Sri Lanka Culture, Nature and Wildlife Round Island Discovery

A comprehensive tour through Sri Lanka exploring World Heritage Sites, ancient kingdoms and pay homage at the Cradle of Buddhism. Take a nostalgic train ride through some of the most scenic spots in Sri Lanka and enjoy the crisp cool climate as you wander through sprawling tea plantations.
Visit the National Parks at Yala, Udawalawe and Wilpattu, all home to an extraordinary range of wildlife with the world’s highest density of leopards and elephants. Enjoy a stunning range of river and sea activities and take in a spot of whale watching.

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

Best time for this tour: December to April.

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

GBP 1688 per person sharing a twin room, Standard Class Hotels

GBP 2360 per person sharing a twin room, Superior Class Hotels

GBP 3590 per person sharing a twin room, Deluxe Class Hotels.

International airfares are extra..

  • Visit World Heritage Sites of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Dambulla Cave Temple, Polonnaruwa
  • Stunning landscape from dramatic hills, waterfalls to idyllic coastal beaches
  • Wildlife safaris at Yala, Udawalawe and Minneriya
Sri Lanka Culture, Nature and Wildlife Round Island Discovery at a glance
  • Day 1: Depart by flight to Colombo
  • Day 2: Arrival
  • Day 3: Afternoon safari at Wilpattu National Park
  • Day 4: Anuradhapura ancient ruins and temples
  • Day 5: Mihintale, cradle of Buddhism, Minneriya National Park
  • Day 6: Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Polonnaruwa
  • Day 7: Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Day 8: Elephant Orphanage and Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
  • Day 9: Scenic train ride to Nanu Oya and Nuwara Eliya
  • Day 10: Horton Plains and World's End
  • Day 11: Scenic train ride to Ella and Tea Plantations
  • Day 12: Udawalawe National Park
  • Day 13: Travel to Yala National Park.
  • Day 14: Yala National Park safari and Bundala National Park
  • Day 15: Travel to Mirissa.
  • Day 16: Whale and Dolphin watching in Mirissa. Galle Fort tour
  • Day 17: Galle to Balapitiya for boat safari at Madu River.
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Day 1: Depart by flight to Colombo

Depart with your choice of airline to Colombo.

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Day 2: Arrival

You will be met and assisted on arrival at the airport by your driver cum guide who will be with you for your entire holiday. Transfer to the Wallawwa for overnight. The Wallawwa is a 18 bedroom beautifully renovated country house hotel set amongst tropical gardens and just 15 minutes from Colombo airport or 30 minutes from downtown Colombo. With its signature Z Spa, wonderful Verandah restaurant with its own organic gardens, oversized suites and resplendent gardens the boutique hotel has become a trusted favourite for its levels of service, food and laid back atmosphere.

Distance and journey time: 8 km, approx 20 mins

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Day 3: Wilpattu National Park safari

Drive north to Wilpattu National Park for an afternoon safari.
This is the land haunted by big cats. 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.

Proceed to Anuradhapura for overnight. ( we recommend an overnight at Leopard Trails Tented Safaris for a stay in the Park itself)

Distance and journey times:

Wallawwa to Wilpattu National Park: 170 km, 4 hrs

Wilpattu National Park to Anuradhapura: 56 km, approx 1.30 hrs

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Day 4: Anuradhapura ancient ruins and temples

Anuradhapura, one of the greatest and oldest civilisations in the world starring 113 kings and spanning over 1300 years in its peak, was the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. It is an extensive complex of monasteries, temples, buildings and bathing pools, remarkably well-preserved. The main historical sites here include the Mahavihara (the first monastery), which served as the seat of Theravada Buddhism, the Thuparamaya (built by King Devanam Piyatissa in 250 BC) and the Ruwanwelisaya.

One of Anuradhapura's main attraction is the sacred, ancient Bo tree, which originally came from a branch of the Bo tree in Buddha Gaya – the tree under which Lord Buddha sat and gained enlightenment.

Anuradhapura can be explored on foot or by bike. 

Overnight in Anuradhapura.

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Day 5: Cradle of Buddhism, Mihintale / Minneriya National Park.

In the morning transfer from Anuradhapura to Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Walk past a massive cooling fountain and head towards the renowned staircase of the temple. Feel the coolness of granite slabs as you shift from the ruins of a hospital to Kantaka Stupa built in the 1st century B.C. Step into the courtyard and the refractory. See the Maha Seya, the main Dagoba, and Aradhana Gala, where you can have a spectacular view of Anuradhapura

Drive south to Minneriya National Park. Spread over 8800 hectares, this is a sanctuary for elephants. Minneriya is home to herds of deer and ample birdlife, but its spotlight remains between swaying trunks and flapping ears. Watch carefully as herds of elephants roll on the grass-covered banks to feed on tender shoots.

Transfer from Minneriya to Sigiriya. Overnight in Sigiriya

Distance and driving time:

Anuradhapura to Mihintale - 22 km, 40 mins.

Mihintale to Minneriya National Park: 62 km, approx 1.30 hrs

Minneriya to Sigiriya: 30 km, approx 35 mins.

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Day 6: Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Polonnaruwa

Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, is built on top of a huge boulder in the 5th century. A palace. A rock fortress. The hidden castle of King Kasyapa.
Sigiriya consists of 1200 steps. The first part of the visit is a leisurely walk through the pleasure gardens. Then you start to climb. There are two areas where you can take a break on the way up. The entire duration of the experience takes approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on the speed at which you want to climb

Afternoon transfer from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa.
Polonnaruwa is the second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country once more under a local leader. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archaeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom’s first rulers.

Polonnaruwa is divided into 4 areas. The visit starts with the Kings Palace and Baths. We then visit 3 different tooth relic temples and then proceed to the stupas. The visit ends on the far western side of the complex where you will see one of the most astonishing Buddha rock carvings in Sri Lanka. One can walk, bike or drive between locations.

Overnight in Sigiriya.

Distance and journey time: 58 km, approx 1.30 hrs each way

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Day 7: Dambulla Cave Temple and Kandy

In the morning visit Dambulla Cave Temple to see the brightly painted murals. 

The Dambulla Cave Temples are the largest and best-preserved rock cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, towering 160 m over the surrounding plains with more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. The site is of interest to anyone that loves historic art, as five of the caves contain ancient statues and paintings related to and depicting Lord Buddha and his life.

The climb from the base is not strenuous – and can be done at a leisurely pace. It takes approximately 30 minutes. Your guide will buy your entrance fee and climb with you. There are approximately 200 steps. The best time to climb is in the early morning or the late afternoon to avoid the heat. You will need to cover your knees and shoulders – and access the inner chambers barefoot or with socks

Travel on to Kandy, the World Heritage Site and last royal capital of Sri Lankan kings.
Overnight in Kandy.

Distance and journey times:

Sigiriya to Dambulla: 9 km, approx 20 mins.

Dambulla to Kandy, approx 3 hrs 

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Day 8: Elephant Orphanage and Peradeniya Botanical Gardens

Visit the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawella. Afterwards, transfer to Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. First developed as a pleasure garden under royalty and later harmonised by the British, the Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya is a 147-acre bliss of an experience, passing well- tended lawns, pavilions, and an octagon conservatory. Do not miss the orchid house and giant Java fig tree. 

Overnight in Kandy.

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Day 9: Scenic train ride to Nanu Oya and Nuwara Eliya

In the morning transfer to Kandy train station for the 0845 train ride to Nanu Oya. This is a scenic 4-hour journey not to be missed. On arrival at Nanu Oya, meet your driver and transfer to your hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
Misty steep roads, twisting through lush green blankets of tea bushes in a cool climate remind visitors that they are within the range of the renowned British colonial retreat,
A walk through the green grass and red-brick walls presents breath-taking views of a buzzing countryside hamlet. Drive through the green valleys of the hill country pierced by endless waterfalls and dotted by tea pluckers draped in bright coloured saris.

Overnight in Nuwara Eliya.

Distance and journey times:

Kandy to Nanu Oya by train: 4.00 hrs

Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya: approx 15 mins.

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Day 10: Horton Plains and World's End.

Early in the morning transfer to Horton Plains.
Horton Plains, UNESCO World Heritage Site, trekking paradise and eco-tourism hideout in the heart of the isle, painted with unending stretches of green pastures marks one of the healthiest wet montane evergreen forests in Sri Lanka. With an altitude above 7000ft, the plateau sweeps to a robust 3169 hectares sheltering flora and fauna varieties that may be found nowhere else on earth. You may also gaze down World's End, a head-spinning 3700ft drop towards the Southern end or drive carefully through herds of sambar deer.

Overnight in Nuwara Eliya.
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Day 11: Scenic train to Ella and Tea Plantation tour

Take the 09.30 hr scenic train to Ella. This will be 4-hour scenic train journey. Upon arriving at Ella railway station, you will be transferred to your hotel for overnight. A quaint hillside village offering the most amazing view in all of Sri Lanka, Ella is ideal for leisurely treks.

Visit a Tea Factory for a fascinating tour.

This evening, take a short 30 minutes walk up Little Adam's Peak for sunset.  

Overnight in Ella.

Nanu Oya to Ella by train: 4 hr

Ella train station to hotel: approx 5 mins.

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Day 12: Udawalawe National Park

Drive to Udawalawe National Park.
Arrive in time for the noon feeding time at the Elephant Transit Home established to rehabilitate orphaned elephant calves for ultimate release back into the wild.
Late afternoon enjoy a safari at the Udawalawe National Park. Marked by relatively large herds of elephants, the national park proves to be one of the best places one could observe them in their natural habitat. Hop into a safari jeep and head into the park, to observe the herd of giants, spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, water buffalo, and jackal.

Overnight in Udawalawe National Park.

Distance and journey time: 120 km, approx 3.30 hrs

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Day 13: Drive to Yala National Park

Rise early in the morning for a game drive before heading to Yala National Park. .

Overnight at Yala National Park.

Distance and journey time: 85 km, approx 2.30 hrs

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Day 14: Safaris at Yala National Park

Enjoy a morning and afternoon safari at Yala National Park.
Spreading into a vast 1259 km. Yala is the heartland of wildlife in Sri Lanka. There are herds of elephant, sloth bear, spotted deer, jackal, extensively populated birdlife as well as the highest density of leopards in the world.

Overnight in Yala.

 

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Day 15: Dickwella and Mirissa

Leave for a morning safari at Bundala National Park.With its lagoons, reservoirs, and salt pans, Bundala National Park offers an oasis for all kinds of birds extending from bee-eaters to greater flamingos, the latter recording over 2000 in number at a time.

Continue to Mirissa. Mirissa beach is located close to the southern-most part of the island and consists of beautiful beaches. Mirissa is also renowned as a prime location for whale and dolphin watching. The beach also provides ample opportunities for deep sea diving, snorkelling, and river trips. Enroute visit Hunmanaya (Blow Hole) in Dickwella.

Overnight at Number One Mirissa..

Distance and journey times:

Yala National Park to Bundala National Park: 40 km, approx 1.30 hrs

Bundala National Park to Mirissa: 102 km, approx 2.30 hrs

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Day 16: Whale and Dolphin watching in Mirissa

Early in the morning join in a Whale watching excursion. 

Transfer from Mirissa to Galle, the southern capital where classic Dutch architecture meets a tropical setting. Leave with your guide for an depth Fort tour. Walk the Dutch-haunted streets listening to the creaks of wooden saloon doors and observe how European architecture mingles with South Asian traditions. Flanking the old gate is the Zwart Bastion and the lighthouse standing 18 feet in its glory next to the Point Utrecht Bastion. This Dutch bliss is painted with streets that spread in a rectangular grid pattern pierced with houses carrying Dutch colonial style verandas. Overnight in Galle.

Distance and journey time: 39 km, approx 1 hr

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Day 17: Galle to Balapitiya for boat safari on the Madu River

In the morning transfer from Galle to Balapitiya for a boat safari at Madu River.
Leave the Madu River, the lifeline of Balapitiya and head towards Kotu Duwa, the small island housing a temple that dates back to ancient Sinhalese kings. Or sail through tunnels of shady mangroves swaying alongside Madu River to witness the tranquillity of this bio-diversity hot spot which boasts of reptiles, molluscs and over 70 species of freshwater fish. Balapitiya has also become a household name in the minds of bird watchers ensuring a thrilling offshore experience.
On completion of the boat ride, proceed to your chosen beach resort / or a short break in the Maldives.

Distance and journey time: 

Galle to Balapitiya: 47 km, approx 1.10 hrs

Balapitiya to Bentota Beach: 19 km, approx 20 mins

 

Not quite right or still need some more inspiration? Please get in touch. We welcome your questions. We're here to help!

Highlights

Adam's Peak: Sri Lanka's holy mountain

Adam’s Peak, rising over 7000ft above the lush green hill country of south west Sri Lanka is shrouded not only in cloud but legend, and deep religious belief.

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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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Bentota: south coast beach

Located on the island’s south-west coast Bentota offers an exotic variety of landscapes, from the palm-shaded beach to tranquil river to the lush tropical vegetation of the lagoon, rich in birdlife.

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Bundala National Park: Abundant birdlife

Fringed by a 20km strip of dunes, lagoons and waterways on the south coast between Kirinda and Hambantota, the national park is a stunning, wildlife-rich wetland open the year round.

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Colombo: rich colonial heritage

Sri Lanka’s capital is a rich cultural mix of building traditions, religions, cuisines – and not least people.

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Dambulla Rock Temple: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Set 100m above the plain north of Kandy, the UNESCO site, a centre of pilgrimage for both Hindu and Buddhist for more than 22 centuries, houses a wondrous array of Buddhist devotional art from throughout the ages.

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Ella: stunning hill country

Set along a single street meandering down a gentle slope, the village is a delightful piece of colonial era England in the middle of Sri Lanka’s stunning hill country.

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Galle: Interesting and Charming

Set within a chain of imposing, 17th Century bastions on Sri Lanka’s south western tip, Galle Fort, the city’s old Dutch quarter, is a wonderfully preserved, historically important UNESCO site l

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Horton Plains National Park: The Central Highlands

Formed of a an eerily silent plateau over 2000m above sea level, the diverse landscape of the Horton Plains National Park is mirrored by the fabulous variety of endemic trees, flowering plants and wildlife.

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Kandy: Lake town and Temple of the Tooth

One of the most sacred of Buddhist places, and final capital of the Sinhalese kings, UNESCO listed Kandy is also one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful cities.

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Mihintale: Cradle of Buddhism

Revered as the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Mihintale is also one of the most magically beautiful.

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Minneriya National Park: A wildlife sanctuary

Located north of Kandy, and composed of scrub, forest and wetlands, the national park is dominated by the ancient Minneriya Tank, and home to a fabulous array of wildlife.

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Mirissa: Whale Watching and Dolphins

Although whales and dolphins may be observed in the glittering blue waters off Sri Lanka’s south, east and west coasts, the most reliable location is Dondra Point, best accessed from Galle, Hikkaduwa, and Mirissa in the south west.

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Nuwara Eliya: Tea Country

Set picturesquely south of Kandy among rolling hills of tea, the colonial era hill station is a delightful fusion of timeless Sri Lankan, and British, tradition.

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Polonnaruwa: Ancient City

Set in a magical forested park, and defended by a system of moats, the magnificent walled city dates from the 11th Century.

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Sigiriya: The Lion Rock

Set 200m above a forested plain, the UNESCO site, a monument to patricide and paranoia, represents an astonishing feat of engineering and construction dating 1500 years

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Udawalawe National Park: Elephant country

Located in the south of the country, with the massive Uda Walawe Reservoir at its centre, the lightly vegetated, savannah-like park is an ideal game-watching location.

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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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Yala National Park: Leopard Country

Yala National Park, located in the south east of the country is remarkable for its variety of habitat, and unique eco-system regulated by the north-east monsoon.

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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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Bentota, Boutique
Club Villa Bentota

Set idyllically on the Indian Ocean, this is a relaxing, friendly boutique property with a personal touch.

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Ella, Boutique
98 Acres Resort & Spa

Located in Sri Lanka’s scenic hill country, the resort and spa is set within a picture perfect tea estate in Ella, Bandarawela, with stunning panoramic vistas across the lush green terraces.

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Galle, Luxury Boutique
The Fort Printers

Located within the 16th Century UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle Fort, The Fort Printers is a former mansion dating to the Dutch colonial period, its distinctive high ceilings and large windows being added during the British administration.

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Kandy, Boutique
The Kandy House

Set within lush, tropical gardens, the palatial ancestral villa, dating to 1804, and held at the time to be ‘an act of defiant decadence’ stands today a breath-taking fusion of 19th and 21st Century luxury and style.

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Kandy, Luxury Boutique
Theva Residency

Located in a tranquil position among the foothills of the Hantana range, the property offers commanding views over Kandy to the surrounding mountains.

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Kandy, Luxury Boutique
The Elephant Stables

The boutique property’s accommodation is arranged across just 7 guestrooms and suites, retaining an authentic colonial era ambience, with some wonderfully tasteful modern accents

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Kandy, Superior Class
Cinnamon Citadel

Located on a picturesque bend of the Mahaweli River, against a backdrop of green, mist shrouded mountains, the hotel is an oasis of elegance and calm.

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Kotugoda, Boutique
The Wallawwa

Located conveniently 15 minutes from Bandaranaike International Airport, and less than an hour by road from Negombo Beach, and the beating heart of Colombo, this serenely beautiful boutique hotel presents an ideal introduction, or farewell, to your Sri Lanka experience

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Mirissa, Boutique
NUMBER ONE MIRISSA

A charming, comfortable and welcoming boutique property of just 7 guestrooms

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Nuwara Eliya, Unique Hotel
Tea Factory

Located high in Sri Lanka’s scenic hill country, the converted property looks out over wide vistas of tea terraces, lush green in colour, mist shrouded and magical.

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Nuwara Eliya, Superior Class
The Grand Hotel

Located almost 6000ft up in Sri Lanka’s central highlands, the former colonial era property is set in its own exquisite gardens within a fold of the tranquil, mist shrouded hills of Nuwara Eliya.

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Sigiriya, Luxury Eco Resort
Jetwing Vil Uyana

Located within a wetland system on its own nature reserve, the property offers a tranquil setting for both wildlife and guests, together with stunning views of the fabulous Sigiriya Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Sigiriya, Superior Class
Aliya Resort & Spa

This cool, modernist property adopts a sincere eco-friendly policy, and harmonises naturally and serenely with its lush, green setting

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Udawalawe, Superior Class
Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort

Enjoying an idyllic setting against a backdrop of lush green hills, the hotel is 5 minutes by road from the Uda Walawe National Park, and a short walk from the excellent Ath Athuru Sevana elephant orphanage.

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Yala National Park, Speciality Lodging
Jetwing Tented Camp Yala

Set at the edge of the Yala National Park, between lush green rain forest and the glittering blue waters of the Indian Ocean, the property combines an authentic jungle camp experience,

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Yala National Park, Deluxe Class
Jetwing Yala

Located at the edge of the Yala National Park, the resort is set upon a pristine beach facing the glittering blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

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