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The Big Four - Sri Lanka Wildlife Tours

Enjoy some of the most exciting and insightful wildlife tours Sri Lanka offers with The Big Four and indulge in an experience unlike any other. Embark on exciting safari tours in the island’s most popular national parks and take an epic whale watching tour to witness the majesty of these remarkable creatures.

day Location/Route duration Overnight
Day 01 Arrival and drive to Negombo One night in Negombo Value: Jetwing Sea
Signature: Jetwing Beach
Day 02 Negombo to Mirissa One night in Mirissa Value: Mandara Resort
Signature: Lantern Mirissa
Day 03 Mirissa to Yala Two nights in Yala Value: Kulu Safari
Signature: Leopard Trails
Day 04 Yala Last night in Yala Value: Kulu Safari
Signature: Leopard Trails
Day 05 Yala to Udawalawe One night in Udawalawe Value: Big Game
Signature: Master Campers
Day 06 Udawalawe to Colombo One night in Colombo Ramada Colombo
Signature Uga Residence
Day 07 Departure
Golden beaches

Needless to say, one of the prime features of the island, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, are its beaches of golden sand that surround the island and have gained popularity over the years with visitors. These include the beaches of Negombo, Hikkaduwa, Pasikudah, Weligama, Mirissa and Tangalle.

Wildlife sanctuaries

Sri Lanka is an island that is teeming with flora and fauna with a large number of endemic species. This island will truly delight nature lovers. There are currently 61 sanctuaries which include Maduganga, Wilpattu North, Yala, Minneriya, Udawatta Kele and Rummassala.

Galle Dutch Fort

Galle Dutch Fort is a proud structure that still stands tall and mighty in southern Sri Lanka. Built by the Portuguese over 400 years ago, the fort was fortified by the Dutch, upon their invasion of the island. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visited and admired by many, all through the year.

Whale Watching

Did you know? The waters off Sri Lanka’s south and west coasts are along the annual migration route of the Humpback, Sperm and colossal Blue Whale. Towns such as Mirissa, where our excursion begins, are considered global hotspots for whale sightings. The best time to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants of the sea is between December and March.

Set off on your whale watching adventure at 06:00am in the morning with a snack of a selection of nibbles and beverages while you scan the waters for your prize. Keep an eye out for playful Spinner Dolphins, a common sight. You will be out at sea for around four to five hours. An onboard washroom will be available for your use.

Galle Fort Walk

Discover the cultural and architectural legacy of Galle, inherited from the Portuguese and Dutch colonialists from centuries past. Familiarise yourself with its streets, as your experienced tour guide narrates intricately woven folktales, that have been passed down through generations. Observe the local practice of stilt fishing and pay a visit to highlights such as the iconic Galle Fort.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is the last European-built fortress still standing in southern Asia. Watch with bated breath as daring cliff divers spring themselves off the citadel’s walls and plummet into the waves below. The tour lasts two hours and starts early morning or in the afternoon.


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Day 01
Negombo x
Located approximately five km from the international airport, the tourist-friendly beach town of Negombo is one of the favourite stops of many visitors to the island, offering a range of hotels, beach bars, cafes, restaurants and plenty of golden sands to laze on.
Settle into your hotel, rest and relax from your journey.
Try not to miss: A seafood dinner with the day’s catch at Lellama restaurant - Jetwing Sea / Spa treatment at Spa Ceylon - Heritance Negombo / Sundown cocktails at See lounge -Heritance Negombo

A warm welcome to Sri Lanka! Your chauffeur from Holidays by Design will be present at the arrivals hall to greet and assist you to your vehicle.
You could change your currency before departing the airport as this may come handy during your holiday.
A short drive from the airport will take you to your hotel in Negombo (30 mins).

Day 02
Galle (UNESCO World Heritage Site) x
The port city of Galle has flourished from its origins into Sri Lanka's fifth main and popular city. At the heart of the city lies the Dutch Fort. Dutch administrators and those in their service lived within the Fort protected by its city walls and the ramparts by the sea. Its massive archway entrance gives it a medieval air and appears magically time warped, with its red tiled colonial period villas and open verandas facing the cobblestone streets.
Local attractions: Exotic cocktails at the Kama Mirissa / Crab Curry at Zephyr Restaurant & Bar.

You will take the picturesque southern expressway from Colombo to Galle. Please speak to the chauffeur if you wish to make a pit stop at the service area at the halfway point of the highway for a snack. En route you will visit the art village in Ambalangoda - watch deft hands weaving intricate lace patterns and the pottery wheels in action.
You may choose to have lunch at one of the trendy cafes in the Galle Dutch Fort followed by a stroll exploring its narrow streets before we depart for Mirissa.
Settle into your hotel, rest and relax from your journey. Dinner to be taken in your hotel or you may choose to dine out.

Day 03

Breakfast will be served at the main restaurant.
This morning you will set off early on a whale watching expedition to spot the first of Sri Lanka’s Big Four. Look out for the dolphins!
You will then be heading to Yala (3.5 hours). Lunch will be arranged on arrival at the campsite. Embark on your safari early afternoon to the Yala National Park.
Evening: settle into your campsite and spend the evening at leisure.
The campsite will serve dinner.

Day 04
Yala National Park x
Spanning an area of 1260 square kilometre, Yala National Park is one of the more popular parks on the island, with it’s teeming wildlife, from the majestic leopard to herds of gentle Asian elephants. The park is also home to a diverse range of other mammals such as sloth bears and deer, as well as birds and reptiles.
This evening you may rest at leisure or opt to set off on the afternoon safari at the Yala National Park.
Dinner will be arranged at the campsite this evening.

An early start today with light snacks and tea, before you head into the park. Settle into the campsite for the afternoon where lunch will be arranged for you.

Day 05
Udawalawe National Park x
Established in 1972 and covering over 30,821 hectares of lush land that provides a sanctuary to plenty of wild animals, from herds of elephants, water buffalo, leopard and deer. The ideal time to embark on an exciting wildlife safari is just after dawn or before dusk!
Settle into the camp, lunch will be arranged on arrival on this day.
Set off for the evening safari at the Udawalawe National Park, dinner will be arranged at the campsite on arrival.

An early start today with light snacks and tea will be required before you head back into the park. If you have been lucky with your sightings the previous day, you could discuss how you would like to spend your morning with the naturalist.
You will return to the camp by noon for a quick refresh before we head on to the next stop, Udawalawe (2.5 hours).

Day 06
Colombo x
Colombo is the commercial hub of the island and connects several parts of the country, such as the north, south, east and hill country by a fine system of roads and railways. The heady mixture of Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern progress defines its impressive character. Towering skyscrapers, retail stores, parks, restaurants and bars coupled with sacred shrines of the major faiths and religions can be found in this vibrant city.
This evening you will set off on a cycling tour that will cover the history of the city and some of its most prominent landmarks.
We recommend you round your experience off with a street food dinner at the Galle Face Green this evening.
Local attractions: the Navam Perahera (1st Mar 2018 – tickets should be pre-booked) / Street food festival – Hotel Fairway (first weekend of every month) / Nelum Pokuna Art Street / Shopping at Barefoot Gallery & Jazz Brunch every Sunday / Seafood dinner at the Ministry of Crab /Street Food at Galle Face Green / Authentic Sri Lankan meal in the beautiful setting of ‘Thunapaha on the Edge’- Waters Edge Hotel / Japanese cuisine at Nihonbashi or at the Dutch Hospital.

This morning breakfast will be served at the camp.
You will then set off to the Elephant Transit Home in time to watch the feeding.
Return to the camp for a quick refresh before you head to Colombo (3.5 hours) driving through a landscape of rural countryside and towns. Settle into your hotel and rest and relax from your journey.

Day 07

We will take you to the airport, to arrive two-three hours before your flight home.
If time permits, we recommend a massage either Ayurveda or spa – a perfect finale to your holiday before your flight!

Add on

  • A list of a few activities you may want to add on to your experience.
  • In and around Negombo and Colombo–Tea Tasting in Colombo / Night cycling tour of the city with a street food dinner / diving to explore shipwrecks in Mount Lavinia
  • In and around Galle – Hike in the Sinharaja forest reserve / Rumassala Walk / Turtle Hatchery / Tea tasting at a working tea factory

What to Pack!

  • Socks – as footwear must be removed when visiting places of worship. You could be walking on heated paving, gravel or cement. Also, shoulders and knees should be covered.
  • Footwear – choose comfy shoes - sneakers, sandals or similar.
  • Shawl – to cover your shoulders or dress up!
  • A sweater or light jacket if you plan to visit the Hill Country.
  • Sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses, travel umbrella or lightweight raincoat.


  • All drive times are approximate and subject to road conditions
  • Alcohol is not served on “poya days” (full moon) and other days prohibited by the Government.
  • The standard check-in time is 14:00 at hotels.
  • The standard check-out time is 11:00 from hotels.
  • Gratuity: tour guides & drivers are tipped at the end of the tour.
  • Online visa application link:
  • Purposeful Tourism: Your support: one USD from every booking supports a cause.
  • Holidays by Design terms and conditions (
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Be awed by the splendour of Sri Lanka’s wildlife