26th/27th December: Depart Malta, Explore Negombo (B=bfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
The day has finally arrived! We will meet at Malta International Airport to catch our afternoon flight to Colombo with a transit of 1hr 40 mins at Dubai Airport. According to the current flight schedule we are expected to arrive in Colombo the next day at 08.25hrs. Upon arrival we will transfer to our hotel in Negombo and start our adventure!
Negombo is known for its long sandy beaches and with it’s lively fish market, colonial charm and hundreds of colourful wooden boats, it offers the perfect introduction to the coastal Sri Lankan life.We will start by discovering the town’s long sandy beaches fringed by palm trees.
The sight of fishermen and women practising the traditional netting and fish drying methods, cannot be missed. We will head to the fish market to gain insight into these old techniques, and to delve deeply into the local culture. Here, expect to experience a riot of colours, smells and smiles, a true overdoes of emotions!
When in Negombo, one cannot miss the old Dutch fort, it’s exquisite churches and buildings, and of course the oldest and most sacred Buddhist temple. We will relish a scrumptious Sri Lankan meal, and for those who feel like some adrenaline rush, jump on a tuk-tuk and drive around! In the evening, we will head back to our hotel, watch sunset and kiss the day good night!
We will overnight in Negombo for the next 1 night.
8th December: Sigiriya and the Lion Rock Kingdom (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will check out of our hotel and travel to Sigiriya, a dream destination for anyone visiting this part of the world. Sigiriya hosts one of the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the mighty Sigiriya rock fortress. Our journey to here will take 4 hours including stops along the way.
Upon arrival we will check-in our hotel and go off to discover the Lion Rock Kingdom, an architectural masterpiece and one of the greatest creations in history. We will enter the gates of the rock fortress and start by walking through green gardens and later we will walk by caves and boulder arches that continue to add to the its beauty. Eventually we will get to the iconic Lion’s Paw, climb the stairs into the lion’s mouth, and begin our ascent to the citadel. At the top, we will not only enjoy stunning views of the Sri Lankan jungles below, but we will also explore the ruins of a lost kingdom. Sunset from up here is magnificent!
Dinner will be served, followed by a relaxing night at our hotel.
We will overnight in Sigiriya for the next 2 nights.
29th December: A glimpse of the Sri Lankan life (B, L, D)
This morning you will be reminded that you’re on an experience, an adventure, and so much more 😀 Your alarm will ring at 5am as today you will experience one of the most beautiful sunrises ever! Looking from Pidurangala Rock to the plains below is a magical opportunity, and the best thing about walking to here early in the morning, is that the sacred area is at its coolest and quietest. Plus, the views you get are captivating and waiting for the sun to emerge from behind the distant mountains, will be well worth the effort!
A well deserved breakfast will be waiting for you at the hotel. We will allow some time to freshen up, and then we will make our way to a local village. This morning is all about meeting the locals, sharing conversations and making connections. We will also enjoy a tuk-tuk ride around the village and a local lunch.
In the afternoon we will head to our first wildlife jeep safari at Minneriya National Park, and there’s no better way than exploring this by jeeps. Known for its incredible elephant migration, the park is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream! As small herds gather around the water tank, we will watch the playful elephants drink, bathe and jostle. As it’s not just a playground for elephants, we will also catch sight of deer, buffalos, monkeys, wild boars and mongoose.
After a very heart-warming experience, we will head back to our hotel for dinner.
30th December: A spiritual experience (B, L, D)
Today’s final destination is Kandy. However, we will visit some very interesting places on our way there. The first is a spice garden. Spices are one of the most celebrated exports in Sri Lanka and Matale is the best place to see how these are grown. We will stroll in fragrant greenery, and learn how we can use them as natural remedies for traditional Ayurveda, and to enhance the taste of meals.
Next is the Dambulla Cave temple, A UNESCO World Heritage Site of exceptional beauty. This is one of the oldest pilgrimage sites. The interior of the caves is covered with exotic murals and each houses gigantic statues. As we walk along the trail, we will experience locals practising their rituals. We will follow them as they systematically move through the spaces.
Soon we will reach Kandy, the gateway to lush green hills, glorious lake, and the greatest train journey in the world! Our afternoon will be spent exploring its bustling streets and the most significant cultural sites. The best-known of these is the Temple of the Tooth relic; Buddhism’s most important religious shrine. As this is a deeply spiritual place, you will witness locals leaving offerings and praying quietly.
From here, we will make our way to the heart of Kandy and walk along the Kandy lake. This idyllic lake is the backdrop of the city’s major attractions, so we will continue to discover what this city has to offer. Reaching the old town, we will join in the hustle and bustle of the local market. A labyrinth of stores, and loud and chaotic streets, there’s always something to see and someone to meet, and it’s a great place to get a feel of the real Kandy..
To feel the true pulse of Buddhism, we will join a local procession where drums are beaten and trumpets are blown. Lamps and chandeliers are lit up. Heads are bowed in reverence. People are seen praying in the galleries, or waiting with flowers in their hands.
And after a full day out, we will head back to our hotel. We will overnight in Kandy for 1 night.
31st December: Nature all around (B, L, D)
Have you noticed the date? It’s the last day of the year and we will end it like no other!!
After breakfast, we will check-out and travel to Nuwara Eliya. Fresh air, emerald green fields and cascading waterfalls, this city is perched on tea hills and is surrounded by spellbinding greenery.
Nuwara Eliya is also known as the paradise of waterfalls. It is a pretty mesmerising place, and we will continue our day by admiring these natural wonders. We will hike to Ramboda waterfall through bamboo trees and and old trees with giant roots. The route is breathtakingly serene and beautiful, and once we reach the waterfall, if waters permit, we will dip in! As we listen to the thunderous waters and feel the cold breeze, it will feel like a fairytale experience.
This town has lots to offer. Nestled amongst lush green tea leaves, it is also Sri Lankan’s tea industry capital. We will explore a tea estate and we will stop by a local tea plantation to taste the different delicious teas.
Midnight is getting closer. We will head to the hotel to get ready for the next part of the day. Not much will be shared, except that it will be a very special evening!!! 😉
We will overnight in Nuwara Eliya for the next 2 nights.
1st January: Of National Parks and World’s End (B, L, D)
Heaven on earth is exploring a trail! So we will start off our year on a very positive note experiencing just this. We will head to Horton Plains National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, to hike one of the most beautiful treks in this wondrous country. The park is home to diverse landscapes including misty lakes, waterfalls and grasslands, and rich wildlife especially sambar deer grazing silently in the long grass. The trail is rated as pleasant and it will lead us to World’s End. The views once at the top are pretty impressive, and the sight of the tea plantation villages in the valley below, and the coast ahead, is just incredible.
Later this afternoon we will slow down. We will visit the royal Botanical Garden, head to the lake and lunch will be served. Gregory Lake is a lovely spot for locals to relax. Here we will find ponies trotting along the grass, and boats that we can hire to go out on the lake and enjoy some serenity.
2nd January: A bucket-list experience (B, L, D)
The train journey to Ella is said to be one of the most scenic epic train journeys in not only Sri Lanka, but in the world! So to get to Ella, we will take this train ride which takes around 4 hours of magnificent views and exciting experiences all along the way including breathtaking views of mountains, valleys, and the dense jungle. It is the perfect way to experience the Sri Lankan lifestyle as you meet locals, wave to children and families in beautiful hilltop villages, and eat local snacks. The train is famous for its open windows and doors.
Upon arrival, we will check-in our hotel, settle in and meet again. I am sure you have heard of Adam’s Peak. But as they say,
“Don’t listen to what others say about a place. Go see it for yourself!”
We will hike up mini Adam’s Peak for another stunning sunset. The views at the top are jaw-dropping and the the trail on the way up is beautiful. We will start walking from a nearby village and we will continue along a wildlife reserve. Once at the top, you will be captivated by the wondrous site.
The descent is shorter and once we get back to the hotel, we will freshen up and meet for a well-deserved relaxing evening.
We will overnight in Ella for 2 nights.
3rd January: A local immersion (B, L, D)
On our way to our next destination, we will also come across Nine Arch Bridge. Who would have said that a bridge could attract so many people!! But this one in particular, does just that. Standing across a valley, it is surrounded by tea plantations and forests. We would have already crossed it by train, but walking through the beautiful bamboo forest and watching the blue train slowly make its way across the bridge is a wonderful sight.
Next up is a local village experience. The most beautiful part of a trip goes beyond the landscape, but delves deep in its social aspect. We won’t only see the country, but to experience it fully, we will immerse in its culture, spend time with locals, exchange conversations and really feel their vibrant energy. And as the saying goes, once in Sri Lanka, do as the Sri Lankans do! We will search for hidden waterfalls, known only to those who hit the off-the beaten path, swim in secluded areas where locals meet up and enjoy a local lunch. After a full day of immersion, we will head back to the hotel to eat and prepare for the next day.
4th January: Ravana Fallas & Yala National Park (B, L, D)
We will set off in the morning and start by exploring the awe-inspiring Ravana Falls. As we approach it closer, we will feel the wind and water trembling beneath our feet. Looking out of the window is absolutely amazing and the views are phenomenal. It features a 3-tier cascading waterfall that gushes down a rock face, creating rock pools along its path. Marvelling at the falls is an experience within itself, but for those who dare, jump in and enjoy the unique moment!
Nestled in south-east Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is a wildlife sanctuary and the principle national park in Sri Lanka. It offers a great diversity of landscape including fresh water lakes, beaches, green plains and jungle. This creates biodiversity and it is this large variety of animals that makes it an exiting experience. But more so, Yala NP is one of the world’s most popular destinations to spot the leopard.
We will check in our Safari hotel and then we will go on our safari by jeeps through grassy plains, and along lagoons. The game drives will ensure that we spot wildlife. Herds of elephants, crocodiles, deer, monkeys, buffaloes, birds, sloth bears are common sightings and we will spend the rest of our morning discovering the park. We will spend the rest of the afternoon discovering and exploring this magnificent national park.
We will overnight in Yala for 1 night.
5th – 7th January: Beach Paradise (B, L, D)
Next up is our final destination in the ultimate coastal and beach get away in Sri Lanka! But before we get a tan in January, we will visit other highlights including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle Fort, and the stilt fishermen in Galle. A beach resort awaits!!
Covered in palm trees and emerald green beaches, its waters teem with wildlife including big blue whales and sea turtles, and are covered with coral reefs. Over the next 3 days expect to enjoy sipping coconuts from a hammock, absorb the laid back culture and get ready to engage in some very exciting activities.
We will go on a river safari, riding down Madu river on a boat. Crocodiles and monkeys will accompany us! On our journey we will sail past massive mangrove forests, and take in the unique biodiversity of the Madu River and its surrounding islands that boasts of hundreds of birds, plants and fish. As the fish are very playful, we will also enjoy fish therapy where fish will nibble our feet and we will be treated well in the natural “fish spa.”
This area is also home to many many turtles who visit the beaches, graze on seagrass, and swim very close to shore. To get close to this magnificent creature, we will visit a turtle hatchery, which conserves and protects this endangered species. We may be lucky and watch them lay their eggs, or even watch baby turtles hatch and run for the ocean, which is very very special!
Swimming with them is even more exciting. If you’ve ever wanted to swim in the ocean with massive sea turtles, then Hikkaduwa is the place to do it. We will head to Hikkaduwa where many turtles will be spotted just hanging out in the water. A snorkelling coral reef trip at the National Park will follow to enjoy the vibrant wildlife. This is a very thrilling activity as you will be literally swimming in a sea covered in thousands of sea creatures.
The southwest coast of Sri Lanka is one of the world’s best places for whale watching, and January happens to be a very very good time to witness this gigantic mammal. The Blue Whale is the largest living creature on earth, and off the coast of Sri Lanka, we’ll have the best chance at spotting them! We will go on a whale watching safari where we can also see dolphins, the bluefin tuna, and the flying fish.
Our days here are quite full. However, we have also made sure to allow time to sit back and take in the laid back culture. Sipping in a fresh juice in the blue waters, enjoying a siesta in a hammock, and getting tanned in January! Should you prefer, you can also try the various sports offered including wake boarding, jet skiing and tubing.
Alternatively, you can walk to town and enjoy the hipster lifestyle, or get clothing tailor-made for you. There are various tailors around, where you can choose a design and fabric, get measured and have your custom-made outfit ready for you in less than 24 hours!
We will overnight in Unawatuna for 2 nights.
7th January afternoon: Colombo (L, D)
On our last day in this gem of an island, we will check-out from the hotel in the afternoon to allow more time in this beach paradise, and start our journey back home. However, the adventure is not over yet as there is still more to explore!
Colombo is Sri Lankan’s capital city. Home to religious sites, lakes, markets and parks we will visit different places, go on a walking tour and allow some time for some last minute shopping. Later in the evening we invite you to join us for a farewell dinner together, where we will cherish the beautiful memories shared and raise a glass for a joyous life! We will head to the airport just before midnight as according to our flight schedule we are expected to depart at 02.55am on the 8th of January, arriving in Malta at 1.15pm on the same day.