the country’s best site for Loris watching, and guests will have the rare opportunity of sighting one of the island’s elusive primates, the Grey Slender Loris, when they venture along these night trails. The Loris, with its large bulging eyes and tiny limbs, is a nocturnal primate found in India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia. Hidden in the scrub forests, this mystical creature moves slowly through the trees after dusk to feed on insects and berries.
This one hour long tour which is conducted by the resident naturalist, will take you through the forest on a trail that passes over streams which are crossed by simple bamboo bridges. You will be provided with red light emitting headlamps which prevent damage to the eyes of the Loris but assist you in your search for this elusive creature. Depending on how quiet you are, the Loris may even approach you and give you a close up view. Keep an eye out for the other nocturnal species you may encounter on the night trail – the Eurasian Otter, Mouse Deer, Palm Civet, Collared Scops Owl, Indian Nightjar and Fishing Cat.
Minneriya National Park's ‘Gathering’ is the largest assembling of Asian Elephants at any given time, a unique phenomenon during the dry period from May to October when the waters of the ancient Minneriya Tank reservoir recede exposing fresh green grass which is a favourite of the elephants. Herds from all of the North Central Province head here to eat, socialize and bathe in the waters which is surrounded by varied habitats of wetlands, grasslands and scrub jungle and it is not unheard of to see hundreds of animals on a single safari. Other wildlife to be spotted here include langur, macaques, buffalo, deer, crocodiles and, if you are particularly lucky, leopard and sloth bear. Hundreds of bird species can also be seen.
Made famous by Disney’s Monkey Kingdom movie, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa is home to a vast monkey population - purple-faced leaf monkeys, toque macaque, and the grey langur - living among the impressively preserved 8th century ruins. The Smithsonian Primate Research Cente has been conducting conservation and scientific research in the area for almost half a century and a researcher will show you around the site and give you an upclose insight into the lives and social structures of these amazing primates. You have the option to continue to explore Polonnaruwa by yourself after the tour.
Private transfer to your hotel in Colombo
Accommodation in Colombo
- 17 rooms and suites
- Outdoor swimming pool
Located within five acres of landscapes tropical gardens is The Wallawwa, a colonial manor house with plenty of character and charm. A short drive from the airport and under an hour from the hustle and bustle of Colombo itself, this is a great option for those wanting a tranquil stay while never being too far from the action. The hotel features 17 elegant rooms and suites, some featuring their own verandah overlooking the garden. For families or small groups, the two-bedroom Mountbatten Suite with private plunge pool and garden is perfect. It is so named because Lord Mountbatten was commander in chief of the south east Asia command, the headquarters of which were in Sri Lanka – then Ceylon. Dine at the Verandah restaurant, which makes use of fresh, local ingredients to create delicious fusion cuisine. You can also enjoy high tea in the garden, enjoyed with a cup of Sri Lanka’s famous tea. When you want to relax and unwind, the Z Spa offers a range of rejuvenating treatments, and there is an outdoor pool nestled among the lush foliage.
- 11 suites
- Swimming pool
Set off tree-lined Park Street and close to the lakeside Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Residence by Uga Escapes is one of the finest boutique hotels in Colombo. The grand Victorian townhouse was built in the 19th century by a wealthy barrister, its great halls and expansive gardens once entertaining British governors, Indian maharajas, European nobility and the cream of the colonial Ceylon society. Today, its 11 unique luxury suites are a calm and secluded oasis in spite of its central location. The style is elegant, contemporary and comfortable, with numerous hints of its rich heritage. This urban retreat also has a wonderful swimming pool, private courtyards, a gourmet restaurant, bar and gym within its walls.
Private transfer to Colombo airport
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A Family Wildlife Adventure to Sri Lanka
How We Work
We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.
Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.