Discovering the highlights of Colombo & Kandy with local guides
Feeling like a local while enjoying the views from the train
Exploring the wonders of Gal Oya National Park by land and lake
Swimming and snorkelling over colourful coral reefs
Searching for wildlife such as elephants, leopards, and wild boar
Soaking-in the astonishing beauty of Sri Lankan countryside
Day 1: Arrival – Colombo
Ayubowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka!
On arrival to Colombo, clear immigration and customs. Proceed to the arrival area where you will be met by your private chauffeur guide and transferred to your hotel.
Experience your first impressions of this amazing island. Emerson Tennet, a traveller to Sri Lanka in the 1850’s wrote;
There is no country in the world that has attracted the attention of authors in so many distant ages and of so many different countries as Ceylon…Its aspects, its religion, its antiquities, and productions, have been described as well by the classic Greeks, by the Romans; by the writers of China, Burma, India and and Kashmir; by the geographers of Arabia and Persia; by the mediaeval voyagers of Italy and France; by the annalist of Portugal and Spain; by the merchant adventures of Holland, and by the travellers and topographers of Great Britain.
…Ceylon, from whatever direction is approached, unfolds a scene of loveliness and grandeur unsurpassed, if it be rivalled, by any land in the universe.
Colombo is Sri Lanka biggest city and also its capital – for years’ visitors have avoided it and there were reasons behind it – it had a reputation of being drab and boring. We think otherwise Colombo unlike Bangkok or Jakarta is easy to explore. True you have to prepare for some traffic but once you look past the busy avenues there is a rich world to discover.
In the evening, it’s time to meet uncle Rashan in Colombo.
Discover a fun side of Sri Lanka. Meet uncle Rashan from Colombo and explore the city as if you were a local kid, for a cool outing. How about some cycling in the very British Victoria park, make sure to ask Rashan to get you an ice-cream!
Then is time to frolic around the Galle Face Green here is where families come to watch the sunset, get some fresh air from the sea and enjoy the local food. Best part for you kids is that you get to fly some kites with Rashan, if you are good to him he might get you a football to kick around. Parents will have a good time enjoying some kottu rotti at the famous Nana with a view of the Indian Ocean to match the delicious local food.
Overnight: Colombo Hotel
(Standard check in time at the Hotel is 1400 hrs.)
Day 2: Colombo – Kandy (Approx. 4 hours)
This morning after a scrumptious breakfast proceed to Fort Railway station in order to get the train to Kandy.
Train departs at 0830hrs
Train arrives at 1103hrs
Travel from Colombo to Kandy by the train which is going to be an adventures train ride at the beginning of the tour.
Kandy belongs to the fabric of legends. While Sri Lanka was under Portuguese and Dutch rule the Kings of Kandy remained defiant and independent. It was much later during the British rule that Kandy finally fell to the biggest Empire in the world.
After the train ride check into the hotel in Kandy and spend some time on leisure basis.
Overnight: Kandy Hotel
Day 3: Kandy City Tour
After enjoying your breakfast at the hotel, explore the Kandy city with your guide.
Today Kandy is a big city that still retains touches of its colonial history in buildings such as the Queen’s hotel a beautiful 19th century neoclassical beauty. Wander around the lake and the streets of Kandy getting a feel for this wonderful city and exploring the local markets.
Later visit the temple of the Tooth which is no doubt the city’s biggest pride. As Bella Woolf described in her 1927 guide How to see Ceylon.
“The courtyard is crammed with worshipers of all ages, bearing offerings in their hands, leaves of young coconut, scent, flowers and fruits. As the door opens, they surge up in the dark and narrow stairway to the silver and ivory doors behind which lies the tooth.
The doors are opened and a flood of hot heavy scented air pours out. The golden karandua or outer casket of the tooth stands revealed dimly behind gilded bars. In the weird uncertain light of candles in golden candelabra the yellow-robbed priests move to and fro. The tooth is enclosed in five karanduas and slowly and solemnly each is removed in turn, some of them are encrusted with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. At last the great moment approaches; the last karandua is removed – in folds of red silk lies the wondrous relic – the center point of faith”.
Overnight: Kandy Hotel
Day 4: Kandy – Gal Oya (Approx. 4 hrs)
After a relaxed breakfast proceed to Gal Oya which is the next destination.
Time to take the book out of the backpack and catch up on some reading during the transfer.
Gal Oya is an unexplored treasure in Sri Lanka. A National Park surrounded by water and Islands. It is rustic but it has all you need wonderfully appointed lodgings, an excellent team of local guides and some of the best food to be found in the country – one thing there is no phone signal a real luxury in this modern age.
Overnight: Gal Oya Lodge
Day 5: Gal Oya
After breakfast experience a Boat Safari on Gal Oya Lake, which is the biggest in Sri Lanka. A great opportunity to observe the wildlife from the stunning Gal Oya Lake: including crocodiles, deer, elephants and many rare and endemic species of birds.
This experience is the only one in Sri Lanka that enables you to spot wildlife from the water and to truly immerse yourself in the animals’ habitats. You may be lucky enough to see elephants swimming between islands or bathing at the lake’s edge. Today you’ll ride through the national park and embark on a boat. Cruising over the lake make sure to keep a sharp eye out for the wildlife!
In the evening, Engage in a walk with indigenous Veddha tribe.
Sri Lanka’s indigenous inhabitants, the Veddas (‘forest-dwellers’) preserve a direct line of descent from the island’s original Neolithic community dating from at least 16,000 BC. With the impending extinction of Wanniya-laeto culture, we stand to lose a rich body of indigenous lore and living ecological wisdom. Khiri invites the Chief of Sri Lanka’s indigenous Vedda tribe to take you on a walk through the jungles of his ancestors. Enjoy nature as he brings the forest alive by explaining his tribe’s uses of medicinal plants, ancient hunting grounds, cave dwellings and an insight on how the hunter gathers lived in the jungles of Gal Oya.
Overnight: Gal Oya Lodge
Day 6: Gal Oya
After a relaxed breakfast, spend the day on your own leisure by enjoying the beauty of the nature.
The Gal Oya Lodge Team is committed to being an eco-tourism lodge that has a positive impact on the wildlife within the remote region of Gal Oya National Park in Sri Lanka.
They have found multiple species of animal surrounding the Lodge, such as mouse-deer (smallest species of deer in the world), wild boar, land and water monitor, porcupines and the highly endangered and most trafficked animal in the world, the thick-tailed pangolin. Furthermore, they have observed 3 out of the 4 species of wild cats in Sri Lanka: fishing cats, jungle cats and rusty-spotted cats.
They are planning on soon concentrating our efforts on studying the 4th species of wild-cat in Sri Lanka, the leopard. Although they haven’t yet seen any leopards on their cameras on the property, their naturalists have seen more than a dozen over the last few years in and around the National Park. They are aiming to determine as much as they can about their population dynamics, diet and population numbers. They will mostly be doing this using an elaborate grid of 20+ trail cameras and non-invasive DNA analysis.
Overnight: Gal Oya Lodge
Day 7: Gal Oya – Unawatuna (Approx. 6 ½ hours)
After a relaxed breakfast start your long drive to Unawatuna.
Lying behind a crescent of the powdery-white beach lapped by sapphire-blue waters, it is considered the ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling where visitors can observe myriads of coral fish, angel fish and puffer fish, swimming in and out of the beautiful coral reefs. The area bears a typical, mellow traveler ambience as its settings are quite tranquil and quiet in comparison to other towns along the southern coast. It is one of the few locations down-south where the tourists can actually wander the beach in peace, particularly at night or while you enjoy a nice, chilled drink at one of the cafes adjoining the beach, with the cold sea breeze brushing your face.
Spend rest of the day at leisure. Relax at your own pace while enjoying the beauty of the down south beach after having a quit hectic drive to Unawatuna.
Overnight: Unawatuna Hotel
Day 8: Unawatuna – Galle (Approx 20 min) – Unawatuna
After a relaxed breakfast, It’s time for the spiritual tour down south.
“The Galle Fort is slowly becoming a major tourist attraction with its big buses and groups of tourists duly following their guide. Of course, the Fort is a highlight but there is so much more to explore! This time we will take you away from the crowds on a spiritual journey outside of Galle. The 20 minutes tuk tuk drive to get there is already something everybody should experience as you drive on little back roads through the lush and green paddy fields, no tourists to be found but a few villagers harvesting the crops or having a chat with their neighbour while sipping on some toddy freshly extracted from a nearby palm tree.
Once on site, climb the stairs to get to the Yatagala Temple – which means “under the rocks” as the Buddhist statues lay under the huge stones piled up on each other, don’t forget to look up! As soon as you get rid of your flip flops you will feel the peaceful yet mystical atmosphere crawling up from your toes and calming the mind.
Your guide who is a Buddhist himself will take you on a spiritual journey to purge the body and mind from negative thoughts and pay tribute to Buddha. This symbolic act practiced by every Sri Lankan Buddhist gives a sense of happiness, peace and relief. You will feel impressed standing in front of the big Buddha statue while you offer the traditional Pichcha Flowers. Other rituals you will experience are the burning of incense, lighting up votive lamps and offering water to a sacred Bo Tree – your guide will tell you more about the meaning of these Pujas.
After the offerings, you will be ready to receive the blessing from the devoted monks, but before getting there don’t forget to have a look inside the room shaped into the rocks where Buddha lies – the mural paintings have been there since years. Knee down facing Buddha, hold on to the Pirith Noola and close your eyes while your body and spirit are lulled by the sound of the Pali chants.”
In the late afternoon, time to discover the true faces of Galle!
We travel to seek experiences to create memories and to learn from the people and places we visit; this sounds simple but can sometimes be difficult if we don’t take time to open our mind and let the destination in. The port city of Galle in Southern Sri Lanka is one of the must see on the island, join us finding a way to look beyond the touristy facade and finding the Fort true nature.
There are places that capture the imagination of travellers and Galle is one them. The walls that enclosure the fort have kept the inner city intact from years of turmoil and conquest Galle is a synthesis of the history of Sri Lanka. In a way, the walls have also kept the city protected from outside but also from the inside creating a unique atmosphere of a place lost in time.
From Muslim gem traders, Portuguese adventurers, savvy Dutch privateers, and let’s not forget the English they all made Galle their home at some point in history. With cute shops, restored colonial mansions, and an upcoming food scene the city has a hip vibe to it. But how about looking beyond the glitzy magazine articles and boutique hotels and experiencing Galle through its people who are non-other that the repository of hundreds of years of living history.
Galle reveals itself in its full depth once you pull the veil and find its true treasure, which will be incommensurably more rewarding that the restored hotel you will be staying at, its people.
For the kids, we have a special treasure hunt which is a picture clue-based programme where the children take photos with every find.
Overnight: Unawatuna Hotel
Day 9: Unawatuna – Mirissa (Approx. 1 hour) – Unawatuna
Early in the morning with the packed breakfast drive down along Sri Lanka’s jagged south coast to Mirissa – One of the prime locations in the country for whale watching tours. In the early morning, you will board a beautiful catamaran which will set out for a journey on the search for Whales.
The Southern coast of Sri Lanka offers many interesting spots worth to be discovered from the sea. This cruise will make you enjoy the warm and tropical bay of Weligama, a whale watching tour and a discovery of this beautiful virgin coast.
During the seasonal period (December – April) swarms of Sperm whales, Fin whales and Blue whales can be sighted swimming about freely the sapphire waters where you would get ample chances to click the most extraordinary shots of these creatures.
Afterwards proceed to Unawatuna and check into your hotel to have some relax time.
Day 10: Galle – Kotugoda (Approx. 2 ½ hrs.)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
After another delicious breakfast, spend the morning session on your own leisure
In the afternoon start your journey to Kotugoda for your last overnight stay in this beautiful Island. On the way to Kotugoda, stop by at a local home and enjoy one of our signature programs – Mother’s Curry.
When we travel we always try to look for authentic cuisine, that is not simple as many restaurants cater to tourist tastes and they will give you a watered-down version of the classics. That is not what we are after we want to find the real flavors of Sri Lanka. Let us show you what real home cooked Sri Lankan food taste like – it will be an eye opener a world apart from the dreaded hotel buffet.
Memories of childhood and food always lead to mothers and grandmothers, their food always tasted special for the simple reason that it was made with love a powerful ingredient. Today evening, prepare to meet your Sri Lankan Mother at her home who will make you a curry crab that will make you cry – of happiness and of spice. And if we pair the fiery curry with some gin tonics to battle the heat you are in for one memorable evening; a trip down memory lane to a faux childhood in Sri Lanka.
Just tell us if you have any special dietary requirements and the wonderful Surangi will work her magic with the curries, you can curry basically everything from pineapple, to veggies, seafood and meats. One thing is guaranteed it will take your taste buds to the moon and back!
At the end of an awesome local lunch proceed to Wallawa for your overnight stay.
The Wallawa is a traditional manor house built during the Dutch East Indies period, with thick cooling walls, red tiled roofs and ample gardens. It makes for the ideal retreat to unwind and start to get Sri Lanka under your skin. We love playing crocket in the garden make sure you ask the staff to give you the gear and off you go!
Overnight: Kotugoda Hotel
Day 11: Kotugoda – Airport (Approx. 20 min)
Sadly, it’s time to leave our lovely little island. Standard check out time from the Hotel 1200 hrs.
Stop for your last Tambili on the way to the airport!
END OF SERVICES
• 10 nights in 4* star accommodations based on double occupancy
• Meals as per itinerary
• Local transportation (private vehicles, transfers)
• Excursions and entrance fees (as per itinerary)
• Local guides for sightseeing (where applicable)
• International Flights (can be arranged through us firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Mandatory travel medical insurance and optional cancellation insurance (can be arranged through us
• Meals and beverages not mentioned in itinerary
• Items of personal nature
• Services and entrances not mentioned above
• Passport, vaccination and visa fees
• Tips/Gratuities for tour guides, drivers, etc.
DATES: This tour is available on a custom basis
from $2995 USD per person based on double/twin occupancy
Costs and Fee Schedule
Prices are based on double occupancy. Single supplement fee applies.
A non-refundable deposit of 20% is due at time of registration (full payment is due 2 months prior to departure). Payment non-refundable.
Full payment is due 60 prior to departure.
Please contact email@example.com for more booking information. We accept payment by eTransfer, cheque, and credit cards.
Flights are not included in the tour price. DO NOT purchase any airline tickets until the trip is confirmed to take place. Pre and post tours can be arranged through available at an additional charge. Please contact Finisterra Travel for further details firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel Visa requirements and passports are the responsibility of the participants. Travel, Flight and Health insurance are required and are the responsibility of the participant to research and secure the appropriate coverage. We are happy to send you quotes for cancellation and travel insurance as well as flights.
Passport & Visa Information
Please note that most countries require passports to be valid for 6 months from the date of your return flight. We are not responsible if you are refused entry to a country because you lack the correct passport, visa or other travel documentation.
Please visit https://www.eta.gov.lk
Colombo – Galle Face Hotel
Kandy – Kandy House
Gal Oya – Gal Oya Lodge
Unawatuna – Frangipani Tree
Kotugoda – The Walawwa
*Please note that hotels are just samples and are subject to change and availability.