Unseen Sri Lanka

Unseen Sri Lanka

This two week holiday is perfect for visitors seeking Sri Lanka’s lesser visited gems. You’ll be rewarded with a more authentic, enriching and quieter holiday that also helps local economies that need development most.

The North of the country is emerging from years of civil war and underinvestment. It has its distinct culture, history, and atmosphere. Now is the perfect time to explore it before it becomes mainstream.

The magical Mannar and Delft Islands both boast of hauntingly beautiful, remote landscapes while Jaffna is the stronghold of the island’s Tamil culture. In the East, Trincomalee is a hidden gem of a city, with a rich history and a natural harbour of great naval significance in the two World Wars.

You’ll also experience the best of the famed Cultural Triangle, and head out on safaris through Wilpattu and Wasgomuwa National Parks, two of the best lesser-visited wildlife reserves.

Whether you are exploring places off the beaten track or find yourself in a popular spot, you’ll stay at some of our favourite properties on the island, offering stunning locations with comfort and hospitality that adds to this great adventure.

14 DAYS
FROM £2395
Idea
Themes:
Activity Levels
Leisurely Active
WHAT'S INCLUDED
  • Activities and excursions as specified
  • Entrance fees/tickets for the above
  • In-destination transfers & transport
  • Accommodation & Meals as specified
  • English speaking guides
  • 24/7 support while you travel

Explore this itinerary

Day 1: Arrival

On arrival at Bandaranaike International airport, you will be warmly greeted and transferred to your hotel in Chilaw.

The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Dinner
Day 2: Anuradhapura & Mihintale

Today, you’ll start with a visit to Anuradhapura’s ancient sacred ruins, a three hour drive from your hotel.

Anuradhapura is considered the most extensive and the most important of the ancient cities in the northern region. It served as a capital city of this region for over 1000 years and hence was residence to many ancient kings from 377 BC. The city prospered and became a centre for Buddhist devotion.

Next you’ll visit the sacred mountain of Mihintale, the location where Buddhism was first introduced to the island of Sri Lanka. Learn about the historical and mythological versions of how Buddhism arrived at Mihintale. The mountain peak of Mihintale is approached by a grand stairway of 1840 granite steps, has many temples, lodgings for monks and several splendid statues of the Buddha.

Afterwards proceed to Wilpattu to check into your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3: Wilpattu National Park

Today, you’ll enjoy a full day safari in Wilpattu National Park. Although equally beautiful and teeming with the same iconic wildlife species as Yala National Park, Wilpattu is less visited than Yala, allowing you to enjoy your wildlife exploration with greater solitude.

The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards and Sloth bears. Alongside these, it is possible to see Asian Elephants, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Wild Pig, Asiatic Buffalo and Mugger Crocodiles. Endemic birds include the Ceylon Junglefowl, Browncapped Babbler, Ceylon Woodshrike and Black-capped Bulbul in riverine habitats.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4: Mannar Island

After enjoying your breakfast leave for Mannar, about 2.5 hours drive away.

The day is devoted to exploring the rarely visited yet hauntingly beautiful Mannar Island.

Mannar’s a low-lying marshland with sand bars and shallow, blue-green waters.  It is connected to the mainland with a causeway, and driving here, you have an excellent chance to encounter flocks of pink flamingos.

Mannar highlights include the Aprippu Fort, Adams bridge, the island’s famous Baobab trees, the causeway and Doric bungalow.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5: Jaffna

After enjoying your breakfast, leave for the northern city of Jaffna, the epicentre of Hindu and Tamil culture on the island (a 3 hour drive)

Visit Nallur Kovil, the city’s famous Hindu temple. Standing proudly in the ancient capital of the erstwhile Jaffna Kingdom, this grand and golden temple has long been a symbol of the region to individuals of all faiths.

Rest of the day is at leisure at your hotel.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6: Jaffna
Today, you’ll explore the varied historical and cultural delights of Jaffna, including visits to the colonial Jaffna Fort, the popular Keerimalai Spring and the adjacent ancient Hindu temple, the Buddhist temple and ruins at Kadurugoda and the esteemed Jaffna Library which has been restored lovingly after its tragic destruction in the 80s.
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7: Delft Island

Explore Delft Island on a unique tuk-tuk tour and discover the beauty of this hidden gem off the northern coast of Sri Lanka.

See the famous Delft Island ponies, roaming freely on the island, and learn about the rich history of the Dutch colonial period as you visit the remnants of the old Dutch forts and ruins made of corals.

End the tour with a delicious crab curry lunch, made with the freshest ingredients, and savour the flavours of this beautiful island.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8: Madukanda Vihara

After enjoying your breakfast, you’ll have a long drive of 5 hours to the eastern city of Trincomalee.

En route you’ll visit the ancient Madukanda Vihara, a relic home where the sacred tooth was venerated prior to the construction of the temple at Anuradhapura. Fine craftsmanship can be seen in the elaborate carvings on the granite stepping stones. In addition to the temple, a nearby Stupa, which lacks the adornments of the Vihara but is of comparable historical worth, can be visited.

After checking into your hotel, the remainder of the day is at leisure.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9: Trincomalee

Today, explore Trincomalee’s coastal and colonial heritage.

Visit Koneshwaram temple and Fort Fredric. Afterwards visit Kanniya hot water springs.

If you are interested in military history, Trincomalee’s role in naval strategy during the two world wars is an interesting story to explore. The Commonwealth War Cemetery is an optional visit, where the sacrifices of men from diverse races and religions for the common cause are commemorated.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10: Polonnaruwa

After enjoying your breakfast, drive (2 hours) to the World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa.

From the tenth century AD the capital of the most powerful kingdom in the island shifted to Polonnaruwa from Anuradhapura. The greatest king of Polonnaruwa was Parakramabahu I (1153 –1186 AD). In his ‘golden reign’ the whole area flourished. Agriculture developed to its highest peak and Sri Lanka became the ‘Granary of the East’. With the new economic prosperity came several new building projects. The buildings were grand and impressive such as the Royal Palace and the Lankathilaka image house. The Gal Vihara with its great sculptures of the Buddha was created.

Afterwards proceed to Wasgomuwa National Park (a 2 hours drive) to check into your hotel.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11: Wasgomuwa & Slender Loris

Enjoy a morning safari at Wasgomuwa National Park , where 23 species of mammals have been spotted. Of these, the most important is the Asian Elephant of which there are approximately 150 living in the Park. In addition to these giants, you’ll see Wild Buffaloes (Babalus bubalis) and Spottted Deer (Axis axis) grazing in the grasslands. If you are lucky, you might come across a Leopard (Panthera pardus) or a Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) lazing the time away under a shady tree.

Later in the afternoon, visit the Loris Conservation Centre to see the grey slender loris. The private biosphere of Jetwing Vil Uyana resort shares a habitat with the elusive Grey Slender Loris, a nocturnal primate hidden in the scrublands. Known for its protruding eyes and nimble limbs, the loris scavenges for insects and berries above the trees on a moonlit trail that has been carefully designed for visitors to observe the rare creature in its natural habitat.

Accompanied by the resident naturalist, a quiet evening walk takes you through the streams and bamboo bridges of this lush forest eco-system to the Loris Information Centre and Conservation Site. You’ll be equipped with harmless red light emitting headlamps that reflect off the characteristic eyes of the resident loris population.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12: Sigiriya & Dambulla

This morning visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a World Heritage site. The rock is an inselberg, which dominates the landscape and was both a military refuge as well as an aesthetic refuge for king who was a patron of the arts. Sigiriya became world famous for the frescos found on the western surface of the rock about 100 metres above the ground level.

Afterwards visit the Dambulla cave temples.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13: Negombo

After a leisurely breakfast, leave for Negombo which is about 4 hours drive.

Remainder of the day at leisure to explore Negombo’s churches, browse the souvenir shops, watch fishermen in action at the fishermen’s wharf, or just relax at your hotel.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14: Departure

A leisurely breakfast at the hotel.

Your driver will return you by way of a scenic drive to the international airport in time for your departing flight.

Breakfast
Day 1: Arrival

On arrival at Bandaranaike International airport, you will be warmly greeted and transferred to your hotel in Chilaw.

The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Dinner
Day 2: Anuradhapura & Mihintale

Today, you’ll start with a visit to Anuradhapura’s ancient sacred ruins, a three hour drive from your hotel.

Anuradhapura is considered the most extensive and the most important of the ancient cities in the northern region. It served as a capital city of this region for over 1000 years and hence was residence to many ancient kings from 377 BC. The city prospered and became a centre for Buddhist devotion.

Next you’ll visit the sacred mountain of Mihintale, the location where Buddhism was first introduced to the island of Sri Lanka. Learn about the historical and mythological versions of how Buddhism arrived at Mihintale. The mountain peak of Mihintale is approached by a grand stairway of 1840 granite steps, has many temples, lodgings for monks and several splendid statues of the Buddha.

Afterwards proceed to Wilpattu to check into your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3: Wilpattu National Park

Today, you’ll enjoy a full day safari in Wilpattu National Park. Although equally beautiful and teeming with the same iconic wildlife species as Yala National Park, Wilpattu is less visited than Yala, allowing you to enjoy your wildlife exploration with greater solitude.

The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards and Sloth bears. Alongside these, it is possible to see Asian Elephants, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Wild Pig, Asiatic Buffalo and Mugger Crocodiles. Endemic birds include the Ceylon Junglefowl, Browncapped Babbler, Ceylon Woodshrike and Black-capped Bulbul in riverine habitats.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4: Mannar Island

After enjoying your breakfast leave for Mannar, about 2.5 hours drive away.

The day is devoted to exploring the rarely visited yet hauntingly beautiful Mannar Island.

Mannar’s a low-lying marshland with sand bars and shallow, blue-green waters.  It is connected to the mainland with a causeway, and driving here, you have an excellent chance to encounter flocks of pink flamingos.

Mannar highlights include the Aprippu Fort, Adams bridge, the island’s famous Baobab trees, the causeway and Doric bungalow.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5: Jaffna

After enjoying your breakfast, leave for the northern city of Jaffna, the epicentre of Hindu and Tamil culture on the island (a 3 hour drive)

Visit Nallur Kovil, the city’s famous Hindu temple. Standing proudly in the ancient capital of the erstwhile Jaffna Kingdom, this grand and golden temple has long been a symbol of the region to individuals of all faiths.

Rest of the day is at leisure at your hotel.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6: Jaffna
Today, you’ll explore the varied historical and cultural delights of Jaffna, including visits to the colonial Jaffna Fort, the popular Keerimalai Spring and the adjacent ancient Hindu temple, the Buddhist temple and ruins at Kadurugoda and the esteemed Jaffna Library which has been restored lovingly after its tragic destruction in the 80s.
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7: Delft Island

Explore Delft Island on a unique tuk-tuk tour and discover the beauty of this hidden gem off the northern coast of Sri Lanka.

See the famous Delft Island ponies, roaming freely on the island, and learn about the rich history of the Dutch colonial period as you visit the remnants of the old Dutch forts and ruins made of corals.

End the tour with a delicious crab curry lunch, made with the freshest ingredients, and savour the flavours of this beautiful island.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8: Madukanda Vihara

After enjoying your breakfast, you’ll have a long drive of 5 hours to the eastern city of Trincomalee.

En route you’ll visit the ancient Madukanda Vihara, a relic home where the sacred tooth was venerated prior to the construction of the temple at Anuradhapura. Fine craftsmanship can be seen in the elaborate carvings on the granite stepping stones. In addition to the temple, a nearby Stupa, which lacks the adornments of the Vihara but is of comparable historical worth, can be visited.

After checking into your hotel, the remainder of the day is at leisure.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9: Trincomalee

Today, explore Trincomalee’s coastal and colonial heritage.

Visit Koneshwaram temple and Fort Fredric. Afterwards visit Kanniya hot water springs.

If you are interested in military history, Trincomalee’s role in naval strategy during the two world wars is an interesting story to explore. The Commonwealth War Cemetery is an optional visit, where the sacrifices of men from diverse races and religions for the common cause are commemorated.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10: Polonnaruwa

After enjoying your breakfast, drive (2 hours) to the World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa.

From the tenth century AD the capital of the most powerful kingdom in the island shifted to Polonnaruwa from Anuradhapura. The greatest king of Polonnaruwa was Parakramabahu I (1153 –1186 AD). In his ‘golden reign’ the whole area flourished. Agriculture developed to its highest peak and Sri Lanka became the ‘Granary of the East’. With the new economic prosperity came several new building projects. The buildings were grand and impressive such as the Royal Palace and the Lankathilaka image house. The Gal Vihara with its great sculptures of the Buddha was created.

Afterwards proceed to Wasgomuwa National Park (a 2 hours drive) to check into your hotel.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11: Wasgomuwa & Slender Loris

Enjoy a morning safari at Wasgomuwa National Park , where 23 species of mammals have been spotted. Of these, the most important is the Asian Elephant of which there are approximately 150 living in the Park. In addition to these giants, you’ll see Wild Buffaloes (Babalus bubalis) and Spottted Deer (Axis axis) grazing in the grasslands. If you are lucky, you might come across a Leopard (Panthera pardus) or a Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) lazing the time away under a shady tree.

Later in the afternoon, visit the Loris Conservation Centre to see the grey slender loris. The private biosphere of Jetwing Vil Uyana resort shares a habitat with the elusive Grey Slender Loris, a nocturnal primate hidden in the scrublands. Known for its protruding eyes and nimble limbs, the loris scavenges for insects and berries above the trees on a moonlit trail that has been carefully designed for visitors to observe the rare creature in its natural habitat.

Accompanied by the resident naturalist, a quiet evening walk takes you through the streams and bamboo bridges of this lush forest eco-system to the Loris Information Centre and Conservation Site. You’ll be equipped with harmless red light emitting headlamps that reflect off the characteristic eyes of the resident loris population.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12: Sigiriya & Dambulla

This morning visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a World Heritage site. The rock is an inselberg, which dominates the landscape and was both a military refuge as well as an aesthetic refuge for king who was a patron of the arts. Sigiriya became world famous for the frescos found on the western surface of the rock about 100 metres above the ground level.

Afterwards visit the Dambulla cave temples.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13: Negombo

After a leisurely breakfast, leave for Negombo which is about 4 hours drive.

Remainder of the day at leisure to explore Negombo’s churches, browse the souvenir shops, watch fishermen in action at the fishermen’s wharf, or just relax at your hotel.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14: Departure

A leisurely breakfast at the hotel.

Your driver will return you by way of a scenic drive to the international airport in time for your departing flight.

Breakfast

Interested in this itinerary? It's great as is, but we'll be happy to tailor it for you.

Our prices do not include international flights unless explicitly stated.

The price shown is per person, based on two people travelling and sharing a room, outside peak periods. Prices may vary depending on the time of travel, and single supplements may apply.