From Rainforest to Beaches | Sri Lanka

Experience Sri Lanka in a private tour that will take you from Colombo to Mirissa, via Galle and Kirinda to explore cities, colonial buildings, natural parks, culture & lifestyle; end up with a week by the beach to finish your experience of Sri Lanka in beauty and relax.

2 nights in Colombo at Jetwing Colombo Seven

Stay for 2 nights at Jetwing Colombo Seven, a beautiful city hotel located at the heart of Colombo opulent culture, nightlife, dining and shopping, and with stunning views over the metropolis and its bordering beach. Within the hotel you’ll find a great spa, the rooftop infinity pool and an excellent restaurant. Accommodation here ranges from Deluxe Rooms to Studios and 2 - 3 bedroom service apartments. Modern and minimalist, all units offer facilities and amenities to guarantee your comfort: air-conditioning, bathroom with a luxury fittings, 42” TV with international and local channels, tea/coffee making facility, capsule coffee machine, bottled water, electronic safe, hair dryer, mini bar, free Wi-Fi, iron and ironing board. Serviced apartments additionally offer: kitchen, fridge, washing machine, microwave, electric hob. Stopping for a couple of nights in Colombo is an excellent idea: in fact, this city is fast becoming an attraction in itself, having been developing and changing quickly since the 25-year civil war ended in 2009. Checkpoints have come down, trendy lounge bars have opened up, and the vibe is one of cautious optimism combined with an increasingly cosmopolitan outlook. Today, this colorful city on the Indian Ocean, with its laid-back island ambience, palm trees, decaying colonial buildings and smattering of modern office blocks, is the perfect place to get a sense of where Sri Lanka is going after so many tumultuous years.

1st day in Colombo: if you arrive in the morning, you’ll have the whole day at your disposal to start exploring on your own. We recommend to have a dip in the pool and take in the beautiful views to relax a bit after the flight and then:

Lunch with rice and curry at the capacious Pagoda Tea Room, arguably the oldest dining establishment in the city. Find a seat in the cool and cavernous dining room and order what almost every Sri Lankan eats for lunch: “rice and curry.”

After lunch, head to the Pettah Market: in its tightly packed streets, you’ll experience the merging of Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim cultures. Shirtless men in sarongs haul carts loaded with vegetables, electrical goods spill out of shop doorways, and mosques compete with Hindu temples for space. Ayurvedic medicine for what ails you (widely used in Sri Lanka) can be found in abundance on Fifth Cross Street, and jewelry shops, many selling the cut-price gems (sapphires in particular) for which the country is noted, line Sea Street.

Cool off from the immense heat of the day with a sunset stroll along Galle Face Green. This broad stretch of lawn borders the ocean on one side and the city’s business district on the other. Pick up a couple of isso wade (deep-fried shrimp cakes, around 50 rupees each) from one of the myriad vendors. Then, just before sundown, settle in for a refreshing gin and tonic (770 rupees) on the veranda of the venerable Galle Face Hotel, at one end of the green. 

The hotel was built by the British in 1864, and its Victorian suites have played host to a varied collection of famous guests, including Richard Nixon and Indira Gandhi. The veranda offers some of the city’s best views of Sri Lanka’s gorgeous sunsets: a spectacular daily show of fiery pink, orange and red sky as the sun sinks into the ocean.

For dinner head to The Ministry of Crab, a restaurant that combines two grand Sri Lankan traditions: cricket and crab. A joint project between two famous local cricketers and a top restaurateur, Dharshan Munidasa, this elegant restaurant serves up top-notch fresh crabs in garlic, chile, butter and pepper variations. The Ministry is in the much-lauded Old Dutch Hospital, a 17th-century building of thick walls and red-tiled roofs, converted after the war into a beautiful structure that houses the city’s trendiest cafes and restaurants, set around courtyards. For postdinner cocktails, go to Colombo Fort Café or Heladiv Tea Club.

2nd day in Colombo: Today our driver, who is also an accredited tourist guide, will take you to visit some of the highlights of Colombo.

Among these the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple is a must: with several buildings filled with an enormous amount of things, some of which pretty strange and a little scary. The complex includes a library, a museum and a display hall of gifts received from devotees and well-wishers over the years - and of course a LOT of buddhas, in stone, white plastic and gold. 

The National Museum is Sri Lanka’s premier cultural institution and definitely a stop you will want to make. A large 9th-century stone Buddha greets you with an enigmatic smile at the entrance, admitting you to the many galleries, some of which date back as far as 1877. Here you’ll encounter all manner of art, carvings and statuary from Sri Lanka’s ancient past, as well as swords, guns and other paraphernalia from the colonial period. There are 19th-century reproductions of English paintings of Sri Lanka, and a collection of antique demon masks. Rooms 2 through 5 have the powerhouse displays and are a must. Look for the magnificent royal throne made for King Wimaladharmasuriya II in 1693 (room 5), as well as the 9th-century bronze Bodhisattva Sandals (room 2). The grounds are shaded by magnificent banyan trees and there is a good cafe.?Dutch Museum — This unique museum was originally the 17th-century residence of the Dutch governor and has since been used as a Catholic seminary, a military hospital, a police station and a post office. The mansion contains a lovely garden courtyard and has a nice faded feel since a 1977 restoration. Exhibits include Dutch colonial furniture and other artifacts. It's here in 1638 that King Rajasinghe II of the Kingdom of Kandy signed the treaty that opened up Ceylon to the Dutch.

Old City Hall — Dating to 1865, this municipal building from the British era is mostly empty today, save for some old trucks and municipal equipment on display in the ground-floor galleries. But let the attendants lead you up the vintage mahogany stairs (tip them Rs 100) and you’ll discover something of a waxworks in the old council chambers. There, covered in dust, are replicas of the town’s first councillors in 1906. It’s slightly comic and ghoulish, especially given the green glow from the stained glass. Views from the windows put you above the hubbub outside. Note the battered old firetrucks that were once gifts from Japan. 

Independence Memorial Hall and Square — Sri Lanka got its independence from Britain in 1948, and this huge stone building surrounded by a peaceful garden is a monument to that. In front of it is a statue of Sri Lankas first president, “The Father of the Nation”. Nearby Independence Square is another massive restoration of a colonial landmark. In this case, the sprawling colonial 'hospital for the insane' has been reborn as an upscale mall after spending the last few decades in bureaucratic decrepitude. It has dozens of upscale international chains, a good food court and some high concept eateries.

2 nights in Galle with accommodation at Jetwing Lighthouse

Jetwing Lighthouse is located on the fringe of the former Dutch Colonial town of Galle. Designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, this elegant hotel is the ultimate tropical retreat amidst the sun, sea and sands of the southern coast, exuding an old world charm of elegance and minimalism that is combined with fantastic service, scrumptious cuisine and a wide selection of facilities and activities. The hotel terrace is ideal for a drink and a chat while overlooking a spectacular Sri Lankan sunset. Enjoy the very best in facilities and services: 2 expansive swimming pools, tennis court with flood lights and fully equipped gym for sports enthusiasts, a well stocked wine cellar, the wonderful Spa Ceylon - among others. Accommodation ranges from Deluxe Rooms to Themed Suites: each room is luxuriously furnished combining Sri Lankan simplicity with décor which is both traditional and modern. Wake up to an unrestrained view of the shimmering Indian ocean and go to sleep to the sound of the surf gently lapping against the rocks on the seashore.

Galle is the place to go for stylish relaxation. The UNESCO World Heritage protected Galle Fort is an 18th-century Dutch walled town with chic shops, grand colonial houses and beautiful beaches. Enjoy 2 days in this wonderful little town. 

1st day: Transfer to Galle via Bentota including: stop at Boat Safari at Madu River, home to the most pristine mangrove forests in Sri Lanka; Turtle Hatchery; Mask Museum 

2nd day: guided tour to Galle Fort, the 18th-century Dutch walled town lying alongside modern Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On its narrow streets are crumbling, ochre-washed buildings that were once administrative headquarters and homes for the Dutch admiralty. There are also tumbledown colonial houses with eaves and pillared frontages. The fort is enfolded by impossibly thick granite ramparts which kept the tsunami waves at bay. Stroll around the beautiful streets – filled with galleries and museums stuffed with bric-à-brac – or indulge in some shopping. Galle’s streets are lined with gem shops such as Laksana and the Historical Mansion Museum Shop, which also hosts a vast if idiosyncratic collection of historical curios. The local Barefoot chain sells a variety of Sri Lankan knick-knacks.

3 nights in Yala and Bundala National Park with accommodation at The Beach Camp  

Experience nature at its best while enjoying a very special place to stay. Wake up to the call of birds singing, the wind whistling. Fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing. See wildlife the way it’s supposed to be seen. This is luxury camping at its finest – where you can experience the true wonder of nature, without giving up the comforts you are accustomed to. The Beach Camp is located in close proximity to the Yala National Park, which will be very convenient for your exploring. As an extra, the camp serves only the best in terms of meals. You can design the menu to your exact needs: from barbecue at the campsite or even a gourmet meal on top of a rock by the sea.

Offering breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, the camp boasts the largest luxury tents in Sri Lanka which is 420 square feet in size, furnished with one queen-sized bed or 2 twin, thatched roofs, exquisite mahogany furniture, handmade coir mats and linen curtains. The spacious private bathroom offers running water, cemented floors, wooden framed mirror, a basin sunken into the structure and a flushing toilet.

Relax on the day of your arrival and prepare to your safaris! On the transfer to Kirinda, you can also stop to visit the Mulkirigala Temple

2nd day: Early morning game drive at Bundala National Park, a unique world where the land, the sea, and the wetlands meet. Its thorny scrub jungle is home to spotted deer, the rare pangolin and the playful grey langur monkey. A walk along the beach at dawn may reveal unusual tracks in the sand: sea turtle come ashore here to lay eggs during the night. The picturesque lagoons and inter-tidal mud flats are alive with flashes of brilliant colors as wintering birds arrive to rest and feed. The bio diversity of this park is immense: records total to 383 plant species, 32 species of mammal, and 197 species of birds.

3rd day: Full day game drive at Yala, Sri Lanka's most famous national park. Forming a total area of 1268 sq km of scrub, light forest, grassy plains and brackish lagoons, this park it’s very rich in wildlife and you're virtually certain to encounter elephants, crocodiles, buffaloes and monkeys. Yala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and was designated a national park in 1938. Ironically, the park was initially used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule. Yala is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Among its more famous residents are the world’s biggest concentration of leopards, majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted dear, peacocks, and crocodiles. The best time to visit Yala is between February and July when the water levels of the park are quite low, bringing animals into the open.

6 nights in Mirissa at Sri Sharavi Beach Villas & Spa 

Let the murmur of the azure ocean waters warmed by the tropical sun pamper you at this serene hideaway. Sri Sharavi Beach Villas is the epitome of exclusivity, refreshingly modern, yet consciously sustainable. Set on a pristine stretch of virgin beach near the beautiful village of Mirissa, Sri Sharavi Beach Villas & Spa offers a beautiful beach-front sea-water infinity pool, an exclusive spa that takes care of your holistic wellbeing through a range of Ayurvedic treatments and massages, and a selection of indoor games, including board games and cards, for the whole family. The in-house restaurant offers a fusion of international flavors, from traditionally vibrant Sri Lankan curries, fresh platters of succulent se

afood to delicious western cuisine. At the Cellar Lounge you’ll find an astounding collection of wine from all around the globe to pair to your delicious dishes. The sea surrounding the villas is teeming with marine life and is a hotspot for whale and dolphin watching. Brush up on your fishing skills or ride the waves in style as “Down South” is also known for its bountiful surf spots scattered along the coast. Treat yourself to an early morning cycle ride through the typical fishing villages and blend in with the local crowd. All these activities can be organized for you by the villa team (depending on weather and ocean conditions).

Accommodation is in Rooms, Suites and 3 bedrooms Beach Villas, bright and stylish units complete with luxury amenities that blend modern chic with the island’s charming traditional aesthetics. 



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