Northern Sri Lanka, Off the Beaten Track

# Tailor-Made Tour

Northern Sri Lanka, Off the Beaten Track

13 Days from £3083 per adult.
13 Days
Tailor-Made Tour
Snorkelling and Diving
Off The Beaten Track

Off limits during the civil war but fully opened up over the last few years, the north of Sri Lanka still remains wonderfully unspoilt and little visited. Here, in the company of your private driver cum guide, you can find hidden gems such as Wilpattu National Park with its large leopard population, sloth bears and deer, plus Minneriya National Park which plays host to an annual gathering of hundreds of elephants. Trincomalee is blessed with white sand beaches, snorkelling and great whales and Ranweli combines beaches and wildlife viewing on a fresh water lagoon. You can now snorkel with up to three species of great whale: blue, Bryde’s and sperm – a truly breathtaking experience. The cultural sites of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla complete the perfect balance of wildlife, beaches and culture in the quiet north.


Price from £3083 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms

Day 1 - Arrive Colombo

Arrive Colombo, pick up by private transfer to Ranweli. Just 45 mins from the airport, Ranweli is a haven of peace and relaxation with small beach, freshwater lagoon and a checklist of 120 species of bird.

Staying at Ranweli Holiday Village. Includes Breakfast.

Day 2 - Ranweli

Enjoy a morning’s wildlife watching by boat in the freshwater lagoon and waterways. Free afternoon to relax and explore.

Staying at Ranweli Holiday Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 3 - Wilpattu National Park

Pickup from hotel and drive (approx 3hrs) to the Wilpattu area. Check-in to your hotel and settle in.

Staying at Palm Garden Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 4 - Wilpattu National Park

Enjoy morning and afternoon private game drives by private jeep in Wilpattu National Park to look for leopard, wild buffalo, wild boar, fishing cat, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, monitor lizard and hundreds of bird species including rollers, bee-eaters and kingfishers. A unique feature of Wilpattu, the largest and one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka, is the existence of nearly sixty villus - natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater and attract abundant wildlife. The park currently attracts very few tourists and remains wonderfully unspoilt.

Staying at Palm Garden Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 5 - Wilpattu National Park

Enjoy further morning and afternoon private game drives by private jeep in Wilpattu National Park.

Staying at Palm Garden Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 6 - Anuradhapura and Sigiriya

Today you will visit two of the top UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Cultural Triangle. Anuradhapura was the country’s first capital and the centre of the island's Buddhist civilization. It is home to the world’s oldest historically documented tree (over 2,200 years old), the Sri Maha Bodhi, a cutting of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress creates a formidable impression as it rises from the surrounding countryside. Climb the iron ladders to the top and explore the Water Gardens, frescoes of beautiful maidens and the Mirror Wall with ancient graffiti. Continue to your new hotel at Habarana by late afternoon.

Staying at Habarana Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 7 - Polonnaruwa and Minneriya

Spend the morning at another of Sri Lanka’s top cultural sites: Polonnaruwa, the country’s second Buddhist capital and home to four massive images of the Buddha, cut from a single slab of granite. In the afternoon, you will visit Minneriya National Park, home to the famous ‘gathering’ of hundreds of elephants that come here to find water during the dry season months (especially August and September). Other sightings can include deer, two species of monkey, pelicans, leopards and sloth bears. Out of season you will visit ‘Eco Park’ where wild elephants congregate.

Staying at Habarana Village. Includes All Meals.

Day 8 - Trincomalee

Drive with your private driver/guide to Trincomalee on Sri Lanka’s beautiful east coast. Closed during the civil war, this area has remained wonderfully unspoilt with a beautiful white sand beach. Your private guide can (on request) take you to see the Hindu temple and old Dutch fort in the town before heading to the beach, and will leave you during your time by the sea.

Near the hotel is Pigeon Island which offers good snorkelling (baby black tip reef sharks are common) and from February to August pilot, blue, Bryde's and sperm whales and large pods of dolphins can be seen both on boat trips and occasionally from the shore.

PLEASE NOTE: From mid-March to mid-April, it is now possible to snorkel with up to three species of great whale: blue, Bryde's and sperm. Small boats with experienced whale guides depart at sunrise and go 30 miles or more offshore for six hours in search of the leviathans. When found, the experienced guide will position the boat carefully and give the word for you to drop into the water to watch in wonderment as the whale glides gracefully by. One warning: there is a short one-month window and the good guides are limited in number, so early booking is essential (up to a year or more in advance) but well worth it. It is a marine experience like no other: a complete wow-factor which you will remember for ever.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 9 - Trincomalee

Free day to relax on the beach or take (optional) snorkelling and whale watching trips – blue whales can be seen in season (March to August) on boat trips.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 10 - Trincomalee

Free day. Optional: Perhaps visit Pigeon Island, a nature reserve with good snorkelling. During the boat trip to the island, pods of dolphins are often seen. Lunch on the island.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 11 - Trincomalee

Free day to relax before the trip home.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 12 - Dambulla - Colombo

Depart after breakfast for your long (6 hour) drive back to Colombo. Stop en route to visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating from the first Century BC: the site comprises five caves and a picturesque facade carved into the side of a steep rock face housing ancient statues and paintings depicting the Buddha and his life. Arrive in the outskirts of Colombo in the late afternoon.

Staying at Tamarind Tree. Includes Breakfast.

Day 13 - Depart Colombo

Drive to the international airport and check in for your flight home.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Travel Info

Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:
Sri Lankan Airlines direct from Heathrow to Colombo

Best Visited:
January to January

Area Specialist

Alan Godwin

Best visited from February to September. Whales off Trincomalee are best seen in March to August. The best months for the elephant ‘gathering’ are August and September.

If you have any queries about this tour please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...

We were absolutely thrilled by the whole experience and can only commend the helpfulness and friendliness of everyone who made our holiday so special. We cannot speak highly enough of all of our guides who were extremely knowledgeable and went above and beyond to enhance  our Sri Lankan wildlife encounters. We felt very privileged to be with guides who have so much expertise.

Dr AH - Essex

Route Map

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Ranweli Resort: 7.282688, 79.840704
Trinco Blu by Cinnamon: 8.617670, 81.217570
Habarana Village: 8.032215, 80.751927
Palm Garden Village: 8.314722, 80.345331