Day 1 Negombo
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. There are no activities planned today until your group welcome meeting at 5 pm. If you arrive with time to spare before the meeting, maybe spend some time relaxing poolside at the hotel or (if the family is keen to start exploring) head out on an Urban Adventure Spirit of Negombo day tour. This optional locally-led tour introduces your family to life in the seaside town.
Day 2 Dambulla
Begin the adventure by heading to Dambulla by private vehicle, located at the end of a moderate 4-hour drive from Negombo. This town plays home to some of the world’s most spectacularly decorated cave temples. Upon arrival, choose whether to join an optional excursion to the vegetable wholesale market, a labyrinth of shops and stalls that offers a fascinating look at the vast range of produce grown in Sri Lanka. Later, explore the Dambulla cave temples, where prehistoric Sri Lankans lived thousands of years ago and thousands of ancient murals and statues depicting the Buddha are on display.
Day 3 Dambulla
Today’s adventure takes you from Dambulla to Sigiriya, a colossal stone monument hosting a ruined fortress. Let the kids burn off some energy with a climb to the top of enormous rock, checking out the murals and caves along the way. If the weather is playing nicely, you should be able to take in sweeping views of the thick forests from the summit before descending. Once you return to Dambulla, take the family for a pleasant bike ride around the countryside. After a day full of activity everyone should be nice and tuckered out by the time night falls.
Day 4 Kandy
Say farewell to Dambulla in the morning and make a 3-hour drive to beautiful Kandy, often called the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. The verdant hills surrounding the city, along with the tranquil lake in the centre, creates the perfect scenery for family photo opportunities, and the old shops and restaurants will keep you busy for hours. Spend the afternoon basking amongst rows of flowers and towering palm trees in the Royal Botanical Gardens, home to more than 4000 species of plants including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and various trees. It’s a leisurely walk full of colour. Continue to the Spice Gardens to learn about Sri Lankan spice plants and herbs.
Day 5 Kandy
This morning you’ll visit Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Tooth), which houses the country's most sacred relic: a tooth said to be the Buddha's. Pilgrims have been coming to pay homage at this site since the 16th century. We visit a local family for dinner and learn the steps to traditional Kandayan dancing during some lessons from local performers.
Day 6 Bandarawela
After breakfast hit the road by private bus past lush green hills to Nuwara Eliya (3 hours), a former colonial hill station built entirely during the 19th century. The old world architecture reflects what you might expect to find in an English village and the town is a fascinating mix of water buffalo and brick Victorian buildings, golf courses and tea plantations. From here board a train to Bandarawela (2 hours). Enjoy views across the hills and tea plantations from your accommodation this evening.
Day 7 Bandarawela
After a few busy days on the road, today unfolds at a slower pace. Bandarawela is an unhurried, unpretentious hill town that exists to supply the needs of the tea plantation workers and their families. Another distinctive feature of Bandarawela is the colonial flavour still preserved in the many old buildings, including the Bandarawela Hotel and the old supermarket. Enjoy a leisurely morning walk through the countryside, past tea workers plucking the tips of the plants and throwing them into the baskets on their backs. The afternoon is free for your enjoyment – you could always get the family together and challenge some of the locals to a friendly game of cricket.
Day 8 Udawalawe
After a hearty breakfast and 8.30 am checkout, drive to Udawalawe National Park (approximately 3 hours). This park has an amazing array of animal and birdlife, with more herds of wild elephants than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Following lunch, hop in a jeep for a safari inside the park. Other wildlife regularly spotted here includes macaques and larger monkeys, spotted deer, crocodiles and sometimes even leopards. This is a real safari experience, nothing like a zoo or safari park – truly an adventure for all ages!
Day 9 Mirissa
Join your leader for an early morning, four-kilometre walk to a nearby lake which is home to lots of local birds. Head back to camp and fill up on a hearty meal before travelling to the chilled-out beach town of Mirissa. This is one of the best spots in Sri Lanka and you and your family will have some free time to explore it your way. Check out the stunning beach and splash around in the waves or ask your leader for a delicious dinner recommendation.
Day 10 Mirissa
Take free time today to relax around Mirissa’s lovely waterfront or take in some of the local sights. The waters are clear and inviting if you’d like to go for a splash in the Laccadive Sea, or you could grab a bite of fresh fish to share with the family. If you’re interested I the local fishing industry, consider gathering the family heading to nearby Weligama by tuk-tuk or bicycle to see colourful fishing boats bring the day’s catch to sell along the shore. The local cottage industry of lace products is also well worth a look. In the evening, visit the Dutch Fort in Galle for a spot of kite flying. If the colours of the kites don’t get you excited, the kaleidoscopic hues of the sunset surely will.
Day 11 Colombo
Check out of the hotel and head towards Colombo. Once you arrive, take a bit of time to wander through the bazaar and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the bustling market. Afterwards, enjoy a bit of free time. You’re in the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, so there’s more than enough things to occupy the whole family. The waterfront is full of life and makes for an excellent starting point. Regroup in the afternoon and head to Galle Face Green – five hectares of ocean-side park bliss – with your fellow families.
Day 12 Colombo
Your Sri Lankan family holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the hotel at any time after check out at 12 pm. If you are departing later in the day, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. Additional accommodation is available through your agent at the time of booking, subject to availability.