Group Tour 13 days from £1795 per person

tour enquiry Dates & Prices

  Places Visited: Colombo, Habarana, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Yala National Park, Bentota

Experience the very best Sri Lanka has to offer on this luxury group tour, combining the principal sights of the Cultural Triangle, visiting the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa and a handful of less well-known locations hidden among tea plantations of the interiors. The tour also visits Kandy, Sri Lanka’s cultural capital, the famous Yala National Park, in search of wild Leopards and ends with a two-night beach stay on the southwest coast. Whether this is your first trip or you’re an old hand, we’re confident you’ll find plenty of inspiration in our varied, carefully devised trip around South Asia’s Emerald Isle.


Holiday Types

Cultural Holidays Wildlife Holidays Family Holidays Honeymoons Beach Holidays Adventure Holidays


Travel Arrangements

  • Group Size 4-12 people
  • Internal Travel Arrival & departure transfers, internal travel by road
  • Accompanying Guide English-speaking guides and naturalists (accompanying guide throughout for groups of 8 or above)
  • Accommodation 12 nights
  • Meal Plan Half Board


Itinerary for Emerald Isle - Sri Lanka

Day 1

On arrival at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport, you will be met by the TransIndus team and escorted to the Galle Face Hotel or similar. In the afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of the capital, followed by a welcome dinner in the evening.

Despite a lack of formal sights, the city is a satisfying place to bookend an itinerary. The banking enclave known as ‘Fort’ ‒ the original Dutch and Portuguese hub ‒ is a curious blend of modern offices and 19th century streets occupied by hotels and stores. Alongside it, Pettah is a busy market area dotted with churches and mosques. There’s more refined shopping ‒ and this is a great way to conclude a holiday ‒ at the dainty boutiques and upmarket shops of Kollupitiya and Bambalapitiy.

Accommodation Options

Day 2
Colombo - Habarana

After breakfast, drive four hours inland to Habarana, in the Cultural Triangle region, where the group will be spending three nights at Cinnamon Lodge or similar. Enjoy a guided village walk in the afternoon.

Scattered at a nexus of major roads in the middle of Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone, Habarana is perfectly placed for exploration’s of the UNESCO-listed monuments of the Golden Triangle. This area formed the heartland of the powerful Sinhalese kingdoms who ruled the island for most of its history, and who left in their wake some of Asia’s most remarkable monuments, the most impressive of which you’ll be visiting over the coming days.

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Day 3

After breakfast, enjoy a guided tour of the ancient Sinhalese capital of Anuradhapura, a forty-minute drive away from the hotel, and Mihintale, the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

The greatest and most resilient of all Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals, Anuradhapura, was founded in 377 BC and thrived until its destruction by Indian invaders in 993AD. Today, its monuments attract tourists and Buddhist pilgrims from across the globe. The largest surviving structure is the giant Jethawanarama dagoba, which was at the time of its construction in the late 3rd century AD almost as tall as the two great pyramids at Giza!

The most revered monument on the site, however, is of more modest proportions: enclosed within tiers of gold railings, the Sri Maha Bodi, or Sacred Bodhi Tree, is believed to have been grown from a cutting taken from the one under which the historical Buddha achieved enlightenment.

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Day 4

In the morning, we visit the UNESCO-listed site of Sigiriya, a 45-minute drive from the hotel. Accessed by a steep 600 feet hike up to the ancient natural rock fortress that dominates the surrounding landscape. After lunch, head to Polonnaruwa the most compelling of the ancient capitals. From the 11th to 13th centuries, a succession of ancient kings developed an immense city here.

The ruins of Sigiriya rest on the top of a spectacular rock outcrop whose distinctive profile dominates the landscape of the Cultural Triangle. A series of steep staircases and catwalks climb to the summit of the great inselberg. Along the way you’ll pass wall paintings of curvaceous apsaras, or ‘heavenly nymphs’, believed to have been modelled on the real-life queens and princesses who once lived in the palace above. Marvellous views across the countryside of the Cultural Triangle are your reward for the haul to the top.

Ranged around a huge artificial lake, Polonnaruwa, an hour’s drive away from Habarana, is the most impressive and compact of the island’s ancient sites. Its vestiges – comprising finely sculpted statues, frescoes, colossal Buddha images and immense stupas – vividly convey the wealth and sophistication of medieval Sri Lanka at its zenith.

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Day 5
Habarana - Kandy

This morning drive to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second largest city in the Central Highlands, stopping to see the beautiful Dambulla Caves en route. In Kandy stay at the Cinnamon Citadel or similar for two nights.

Sri Lanka’s largest and best-preserved cave-temple complex, Dambulla is located on a huge granite outcrop in the Dry Zone, with views extending over the tropical canopy to distant Sigiriya and beyond. Adorning the interiors of the caves is an astonishing horde of 2,000-year-old murals and statues – unique in scale and degree of preservation. The mysterious, sculpted faces of the deities and swirling reds and golds of the murals create an enchanting atmosphere.

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Day 6

The Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya will be the first stop on today’s tour. Later, we’ll visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic before attending a music and dance performance at the neighbouring Kandyan Cultural Centre.

Originally established as a royal retreat in the 14th century, Kandy’s botanical gardens are famed for the world-class collection of orchids, palms and, the real showstopper, a giant Javan fig tree.  After lunch we’ll continue to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the island’s most revered Buddhist shrine. Pilgrims dressed in flowing white robes file through the complex throughout the day, carrying lotus blooms and frangipani flowers to present at the shrine. The resident monks will demonstrate the traditional Thevada ritual for the group, accompanied by temple musicians.

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Day 7
Kandy - Nuwara Eliya

A long but scenic drive takes us in the morning from Kandy to the undulating tea country of Nuwara Eliya, where we’ll spend a couple of nights at the Blackpool Hotel or similar. In the afternoon, visit the Pedro Estate for a tea plantation and factory tour.

Nuwara Eliya, the country’s principal hill station, presides over an area of verdant valleys contoured by the mosaic-like swirls of tea plantations. The legacy of British times endures here in numerous ways. Horse racing, flower shows and hotels with names like The Grand, Windsor and St Andrew’s are still going strong. Nuwara Eliya is the sort of place you almost feel obliged to take lashings of marmalade at breakfast, cake at tea time and hearty puddings smothered in custard.

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Day 8
Nuwara Eliya

Enjoy an early excursion to the Horton Plains, site of the famous World’s End viewpoint, followed by a tour of Nuwara Eliya’s sights in the afternoon.

The Horton Plains National Park encompasses the island’s highest and most isolated plateau – an area rich in biodiversity, particularly birds. The main reason to come here, however, is to walk to ‘World’s End’ – a spectacular, vertigo-inducing, 900-metre drop with far-reaching views across the southern hills. On clear days you can see as far as Adam’s Peak, sacred to Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims.

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Day 9
Nuwara Eliya - Yala National Park

The tour continues with another half-day journey, this time to Sri Lanka’s deep south, to visit the island’s premier wildlife reserve, Yala National Park. You’ll be staying at the EKHO Safari Hotel or similar, 20 minutes from the park gates.

Yala is the country’s oldest and most popular reserve, with varied landscapes ranging from forest, parkland, rocky outcrops, small lakes and lagoons to coastal dunes. Despite the prolific birdlife, herds of roaming elephants and chances of spotting the elusive sloth bear, most visitors come here to see the leopards. There are an estimated 350 of them – among the highest population densities anywhere in the world. Crocodiles and elephant are also plentiful.

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Day 10

Enjoy morning and evening game drives in the park. Between safaris, relax in the pool and grounds of your hotel, located beside a lake that is home to leopard, herds of wild elephants as well as a compelling variety of birdlife.

When it comes to spotting Sri Lanka’s leopards, the dry woodlands and scrub of Yala National Park are unsurpassed. Sri Lanka’s leopards have no natural predators, which is why they have evolved to become so much larger than their African cousins. Around 1,000 inhabit the island’s national parks, and although not 100% guaranteed, the odds of sightings are higher than almost anywhere else in Asia.

Solitary, nocturnal hunters, the leopards tend to seek shade in the midday heat: for this reason early morning and late afternoon are the best times to see them. Guides in the parks know their most frequented lairs and patterns of movement. Rest assured yours will speak fluent English and have access to the latest information regarding their whereabouts, providing engaging and informative commentary on the species and its natural history. 

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Day 11
Yala - Galle - Bentota

Today drive along the coastal highway to the World Heritage city of Galle. Enjoy lunch before a tour of the town’s main sights, including the Dutch Museum, Groote Kerk (Great Church) and the National Maritime Museum. Later, drive onward 90 minutes to Bentota, where you will spend the last two days of your trip. Stay at the Cinnamon Bey or similar for two nights.

Jutting like a small peninsular into the Indian Ocean from Sri Lanka’s southwestern tip, Galle is a gorgeous, colonial-era town acclaimed as the finest of its kind in Asia. The 18th century Dutch walls, bastions, ramparts and gateways form a postcard-pretty backdrop for ambles around the narrow lanes of old quarter, lined with colonial-style houses and mansions. A charming jumble of cafés and shops offer plenty to explore.

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Day 12

Spend the day enjoying Bentota’s magnificent golden sand beach.

Midway between Colombo city and Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, Bentota is a byword for ‘watersports’, with some of the best facilities on the island. The area also holds an exceptional array of beaches, most of them surprisingly empty. Our favourite is the one to the south of town, around the headland from the Taj Hotel, where a curtain of corkscrew palms screens a clutch of particularly inviting boutique hideaways.

Don’t expect much in the way of beach life – this is somewhere to stroll along empty sands, soaking up the rays, marvelling at the tropical sunsets and enjoying the wildlife (nearby Kosgoda has a famous turtle hatchery and the birdlife is prolific).

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Day 13
Bentota - Colombo

Time to bid farewell to Sri Lanka as you transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodation Options

Group Tour 13 days from £1795 per person

What's included

✓   12 nights accommodation
✓   Arrival & departure transfers, internal travel by road
✓   English-speaking guides and naturalists. Accompanying tour escort, when minimum group size is achieved      ✓   Half Board
✓   Entrance fees and game drives listed in tour itinerary

Holiday Extensions for this tour

Emerald Isle - Bentota Beach

4 days, 3 nights from £345 per person

Single supplement £ 295 per person
view itinerary
Day 13

Stay an additional three nights at Cinnamon Bey.

Day 14 & 15

Days at leisure.

Day 16

An early start back to the Bandaranaike International airport for your onward flight.

Emerald Isle - Sinharaja Rainforest

3 days, 2 nights from £495 per person

Single supplement £ 115 per person
view itinerary
Day 13
Bentotat - Sinharaja

Drive to Deniyaya, a large reserve of virgin rainforest inside Sinharaja national park. Check-in to the Rainforest Edge eco retreat for a two night stay.

Day 14

Day at leisure.

Day 15
Sinharaja, Colombo

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

2024/2025 tour prices for Emerald Isle - Sri Lanka

Sun 13 Oct 2024 £1795 £625 Good
Sun 10 Nov 2024 £1925 £675 Good
Sun 12 Jan 2025 £1925 £675 Good
Sun 02 Feb 2025 £1925 £675 Good
Sun 23 Feb 2025 £1925 £675 Good
Sun 16 Mar 2025 £1925 £675 Good
Sun 06 Apr 2025 £1925 £675 Good
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