This small group tour is an excellent introduction to the tropical island of Sri Lanka with a focus on cultural and culinary experiences. Travel from the fast-growing capital deep into the Hill Country and Cultural Triangle, tasting the island’s unique flavour at tea plantations and spice gardens, seeking out wildlife species in a national park and exploring must-visit sights.

• Colombo: 1 night
• Nuwara Eliya: 2 nights
• Kandy: 2 nights
• Dambulla: 3 nights
• Negombo: 1 night

10nights Escorted Small Group Safari
10nights Escorted Small Group Safari

Day 1: UK to Colombo Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Colombo.

Day 2: Colombo On arrival, transfer to your hotel where you will stay one night. This afternoon there will be time to relax before a welcome dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, AYU. Approx. journey time: 45 mins, 23 miles. Stay: Mövenpick Hotel Colombo (or similar). D.

Day 3: Colombo to Nuwara Eliya There’s an early start this morning for a fantastic tour through the heart of the capital. Established over two millennia ago as a trading point on the Maritime Silk Road which connected China to Europe, the city has rich and varied heritage. Today it is one of Asia’s fastest growing cities. Later, travel east towards the Hill Country and the town of Nuwara Eliya where temperatures will be cooler than they are down by the coast. Approx. journey time: 5¾ hours, 109 miles. Stay: Jetwing St. Andrew’s (or similar). B, D.

Day 4: Nuwara Eliya A leisurely start to the day is followed by a visit to the Glenloch Tea Factory for your first quintessential Sri Lankan experience. The Nuwara Eliya region of Sri Lanka sits at the heart of Sri Lanka’s historic tea producing industry, a subject you will learn more about during a tour of the plantation. This will be followed by a hands-on tea picking experience out in the fields. After lunch, continue on to Hakgala Botanical Gardens which showcases thousands of plants from Sri Lanka, Europe and the Far East. In Nuwara Eliya, view the 19th-Century architecture and see why this part of Sri Lanka is known as ‘Little England’. Stay: Jetwing St. Andrew’s (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 5: Nuwara Eliya to Kandy Often travelling between destinations is part of the adventure and this is certainly the case this morning. The group will depart from the hotel and transfer to the train station at Nanu Oya and board the train that will take you to Kandy. As you descend from the Hill Country, the train passes through rolling tea plantations and verdant forests and you’ll understand why this journey has been named as one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. Disembark in Kandy, find a spot for lunch (payable locally) and then transfer to your hotel. The most famous of Kandy’s attractions is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is said to house an ancient relic of Lord Buddha. This evening you will visit the temple before discovering local folk laws and traditions during a cultural dance show. Approx. journey time: 2½ hour drive, 62 miles/3½ hour train journey. Stay: Golden Crown, Kandy (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: Kandy Following breakfast, head out of the city and visit three of the region’s most important Buddhist temples: Gadaladeniya Vihara, Lankathilaka Vihara and Embekke Devalaya which all date back to the 14th Century. This evening, visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. These beautiful gardens are home to an extensive orchid collection. Stay: Golden Crown, Kandy (or similar). B, D.

Day 7: Kandy to Dambulla Sri Lanka is famed for its spice gardens, where many quality spices have been grown for centuries and exported far and wide throughout the world. Today, as you make your way north towards Dambulla, there’ll be the opportunity to visit one of these gardens. This is a popular experience for anyone interested in food, and in particular Sri Lankan cuisine as a curry cooking demonstration will follow the tour of the plantation. If you wish, you can get involved in the class before enjoying the dishes you helped to produce for lunch. Late this afternoon, visit the Dambulla Cave Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most incredible sights on the island with over 150 statues of Buddha and intricately-painted murals that cover the cave’s walls and roof in five of the rock’s 80 or so caves. Approx. journey time: 2½ hours, 62 miles. Stay: Jetwing Lake (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 8: Dambulla This morning you will visit another of the Cultural Triangle’s most famous sites, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Sri Lanka’s second capital still retains many of its ancient buildings including of the Royal Palace which was built in 12th Century, the well-preserved Audience Hall with its beautifully-carved elephant reliefs, and the Sacred Quadrangle which is centred on the circular Vatadage. This afternoon, head out on a game drive into Minneriya National Park, one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. If you’re travelling between the months of July and September, you’ll be able to witness one of the region’s most incredible wildlife experiences: ‘The Gathering’. During the dry season and periods of drought, elephants to migrate in vast numbers to the edge of the Minneriya reservoir. Approx. journey time: 1½ hours, 75 miles. Stay: Jetwing Lake (or similar). B, D.

Day 9: Dambulla The day begins with an insight into rural life on a nature ‘trek’ in the village of Hiriwadunna. At the start of this immersive experience you will be transported via a paddy farmer’s tractor and trailer through a shaded forest to the edge of a man-made reservoir that is covered with pretty lily pads. Cross the water on a traditional boat before continuing your village exploration on foot and discovering the everyday lives of Sri Lanka’s rural population. Early this afternoon there’ll be another opportunity to get involved in creating your lunch at a curry cooking demonstration. Your final afternoon is free to relax by the pool of your hotel. Alternatively, you can visit the iconic Sigiriya Rock on an optional excursion. We recommend that you only embark on the ascent to the top if you are fit, healthy and do not mind heights as there are many steep steps and narrow walkways. Stay: Jetwing Lake (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 10: Dambulla to Negombo Leave Dambulla and travel west towards the coastal city of Negombo where you will spend one night. If you choose to extend your holiday with a stay on the south west, south or east coasts you will transfer to your chosen hotel today. Approx. journey time: 3¼ hours, 84 miles. Stay: Jetwing Sea. B.

Day 11: Negombo Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. B.

Stay longer

Sri Lanka east coast beach
Sri Lanka west coast beach

Relax after your tour with a short beach stay on one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful golden beaches.

Relax in paradise on your chosen Maldivian Island. Snorkel, dive or just dig your toes into the powder soft sand.

Stay longer

Sri Lanka east coast beach
Sri Lanka west coast beach

Relax after your tour with a short beach stay on one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful golden beaches.

Relax in paradise on your chosen Maldivian Island. Snorkel, dive or just dig your toes into the powder soft sand.


Is this for you?

If you’re a first time visitor to Sri Lanka with a particular interest in food and cooking, this tour is an excellent choice.

Good to know

• For guests over 16
• Average group size of 7 guests
• A maximum of 14 guests
• Journey times do not take into account stops or traffic conditions
• We recommend travelling with no more than one suitcase and one day bag.

What to expect

• The Sigiriya optional experience is for physically fit and energetic guests. We recommend taking plenty of water, a hat and sun cream if you opt to join this excursion
• Road journeys in Sri Lanka can be lengthy and are often on narrow and winding roads, particularly in the Hill Country.

Accommodation on tour

Our featured accommodation has been chosen to be centrally located for exploring each region you visit. We’ve hand-picked quality hotels including the ultra-modern Mövenpick Hotel Colombo. Most of the featured hotels are run by the Jetwing hotel group such as the Jetwing Lake in Dambulla and the Tudor-inspired Jetwing St Andrew’s in Nuwara Eliya.

Single travellers

Sole-use room from £2953


Tour dates

2020 Feb 04, 25; Apr 07; May 05; Sep 29; Oct 20; Nov 10

Included in price

• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Small groups
• Porterage and guide tips
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
• All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £3644 per person


Day 8: Sigiriya Rock from £89 per person.

Kuoni highlights

Sri Lanka’s cuisine has been influenced by its diverse cultures and during this 10-night tour there will be a handful of opportunities to sample some traditional cuisine and discover the importance of tea and spices to the island and its people. Learn some new culinary skills during a couple of hands-on cooking demonstrations, both of which will be followed by a mouthwatering lunch.

Kuoni highlights