- Relaxing on a sandy beach facing the sea, experience a family safari
- Travelling by steam train through the vast tea plantations: a magical experience.
- Colombo with a local guide, swimming in the sea, nights in a safari tent near elephants: it's all planned
- Our smartphone app and English-speaking Concierge make this an easy family holiday
Contact one of our Sri Lanka specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120
WINTER IN SRI LANKA
Start your family winter holiday in Sri Lanka with a few days of relaxation in the coastal town of Mirissa, in the south-west. For those who hate sitting still, there are plenty of watersports opportunities here. From there you’ll head inland to the lake and nature reserve of Wirawila, where you’re likely to see both flamingos and elephants among the wetlands. The next stop is inland to Nuwara Eliya and its patchwork of tea hills blanketing the local landscape. Your final stop, via the Negombo Lagoon, is Colombo, a city that may have been successively ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British but that manages to feel 100% Sri Lankan.
YOUR TRIPAt all points on the trip we can organise as many or as few tours and experiences as you’d like,
Flight to Colombo
Overnight flight, arriving the next day.
Colombo - Mirissa
Private transfer to Mirissa, in the south of the island. Four-night stay in a beach hotel with a streamlined designed, built using wood and concrete. All rooms have sea views, and you can also enjoy lounging by the pool. As for the restaurant, feel part of the action as you watch the chefs at work in the open plan kitchen.
Endless beaches lined with coconut trees and fishing boats: enjoy a restorative sense of calm. After spending time relaxing, you can try out some watersports on site and in the surrounding area: surfing, diving, snorkelling, and sailing. The levels of supervision are excellent. You can explore the coves by kayak. Back on dry land, take a bike trip through the hinterland to see rice fields, sleepy villages in the heat of the day, ancient temples and ponds where bright beaked waders make their way stealthily across the water. A day out can be organised in Galle, which for centuries was one of the most important ports on the voyage to Asia, at the heart of a prosperous trade route. The Portuguese landed there as early as 1605, pursuing an Arab fleet that traded spices in the Maldives, with the Dutch storming their fortress in 1640. Sheltered by its walls, Galle is a tropical port that retains the charm of a bygone era. You can stroll through a maze of sleepy alleyways making sure to avoid the many cyclists. The bustling heart of the city is the marketplace, where you can take a stroll past stalls hugger-mugger against each other, traders squatting on their mats, and a profusion of fruits including mangoes, guavas, lychees, coconut and passion fruit. Afterwards, head back to the beach and the comfort of your deck chair. The whole family can then gather around afternoon tea, the steam rising from the cups of Ceylon's finest, eating cucumber sandwiches, and watching the ebb and flow of the ocean below. A little later, leaving the children to amuse themselves in the garden, parents can return to the bar for a sundowner cocktail.
Optional - if you want to explore further, you can visit the Kosgoda turtle sanctuary; take a boat ride on the Kepu Ela river, bike on the small country roads around Galle to get a better idea of the daily life of the people of the Southern region; or visit the temple of Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya, a few miles from Galle, a Buddhist temple more than 2300 years old.
Mirissa - Wirawila
En route to Wirawila Lake and its nature reserve, and two night's accommodation at a lakeside ecolodge. The few rooms set up under large tents sit in a vast setting, amid lush vegetation. Each room, separated from the others, is tastefully decorated with natural materials, mainly wood, and quality fabrics. On site there is no shortage of activities: poolside relaxation, bird watching, forest hiking, biking, fishing in the lake. In the evening, the paths are illuminated by the orange glow of the storm lamps, creating a delightful effect. This is proper glamping.
Already included - 4x4 safari in Udawalawe National Park , accompanied by a private English-speaking ranger. The park spans 74,000 acres between the Udawalawe Reservoir and the Walawe River and is one of Sri Lanka's best spots for seeing elephants - nearly 500 pachyderms across several herds call this their home. Wild buffaloes, sambar deer and leopards can also be seen here. Back on Lake Wirawila, there is a nature outing specially designed for children: boating on peaceful waters, bird-watching, fishing for beginners...
Wirawila - Nuwara Eliya
Drive to Nuwara Eliya. A two-night stay in the hills of Regala in the former home of a Scottish land-owner who made his fortune in Sri Lanka. The large building consists of two wings that open onto a large garden surrounded by cloud-shrouded hills and tea plantations. The rooms are elegant, bright and pleasant to be in. The living room, library and dining room are all designed in perfect harmony. In the latter, learn about to the tradition of the appus, the cooks of the colonial period: disciples of Sinhalese cooking but also trained in British cuisine.
Nuwara Eliya is like a little slice of England in the Sri Lankan highlands. During the colonial period, the British retired to this hill station in summer to escape the stifling heat. What they found there, in the shadow of the Pidurutalagala, was a miniature Britain in the truest sense, with all the essential facilities: Anglican church, post office, pub, gentleman's club, botanical gardens, golf course (of course)... The place continues to enchant visitors to this day. Slightly to the south, Horton Plains National Park is home to astonishing biodiversity.
Optional - walking in Horton Plains.
Nuwara Eliya - Colombo
In the itinerary - train ride to Colombo. The railway lines, the carriages, the steam engine, even the stationmaster's hat: nothing seems to have changed since colonial times. The railway network, inaugurated by the British in 1864 to transport tea from the mountains to the port of Colombo, is one of the oldest in Asia, and passes through some sublime landscapes. The train winds through the misty mountains and golden tea plantations. Children will love the steam train, and we suspect they will also love the garlic roasted peanuts sold by the travelling vendors. On arrival in Colombo, you will stay for two nights in the heart of the city, on the promenade, facing the sea. The hotel opened in 1864 and retains the old-fashioned charm of the palaces of yesteryear, with all the bells and whistles: sparkling brass, vintage lounges, ceiling fans keeping the air cool, a veranda with wicker furniture.
Optional - lagoon trip to the fishing village of Negombo.
In the itinerary - the capital is a real contrast with the rest of the country and its thick jungles, misty mountains and peaceful villages. Busy streets, bustling traffic, tuk-tuks, two-wheelers and flamboyant buses, and ambitious architectural projects everywhere you look, Colombo is a city on the up. To discover a more urban side to the island, we invite you to take a walking tour with an English-speaking local. Ruvi is a fashionista and foodie; Sri is a presenter on one of the largest local radio stations; Mark is a photographer and is passionate about animal photography. All three know the city like the backs of their hands. They will give you a warm welcome and will be happy to share all their favourite places with you.
Optional - dinner at the Gallery Café. While Sri Lanka is first and foremost known for its rice and curry; lime, mango, pomegranate, avocado and passion fruit all grow almost like weeds here. They also come together to create fresh, colourful and flavourful dishes. This is certainly the case in this restaurant, housed in the former offices of architect Geoffrey Bawa. Red brick, designer furniture, colourful canvases and contemporary ceramics provide a privileged setting for a chic, wealthy, and predominantly Sri Lankan clientele.
Colombo - return flight
Transfer to the airport and return flight.
A la carte
THE TURTLES OF KOSGODA
Of the seven remaining species of sea turtles, five are found on Sri Lankan beaches: the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, the loggerhead turtle, the olive ridley sea turtle and the leatherback turtle. As is the case all over the world, they are faced with the destruction of their habitat and a host of environmental factors that are affecting their populations. Between Colombo and Galle, the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project carries out fieldwork and campaigns to raise awareness about their situation. The centre also houses a turtle nursery which supports secure incubation and hatching.
In Sri Lanka, as well as having a good chance of spotting elephants you can also catch sight of whales. From January to April, blue whales migrate between the Gulf of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. A trip out on the water on a trimaran allows you to see them swimming in pods. Some days you might also be lucky enough to see humpback whales, sperm whales, dolphins and turtles.
HIKING IN THE HORTON PLAINS NATIONAL PARK
This famous park south of Nuwara Eliya occupies a vast plateau covered with heaths and the most beautiful remnants of Sri Lanka's cloud forests. Ornithologists will be spoiled for choice with 21 native species, four of which: the Sri Lanka blue magpie, the Sri Lanka white-eye, the Sri Lanka wood pigeon and the dull-blue flycatcher, are only found in the Horton Plains. From there, you can hike to the dizzying viewing spot of World's End.
THE NEGOMBO LAGOON AND ITS FISHERMEN
Negombo Lagoon, with its beautifully preserved mangroves, feeds both the birds and the fishermen, who continue to work there, albeit now combined with the harvesting of 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. This outing allows you to experience a way of life that is threatened by increasingly scarce resources.
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