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Experience a tailored and private luxury tour in Sri Lanka that covers the island's main highlights. In this 13-day itinerary, with the aid of your expert Wayfairer guide, you will explore Sri Lanka's best destinations.
On your arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, you will be transferred to your luxury accommodation of choice in Kotugoda for a restful evening. The tour then covers the Cultural Triangle, where you will visit the Kingdom of Anuradhapura, and explore Sigiriya (Lion Rock) and the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, which remains one of the best planned archaeological relic sites in the country.
You will then head into Sri Lanka’s lush tea country, a place of rolling hills covered in verdant plantations. Experience life here, interact with the locals and meet your host, a resident Tea Planter.
Before your pampering & relaxation in Sri Lanka's southern coasts and blissful beaches, venture into the South-east of the island, where you will embark on exhilarating game drives in Yala National Park for 2 days. Here, you will have the chance to spot over 40 species of mammals and the highest density of leopards in the world.
This luxury Sri Lanka trip ends with a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle Fort, built in 1588 by the Portuguese, and a culinary tour with a hands-on cooking experience.
Upon arriving at Colombo Airport, Sri Lanka, you’ll be welcomed by a friendly Wayfairer representative. You’ll be accompanied out of the terminal building via a special VIP track to a private car park, where your luggage will be loaded up, and your luxury tour of Sri Lanka will begin.
The transfer to your accommodation, The Wallawwa, takes approximately 30 minutes. The word “wallawwa” refers to an old manor house with architectural features such as courtyards, verandahs and columns. The Wallawwa dates back to the mid-17th century when it was owned by a head chieftain of Galle; the colonial bungalow is a great introduction to Sri Lanka’s rich history.
Aside from the property’s old-world charm, the hotel also offers luxurious comforts and stylish design. Your bedroom will look out onto a serene central courtyard and pond, while the in-house restaurant serves up delicious Asian fusion cuisine – your first taste of Sri Lankan fare. After a long flight, unwind by the swimming pool, set in colourful private gardens, or treat yourself at the Z spa.
After a relaxing evening at The Wallawwa and a sumptuous breakfast, you’ll head north to Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, where your adventure truly begins. The first stop on your luxury tour of the country is the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura, which dates to the 4th century.
Arriving just in time to see the complex illuminated in warm evening colours, you can explore the extensive site of Buddhist temples, monasteries, bathing pools and other structures, which was once the capital of Sri Lanka, all connected by a complex irrigation system that demonstrates the intelligence and innovation of the island’s ancient civilisations.
You will stay at Ulagalla, a luxury holiday retreat situated on the tranquil Ulagalla Reservoir, in the rural village of Tirappane. Ulagalla’s chalets are spread out over a 58-acre estate, providing a peaceful setting to relax in, complete with private decks, individual plunge pools and stunning views across the reservoir and paddy fields.
Moving forward through history, our next stop on your Sri Lanka tour is Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock. The monument was built on top of a huge boulder sometime in the 5th century, though we don’t know for sure what the original purpose of the structure was.
There are many theories surrounding this Sri Lankan legend, including stories of a rock fortress, a hidden castle belonging to King Kashyapa and divine intervention. Climb Lion Rock to see spectacular views, take in the stunning scenery and draw your own conclusions as to how this iconic piece of Sri Lankan history came to be.
In the late afternoon, we’ll head to the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, another former capital city. The kingdom of Polonnaruwa was founded by King Vijayabahu I after he defeated Chola invaders in 1070 and wished to reunite the country once more.
Polonnaruwa is now one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Sri Lanka and gives great context to the discipline and greatness of the country’s early rulers.
Next, we’ll head to Hatton to explore Sri Lanka’s Tea Country, which takes approximately five-and-a-half hours to get to. On the way to Hatton, we’ll stop at the UNESCO World Heritage city Kandy to visit the sacred site of Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), which is said to house a sacred relic of the tooth of Buddha.
Located in the Royal Palace complex, the tooth relic holds a special significance in Sri Lankan history; since ancient times, it has been believed that whoever holds the relic may assume governance of the country.
After this visit to Kandy, we will continue on to Hatton, where you will stay at Dunkeld. This luxury bungalow with a standalone cottage is perched high in Sri Lanka’s central highlands, set in beautiful natural surroundings, such as the serene Castlereagh Lake and the lush green tea plantations of the Dunkeld Estate.
Now in the heart of Tea Country, you’ll have the chance to visit a local tea factory and talk with a resident planter. Learn how the eponymous British cup of tea was directly influenced by old Ceylon’s 1865 coffee blight and the pioneering ideas of local planters.
During your visit to the tea factory, you’ll learn about the whole tea production process; from drying and dehumidifying all the way through to packing and distribution.
Discover how different types of teas are created and marvel at the sheer amount of work, effort and expertise that goes into making the nation’s favourite beverage. We guarantee that you’ll never look at your cuppa in the same way again.
Your luxury tour of Sri Lanka will take you next to Yala National Park, where you will enjoy a game drive to see some of Sri Lanka’s wildlife in their natural habitat. The transfer to Yala takes around six hours; however, you can take the option of a scheduled flight from Castlereagh to Yala instead, if preferred.
You will stay at the first boutique accommodation to be offered in Yala, Chena Huts. The property is made up of 14 luxury cabins, each nestled within lush a forest and shaded trees to ensure maximum privacy for guests.
Each building is designed in the style of a local village house, with mottled walls, palm-thatched roofs and winding wooden walkways between the cabins. Chena Huts also features a reception and dining area right on the edge of the ocean, a swimming pool and spa facilities.
The best times to see Sri Lanka’s wildlife are in the mornings and evenings, which is when your shared game drives will take place. Yala National Park spans 100,000 hectares of scrubland, which is a dramatically different landscape compared to the lush jungles and paddy fields you would have already experienced on the island.
Yala is most famous for having the highest leopard density in the world, but the park is also home to so much more of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. You’ll most likely see “big game”, such as sloth bears, spotted deer, elephants, crocodiles and wild boar, to name but a few. Be sure to keep an eye out for the abundance of bird species in the park, including the spectacular plumage of wild peacocks.
After so much adventure, it’s time to take a three-hour transfer to unwind for a few days at Amanwella, Tangalle. “Aman” means peace in Sanskrit, while “wella” translates as beach in Sinhala, so it’s no wonder that this peaceful beach retreat is best known for relaxing days by the sea.
Nestled in a coconut grove and with slopes that head all the way down to the turquoise waters below, Amanwella provides the perfect drop-off point for swimming, snorkelling, and tranquillity.
The hotel is comprised of gorgeous courtyards, sun terraces and waterways, all designed by renowned architect Kerry Hill. Hill combines stylish design with local materials, including terracotta, terrazzo, stone and timber; with the 30 elegant suites set into the hillside offering serenity and privacy.
Water is the element of choice here. When you’re not diving with the fishes offshore, look out at the spectacular view from the hotel’s infinity pool or relax with a good book next to one of the complex’s many reflecting pools, which all add to the calm ambience of the property.
You’ll be sure to feel fully revitalised after a few days in this stunning location.
Although you may not want to leave paradise, the next leg of your Sri Lanka tour is about to begin as you take a two-and-a-half-hour ride to the Aman property in Galle.
Amangalla is also owned by the prestigious Aman group, and the colonial building dates back over 400 years, once used as headquarters for a Dutch commander and later by British soldiers. Aman Resorts has since restored the property to exude old-world charm, whilst providing luxury in the form of superb cuisine, exceptional service and one of the best spas to be found in Sri Lanka.
In the evening, you’ll take a walk around UNESCO-listed Galle Fort with a resident guide, who will entertain you with local legends and inform you of the fort’s rich history. You’ll take a route through cobblestoned streets flanked by inviting restaurants, heritage houses, and antique shops.
Some say that the best way to understand a country and its culture is through its cuisine, and Sri Lanka is no different. The next step in your tour takes you to a local village for a hands-on cooking demonstration, where your senses will uncover a new layer of Sri Lanka’s proud heritage.
Many visitors to Sri Lanka come with low expectations of the food, as the country’s cuisine has mostly been overshadowed by its larger neighbours. However, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the delicious, diverse and complex dishes on offer.
The Sri Lankan curry and rice is a broad term for the vast array of dishes and ingredients used in local fare, including flavours you may not recognise – lotus root and banana blossom, to name a couple. Each dish has a different combination of sauteed vegetables, which are boiled in coconut milk, tempered, deep fried, caramelised or even served raw with grated coconut.
Start your food exploration with a visit to a local market, where you can see the range of tropical fruits and vegetables on offer, then get stuck into a cooking class in the traditional setting of a wattle and daub mud hut.
With a full stomach and a full heart, your bespoke luxury tour of Sri Lanka comes to an end. Depending on your flight time, you may wish to spend your last day in the country collecting souvenirs or relaxing at your hotel. After checking out from your accommodation, the transfer to the airport takes around two-and-a-half hours.
We hope that you will leave Sri Lanka inspired by the time you spent on the island, with countless photos, stories and memories to share with loved ones back home.