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.

display information about this photo

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
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 grand adventure with Trip Leader Annie Hawkins, 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
Sirigiya / Habarana / Anuradhapura / Polonnaruwa

At Sirigirya, we explore the famed rock fortress of King Kashyapa (477-495 AD), with its pavilions and pleasure gardens, then 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 we also visit Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka’s lovely medieval capital.

Days 6-8
Temples of Dambulla / Kandy / Elephant Orphanage / River Rafting

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 our optional whitewater rafting excursion on the Kelani River.

Days 9-10
Adam’s Peak / Nuwara Eliya

An optional early morning hike up Adam’s Peak (7,300'), sacred to Buddhists, Hindus and Moslems, rewards us with one of the finest sunrise views in Asia. We then head to the highlands and the beautiful colonial town of Nuwara Eliya, surrounded by mountains and tea plantations. We explore the town and have the option to hike in Horton Plains National Park, a magnificent landscape of rushing streams and montane forest.

Days 11-13
Yala National Park / Galle

Descending to the coast at Yala National Park, we enjoy a game drive in search of painted storks, troops of monkeys, and herds of elephants. We then 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. Depart on Day 13 via Colombo.

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


Departures & Leaders

Feb 2-14, 2015  Annie Hawkins
Nov 2015

Trip Cost

Prices for this trip are being finalized. Contact us and we'll send them to you as soon as they are available. 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: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Annie Hawkins

Annie Hawkins, born and raised in a small village in Burgundy, is a passionate world traveler and one of our most enchanting Trip Leaders. After studying art history in Provence, Annie moved to California, where she led adventure tours in the American Southwest and realized that leading adventure trips was her vocation—nothing would keep her inside an office again! She has led exclusively for Wilderness Travel since 1995 and has helped us create journeys in France, Spain, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Niger, and most recently, Angola. “As a Trip Leader, I see myself as the personal ambassador to a place. In France, I love introducing the products of the “terroir” such as wine or cheese, or in southern Spain, taking the group to my home to share a paella with them. And in the Sahara, I have a passion for the wind-created landscape I call “the yellow circle” and the ingenuity of the people who live in this place of extremes. I'm also fascinated by the friendships that people forge while traveling together day after day. I remember how six guests become lifetime friends after our trip in Niger—this warms my heart!” While scouting our trip in southern Spain in 1999, Annie bought a 300-year-old house in a village clinging on the flanks of the highest mountains in Spain. It took her three years to transform it into the home she calls La Casa del Milagro. She married in 2006 and now divides her time between Europe and San Francisco, where she lives with her husband.

Upcoming Trips:

Granada to Sevilla, May 5-12, 2014
Great Hikes and Cuisine of Provence, May 18-26, 2014
Corsica and Sardinia, May 27-June 6, 2014
Normandy and Brittany, June 8-18, 2014
Hiking the Tyrolean Alps, July 5-12, 2014
Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean, July 13-26, 2014
Great Alpine Traverse, July 29-August 12, 2014
Heart of Switzerland, August 15-23, 2014
Ultimate Dolomites, August 31-September 11, 2014
Hiking in Sicily, September 12-21, 2014
Medieval France: The Lot Valley, October 4-12, 2014
Sri Lanka!, February 2-14, 2015
Southern Spain to Morocco, May 1-12, 2015

Client Testimonials:

Once again Annie proved her competence with graciousness and charm. You are so lucky to have her. We will travel with Annie again! Julie R., Bainbridge Island WA Annie is everything a guide should be and even more. She is your best ‘advertisement!" Emond D., Claymont DE Annie was incredibly excellent! Bill U., Mechanicsville, VA
Hiking the Haute Route
Annie is a great leader, a great person to be with. She was always able to convey a complete understanding of the place in its physical sense as well as its culture, which made it even more interesting. Maria A., New York NY
Hiking the Haute Route
Annie took my breath away. She could not have been more caring, fun, concerned. What a joy she is to everyone. Pamela R., LA Jolla CA
Great Alpine Traverse
Annie was by far the best leader we’ve ever had, and we’ve had a lot of excellent leaders with Wilderness Travel Hugh and Wendy K., Anacortes WA
Great Alpine Traverse
Annie was first rate. She charmed everyone, her knowledge of the area was superb, and she handled all the logistics and contributed to a very enjoyable trip. Larry S., Boise ID
Great Alpine Traverse
Annie was such a superb guide. Her love of the places we visited was evident in her enthusiastic nightly briefings. Angela S., Wrightsville Beach NC
Great Alpine Traverse
Annie Hawkins was terrific, outstanding in every way. She is so lovely and we had total confidence in her leadership. We hope to do another trip with her some day. Linda and Ira G., West Hartford, CT
Hiking in the Cortina Dolomites
Annie Hawkins is a marvelous Trip Leader in every way. She is a delightful personality and charming company. She oversaw all the details and added her own special touches that made our adventure really superb. Hala A., Oakland, CA
Niger: The Wodabe Gerewol Festival
Annie is better than excellent! She is professional, competent, and absolutely enchanting. We will plan another WT trip with her schedule in mind. Julie R., Bainbridge Island WA
Tour du Mont Blanc
Annie was terrific! A key part of the wonderful memory I have of this trip. Marrie C.l, Marblehead MA
Tour du Mont Blanc
Annie was terrific. She adapted her itinerary to the group beautifully and managed to cater to all levels of fitness and interest. She did a great job. Elaine H., Verona WI
Hiking in the Pyrenees
We loved Annie. She is obviously a very experienced leader. She was always enthusiastic and knew the area very well. Steve H., Verona WI
Hiking in the Pyrenees
Annie is a very resourceful leader, a professional who loves her job and shows it. Marwan B., San Jose CA
Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean
Annie Hawkins was one of the most attentive, sincere, and enjoyable guides we’ve ever had. She was spontaneous and up for any opportunity that presented itself. Craig & Debbie D., Nichols Hills, OK
Southern Spain to Morocco
Annie Hawkins is a treasure. She’s an amazing person and superb Trip Leader. I can’t wait to travel with her again. Judith K., South Portland ME
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie Hawkins is the best—she is warm, engaging, caring, enhthusiastic, humorous, knowledgeable, and just a super person. Steve T., Santa Rosa, CA
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie's 'eating, drinking and exploring old France' trip was just as wonderful as we expected! Jack H., Cockeysville, MD
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie lives up to her fabulous reputation. She is charming, friendly, engaging, knowledgeable, completely in tune with everything going on, and totally devoted to all travelers having the best possible experience. Susan W., Albuquerque, NM
Bilbao and the Picos de Europa
Annie MADE the trip. Her enthusiasm, knowledge, and over the top attention to customer needs is unsurpassed. Lesly H., Mill Valley, CA
Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean
Annie is an ACE. I don't think you could find a better guide. Tom L., Hanalei, HI
Southern Spain to Morocco
Experienced, enthusiastic, highly knowledgeable about the Lot Valley, including the history and culture of the area. She constantly worked to enhance the experience for all of us. Tom M., Arden Hills, MN
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie is fantastic, a very warm, engaging person with an exceptional knowledge of the area. And wow does she know restaurants! Linda H., La Canada, CA
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie was amazing and it would be hard to top her for knowledge and charm Jeanne S., Mill Valley, CA
Granada to Sevilla
Annie is outstanding! What a special lady. You have a real gem here! Fantastic people and organizationl skills, great sense of humor. I didn't want the trip to end. Janice G., Edmonton, Canada
Granada to Sevilla
Annie's reputation as the best of the best is well deserved. One of the reasons we were treated so well, I believe, is every guide, driver, hotel and restaurant proprietor—man or woman—is totally in love with her. She is a treasure! Suzy M., Pittsburgh, PA
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie was a breath of fresh air and has a subtle, fantastic sense of humor. Her coordination of picnics, meals, treats, etc. was outstanding. She has a unique talent to gauge each participant and address needs with compassion. Alan S., Oakton, VA
Heart of Switzerland