Other Red Dot Sites: Maldives
The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Adventurous Sri Lanka is an action-packed journey through the island’s wonderful, varying landscapes and will satisfy those seeking something more than just a beach holiday. Trek through rural mountain villages and murky rainforest; raft down the white-water rapids of the Kelani River; walk through Gal Oya National Park with the veddas, Sri Lanka’s indigenous people; walk through glorious tea hills, and enjoy some water sports on the warm waters of Southern Sri Lanka. This itinerary takes you from the common tourist trail to some of the island’s most remote locations and is bursting with fun-filled activities. It is ideal for younger couples – or those young at heart – and families with older children. As always, Red Dot is happy to tinker with this tour to suit your needs.
Upon arriving in Sri Lanka head straight to the Cultural Triangle, home to many of the island’s most spectacular ancient ruins, and spend the first evening recovering from your flight. Begin the next day by visiting Dambulla Cave Temple, a complex of Buddhist image houses built in the 1st century BC. The cave temple has colourful frescoes decorating the ceilings and the largest number of Buddha statues all housed in one place, including a 14-metre-long figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the rock. Spend the afternoon relaxing at your hotel before heading out in the cooler evening air to climb the majestic Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of the most dramatic, inspiring and beautiful historical locations in the world. Built in 5th century AD by King Kasyapa as an impenetrable stronghold against his enemies, this fortress-palace sits atop a towering rock and will astonish anyone with its outstandingly beautiful views, staggering engineering and peerless design. Walk through the Ritigala ancient monastery to step back in time and spend a tranquil evening. There is much to do in the cultural triangle, so you would never be too far from an adventure.
Rise in the early hours and begin the day with a breath-taking hot air balloon ride at dawn. As the sun begins to stain the sky red and gold, soar above the arid plains and jungle landscape and gaze in wonder at the ruins which still jut proudly up from the earth. Upon landing enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne. The rest of the morning is spent transferring to a remote village in the Knuckles Mountain Range in the central hills near Kandy, where you will stay two nights at Sir John’s Bungalow – a welcoming guesthouse situated 1,000 metres above sea level. So named because of its resemblance to a set of knuckles on a clenched fist, the Knuckles Conservation Range consists of five mountain peaks and several other smaller peaks, with the highest point about 6,000 ft above sea level. Knuckles spans an extensive 155 sq. km of the island and is incredibly bio diverse, home to a wide variety of rare and endemic flora and fauna. The next two days will be spent trekking alongside terraced paddy fields and tea plantations, rivers and waterfalls, through dense forests and small rural village communities – all of which boast beautiful animal and plant life. The backdrop to this remote wilderness could not be more picturesque: panoramic views of misty mountains and spectacular valleys, ancient rock formations, lush forests and gurgling streams. Knuckles is an unmissable, unique blend of nature, culture and adventure.
Journey to Sri Lanka’s untouched east and arrive at Gal Oya Lodge, a tranquil eco retreat spread across a 20-acre forest edged by Gal Oya National Park and the Senanayake Samudraya, one of Sri Lanka's largest lakes. On your first evening go on a serene boat ride on the lake, which is home to large herds of elephants: as the sun sets, these elephants can sometimes be seen swimming gracefully between the archipelagos of islands that are dotted across the reservoir. Begin the following day with a once-in-a-lifetime experience – meeting the veddas, Sri Lanka’s aboriginal people. This area of the island is one of the last remaining homes of the vedda people, who still live a very traditional lifestyle and are shrouded in secrecy. This walk with Gal Oya’s vedda chief provides a unique insight into a culture which is rapidly disappearing. Finish your time in this escapist paradise with a late-afternoon game drive in the park.
Leave Gal Oya behind and make your way to 98 Acres overlooking tea plantations of Ella. This accommodation is contemporarily designed and has a minimalist feel. From here you can enjoy an evening trek to Little Adams Peak to enjoy a beautiful sunset. The next morning you can visit a tea factory or visit the Nine arches bridge. If you’re up for it, hike up the Ella Rock, a 2-hour mildly strenuous climb that would take you up to gorgeous views.
Much excitement awaits you this morning as you journey to Borderlands in Kitulgala, a riverside village campsite set amongst untouched wilderness with spectacular views of the mountains. Borderlands Sri Lanka is a reputable adventure tour company with much experience conducting outdoor activities across the country. Kitulgala owes its popularity to the Kelani River, which offers exciting Grade 3 rapids for rafting – as well as rapids suitable for beginners. Rise early to the sound of bird call and the gushing river before indulging in some of the exhilarating activities on offer here, which include kayaking, rafting, canyoning, mountain biking, abseiling and hiking. Accommodation is in tents and wooden cabins on stilts that are perched over the river.
Your last stay allows you the option of relaxing or having fun. Villa Bentota is a haven for relaxation and a great stop for some water sport, be it in the ocean during the season or some fun in the river. There are plenty of reliable water sport centres in the area, so prepare for a final couple of days filled with lots of water-based adventure. You can even go on a boat safari or visit the turtle hatchery located close by. Don’t forget to relax on your last day so you can recuperate from your jam-packed tour before your flight home.
Aliya Resort and Spa is a modern, eco-friendly resort which offers a range of good accommodation, including luxury tents. It is perfectly situated for excursions in the Cultural Triangle and has a variety of facilities, including a spa and an infinity pool with stunning views.
Sir John’s bungalow is a century-old planter’s bungalow that was opened for guests in May 2011 following a complete refurbishment by caring Sri Lankan owners. Nestled into the north face of the Knuckles, the bungalow is surrounded by picturesque mountains and the Knuckles wilderness
Gal Oya Lodge is a tranquil eco retreat made up of several bungalows and villas spread across a 20-acre forest. The property is edged by Gal Oya National Park and the Senanayake Samudraya, one of Sri Lanka's largest lakes. This is an escapist choice for wildlife lovers.
The 98 Acres Resort is a 12 room eco-friendly, boutique hotel in Ella set amidst tea covered hills with magnificent views of the southern plains, Ella rock and Little Adam’s Peak. Accommodation is in individual stone chalets and the lounge and restaurant pavilion has breathtaking views.
Borderlands camping is based in Kitulgala, a riverside village that offers Sri Lanka’s best white-water rafting experience. Accommodation is in tents and wooden cabins on stilts and built right over the river.
Villa Bentota is one of hottest west coast beach properties. This chic colonial-period villa is set amidst extensive tropical gardens with the Indian Ocean a brief stroll away and is ideal for a romantic holiday. This wonderful property has the unmistakable signature of Shanth Fernando, a Sri Lankan lifestyle designer and entrepreneur.
Would you like to sign up for the Red Dot Tours Newsletter ?