Bespoke and connoisseur holidays to Thailand
Family Adventure Holiday in Sri Lanka
Forts & Monkeys

This 2-week family adventure in Sri Lanka has chattering monkeys, historic forts, wildlife and nature, the misty mountains of the hill country (the warmer part of it) and sun and sea too! Takes in Galle, Yala National Park, Bandarawela and nearby Ella, and one of the island's best beaches.

Like all our family trips, this is a private tour (not group) with a carefully-designed itinerary to suit different ages. It can also be taken as private tour for two.

Day 1 (typically Saturday): Fly from the UK to Colombo with a choice of airports including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. If you don't live in the UK, we may be able to arrange flights for you, or you can book this family adventure holiday excluding flights.

Day 2
You'll be picked up at the airport by one of our drivers and driven south on the new expressway (it goes through the country's lush green interior – watch out of the window for wildlife and birds like peacocks) to historic Galle and into the hills nearby. Time to settle into your intimate boutique inn and enjoy the pool. Watch out for the monkeys! Usually langurs in these parts.

Day 3 breakfast (meals included)
Head into Galle. One of our local guides will take you to visit the old British market and then into one of the best preserved forts in the world. It is truly lovely with interesting Dutch and British buildings. You can walk around most of the fort on the ramparts (if there is a cricket match on at Galle's famous stadium, you can even see it from the ramparts!). Later on today, you'll head to a lake where you'll take a boat trip around little islands. Visit a local temple and a cinnamon smallholding. As the day cools, you may see some beautiful birds on the lake.

Day 4 breakfast
Pack up at leisure. Your driver will take you near Yala National Park, famous for the highest density of leopards in the world. You'll arrive at a rustic resort in a lovely spot, time to settle in and enjoy the pool. You can choose to have dinner at the resort or your driver can take you to a little restaurant we like to support.

Day 5 breakfast, lunch
Up early to explore Yala National Park! In the morning, you should see spotted deer, crocodiles, elephants (from a jeep –it is not safe to walk except in designated areas, these animals are wild) and later on, look out for lazy leopards. The day will be paced to your family so if you've seen a lot of animals earlier in the day and it is hot, you can choose to cool off by the pool. Or you can stay in the park till it gets dark. It's up to you!

"Amazing holiday for all of us (middle-aged adults with 11, 5-6 and 3 yrs olds) - perfect for our interests which are: walking, sightseeing, photography, trains, cycling, travel and adventure, cultural experience, swimming/snorkelling, history, seeing how other people live, trying different food and learning how to cook it. Perfect relaxing but adventurous and very varied holiday, excellent experience"
– Dr Robert Lambourn
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Day 6 breakfast, lunch, dinner
Time to pack up. Then your driver will take you Bandarawela. This charming market town is in the lower end of the hill country (so not quite as chilly as the rest of it!). You'll drive through spectacular scenery, and stop at the legendary Rawana waterfalls. You'll arrive in time for a welcome lunch at a spacious private home where you will enjoy warm hospitality. Settle into your room/s (with ensuite bathrooms) and enjoy the beautiful garden; it even has roses! Watch out for the cheeky monkeys though, their favourite pastime is to sit in your hosts' avocado tree and throw avocados at their guests!

Day 7 breakfast, dinner
One of our expert local guides will take you around the hidden part of Bandarawela. You'll walk around smallholdings – the vegetables and fruit grown in this area are exotic for Sri Lanka (carrots and cauliflowers, not pineapples). You'll also get a different view of a tea estate, not only will you get insight into what happens from leaf to your pot back at home, you'll see how the workers live and meet the young children. This evening, you're welcome to help make dinner!

"Full of variety...we had great opportunities to see and experience the real Sri Lanka"
– Janette Webber, West Sussex
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Day 8 breakfast, dinner
Today, you'll take the train to Demodara. This is a historic journey in more than one sense of the word – not only does this train line wind through the hilliest terrain, it is one of the few that runs the British Tyer's Tablet system, dating back to the late 1800s. The 'Demodara loop' is considered a feat of British engineering. Your driver will meet you there, then drive you to Ella where you'll climb Little Adam's Peak (this is a relatively easy walk, rather than a strenuous climb) for spectacular views.

Day 9 breakfast
Time for some sun and sea. Your driver will take you to the east coast, where you will arrive at Passikudah Bay. Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka (certainly one with calmer waters), it is home to the Maalu Maalu resort. It is a modern boutique beach resort inspired by the design of a traditional Sri Lankan fishing village. It is fittingly named too – 'maalu' is the Sinhala word for fish and 'maalu maalu' is the cry of fishermen selling their day's catch. Settle into your family suite (for families of 4) or room/s and have a swim in the infinity pool or in the sea; the water is lovely and warm and calm. We also use Anilana resort Passikudah is the best part of Sri Lanka for a beach stay from March to October (if travelling at other times of the year, we can customise the itinerary so you can enjoy a west-coast beach).

Day 10 breakfast
At leisure to enjoy the pool or beach. If you'd like to go snorkelling, it's easy to arrange at the hotel (pay locally). You could go out on a local boat (private experience for up to 6 people), or on a sailing catamaran if it's in the area (join-in experience).

Day 11 breakfast
At leisure.

Day 12 breakfast
Day at leisure or your driver can take you to the nearby town of Batticaloa. The name is derived from the Portuguese and the town's fort was an important bastion on the eastern coast during the time of their rule. However, it wasn't strong enough: it was the first fort to be captured by the Dutch and was also used by the British. The fort is tiny, it's a short walk around the well-preserved ramparts. The town is a good place for a local lunch, where the food will be different to the parts of Sri Lanka you've visited so far.


Day 13 breakfast
Pack up to move to Colombo on the west coast. This is a long drive (though fortunately on one of the new roads). Your driver will be happy to drop you at a train station in the centre of the country if you prefer to vary the journey (the train isn't faster, just different and an extra adventure, as long as not busy). The train will arrive into the station...wait for it...Colombo Fort! In Colombo, you'll be staying in a small boutique hotel, Lake Lodge in the greener (yet central) part of this small city.

Day 14 breakfast
Guided tour to look around 'Slave Island' and the fort. Colombo's fort was traditionally the administrative capital (although this has now moved, the fort is still a very important place). Then some free time: explore more with our handy notes, or you may wish to do some shopping (these days Sri Lanka makes many of the clothes available on UK high streets, and it's possible to buy them at better prices). In the evening, you could go back to the fort and have dinner in the oldest building, the recently-restored Old Dutch Hospital. It is home to new cafés and restaurants like Ministry of Crab, centered around the country's high-quality crabs, previously only exported to Singapore. Garlic crab, pepper crab, chilli crab, anyone? You may even see someone famous, as the restaurant is part-owned by one of Sri Lanka's national cricketers.


Day 13 breakfast
Pack up. Your driver will take you to Sigiriya rock in the centre of the country. The 'Lion Rock' is thought to have been a much older (5th century AD) type of fort and you can see the rock from miles around. You'll be staying at a comfortable small hotel with lovely tropical gardens and a pool, (ask us if you would like a more expensive option to round off your trip). On your way you have the option of stopping at the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO heritage site which includes a famous rock temple, with four statues of the Buddha carved in the granite. There is an opportunity to cycle around the ruins on the day (local bikes!).

Day 14 breakfast
Early start to climb Sigiriya. The climb to the top can even be done with young children, as you can take it at your own pace. Watch out for the macaques! You can forgo the climb if you prefer, it is an adventure to remember, however, the gardens and the museum are worth a visit on their own. You can read about climbing Sigiriya in this article on our website.
Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the pool on your last day. If you are feeling more active, your driver will be happy to take you to Minneriya National Park, a great place to see wild elephants. Just let him/our local office know beforehand and they can arrange an extra safari for you.

Day 15 (typically Saturday) breakfast
Time to say goodbye to Sri Lanka. You'll be driven to the airport for your flight back.

This 15-day family adventure holiday costs from £1,925 per person and £1,425 per child under 12 including international flights from the UK to Colombo, accommodation and meals as listed, activities/excursions and time with guides and local people, and a private chauffeur-driven vehicle throughout the tour.

Excluding flights, this tour costs £1,375 per person and £1,030 per child under 12. Please allow approximately £50pp for entrance fees payable on the ground.

This trip can also be taken as a private tour for two including flights from £2,225 per person, or excluding flights from £1,675 per person.

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taken by Jody Smith
elephants in sri lanka
ella gap
elephants in sri lanka
boutique beach
boutique beach
boutique beach
Large leopard photo: Fred Barrington.
Small photos: Monkey by Jody Smith; Elephant by Marjorie Socha; Jeep in Yala and Adam's Peak by Ruth Brannvall; Anilana by Sanjaya Bandara.