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Wildlife & Camping in Sri Lanka

Treat yourself to one of the best wildlife holidays Sri Lanka offers and admire the nature’s rich splendour on this mesmerizing island. Explore the majesty of its forests and the magnificence of its national parks to create unforgettable memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.

day Location/Route duration Overnight
Day 01 Arrival and transfer to Negombo One night in Negombo Value: Hotel J
Signature: Jetwing Beach
Day 02 Negombo to Knuckles Two nights in Knuckles Mahoora Camping
Day 03 Knuckles Last night in Knuckles Mahoora Camping
Day 04 Knuckles to Nuwara Eliya One night in Nuwara Eliya Value: St. Andrew’s
Signature: Heritance Tea Factory
Day 05 Nuwara Eliya to Udawalawe One night in Udawalawe Value: Big Game
Signature: Master Campers
Day 06 Udawalawe to Sinharaja Two nights in Sinharaja Mahoora Camping
Day 07 Sinharaja Last night in Sinharaja Mahoora Camping
Day 08 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.

Kandy Esala Perahera "Procession"

The Kandy Esela Perahera, which is also known as The Festival of the Tooth is a unique religious and cultural event that takes place every year in July. The procession features many dancers, drummers and elephants, who parade through the streets paying homage to the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha which is housed in the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy.

The Temple of the Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Tooth Relic, which is known as the Sri Dalada Maligawa is in the sacred city of Kandy. It houses the tooth relic of Lord Buddha and is an important shrine of Buddhist worship. The annual procession known as the Kandy Esala Perahera marks an important day in the Sri Lankan calendar.

Wander Through History in Kandy

Visit the Suriyakantha Centre for Art and Culture, and delve deep into the fascinating annals of European and Sri Lankan history. Housed in the Naranwala Walawwa, an 18th century Dutch-style colonial manor house, the centre represents a unique effort between a Frenchman and Sri Lankan, to showcase talent from eras past.

Explore the vast repository of local and European works over the course of two to three hours and understand the richness of Kandyan culture. Observe the various manuscripts, furniture, handicrafts, artworks and photographs on display. Located near the town of Kandy in Sri Lanka’s Central Province, Suriyakantha is open to visits between 08:00am and 04:00pm, throughout the year.

Architectural Tour of Kandy

Discover the rich architectural heritage of Kandy, the last Sri Lankan Kingdom to fall to the invading British. Today, it is one of the island’s major cities and home to an array of renowned attractions such as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Royal Palace and National Museum.

Begin your tour at the lively town centre, and observe the diverse mix of neo-colonial and colonial-style buildings. Enjoy quality time with celebrated architect Ruchira Wickremasinghe, a recipient of the Geoffrey Bawa Travel Award, as she walks you through the intricacies of Kandy’s architectural landscape. The 2.5 hour tour can begin at any time; however, the late hours of the afternoon are ideal.

Horton Plains – Sambar and Cloud Forests

Explore scenic grasslands and misty cloud forests, at an altitude of over 2,000 metres above sea level. Located in the central highlands, the Horton Plains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a nature lover’s paradise. Start from Nuwara Eliya, Hatton or Ella, and enjoy a scenic drive to the park, past whirling wind turbines and fields of green.

Once there, set off on a two hour excursion by vehicle or bicycle. Drink in the spectacular views and observe thriving wildlife such as the Sambar, a large native deer, and exotic plant species. Arrive early morning or in the afternoon and enjoy an al fresco lunch on a pontoon on the water. This experience lasts three to four hours, excluding the optional lunch.

Kandy Four Temple Loop Tour

Spend half a day exploring four of Kandy’s famed medieval temples. Join your personal archaeologist on an informative, 3.5 hour coach tour of the Degaldoruwa, Embekka, Lankatilaka and Gadaladeniya Buddhist temples. Feast your eyes on the magnificent Kandyan murals on the ceiling of Degaldoruwa Temple. Witness the wonderful fusion of Buddhist and Hindu culture at Gadaladeniya Temple.

Take in the exquisite craftsmanship of the woodwork at Embekka Temple. Observe the traditional Sinhalese design of the Lankatilaka Temple, and discover the inscriptions carved into the rocks. Setting off in the morning is ideal, as the tour involves approximately 1.5 hours of travel to / from your hotel.

Virgin White Tea Estate Visit

Visit the famed Handunugoda Tea Estate in Titagalla and observe first-hand how Virgin White Tea is produced. Hailed as the world’s purest tea, it is an expensive blend which boasts an antioxidant level of 10%. Learn the finer points of tea culture and discover the intricacies of the manufacturing process, as you explore the factory and grounds on a guided tour.

Discover the tea’s speciality; its leaves are devoid of human contact during plucking, processing and packing. End on an aromatic note with a soothing tea tasting session which comprises over 20 different blends.

The visit lasts 1 to 1.5 hours, and we recommend arriving before noon. The tea factory is open daily from 08:00am to 06:00pm.

Tea Experience at Ceylon Tea Trails

Observe the century-old tea manufacturing process at Ceylon Tea Trails. Meet up with your guide at 09:00am and set off into the estate. Walk in the footsteps of the tea planters of Ceylon’s heyday, as they traversed the leafy inclines in search of ideal pastures for tea cultivation. Understand the challenges involved in the skilled art of tea plucking and learn the secret behind the aromatic black tea blend; only two tender leaves and the bud, are harvested from each plant, by hand.

Study the traditional English machinery used at the Norwood Tea Factory, which dates back to colonial times.

As your 2.5 hours draw to an end, sit back and sample fragrant brews from the factory’s many grades of tea.


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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 for many visitors to the island. Offering a range of hotels, beach bars, cafes, restaurants and plenty of golden sands to lie on, Negombo is a must-visit destination in Sri Lanka. The town has recently been nicknamed to “Little Rome”, due to its ancient canal that runs through the city.
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 minutes).

Day 02
Kandy (UNESCO World Heritage Site) x
The Hill Capital of Sri Lanka (the last Kingdom of the Sri Lankan Kings) nestled in a valley in the Highlands and locally referred to, as "Nuwara" meaning The Great City. A picturesque town by the side of a miniature lake, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. Visit one of the only natural reserves within city limits, the beautiful Udawatta Kele famous for its avifauna or the sacred Sri Dalada Maligawa.
Continue into the highlands to Knuckles, settle in rest and relax from your journey.
Dinner will be served this evening at the property.
Local attractions: Esala Perahera (17- 27th August 2018, tickets should be booked in advance) / Cookery lesson with a visit to the local market / Tea at Helga’s Folly / Local spirits and beers at Royal Bar, Mojito’s and Margarita’s at Bamboo Garden Restaurant, Cocktails at the Empire Café.

You will be heading to the Knuckles Mountain Range this day. (4.5 hours)

En route you will visit the home of the renowned batik artist Mrs Ena de Silva, for an authentic lunch of 22 curries! It’s not to be missed!

You will then proceed to Kandy.

Day 03
The Knuckles Mountain Range x
The Knuckles Mountain Range is named due to its resemblance of a clenched fist, making it one of the island’s more thrilling hiking trails. Home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, there are also approximately 40 rural villages amongst the rugged peaks.
En route you will stop at a lovely waterfall for a lovely picnic lunch.
Note you have the option of a short trek of eight km or a longer trek of 18 km. Please speak to your guide and let him know which trek you'd prefer.
Evening: settle into the campsite, rest and relax. Dinner will be served in the camp this evening.

Breakfast will be served at your campsite this morning. You will then set off to the Knuckles mountain range.

Day 04
Nuwara Eliya x
Perched high up in the hills, Nuwara Eliya sits like a sentinel overlooking tea country on all sides. Piduruthalagala, Sri Lanka's tallest peak is only a short while away. A replica of English country towns with their lush greenery and a profusion of gorgeous flora, Nuwara Eliya is touted as "Little England" with its Victorian houses, a golf course, Lake Gregory, a racecourse and Hakkgala Gardens. The average temperature is around 15.9C.
Dinner to be taken in your hotel or you may choose to dine out.
Local attractions: Lunch at the Hill Club / Visit to a strawberry farm / Cocktails at Lake View Pub.

An early start will be required on this day as you set off to Nuwara Eliya (four hours).

En route pitstops will be made for you to capture the picturesque scenery. Check in to your hotel, rest and relax the afternoon.

This evening you will set off for the city to visit its highlights. This evening you will also visit a working tea plantation to understand more about the tea journey.

Day 05
Horton Plains National Park x
Elevated approximately 2000m and located between the quiet cities of Haputale and Nuwara Eliya, the Horton Plains National Park is home to a plethora of wildlife. Some of the commonly sighted animals include sambar deer, purple-faced, or bear-faced monkey, dramatically coloured lizards and birds. A visit to World’s End is a definite must.
Return to your hotel for a quick refresh before you head out to the dry zone and Udawalawe (four hours). Settle into your campsite. Lunch will be arranged on arrival.
Set off for the evening safari at the Uda Walawe National Park. Dinner will be arranged at the camp on arrival.

Armed with a picnic breakfast this morning, you will make an early start to make the most of your day. A short drive from your hotel to the entrance of Horton Plains, will take you to Worlds End.

Day 06

This morning breakfast will be served at the campsite.

You will then leave for the Elephant Transit Home to arrive in time for the feeding.
Return to your camp for a quick refresh before proceeding on to Sinharaja (three hours). Settle into your hotel, rest and relax from your day’s experience.

This evening you will set off on a cycle trail. There are few nature trails designed for discerning travellers to enjoy the scenery around the hotel–speak to the hotel and they will be happy to accompany you on the trail or share with you a map. You may encounter many life forms; both flora and fauna, in this expedition thus do not forget to grab your camera.

Day 07
Sinharaja (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
Known to be the island’s treasure box of natural wonders. Sinharaja translates to “Lion King” in the local dialect. There are approximately 830 types of endemic flora and fauna, from birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. The forest extends over 30km across the wet zone in the southern part of the hill country, covering hills and valleys of varying altitudes from 300m to 1170m. This night, dinner will be arranged at the campsite.

After breakfast, you will set off on your trek into the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Day 08

We will take you to the airport, to arrive two-three hours before your flight home.

Add on

  • A list of a few activities you may want to add on to your experience.
  • In and Negombo– visit the Fish Market or the Lellama (where the fishing boats come ashore for the auction / Lagoon Fishing / Tea Tasting in Colombo / Night cycle tour of the city with a street food dinner / diving to explore shipwrecks in Mount Lavinia.
  • In and around Kandy – Visit a spice garden / Visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens / Hike up Udawatte Kelle Sanctuary/ Visit the Garrison cemetery.
  • In and around Nuwara Eliya– Visit St. Claire’s falls / Visit Lovers Leap / Picnic at Hakgala Botanical Gardens / Hike up Horton Plains and Baker Falls.

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: 1 USD from every booking supports a cause.
  • Holidays by Design terms and conditions (
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Enjoy a thrilling holiday being at one with nature