This Sri Lanka luxury holiday odyssey is an experiential masterpiece, even if we do say so ourselves. To the uninitiated, the dizzying diversity of a tour of Sri Lanka can be overwhelming. Yonder’s 22-night Treasure Island itinerary takes all the confusion away, while covering a lot of jaw-dropping ground by planes, trains and automobiles, always delivering you to superlative handpicked accommodation.
On this tailor-made Sri Lanka tour, we explore the full length of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was once known) looking for experiences as spectacular as a radiant Ceylon sapphire. The Tamil heartlands in the north of Sri Lanka are all but undiscovered by mainstream tourists, making them prime Yonder territory. Turning south, we hit the Cultural Triangle; home to one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, the mighty lion rock Sigiriya and the mesmerising cave shrines at Dambulla. From here, we continue on to the tea plantations and the city of Kandy, home to the revered Temple of the Tooth (of Buddha).
*Every Yonder itinerary is uniquely created to suit our individual clients. Destinations, hotels, lengths of stay and even modes of transport are all decided by you, with the help of our local knowledge and expert guidance.
Then we set out in the confident hope of encountering extraordinary wildlife in Udawalawe and Yala National Parks. Next, we hug the southern coast as we move toward the fortified colonial city of Galle where your luxury beach holiday beckons. And our Treasure Island tour of Sri Lanka will finish in Colombo, the buzzing capital, offering a glimpse into how this ancient country has propelled itself into the modern day.
As you swoop down towards Colombo, you’ll experience just a little taster of what awaits with palm trees and a cobalt blue lagoon stretching as far as the eye can see. Your Yonder chauffeur-guide will be waiting to whisk you off on a short journey to The Wallawwa, a beautiful old manor house, where you will recuperate after your flight.
Thoughts on a postcard
It was a tour of epic proportions. At every turn, we were skillfully guided through spectacular sites. And when we hit the haven of our stupendous luxury hotels, our guides discretely performed a disappearing act, leaving us to soak up our divine surroundings. Utterly brilliant. A showstopper.
You’ll be driven north towards the ancient capital of Anuradhapura, which sprang up around Buddha’s ‘tree of enlightenment’ for your first big cultural fix. Arriving in the afternoon, you’ll check into Ulagalla, a firm Yonder favourite with its individual pavilion rooms blending into the paddyfields. You’ll have a full day to explore the evocative sites that surround the sacred city which served as Sri Lanka’s capital for 1,300 years.
An early start to catch the express train to Jaffna in the far north. It’s a three-hour journey winding through villages and over the fertile plains of the north of Sri Lanka. Arriving around lunchtime, it’s short hop to the Jetwing Jaffna in the centre of town. You’ll venture out in the afternoon with your guide to discover the delights of Jaffna, from its extraordinary library to the vibrant Nallur Hindu temple. And there will be time to explore on your own in a fascinating time warp city where the pause button has only just been released.
Your faithful chauffeur-guide will be waiting on the doorstep to transport you back towards the Cultural Triangle. This time your destination will be the colossal rock fortress at Sigiriya, with its buxom maidens frescoed on the upper cave walls. As you sit back at sunset with G&T in hand at Vil Uyana, the natural monolith with its near vertical walls will form a remarkable backdrop. You’ll stage an assent in the morning, leaving the afternoon free to kick back around the pool.
En route to Kandy, you’ll swing past the five spectacular caves at Dambulla, replete with stunning art and countless Buddha statues, which have drawn pilgrims for over 2,000 years. Arriving at Kandy House, your home in Kandy, in the early afternoon leaves plenty of time to refuel on the delicious cuisine and have a lazy afternoon. There’s a lot going on in Kandy and you’ll want to tick off a few key sites, including the phenomenal botanical gardens and the sacred Temple of the Tooth. And if you have the energy, your guide will be on hand to escort you to some of the lesser known, fascinating sites, such as the spice market, costume museum and old British military cemetery.
The rolling green hills, swirling mists in the valleys and sheer silence… Tea country will steal your heart. And getting here, on the rumbling train from Kandy, is a journey that will linger in the memory. You’ll disembark in Nuwara Eliya, known as Little England, before continuing by car to Living Heritage Koslanda, your boutique bolthole perched high in the hills with a view that is an Instagram magnet. And you’ll learn a good deal about those aromatic leaves that make up the UK’s favourite beverage.
Udawalawe is widely considered the best spot in Sri Lanka for seeing elephants. And you’ll be hanging out with the pachyderms amongst scenery that will take your breath away. At its heart, an endless lake shimmers in the sun, teeming with birdlife, with all kinds of creatures drinking at its banks. In the scrub, you’ll encounter Elephas Maximus, the Asian elephant, of which the Sri Lankan is the largest subspecies. Home for a night will be the Mahoora Safari camp on the edge of the park.
From elephants to leopards and from sloth bears to jackals , Yala has it all. Flanked by the ocean to the east, Yala is spectacularly beautiful, with dense scrub, arid savannah-like plains and a maze of watercourses. Leopard fever sets in as you enter the park. With the world’s greatest concentration, Yala is a mecca for those who seek a first-hand encounter with this awesome predator. But it isn’t all about the big cat. There are all creatures great and small here and the smaller creatures are no less spectacular. What’s more, the birdlife is an ornithologist’s dream come true and the reptiles will leave you awestruck. And you’ll be no less impressed when you check into Chena Huts, one of Yonder’s favourites.
After a couple of weeks on the road, you’ll be longing for some sand between your toes and the sound of the crashing waves. But be assured, this is a long way from pina colada territory and burnt Brits. The Frangipani Tree, a short distance from the old fort of Galle, will envelope you in perfection for a few nights. Here, you can be a lazy lounger, swim, walk along the beach or go out on your own to discover the many exciting possibilities all within a short ride in a tuk-tuk.
As your tailor-made tour of Sri Lanka approaches its end, you’ll spend your final night in Colombo. Your last stop will be Tintagel, a serious sexy converted old mansion, once the home of the world’s first female prime minister. Colombo is a buzzing cosmopolitan city, with an ever increasing appetite for great restaurants and tasteful shopping. If you want a final culture fix, there is plenty to see and do, from the national museum to Independence Square.
What you get for your money
This itinerary would typically cost from £3,600 per person staying in the specified hotels and having the services of a private chauffeur guide, excluding international flights. The costs can vary based on season, room type and board basis. All our holidays are tailor-made and can be created around your budget.