Highlights of Sri Lanka - West Coast

7 Day Small Group Adventure from Negombo to Colombo with Explore

Book online and enjoy exclusive savings on Explore's 7 Day Highlights of Sri Lanka - West Coast. Join this one-week trip exploring Sri Lanka's highlights, searching for leopard and elephant in Wilpattu National Park and discovering the country's ancient Buddhist temples at Mihintale and Dambulla. We climb the spectacular...read more

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$ 2,074
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Small Group Adventure Starts In
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Small Group Adventure Ends In
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Max Group Size
Small Group
Trip Style
Small Group
Scenic / Cultural
Trip Style
Scenic / Cultural
Trip Pace
Countries Explored:
Sri Lanka
Trip Operated By:
140 Reviews
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1 Join tour in Negombo
Our tour begins this afternoon in the coastal town of Negombo, famous for its fishing industry and golden sands. Our hotel is just a 15 minute drive north of the airport. From its beach location, we are likely to see fishing boats bring in the day's catch. We may also be treated to a stunning sunset over the ocean. Stay: Hotel (Standard)
2 In search of leopards in Wilpattu National Park
Leaving Negombo we travel north following the coastal road via the small towns of Chilaw and Putalam before reaching the entrance to Wilpattu National Park. Here we will leave our bus and change to jeeps for an afternoon safari through the park hoping to spot Sri Lanka's most elusive resident, the leopard. Despite Wilpattu National Park's location in Sri Lanka's dry zone, it boasts nearly 60 lakes and is renowned for leopard, elephant and sambar deer spottings. We choose to visit this park, rather than Yala National Park further south because we believe it offers our customers a better experience. The same animals can be seen here as in Yala and despite being busy in places it is overall less crowded, making our visit more enjoyable and responsible. It is also worth noting that wildlife is unpredictable and therefore sightings cannot be guaranteed. Leaving the park, we drive to nearby Anuradhapura, where we will spend the night. Stay: Hotel (Standard) (B)
3 Explore cave temples and take lunch with the locals
We start this morning with a visit to the mountain peak of Mihintale. It is believed that this was the site of a momentous meeting between the monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa, introducing Buddhism to the country. Exploring Mihintale involves climbing a flight of 1,840 shallow stone steps leading to the summit of the Missaka Mountain. There are excellent views from the top looking back to Anuradhapura. After the exertions we swap our bus for a bullock cart and make our way slowly through a small village on the outskirts of Habarana. Reaching the lake we change seats again and use dugout canoe style boats - adapted with seats for a more comfortable ride! - to cross the short distance across the lake to Hiriwaduna Village where we are met by the villagers and treated to a traditional Sri Lankan lunch. Here we will enjoy various different curries and fluffy rice and after our meal and spending time in the village we make our way to Sigiriya, stopping on the way to visit Dambulla, where a great series of caves have been turned into temples dating from the 1st century BC. This World Heritage Site still attracts scores of worshippers. We will visit five separate caves, which contain a large number of Buddha images and sculptures of Hindu Gods. Stay: Hotel (Standard) (B/L)
4 Climb Lion's Rock at sunrise. Drive to Kandy
An early start this morning as we plan to climb Sigiriya Rock ahead of the crowds and whilst it is cool. The ruins of this 5th century 'sky Fortress\ are one of Sri Lanka's major attractions, a stupendous sight to behold and a feat of consummate engineering skill. Built in just seven years as a fortified palace to protect the reign of merciless King Kassapa, who had assassinated his father and deposed his brother, it is seen as one of the world's best preserved examples of ancient urban planning. Unfortunately for the king, despite its impregnable reputation, he was defeated here by his brother after a reign of just 18 years. A switchback series of steps and steel stairways ascend to the top. Halfway up, tucked beneath a sheltering overhang of rock, are the famous frescoes - the Sigiriya Damsels, their colours still glowing. Before our final ascent to the summit, we pass between a set of enormous lion paws carved out of the rock - all that remain of an ancient gateway that gave Sigiriya, the \ Lion Rock\ , its name. Once at the 200 meter summit, magnificent views can be enjoyed of the surrounding jungle and countryside. This afternoon, a two-hour drive takes us to Kandy. On arrival the time is free to explore this historic town. Perhaps visit the Temple of the Tooth, situated on the shore of the lake or take a short tuk tuk ride out to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens which alongside beautiful displays of Sri Lanka's finest flowers is home to thousands of flying foxes. Stay: Hotel (Standard) (B)
5 Learn about Sri Lanka’s tea en route to Unawatuna
Leaving Kandy behind we stop at a tea factory to learn about the processes involved in Sri Lanka's largest export. Originally a tea bush was brought from China in 1842 to be planted at the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, it was 25 years later that James Taylor established Sri Lanka's first tea plantation, the Loolecondera Estate in Kandy. These days more than one million people in Sri Lanka are employed by the tea industry. The tea factory we visit is a small and intimate one and therefore does not include seeing the process of picking the tea leaves but we do see the process of drying and grinding the leaves and we sample some of the blends before leaving tea country. Making our way back to the coast our destination is Unawatuna on the south west coast. The shallow waters and long, pristine beaches make it perfect for a spot of relaxing. Stay: Hotel (Standard) (B)
6 Free time to explore Galle or whale watching (seasonal)
Today is left free to do as little or as much as you wish. A short tuk tuk ride can take you to visit the neighbouring pretty coastal town of Galle. An important trading centre since ancient times, the fortifications that can be seen today were built by the Portuguese and then the Dutch from the 16th to the 17th centuries. The fort ramparts of this World Heritage Site protect the harbour and a myriad of fascinating old houses, churches and warehouses. Today, the town has a strong arts vibe, with foreign and local artists, writers, photographers, designers and poets drawing inspiration from their surrounds. Boutique shops and cafes around the town showcase their work. There is plenty to explore in the town and enjoyment can be gained simply by wandering around its streets, soaking up its unique atmosphere. For those seeking pure relaxation, local Ayurvedic massages with natural, aromatic herbal oils are highly recommended. Alternatively, between the months of December and April, you might prefer to go on a whale watching trip in the hope of spotting humpback and blue whales. Stay: Hotel (Standard) (B)
7 Tour ends at Colombo Airport
After breakfast this morning we follow the coastal road back to Colombo Airport where our tour ends. (B)

Explore Inclusions

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Journey Highlights
  • Wilpattu National Park - Take a jeep safari to search for leopards, elephants and sambar deer
  • Sigiriya - View the colourful painted frescos on the climb up to King Kasyapa's ancient sky fortress set on the top of Lion's Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Dambulla - Explore incredible painted cave temple and share a meal with a local family
  • Kandy - Option to explore the Temple of the Tooth
  • Unawatuna - Relax on the pristine beaches of the west coast or take an optional whale watching excursion
Trip Pace: Moderate
  • Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a holiday which combines exciting activities and experiences with plenty of time to relax and unwind. Typically you'll be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries
Read Trip Notes
  • Trip Notes outline what's included, visa information, important notes, how to get to your accommodation, packing checklist, optional activities, travel insurance requirements - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more. Please take time to have a read through, and contact us if you have any questions. View Trip Notes
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About Explore!
Launching in 1981, Explore offer trips from over 130 countries - from classic small group tours... Read more
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Explore Leaders
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Monday 16 Nov 2020 Sunday 22 Nov 2020 86per person 2,074per person Enquire
Monday 21 Dec 2020 Sunday 27 Dec 2020 114per person 2,746per person Enquire
Monday 16 Nov 2020 Sunday 22 Nov 2020 105solo traveller 2,515solo traveller Enquire
Monday 21 Dec 2020 Sunday 27 Dec 2020 138solo traveller 3,312solo traveller Enquire
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Trip Notes
Trip prices are per person, and reflect applicable discounts. Discounts are subject to availability, exclusive to Global Journeys and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Trip prices are correct at the time of the products going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking. All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however are subject to change by Explore. Full terms & conditions are available here.