The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Sri Lanka Wildlife and Beach Retreat is a get-away-from-it-all tour where you can relax amid quiet wildlife areas and peaceful tropical beaches. Tranquillity and the natural world is at the heart of this itinerary which deliberately avoids many of the island’s busiest spots in its determination to escape the herd. The tour begins and ends with some of Sri Lanka’s most peaceful spectacular beaches and includes visits to three quieter national parks, a trek in the Knuckles Mountain Range, an opportunity to see Sri Lanka’s marine turtles and the potential for a whale and dolphin watching expedition. It can be adjusted to suit your accommodation requirements and the time of year you wish to travel.
From your pick up at the airport, transfer straight to Kalpitiya on the north-west coast (approximately three hours away) for the first three nights of your holiday. Kalpitiya offers beaches untouched by mass tourism, picturesque lagoons and a wide range of water-sports including kite-surfing and windsurfing. The waters around Kalpitiya are home to dolphins, whales, sting rays and marine turtles: go on a whale and dolphin watching expedition with strong ethical credentials or snorkel around the coral reefs and spot plenty of colourful tropical fish. Relax on the quiet beaches and enjoy some spectacular sunsets.
Today you have a short journey deeper into Sri Lanka’s north-west region, moving away from the beaches towards your base for Wilpattu National Park. Wilpattu is one of Sri Lanka’s largest and oldest wildlife parks – as well as the most beautiful - and has a wide range of habitats, from the coastal belt and lakes to open grassy plains and thick forest. Spot leopards, water buffalo, crocodiles or kingfishers. As Wilpattu is positioned away from the common tourist trails, an entire day of safari can pass in splendid isolation.
Spend the morning travelling to the hill country capital of Kandy. Visit the Millennium Elephant Foundation and learn about its importance as a place of sanctuary for elephants. You only have one night in Kandy but you might like to take the chance to visit its star attraction, the Temple of the Tooth, which is said to house the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha.
A relatively short journey today takes you east into the Knuckles Mountain Range. This lightly-populated area is wonderful walking country – as good as anywhere in the world. Many walks can be devised through tea estates and woodlands and you might well have spectacular mountain views to yourself!
Travel further east so you can spend two days in Gal Oya National Park. Take a boat safari across the Senanayake Samudraya reservoir, amid an orchestra of tropical bird song, where you might even thrill to the enchanting sight of a lone elephant swimming between islands at sunset. The elusive leopard, wild boar, water buffaloes, deer and crocodiles are among the inhabitants of this serenest of parks. Consider a two-hour ascent to the summit of Monkey Mountain for a spectacular vista.
Time to head west into the southern central area of Sri Lanka to spend one night at Uda Walawe National Park. Uda Walawe is undoubtedly the best place in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants throughout the year. Go on a half-day jeep safari and watch for leopard, sloth bear, water buffalo, deer and mongooses. Alternatively, you could head to the south-east coast and spend a day instead in the escapist beach settlement of Arugam Bay.
Spend the last few days of your holiday relaxing on Sri Lanka’s stunning south coast. If you can drag yourself away from the tranquil golden beaches, head along the coastline up to Mirissa, a lively beach town which has a beautiful bay and offers a host of water-sports including surfing, snorkelling, sailing and sea-kayaking, as well as boat excursions out into the ocean in search of whales and dolphins. Reserve one night for visiting the Turtle Conservation Project in Rekawa, where you can witness marine turtles nesting.
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.
Located 20 minutes from the Wilpattu National Park, The Ibis is a rustic styled bungalow that offers comfortable accommodation in two bedrooms with all modern facilities that overlook the nearby lake.
Villa Rosa is a Red Dot favourite: an enchanting upmarket guest house which benefits from stunning views over the Mahaweli River and of the Knuckles Mountain Range beyond. This is Kandy at its most serene. No pool, but bags of atmosphere.
One of the island’s secret escapes, Rangala House is a converted tea estate bungalow in the Knuckles Mountain Range, which provides a majestic backdrop for this property. Rangala House faces the luminous, tea-covered hills of the Dukwari Estate and has a pool set amidst abundant tropical foliage and birdsong.
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.
Kalu’s Hideaway is the brain child of the former Sri Lankan cricketer Romesh Kaluwitharana. This comfortable and welcoming eco lodge sits on a five-acre garden edged by the Walawe River. Kalu’s Hideaway has 14-rooms and is an ideal, keenly-priced location from which to explore the jungles of Uda Walawe.
Buckingham Place is an appealing boutique hotel on a five-acre estate overlooking the tranquil Rekawa lagoon in the deep south. This is a peaceful spot in a relatively undiscovered part of Sri Lanka, a stylish 11-roomed hotel contemporary in design with tasteful interiors.
Red Dot selects only the best accommodation in Sri Lanka, in its particular price range. Please suggest which of the three categories might most appeal to you. (You can tick more than one box).
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