Northern Sri Lanka, Wildlife and beach tour

A unique itinerary to Northern Sri Lanka featuring wildlife safaris, cultural insights and glorious beaches. Spend lazy days experiencing true Sri Lankan hospitality at the unique Mudhouse in Anamaduwa, go on a safari at Wilpattu National Park, see the highlights of Jaffna and go island hopping to the remote easterly islands.
Head east to Trincomalee for a tour of the historic war sites, explore the Dutch Fort, go whale watching, before relaxing at the fabulous Jungle Beach Resort.

Touring Style - a private tour with your own driver who also acts as your guide.

Best time for this tour: April to September.

Prices are seasonal, include hotels, breakfast, professional touring and transfers. Starts from:

GBP 1390 per person sharing a twin room, Standard Class Hotels

GBP 1535 per person sharing a twin room, Superior Class Hotels

GBP 1747 per person sharing a twin room, Deluxe Class Hotels.

International and domestic airfares are extra..

Northern Sri Lanka, Wildlife and beach tour at a glance
  • Day 1: Fly to Colombo
  • Day 2: Arrival Colombo, transfer to Anamaduwa
  • Day 3: Anamaduwa
  • Day 4: Wilpattu National Park
  • Day 5: Anuradhapura touring
  • Day 6: Anuradhapura to Jaffna
  • Day 7: Jaffna touring
  • Day 8: Island Hopping
  • Day 9: Jaffna to Trincomalee
  • Day 10: Whale and Dolphin watching
  • Day 11: Go on a snorkelling trip to Pigeon Island
  • Day 12: Set out on a private catamaran and sail towards spectacular private coves
  • Day 13: Bike through Batticaloa
  • Day 14 Departure
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Day 1: Fly to Colombo

Depart with your choice of airline to Colombo.

 

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Day 2: Arrival Colombo and travel to Anamaduwa

You will be met at the airport for a private transfer to Anamaduwa. Stay at The Mudhouse, a forest retreat located on the outskirts of a small village. This laid-back lodge offers idyllic days in beautiful surroundings. Swim in the jungle lakes, take a birdwatching trip, or simply relax and enjoy Sri Lankan hospitality in this rural region.

Local cycles are provided free of charge for the duration of your stay to explore The Mudhouse. Guided trails around sleepy village lanes are also offered

Distance and journey time: 110 km, 2.30 hrs

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Day 3: Anamaduwa

After an early morning cup of tea in your hut, start the day with a bird watching trip. The various lakes are often hotspots for a flurry of colourful specimens, but it can be just exciting trying to catch a quick glimpse of the smaller species hiding in the forest cover. The walk tends to last for an hour or two, and you will return for a shower followed by a hearty breakfast.

After breakfast, cycle or take a tuk-tuk to the Paramakanda Temple, situated just 2 km from The Mudhouse. The temple is the location for large festivals during the religious celebrations of Wesak and Posson. During this time hundreds of pilgrims visit throughout the day and night. This can be quite a special spectacle, although the temple will sometimes make noise throughout the night on such celebratory occasions!

The Mudhouse serves traditional village cuisine cooked the traditional way – with clay pots and firewood hearths. Join a Cooking lesson in the afternoon, Much of the produce used is harvested fresh from the farm and delivered directly to the kitchen. You can discover how to prepare some of the delicious local recipes from scratch. The lessons usually comprise of teaching whatever is on the menu for that given day, but if there are any dishes you would like to learn, just ask. The lessons are informal and fun and conducted by our two main cooks and the rest of the kitchen team.

Overnight, The Mudhouse.  

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Day 4: Travel to Wilpattu and Anuradhapura

Depart with your private driver cum guide for the transfer to Wilpattu National Park.

This is the land haunted by big cats of the island paradise. Recording a vast number of Sri Lankan Leopards, Wilpattu National Park has been named due to 'Willus' (Natural Lakes) studded throughout the park. Apart from big cats and precious flora, the park is well known for a healthy population of elephant, sloth bear, spotted deer, mongoose, and water buffalo.

After the safari, drive to Anuradhapura.

Wilpattu National Park to Anuradhapura: 56 km, 1.30 hrs each way

Overnight in Anuradhapura.

Distance and journey time: 82 km, 2 hrs

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Day 5: Anuradhapura touring

Visit Anuradhapura's ancient ruins by bike or on foot. 

Ancient cities don’t get much bigger than Anuradhapura, and few capitals around the world have ever been as long-lasting. Dating back to the fourth century BC, Anuradhapura was the spiritual and secular capital of the island for well over a millennium. At its height, the city was dotted with monasteries and home to over 10,000 monks, many of these monasteries and colossal dagobas can still be seen today. The story of Anuradhapura can be mystic at times, and visitors to the sacred site have been said to feel stillness in time.

Anuradhapura consists of more than a dozen archaeological sites. Typically, one moves around from site to site either by bike or inside the vehicle. The most important/significant sites are the 3 largest man mad stupas in Sri Lanka, which were – at the time of the pyramids of Egypt – the second largest man-made structures in the world. Then Sri Maha Bodhi is a Sacred Fig said to be the southern branch of the tree under which Lord Buddha was enlightened. .

Overnight in Anuradhapura. 

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Day 6: Travel to Jaffna

Head for the historic city of Jaffna the capital of Sri Lanka's Northern provinces. This city served as the power-base of the Jaffna Kingdom of the 13th-17th centuries and in later years came under the influence of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British.

From Anuradhapura, head north to Kilinochchi which served as the Tamil Tiger’s de facto capital during the war. Pass through Elephant Pass Causeway and over the newly built Sanguppidy Bridge, which connects the Jaffna Peninsula with the mainland. Drive along the coast of the Jaffna Lagoon, look out for the water birds here.

Afternoon, make a visit to the colourful Jaffna Market.

Overnight in Jaffna.

Distance and journey time: 198 km, 3.30 hrs

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Day 7: Jaffna touring

Start your day with a visit to the ruins of Jaffna Palace, originally built by a Tamil king around 100 AD, and home to centuries of Jaffna’s ruling elite, the ruins are still impressive.

Continue to Point Pedro, the northernmost point on Sri Lanka that houses many pre-Colonial Hindu temples and Portuguese Catholic churches. Ramshackle Point Pedro is the Jaffna peninsula’s second town; was hit hard by the 2004 tsunami. Visit a curious stone tollgate that locals claim dates from the Dutch period, explore the Point Pedro Lighthouse, beyond which the fishermen’s beach becomes wider. From of Munai Beach, you can see some attractive views of Vadamaraadchi Lagoon. Further south is the much revered Valipura Kovil. Its gopuram is painted in an unusually restrained colour palette and the temple interior has some very pretty Krishnas. It’s famous for the boisterous, recently revived water-cutting festival in October, which attracts thousands of pilgrims.

Continue to the Keerimalai springs, stopping en route at the Nilavarai ‘bottomless’ well. One of the impressive historic waterworks visible across Sri Lanka, this deep natural well is a spiritually significant site. Visit the Keerimalai hot springs where legend has it the mythical sage 'Nagula Muni', born with the face of a mongoose, meditated and bathed in the springs to turn his face into a human one. The waters have a high mineral content have many health benefits. Continue to visit the ancient Buddhist burial site of Kantharodai and Jaffna Fort.

Built-in 1618 when the Portuguese took the city, the fort's impressive walls are largely intact. This fort covers the area of 22 acres and is considered as the second largest fort in Sri Lanka. Jaffna Fort was constructed with black corals and was captured by Dutch in 1658 and then came under British rule in 1795. During the Dutch ruling time, this fort went through major reconstruction and it was completed in 1680. The Fort is today mentioned as a Dutch Fort.

Visit Nallur temple, the largest and most important Hindu temple in the area.

Overnight in Jaffna.

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Day 8: Jaffna Islands

The Jaffna islands are fascinating to explore. Drive to Punkudutivu Pier (one hour from Jaffna) and take the 0900 hrs ferry operated by the Sri Lankan Navy to the island of Delft.  Be prepared for an adventurous and at times choppy, ferry ride packed with villagers. The journey takes one hour, arriving at 1000 at Delft.

Delft spans across 4,700 hectares and is scattered with Palmyra palm, coconut trees, and extensive plains where wild horses graze. This charming island has narrow roadways lined with small village homes, old churches, the Delft post office, a hospital and schools. You will visit the ruins of the 17C Portuguese Fort, the Baobab tree and the old stables. Watch the herds of wild horses on the grassy plains.

The return ferry from Delft is daily at 14:30. The rest of the afternoon is free.

Instead of Delft, Nainativu Island is easier to access and is home to the ancient Nagadeepa Buddhist temple and the Naga Pooshani Ambal Hindu temple.

Overnight in Jaffna. 

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Day 9: Jaffna to Trincomalee

Take a scenic drive from Jaffna to Trincomalee with excellent opportunities for bird watching on the way. Trincomalee, the city with a rich history houses one of the best natural deep-water ports in the world.Before arriving into Trincomalee, visit the Kanniya Hot Wells. In Trincomalee, you will explore the old town, Marble Beach and Konewaram Temple and the former British Naval Base and Museum. 

Relax at the Jungle Beach Resort, a stunning boutique hotel on a secluded beach.

Distance and journey time: 235 km, 4 hrs

 

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Day 10: Whale and Dolphin Watching trip

Early morning leave for your whale watching experience.
The Whale watching season on the East coast of Sri Lanka runs between February to May when the annual migration brings these incredible mammals to the region. Sri Lanka is now ranked amongst the top locations in the world to see Blue Whales & Sperm Whales and you will have the opportunity to see both; dolphins (mainly Spinner) are also regularly seen. In addition to whales and dolphins, flying fish and occasionally turtles can also be seen from the observation deck of your boat.

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Day 11 - 13 - Beach

Go on a snorkelling trip to Pigeon Island. Pigeon Island, named after the Blue Rock Pigeon that breed there is just a short boat ride from Nilaveli. The islands are surrounded by coral reefs and soft coral which are home to many different types of fish, including Blacktip Reef Shark, and several species of endangered marine turtle, including Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley.

OR

Set out on a private catamaran and sail towards spectacular private coves where you can enjoy a spot of snorkelling through the colourful reefs. 

OR

Bike through Batticaloa
Batticaloa is a coastal town which lies just south of Pasikudah, away from the main tourist trail. A visit to Batticaloa is an insight into the authentic Sri Lankan lifestyle. The main industries here are fishing and handloom weaving. 

This cycling tour takes place with a local guide begins by winding through the narrow lanes until you reach a multicoloured Shiva temple, a popular place of worship for the local Hindu community. After that, explore an organic farm before cycling for several kilometres out towards the ocean, stopping on the way to greet local fishermen and see their catch of the day, be it tuna or even a shark. Have a small refreshment stop on the sandy beach before heading to a handloom factory to see one of the region’s most historic traditions in practice – watching the vibrant spools of thread be spun into sarongs and saris. To finish the tour, join a local family for a delicious rice and curry feast in the shade of their beautiful garden.

Day 14: Departure

Take the air taxi for the short hop to Colombo. Connect with your onward flight to London.

For a truly relaxing trip, consider combining your holiday with a magical extension to an island retreat in the Maldives.

 

 

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Highlights

Anuradhapura: World Heritage Site and Sacred City

One of the cornerstones of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, the city is also one of the most sacred in the Buddhist world.

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Jaffna: Hindu tradition, art and culture

The Jaffna Peninsula, and its town, Yaalpaanam, are located at Sri Lanka’s northern tip. It is an area both culturally fascinating, and of outstanding natural beauty.

Read more

Trincomalee: Sitting on one the world’s finest natural harbours

Set beside one of the world’s finest natural harbours, Trincomalee, or Trinco, is both culturally significant, believed to be the site of historic Gokana in the Hindu Great Chronicle, or Mahavamsa, and wonderfully beautiful.

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Wilpattu National Park

The park, one of Sri Lanka’s most environmentally important protected areas is formed of a unique ecosystem of interconnected lakes (villus) set amid grassy plains within a scrub jungle landscape, and supports a wide variety of native flora and fauna.

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Accommodation

Anuradhapura, Luxury Boutique
Ulagalla Resort

Set idyllically upon the lush green estate of a former Anuradhapura noble family, this unique and very special boutique property is run on ecological principles, recycling water by reverse osmosis, and generating much of the energy it uses from its own solar farm.

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Anamaduwa, Eco village
The Mudhouse

Set idyllically among jungle lakes, this rural eco-property is located at the edge of an indigenous village.

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Jaffna, Standard Class
Jetwing Jaffna Hotel

Located on 40 perches of land in the heart of the town, the stunning seven storey building offers a panoramic view of Jaffna and its surroundings.

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Trincomalee, Luxury Boutique
Jungle Beach

In an idyllic rain forest setting, where the jungle meets the beach, the property offers the best of both worlds.

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