The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Undiscovered Sri Lanka is one of our longest and most leisurely tours. It takes you off the beaten track, through remote regions of Sri Lanka away from the main tourist trail, and provides a glimpse into the island’s rich cultural heritage, wildlife and nature. Soak up the serenity of Sri Lanka's finest landscapes and experience the traditional lifestyles of the paddy farmers, fisherman, hill country tea pluckers and the Veddas – a group of indigenous people in Sri Lanka. We have deliberately produced a slow and wide-ranging holiday, but if you have less time, we can discuss how to adjust it to your needs.
Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, head three hours north to the island’s relatively untouched north-west coast. If you have a dawn flight arrival, we can arrange a hotel near the airport for a few hours’ rest and recuperation before completing your journey. Arrive in Kalpitiya later that day.
Sri Lanka’s north-west coast is overshadowed by the tourist rush to the beaches further south, which has enabled it to retain its escapist feel. Kalpitiya lies on a narrow spit with the ocean on one side and a lagoon with remote islands on the other. Dream away your time on the beach, go kitesurfing or take an all-day boat trip on the lagoon which takes you to the western fringes of Wilpattu game park. In such a tranquil spot, Sri Lanka will soon begin to melt into your soul.
Head along the southern fringes of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle via three lesser-visited sites. Your first stop this morning is the architectural wonder of Yapahuwa. Climb an impressive staircase, decorated by murals and guarded by lions, to what remains of the palace. If time permits, visit Sasseruwa, an ancient cave monastery possessing a striking Buddha statue. Then onward to Aukana, where the wonderfully-preserved Buddha stands 42 feet high.
Your Cultural Triangle base for the next two nights sets you up for an all-day tour to Wasgamuwa, one of Sri Lanka’s quietest game parks, and where you have an excellent chance to see elephants by the banks of the Mahaweli River. This tour concentrates on lightly-trod parts of Sri Lanka but if you wish to see some of Sri Lanka’s more popular attractions – such as the ruined cities or Sigiriya Rock – request an extra night in this region.
Journey into the breath-taking Knuckles Mountain Range, so called because its five mountain peaks resemble the knuckles of a clenched fist. The climate is cooler here and we can offer a range of walking options to suit your individual needs. Explore forests, walk along rivers and waterfalls, past tea plantations and terraced paddy fields and visit some of the small rural village communities. Panoramic views of misty mountains, stunning valleys, ancient rock formations, lush forests, crystal clear streams, beautiful animal and plant life, paddy fields, traditional villages and hospitable people make the Knuckles a delight.
Journey out of the Knuckles Mountain Range to Gal Oya National Park, often referred to as Sri Lanka's forgotten national park. Once again, you will meet no tourist hordes here. There are many optional experiences you can enjoy. Take a jeep safari through the jungle and picnic by the Nigala River which famously flows under a huge boulder field. Go on a boat safari on the reservoir where you can spot swimming elephants and many birds.
Still based near Gal Oya, consider a visit to one of the island’s indigenous groups, the Veddas or Wanniya-laeto (forest-dwellers) in the Maduru Oya National Park. The Veddas preserve a direct line of descent from the islands’ original Neolithic community, dating from at least 16,000 BC. The few remaining Vedda communities retain much of their distinctive cultural identity, indigenous language, traditional lifestyles, and occupations including hunting, honey gathering, and chena cultivation.
Travel out of the hills and on to the sandy beaches of Arugam Bay in the south-east of Sri Lanka. Arugam Bay is famously known as one of ten top surf spots in the world. The relatively isolated beaches and a simple, laid-back lifestyle away from the main tourist haunts have many devotees. The best time for surfing in Arugam Bay is in July and August when the swells are high, but it is not all about the sun and surf on the South-East Coast. Trek over huge rock boulders and past ancient meditation caves to the Kudimbigala Forest Hermitage which is spread over about 4,700 hectares of wilderness.
Still based in A’ Bay, explore the jungles of Kumana National Park. The swamp lakes of Kumana are nesting sites for water birds. During the nesting season, which begins in June, large colonies of pelican, spoonbills, herons, painted storks, and egrets can be spotted. The jungles are also home to wild elephants, buffalo and deer. Kumana is edged by the ocean and often the endangered marine turtles come ashore to nest on the secluded beaches. Best time to visit is at dawn and late afternoon when the animals are easily spotted.
This morning you will head three hours west along the A4 route to the southern escarpment of the Sri Lanka hill country. En route, visit the ancient Maligawila Buddha statue. Dating back to 7 BC, the statue is carved out of a single block of limestone. On the following day, spend a day touring the highlands. Why not visit a hill country waterfall, the ancient Bogada wooden bridge or take a trek up to Lipton’s Seat, one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic views?
Today you head to the outskirts of the capital city of Colombo for your final night’s stay at Villa Talangama. Set on a quiet lakeside in the suburbs of Colombo, the villa setting is best described as a 'village in the city' surrounded by paddy fields and the Talangama wetlands – one of the best places near Colombo to see water birds and waders. Relax and unwind in your own private pool before your journey back home.
Khomba House is a beautifully-designed two-bedroom beach villa situated within the Bar Reef Resort in Alankuda on the North West coast. The house is furnished with Dutch-period antiques, colourful soft furnishings, and opens on to the secluded sandy beaches. Dolphin spotting off the coast of Alankuda is utterly rewarding during the season from December to April.
Far Cry is an eco-friendly property set on a 12-acre plantation in Hettipola, a remote village in the North Central region of the island. This off-the-beaten-track property is close to Wasgamuva National Park, and its surroundings are home to an abundance of wildlife – birds, monkeys, and even the occasional wild elephant.
Ashburnham Estate is an old planter’s bungalow that has been caringly renovated by its British owners. It lies on a 98-acre working tea plantation in the village of Elkaduwa, about an hour from Kandy in the Knuckles mountains. Six comfortable ensuite bedrooms are sold by the room – a great choice for walkers and nature lovers.
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.
Hideaway is a homely guesthouse with comfortable cottages and some a/c rooms situated on a six-acre estate which attracts plenty of birds and even the occasional monkey. Although Hideaway doesn’t have direct access to the beach, a five minute stroll takes you to one of the main surf points in Arugam Bay.
Living Heritage Koslanda is a stylish and tranquil boutique retreat with four villas set on an 80-acre estate on the fringes of the southern highlands.
Set on a quiet lakeside where sights and sounds of nature reign supreme, Villa Talangama is a luxurious Sri Lankan home meticulously laid out from its architecture and furnishings to the caring service of its staff. This villa is an ideal last stop on your holiday itinerary, an alternative to Colombo city. The airport is about 75 minutes drive.
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