A Cultural Odyssey to the Isle of Serendib


The storied isle of Sri Lanka has always charmed travelers, and it is full of treasures, from rainforests where elephants roam to 2,000-year-old ruined royal cities (and eight World Heritage Sites!). On this grand adventure, you’ll explore the glorious legacy of an early Buddhist civilization, visit with tea planters and young Buddhist monks, sample fragrant curries, and view the wildlife of beautiful Yala National Park, with its extraordinary birdlife and elephant herds. Colorful festivals are a wonderful part of Sri Lanka’s heritage, and you’ll witness a vibrant Poya festival, scheduled to take place on the full-moon day of each month.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5
Colombo / Poya Festival / Dambulla / Anuradhapura / Habarana / Sigiriya / Polonnaruwa

In Colombo, we attend a Poya Festival, a spectacular pageant held during the full moon of the month, then accompany elephants to the river for their daily bath at the Millennium Elephant Foundation. After exploring the ancient cave temples at Dambulla, we see the island’s oldest Buddhist shrines at Anuradhapura and enjoy a jeep safari in Habarana, habitat for Sri Lanka’s incredible biodiversity. The highlight of Sigiriya is the famed rock fortress of King Kashyapa, with its pavilions and pleasure gardens, and we visit Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka’s lovely medieval capital.

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Days 6-9
Kandy / Pilimatalawa / Nuwara Eliya

Heading to Kandy, we explore its golden-roofed 16th century Temple of the Tooth and visit the 14th century temples near Pilimatalawa. From our charming tea factory-turned-hotel above the beautiful colonial town of Nuwara Eliya, we walk through tea plantations and learn the fine art of “tasting” tea.

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Days 10-13
Ella / Yala National Park / Galle

A walk through lush tea plantations, rice paddies, and past waterfalls leads to the summit of Little Adam’s Peak (3,743'), with its fabulous views in all directions. Heading to Yala National Park, we search for painted storks, troops of monkeys, and elephant herds (Sri Lanka is home to the last of the world’s wild Asian elephants). Explore the ancient trading post of Galle, a World Heritage Site, before departing on Day 13 via Colombo.

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Full moon festival in Colombo, complete with elephant processions
Accompany elephants to the river for their daily bath at an elephant sanctuary
Evocative Anuradhapura, where Buddhist shrines date to the 3rd century BC
Colonial Nuwara Eliya and the highland tea estates
Visit six World Heritage Sites, including the cave temples of Dambulla
Wonderful accommodations, from oceanside hotels to a resort overlooking the rock fortress of Sigiriya


Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6295  
Arrive: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Depart: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Lodging: 12 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

A mix of easy to moderate walks and hikes, cultural explorations