For those with cash to splash, this is the ultimate Sri Lanka itinerary. Combining the most luxurious hotels the country has to offer with the very best cultural and scenic experiences, this combination of Cultural Triangle, tea country, Yala National Park and south coast makes for a real trip of a lifetime.
Depart from the UK on an overnight flight to Sri Lanka.
Step off the plane at Colombo Bandaranaike Airport at around lunchtime and let the warm Sri Lankan sun welcome you to this beautiful country.
As you exit arrivals your bags will be whisked away and you'll be chauffeured to Wallawwa hotel, just 15 minutes' away. Recently listed by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the top 100 hotels of the world, this tropical garden paradise is the perfect place to begin your stay in Sri Lanka. Whether you choose to venture into Colombo itself or simply relax, the Wallawwa's staff will ensure your every need is taken care of.
Start your day with a leisurely breakfast at the Wallawwa's The Verandah - a gorgeous open-sided, restaurant serving hearty meals and - for breakfast - fruit fresh from the garden. Then it is time to pack up and move north to the cultural triangle, for a stay near to the ancient city of Anuradhapura. The journey takes three and a half hours by road. We can also arrange a charter flight to cut down on travel time, at additional cost; the flight takes 50 or so minutes.
After lunch you can relax by the pool, enjoy pampering treatments (we can prebook these) at the excellent spa, ride the estate horses or go for a kayak in the tranquil waters of nearby Wannemaduwa tank (reservoir).
Spend the next few days at Ulagalla, a peaceful retreat named one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. This boutique hotel is made up of just 20 private villas and thus offers it' guests the upmost in privacy and service.
Set amongst acres of lush greenery the hotel grounds are centred on an ancestral mansion, which now houses the reception, spa and main Liyawella restaurant. Aside from enjoying the vast (58 acres!) hotel grounds, from this base you can head out and explore the famous sites around the cultural triangle.
Having spent the last few days immersing yourself in Sri Lanka's ancient history, it's now time to spend some time in a different landscape entirely - the tea plantations of the Hill Country. To break up the long six-hour drive south, stop in the city of Kandy for lunch and a wander or bike around the beautiful lake and botanical gardens.
This was the last capital of the ancient Ceylonese kings and often hailed as the most impressive city in Sri Lanka, so well worth a visit. Then it's another three hours on to your next stop in time - appropriately enough - for tea. You might want to stretch your legs on a short walk along the well-marked trails, or we can prebook a massage for your arrival in your private tea planter-style bungalow. For the ultimate in restorative treats, enjoy an aromatic bath drawn for you by your butler and infused with your choice of cinnamon, green or jasmine tea, black pepper and orange or bergamot and geranium.
Following a busy few days of sightseeing and travelling the next few days at Ceylon Tea Trails should be an opportunity to relax in the fresh hilltop air with lake-side views and lush surrounding tea plantations.
Made up of five lovingly restored colonial-era tea planter residences the guest bungalows at Ceylon Tea Trails are the epitome of private luxury, the range of rooms and suites are just as lovely despite their smaller size. As the world's first tea plantation resort Ceylon Tea Trails know a thing or two about organising the very best tea-related experiences; so break up the scenic relaxation with an authentic, complimentary tea leaf picking, manufacturing and tasting day out with the resident tea planter.
After breakfast this morning your driver will pick you up for the short transfer down to Castlereagh Lake for the hour-long seaplane flight to the coast. This journey would normally take around six hours by car, so this is not only a memorable way to travel, but a huge time-saver, too. From Mattala Rajapaska Airport, it's just over an hour by 4x4 to your next stop, the wonderful and wild Yala National Park and your accommodation for the next three nights - Chena Huts.
This is one of Sri Lanka's hottest stays, and with good reason. Thanks to Yala National Park's proximity to the south coast, Chena Huts has set up camp in a prime location, bordering both beach and wildlife reserve.Hopefully you'll be here in time for the afternoon game drive so you have a first chance to see Yala's population of leopards - famed for being the largest per square mile of any park on the planet. Sightings are common but there's plenty more to appreciate in this coastal national park, from elephants to sloth bears and over 200 species of bird. Return to Chena Huts for a sundowner cocktail and delicious dinner. Incidentally, the 'huts' in question are more like state of the art luxury pavilions, each with their own plunge pools.
As with all safari destinations, the best time for wildlife sightings is early morning and late afternoon so you've got a couple of early starts on these two days, returning to Chena Huts in time for a late breakfast.
You then have the rest of the day at leisure to enjoy some R&R, spa treatments and more delicious local specialities in the restaurant. Enjoy further afternoon/evening game drives; spend a quiet moonlit evening watching as turtles lay their eggs on the beach (in season) or - if you get lucky - see elephants splashing in the surf.
After a final open-air breakfast in Chena Huts' Basses
restaurant, it's back on the road with your driver. During the
penultimate three and a half hour transfer of your trip you will be
sweeping along the south coast of Sri Lanka and passing a
scattering of beautiful beaches. Feel free to ask your driver to
stop for a photo opportunity or a dip at any point!
You will arrive at your final destination, Cape Weligama, in time for lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the hotel, or if you're feeling a bit more active, borrow bikes to explore the surrounding area's villages and temples; or swim, snorkel, surf (we can pre-arrange lessons with a top surf guide) or kayak in the bay below the hotel. This evening enjoy more gourmet cuisine at one of Cape Weligama's three restaurants.
Cape Weligama is perched on top of the striking Weligama headland with panoramic ocean views, palm fringed beaches and an array of dining options.
Spend your last two days in Sri Lanka soaking up some sun and indulging in some of the freshest seafood on the island, but if you are tempted to explore further afield, we can arrange private guided tours of the lovely colonial city and fort at nearby Galle, a half day private charter on a stunning catamaran to see whales in the deep waters off the south coast (in season), or a private cooking course with a renowned local chef so you can learn to recreate some of the delicious dishes you will have experienced over the last fortnight.
Time to head home, sadly, and after breakfast you will be met and transferred to Koggala for the seaplane flight on to Colombo Bandaranaike Airport to connect with your return flight to the UK in the early afternoon. The flight takes 11 and a half hours, and arrives back into London in the evening.