- From Buddhas to banana boats, your children can explore Colombo by sea
- Lovely hotels, a night under canvas, spas, swimming pools and child-friendly menus
- Hiking and birdwatching with the family, cycling in Polonnaruwa, lantern-making, cricket matches: we've thought of everything
- Smartphone app, English-speaking local Concierge and other additional services make for stress-free family travel
Contact one of our Sri Lanka specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120
Sri Lanka: Why We Love It
Elephants roaming free – delicious local fare like hoppers, curd, treacle, buffalo molasses and more – the people, from the lovely ladies picking tea in the hills to children in their smart school uniforms – taking a refreshing dip in the hotel pool – coconut water – afternoon tea – cycling in the hills – the Sri Lankans’ love of cricket
Temples in the SunWhile most people head to Sri Lanka in winter and spring, if you pick your places carefully (hint: that’s where we come in) then summer can be a wonderful time to explore the teardrop of India while the kids are on their summer holidays. Head to the coast of Colombo, Negombo and Passikudah where the gentle sea breeze will keep you wonderfully cool.
Your TripThis trip includes a huge diversity of experiences; nature walks through tea plantations and lush gardens; exploring the subterranean and UNESCO-protected Golden Temple; cycling in Polonnaruwa; canoeing in a lagoon; making Vesak lanterns with local artisans; and getting involved in a local cricket match. There is also plenty of time for relaxation (always particularly needed for exhausted parents) and we can organise Ayurvedic massages in Madulkelle or a romantic dinner at the Gallery Café, one of the trendiest eateries in Colombo. Your accommodation will be selected to fit your exact needs, from small intimate inns to bungalows on the beach. For all of your organised tours you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable local driver-guide and our local Concierge will be on hand throughout your trip to help with any insider tips and tricks, any changes of plan or logistical issues.
Flight to Colombo
Transfer. Overnight stay in the historic centre of Colombo. The hotel was built as a home for the family of a Jaffna doctor in the late 19th century. The house retains both Victorian and Sinhalese features. Contemporary comforts have been added. It's a safe bet that, once you get off the plane, the pool will capture the attention of the little ones and the not-so-little ones alike. The dining room has pool views, relaxing for the mind and the body. The cuisine is mouth-watering, gently adapting your taste buds to Sri Lankan flavours. Optional - The National Museum of Colombo.
Colombo - Madulkelle
Meet your driver/guide. Drive to Madulkelle. Two-night stay in a safari tent surrounded by tea plantations. At an altitude of 3,000ft, your large tent is beautifully equipped in British country style: super-comfortable and chic. It looks out on to an impressive landscape of deep green hills where the mist clears in the morning to reveal the rolling countryside beyond, and tea pickers come and go during the day. In the background, there is the rugged panorama of the Knuckles mountain range. Breakfast on the terrace outside the tent is a wonderful moment to be savoured.
Already included - A tour of the plantation on which the eco-lodge depends, accompanied by an English-speaking guide. From the camellia sinensis assamica plant to the cup, all stages of tea cultivation and processing are explained. The explanations are provided indoors, in the fields, as well as in the factory buildings and in the tasting room. It is the perfect opportunity to gain a whole new perspective into the art of infusion. This tour is complemented by a nature walk in the hills. From flora to fauna, the guide is a true expert who will help you really understand the processes at work. The guide speaks English, but you may wish to familiarise yourself with some of the species beforehand: mouse deer, barking deer, grizzled giant squirrel, sambar deer, etc. The same goes for the birdwatching excursion, where you can spot yellow-eared bulbuls, Layard's parakeets, Ceylon grackles and hill blue flycatchers.
Madulkelle - Dambulla
Drive to Dambulla. Three-night stay on the banks of the Kandalama reservoir. The villas are hidden in amongst the trees, with views of the gardens, and offer easy-going comfort that will suit families. This is the spirit of the estate, one of unpretentious elegance. The same goes for the meals: skilful, delicious, fusion cuisine, enjoyed either in the dining room, in your villa, or outdoors at various spots around the park. While Mum and Dad are at the spa, enjoying a restorative holistic treatment, children can play table tennis, badminton or volleyball, ride bikes or make friends in the children's area. Then everybody can meet at the pool, which has a shallow area perfect for little swimmers. Or perhaps try some boating on the lake? Already included - A lantern-making workshop. On the full moon in May, to celebrate the birthday of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha, the Enlightened One) his Sri Lankan followers decorate the streets and houses with bamboo and paper lanterns. Because of the need for so many lanterns, there are workshops specialising in their production. It is in one of these workshops that you can put your craft skills to the test, in the company of children from the village. It's a great opportunity for laughter and some healthy competition!
Already included - Sigiriya. The fortress of the mad king Kashyapa, perched on the top of the 590ft red gneiss monolith that is Lion rock. The hydraulic engineering of the site is highly sophisticated and the royal concubines or apsaras painted on the stone walls are exceptional, not only for their beauty but also as they are the only feminine images in Sri Lanka known from that period. A private tour of the shrine caves of the Dambulla Golden Temple: an ancient Buddhist statue and wall paintings of the 18th century Kandy School. Private bike tour of Polonnaruwa, the former capital of the island (11th to 13th centuries). Several notable monuments are found in the grounds, but the Buddha sculptures (standing, sitting and reclining) of Gal Vihara, a 12th century rock temple, are particularly spectacular. While you're there, why not take the opportunity to learn about a Sri Lankan passion: cricket. After all, tea was not the only aspect of British culture to be adopted here. The local club welcomes younger guests for a quick match.
Already included - Minneriya National Park. This park was established to protect a 3rd century artificial lake and its ecosystem. The grasslands that border the reservoir attract many elephants, especially during the dry season, but also sambar and axis deer (which in turn provide a substantial food source for the Sri Lankan leopard). The purple-faced langur and the toque macaque call this place their home. In terms of birdlife, the lesser adjutant stork, painted stork or spot-billed pelican are particularly fond of these wetlands. The private safari is in a well-equipped 4x4 vehicle, with an English-speaking guide.
Dambulla - Passikudah
Drive to Kalkudah / Passikudah, on the east coast. A four-night stay on the water's edge. When you look back at the hotel's main building, you can see a white sand path leading straight to a long infinity pool; beyond, the turquoise ocean dotted with beach umbrellas. On either side of the driveway, you will find grey thatched bungalows, which used to be traditional fishing huts, now adapted in a contemporary style. The estate is arranged with as much precision as a French-style garden. Light and clean interiors. In the bedroom, parents and children have their own space. The sea provides the restaurant with many ingredients, which are then artfully arranged and extremely tasty. Ayurvedic spa treatments are available with professionals therapists.
Banana boats or doughnuts rings are not very aesthetically pleasing, but children do love them. You can also go wreck diving, snorkelling on well-preserved reefs, or biking in the wooded hinterlands. Doing absolutely nothing at all is also a very attractive option, given the location. Walking on the beach allows you to see fishermen throwing out their nets, from the shore or from their boats. Many Sri Lankans spend their leisure time around here and there's plenty to do. It should also be noted that sea swimming is permitted on Passikudah Beach, when this is not always the case in Sri Lanka. To the north, there is a large coconut grove, although pine trees are more typical in this region. A few hundred yards to the south, Amaya Beach is more wild and less well equipped for tourists.
Passikudah - Trincomalee - Colombo - Negombo
Transfer to Trincomalee airport and flight to Colombo. Transfer to Negombo. Overnight stay in a hotel where elegance is the order of the day. This is classic Geoffrey Bawa territory. It was built by the great architect in 1965 and the uplifting spirit of the swinging sixties is still alive and kicking. The buildings surround a full-size swimming pool, which forms an aquatic 'stepping stone' between the lagoon to the east and the ocean to the west. Your air conditioned room, bathed in soft light, overlooks the water. Here, the combination of national and international cuisine is particularly well executed. Take a trip to the spa to all but guarantee a stress-free return return journey. Already included in the itinerary - Negombo and its fishermen. Negombo Lagoon, with its beautifully preserved mangroves, feeds both the birds and the fishermen, who continue to work there when not harvesting the sap from the palm groves for the production of palm wine. Step aboard and head to the fishing grounds, where the fishermen in their outrigger boats cast their nylon nets to land shrimp, crabs and small fish. The trip allows you to appreciate this longstanding way of life, now threatened by ever more scarce resources.
Negombo - Colombo - return flight
Transfer to Colombo Airport and return flight.
A la carte
The National Museum of Colombo
After admiring spectacular monuments - Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, St. Anthony Catholic Church (Koshchikade), Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, the old Dutch hospital and more. you can head to the National Museum, which documents the country's natural and cultural heritage. The museum's collection of precious artefacts includes manuscripts on tallipot palm leaf (Corypha umbraculifera), the Kandyean crown jewels and the throne of the last king.
Optional -Two hours
A Rough Idea of Price
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