A Cultural Odyssey to the Isle of Serendib


The storied isle of Sri Lanka has always charmed travelers, and it teems with treasures, from rainforests where elephants roam and emerald-green tea estates to 2,000-year-old ethereal royal cities (and eight World Heritage Sites!). On our grand adventure, you’ll explore the glorious legacy of an early Buddhist civilization, visit with tea planters and orange-robed monks, sample fragrant curries, and view the wildlife of Yala National Park, with its extraordinary birdlife and herds of elephant. Colorful festivals are a wonderful part of Sri Lanka’s heritage, and in Colombo, you’ll witness a vibrant Buddhist Poya Festival, celebrated around the full-moon day of each month.

Itinerary at a Glance

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

In Colombo, we attend the Poya Festival, a spectacular pageant of elephants, dancers, torch-bearers, drummers, and acrobats. At an elephant sanctuary, we accompany these gentle creatures to the river for their daily bath. After exploring the ancient cave temples at Dambulla, we see the island’s oldest Buddhist shrines at Anuradhapura and visit Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka’s lovely medieval capital, and the famed rock fortress of King Kashyapa at Sigiriya.

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Days 6-10
Eco-Park Safari / Kandy / Pilimatalawa / Nuwara Eliya / Ella

Sri Lanka has incredible biodiversity and we enjoy it on a jeep safari in a nearby eco-park, set on the edge of the vast Hurulu Biosphere Reserve.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 lovely colonial town of Nuwara Eliya, a walk brings us through velvety green tea plantations and we learn the fine art of “tasting” tea and try to identify the subtle differences in flavor. A cooking demonstration of Sri Lankan curry and a pooja ceremony are some of the highlights of our visit to the lovely hill-country town of Ella.

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Days 11-13
Yala National Park / Galle

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 Poya Festival in Colombo, complete with processions of colorfully caparisoned elephants and percussion bands
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 seaside 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

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