elephants on the beach; reclinging buddha stature

Natural and cultural delights of Sri Lanka

Ancient Buddhist shrines, tea plantations, wildlife reserves where elephants roam the beach---thes are the wonders of tropical Sri Lanka.

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Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4995  
Length: 13 days
Arrive: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Depart: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Lodging: 12 nights in hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: A mix of easy to moderate walks and hikes


  • Full moon festival in Colombo, complete with elephant processions
  • Evocative Anuradhapura, where Buddhist shrines date to the 3rd century BC
  • Colonial Nuwara Eliya and the highland tea estates
  • Wildlife viewing in Yala National Park, with its wild elephants

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Early Arab traders who happened upon the teardrop-shaped isle of Sri Lanka called it Serendib, from which we get the English word serendipity, or the making of happy discoveries by chance. This storied isle has always charmed travelers, and it is full of treasures, from rainforests where elephants roam to 2,000-year old ruined royal cities. On this WT Expedition with Trip Leader Ivan Somlai, we explore the glorious legacy of an early Buddhist civilization, walk in rainforest reserves, visit with tea planters, meet young Buddhist monks in their saffron robes, sample the curries, savor the teas—among the best in the world—and visit beautiful Yala National Park, with its extraordinary birdlife and elephant herds. Colorful festivals are a wonderful part of Sri Lanka’s heritage, and our departure witnesses the vibrant Navam Maha Perahera festival, celebrated on the full-moon day of February.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Colombo / Sri Navam Maha Perahera Festival

In charming Colombo, we explore the local bazaar and attend Navam Maha Perahera, a spectacular pageant held during the full moon each February, complete with elephant processions.

Days 3-5
Habarana / Anuradhapura / Sirigiya / Polonnaruwa

We enjoy a jeep safari in Habarana, habitat for Sri Lanka’s incredible biodiversity, including herds of wild elephants. At Anuradhapura, we see the island’s oldest Buddhist shrines, some dating back to the 3rd century BC, and at Sirigirya, we explore the famed rock fortress of King Kashyapa (477-495 AD), with its pavilions and pleasure gardens. We also visit Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka’s lovely medieval capital.

Days 6-8
Temples of Dambulla /Kandy / Elephant Orphanage / Nuwara Eliya

After a sunrise hike to the village of Hiriwaduna, we explore the ancient cave temples at Dambulla, then head to Kandy, with its golden-roofed 16th century Temple of the Tooth, where a tooth of the Buddha is said to be preserved. We visit the Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage en route to the highlands to the beautiful colonial town of Nuwara Eliya, surrounded by mountains and tea plantations.

Days 9-10
Yala National Park

Descending to the coast at Yala National Park, we enjoy a game drive to search for painted storks, troops of monkeys, and herds of elephants. Our beachside hotel has nature trails and an inviting pool.

Days 11-13
Yala National Park / Galle / Hikkaduwa

After a safari in the park, we head for the ancient trading post of Galle, a World Heritage Site on the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka. Here we stroll past the Dutch church, the Governor’s house, spice warehouses, court square, the lighthouse, and city ramparts, and the next day, enjoy a boat cruise in the mangrove waterways. We also visit the eco-friendly Handugugda Tea Estate, with its acclaimed Virgin White Tea, deemed the purest tea of all. Depart via Colombo on Day 13.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated 2+, easy to moderate. Accommodations are in hotels. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended and occasionally we must take off shoes to visit temples. There are nature walks and hikes at archaeological sites throughout the itinerary.

Explanation of Trip Levels



Feb 2-14, 2015

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$4995 (13-15 members)
$5295 (10-12 members)
$5595 (5-9 members)
Single supplement: $975
Forced single supplement: $775
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
  • Tea and coffee at all meals
  • Ground transportation and entrance fees
  • Group airport transfers for passengers arriving Day 1 and departing Day 13

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, meals not specified after each itinerary day (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, hotels en route to or on return from Colombo or additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors, individual arrival/departure airport transfers, visa fees, cost of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, bottled water laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.