Tailored from £4,900 per person excl. flights
16 days Anamaduwa, Anuradhapura, Kandy, Ampara, Yala, Sinharaja, Koggala
16 days Anamaduwa, Anuradhapura, Kandy, Ampara, Yala, Sinharaja, Koggala
Avoid the tourist traps in Sri Lanka and explore the island's lesser known destinations and hidden gems. Undiscovered Sri Lanka covers the more rural areas of the country and will definitely take you off-the-beaten track.
Arrive in Colombo and be whisked away by your Wayfairer guide to Anamaduwa and stay in The Mudhouse, an eco-friendly property where you will experience life rural Sri Lanka.
As well as temples, ancient kingdoms, you will visit a tea plantation to learn more about what goes into making Sri Lanka's favourite beverage.
Wildlife plays a big part on this Sri Lanka holiday, as you will visit two national parks, Gal Oya & Yala National Parks. In Gal Oya, you will have the opportunity to stay in Gal Oya Lodge, an eco-friendly property and the only in Sri Lanka that offers boat safaris. Embark on water safaris and game drives to immerse yourself in the wildlife's natural habitat.
End your tailor made holiday exploring Koggala and staying in Tri Lanka, a well-design luxury property that seamlessly blends with its surroundings.
You will arrive at Colombo Airport, Sri Lanka, to a big welcome from our local guide, who will brief you on your trip around this beautiful island. You’ll set off straightaway and depending on your arrival time, your transfer to the first stop at Anamaduwa will take around four hours.
You will stay The Mudhouse, a remote escape in a rural village deep in the jungle, next to a tranquil lake surrounded by Tamarind trees. Here, in the wilderness, you’ll experience a true taste of Sri Lankan village life by staying in a wattle and daub hut with a palm-thatched roof and trying your first Sri Lankan dish – rice and curry cooked over a hearth.
Mudhouse has so much to offer, there is a variety of activities which you could select from.
The Mudhouse is an authentic local travel experience, which means you’ll be swapping luxury comforts for the simple life; electricity is replaced by the glow of lanterns and you’ll be bathing at the well. You will also be receiving a warm Sri Lankan welcome from your local hosts, who will proudly share their lifestyle and knowledge of the land with you.
This experience has much to offer and a variety of activities for you to choose from, so you can make the most of your second day in Sri Lanka by exploring these options and learning from your local hosts.
After lunch on your third day in Sri Lanka, you’ll take a two-hour transfer to the ancient city Anuradhapura and explore the former capital by bike in the evening.
This ancient kingdom was once home to a village chieftain and dates back to the 4th century. Anuradhapura was the spiritual and secular capital of the island for over 1,000 years and at its height was home to over 10,000 Buddhist monks; many of the monasteries and dagobas still stand today.
You will stay at Ulagalla, a luxurious holiday retreat in the rural village of Tirappane, located on the edge of the serene Ulagalla Reservoir and with views of surrounding woodland and paddy fields.
A fortress? A palace? A monastery? There are many legends and theories that surround the mysterious Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock. The monument was built on top of a huge boulder in the 5th century and some consider the monolith to be the eighth wonder of the world.
Next, we will visit the Dambulla cave temples; the largest and best-preserved example of rock cave temples in Sri Lanka. The caves tower 160 metres over the plains, with more than 80 documented caves in the area, five of which contain ancient statues and paintings depicting Buddha and his life. There’s also an opportunity to walk around the local Dambulla market nearby.
The next leg on your tour of “undiscovered” Sri Lanka takes you to Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage site and former capital city most famous for being home to the Sri Dalada Mailgawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The temple is located in the Royal Palace and as the name suggests, houses a sacred relic of the tooth of Buddha.
The tooth relic has played an important role in local politics over the centuries because since ancient times, is has been believed that whomever holds the relic holds the key to rule the country.
You will stay at Madulkelle Eco Lodge, a clifftop retreat of tented lodges set in the lush green tea hills and home to many species of birds. The lodge also includes a main building, the Estate Bungalow, where a lounge, restaurant and swimming pool can be found. The views out to Knuckles Mountain Range and valley below will be sure to take your breath away.
What makes the perfect cup of tea? After a visit to a local tea plantation, we promise you won’t be able to look at your cuppa in the same way again.
Discover the incredible amount of work, expertise and passion which go into producing the famous Ceylon tea; from tea leaf harvest by estate workers to the intricate process that produces Sri Lanka’s (and Britain’s) favourite beverage.
After breakfast, you will transfer to Gal Oya National Park, around five hours away by car. Here, you’ll be able to watch wild elephants roaming the jungle or swimming across Senanayake Samudraya, one of Sri Lanka’s largest lakes.
After the long drive, you’ll be relaxing at Gal Oya Lodge, a rustic eco-retreat in the middle of untouched wilderness, right on the edge of Gal Oya National Park. The lodge consists of several eco-friendly villas and bungalows, which have been constructed using locally-sourced materials. Ideal for those who love wildlife and winding down, Gal Oya Lodge’s picturesque mountain setting is sure to inspire and relax.
Start your day at Gal Oya Park with a boat ride on Senanayake Samudraya; a truly unique twist on the traditional “game drive” which allows you to watch wildlife from the water. You might even be able to spot elephants swimming between the islands or drinking at the water’s edge.
From here, it’s a Jeep ride to Nilgala, a “forgotten” section of the park that was once protected by ancient royalty due to the precious plants and animals that have this place as their natural habitat.
The abundance of medicinal plants, endemic birdlife and the Gal Oya Park’s unique ecosystem make this area a real sanctuary for local wildlife. During your visits, you may spot elephants, deer, sloth bears, crocodiles and wild boar.
Experience Gal Oya through the eyes of locals by going on a walk with the chief veddha, as he explains the lifestyle of the veddha tribe – a group of hunter-gatherers who have lived in the jungles of Gal Oya for centuries. Get a fascinating insight into local nature and the veddha community as the chief brings the forest alive with explanations of ancient hunting grounds, the uses of medicinal plants and the tribe’s cave dwellings.
In the afternoon, you will transfer to Yala National Park, which takes around three-and-a-half hours. Boasting the highest leopard density in the world, you’ll take part in an afternoon safari in the 100,000 hectares of scrubland that make up Yala – a drastically different landscape to the lush jungles and paddy fields that cover so much of Sri Lanka.
Yala National Park is also home to “big game” such as elephants, deer, crocodiles, wild boar and sloth bear; as well as many bird species, including colourful wild peacocks. You’ll be in capable hands as Noel Rodrigo's Leopard Safaris is run by a local wildlife specialist, eager to educate visitors about nature conservation.
Your campsite is located just 15 minutes from the entrance of the park in the form of mobile tents lit with hurricane lamps.
The best time to spot big game is in the morning and evening, so these are the optimum times to explore Yala via safari.
The next stop on your Sri Lanka journey is Sinharaja tea plantation, a four-and-half-hour journey away.
You will stay at Rainforest Eco, which is a LEEDS-certified, eco-friendly property designed around the themes of re-use, re-design and recycle, by environmental architect Sunela Jayawardene. Here, you can take a nature trek into the rainforest or a walk through the tea planation. At night, unwind with a drink in the lodge’s lounge.
Please note that we do not recommend this eco retreat for families with young children or those with mobility difficulties.
Have an adventure by trekking through the Sinharaja, the tranquil wilderness of Sri Lanka’s most famous rainforest. There is a multitude of routes to choose from, which you can discuss with Rainforest Eco Lodge.
Next, it’s onto Koggala Lake, which takes around three-and-a-half hours by car. You’ll be staying at the secluded retreat of Tri Lanka, set on the edge of the Lake and only accessible by boat, which adds to the tranquillity and privacy of this heavenly escape.
Tri Lanka was a collaborative design between photographer Rob Drummond and award-winning architect Raefer Wallis. Their design is focused around the ancient Greek mathematical theory of the golden ratio, which uses shapes that are considered to be perfectly beautiful by the human eye. With an emphasis on sustainability and creative design, Tri Lanka is a true haven for the mind, body and soul.
Please note that Tri Lanka does not accept guests under 12 years old.
One great way to see Koggala Lake and the surrounding areas is a via a 12-kilometre cycling circuit, which starts and finishes at Wijaya Beach. The cycle path takes around an hour and a half and passes through the verdant valleys of paddy fields, including a half-way stop for a coconut at a beautiful and shady natural garden.
If you really want to push yourself, take The Paddy and Lake Trail instead, which is a 26-kilometre extended route that includes cycling along the shore of the lake.
After packing so many adventures into Sri Lanka tour so far, you may wish to spend your last full day at your leisure. Or, if you’d like to squeeze in one more activity, enquire about a trip to Dutch Galle Fort with your guide.
Depending on your flight time, check out of your accommodation and allow three hours to transfer to Colombo Airport. We hope that you will leave Sri Lanka filled with happy memories and amazing stories to tell your family and friends back home, and that you feel like you have been able to experience an authentic, local side of the country that is truly off the beaten track.
Talk to the team
Find out more and tailor your perfect trip with the help of
our specialist team on +44 117 313 3300
As with all of Wayfairer's holidays, this itinerary has been crafted to ensure that it positively effects the local communities and environments visited.
We ensure that our local guides are paid fairly, our partner accommodations take responsible initiatives and our tours have ample cultural interactions.
Undiscovered Sri Lanka includes a stay in The Mudhouse, a property in Anamaduwa, which is built using traditional village construction methods. A stay here will give you a clearer insight into life in Sri Lanka and a more authentic experience.
The rest of the properties included in this itinerary are eco-friendly and positively impact their local communities and environment.