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Take Me To 01.16.2024

One Week in Sri Lanka

Intro Stay Highlights itinerary

With its emerald jungles and tea-infused treasures, let’s embark on a one-week Sri Lanka itinerary through the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Embarking on a captivating journey through the tropical paradise of Sri Lanka, our SmartFlyer team recently explored the country’s tapestry of enchanting natural wonders and rich culture. Our agents’ kaleidoscope of experiences includes encounters with elephants, deep dives into Sri Lanka’s rich tea trade, and immersion into complete serenity among the rolling jungles of Hatton. With our friends at Resplendent Ceylon, we’re here to take you through every step of how to navigate your own expedition through Sri Lanka.

Begin your journey in Weligama, high above the shores of the Indian Ocean at your very own private cliffside villa. While there, explore a UNESCO world heritage site dating back to the 15th century. For your next stop, embrace the wild side as your expert guides take you through the exotic wildlife from wild monkeys to leopards and Indian elephants. Finally, close out your trip with a stay in one of five lovingly restored residences amongst the rolling fields of Hatton. Intrigued? Then follow us along as we uncover the secrets of this South Asian gem.

Contributed By

SmartFlyer

Photos contributed by

Shakir Jamaldeen Photography

Duration

Eight nights, nine days

We Love it For

Intrepid travelers craving a new side of South Asia. Think epic safaris and culinary delights bursting with flavor.

Trip Style

Lush wilderness meets serene hospitality.

Agent Notes

Sri Lanka’s balmy climate encourages all kinds of lightweight clothing, from linens to breathable cotton. Don’t forget your swimsuit and hiking gear; the trails and coastlines are not to be missed.

Stay

SmartFlyer Picks

Cape Weligama

Cape Weligama captures the wild coastal beauty of the deep south of Sri Lanka. The resort's charms include a clifftop perch above the lull of the Indian Ocean, delicious dining, soothing spa treatments, and a twelve-acre blue-and-green expanse. Maximizing its clifftop perch, guests are invited to dive into the many beachside activities offered, from swims in the crescent-shaped Moon Pool to surfing, scuba diving, and whale-watching in nearby Mirissa. Refined dining, artful cocktails, and soothing spa treatments await back on dry land.

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Wild Coast Tented Lodge

Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Yala offers a unique safari experience, with luxurious accommodations and the chance to encounter wild animals like leopards, wild boars, and sloth bears. When it comes to accommodations, the eco-conscious Cocoon bedrooms and bamboo-clad bar and restaurant were creatively crafted by local fishermen using locally sourced and recycled materials––yet another way the property has been designed with sustainability and community engagement at the forefront. The resort features exquisite bushland dining, indulgent spa treatments, and daily canapés and sundowners, all overlooking stunning views of the Indian Ocean.

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Ceylon Tea Trails

Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Ceylon Tea Trails, where five historic, tea-planter bungalows are nestled in the emerald landscapes of Sri Lanka's tea country. Perched over 1,000 meters above sea level, guests can enjoy uninterrupted views of the rolling hills, tea trees, and Castlereagh Lake while being surrounded by nature. Accompanied by a serene soundtrack of the surrounding nature, guests can also explore each bungalow's magnificent garden, filled with an array of cool-climate and tropical plants that attract colorful hummingbirds, butterflies, and dragonflies.

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Highlights

  • Take a tour of a local tea farm and discover Sri Lanka’s tea trade Day 2
  • Sail out on a private catamaran for a guided whale watching experience Day 3
  • Venture out to the wildlands of Yala National Park Day 4
  • Hike to the top of Sithulpawa Ancient Monastery Day 5
  • Lounge poolside and indulge in a variety of private dining experiences Day 7-8

ItineraryItinerary

1 Weligama, Sri Lanka
Welcome to Sri Lanka

Your epic adventure through Sri Lanka begins with a touchdown in Colombo, the gleaming capital of Sri Lanka. Upon arrival, your private driver will meet you for a two-and-a-half-hour ground transfer to your first destination: Cape Weligama. As you approach the property, you’ll be immediately immersed in a tropical paradise as your car winds up the cliffsides over the Indian Ocean. After settling into your accommodations – we recommend their villas for maximum relaxation – head over to the Ocean Terrace to feast on the fresh catches of the day. The menus here change daily, but for a true immersion into local specialties, we highly recommend any of their curries. The region is known for its fragrant, earthy dishes blended with fresh seafood like crab and tuna.

Following lunch, feel free to explore the resort grounds at your leisure or take a dive into one of their pools before heading over to Galle Fort. Located just fifteen minutes away, your private driver will drop you off for a private tour of this colonial gem. Less of a fort and more of a multicultural township, your guide will point out how Dutch, Portuguese, and Sri Lankan architecture have melded together since its conception in the 15th century. Today, the fort is populated by a blend of local shops, cafés, and restaurants that entertain both European expats and native Sinhalese inhabitants. Enjoy a drink and dinner at a local bar and restaurant featuring roti and coconut-based piti before heading back to your cozy private villa.

2 Weligama, Sri Lanka
An intro to Sri Lankan tradition

This tour is as eye-opening as it is delectable.

Wake up to the day with a morning at your leisure, whether it’s with breakfast at Ocean Terrace or with a private guided yoga class. Our personal recommendation is partaking in their heritage breakfast which features a spread of village-style savory, spicy, and sweet flavors like kola kenda congee. Your first stop today is to a mask-making class led by local artisans. With generations of experience, you’ll be introduced to the ins and outs of how these Sri Lankan staples are created from start to finish. Following the demonstration, you’ll be guided through the process of painting your own mask based on the various gods that have influenced Sri Lankan culture over centuries.

After enjoying lunch at the property, meet your private driver to ride out to a local tea farm about a half hour away. Led by the onsite tea master, this tour is as eye-opening as it is delectable. This specific site is also where the iconic Mariage Frères tea company sources their rare Virgin White Tea. This exotic leaf can only be harvested by hand using special tools in order to retain the leaf’s original taste and antioxidative properties. This meticulous procedure is applied throughout every harvest, using a combination of separating leaves by hand and the original 1900s machines to process the tea. Your tour will conclude with afternoon tea with your tea master guide before you ride back for dinner at Cape Weligama.

3 Weligama, Sri Lanka
Whale watching on the Indian Sea

Start the day with a gentle floating breakfast from the comfort of your private villa pool before heading out for today’s excursion on the sea: whale watching. Located just twenty minutes away from the resort by car, your private guide will take you through the local marina lined with colorful locally-owned boats. As you board your private catamaran, you can also see dozens of local fishermen pulling in their daily haul. From the moment you ride out onto open water, your guide will already begin tracking the pods of dolphins and whales that inhabit the area. If you’re lucky, you can even spot the elusive blue whale and sperm whale while soaking in the sun’s rays throughout the day.

Lunch today is off-property on the beach where you’ll be able to feast on local favorites such as the iconic appa with pumpkin curry and samosas. Afterward, your private driver will usher you back to the hotel for an afternoon at your leisure. Tonight’s dinner at Tableau is truly a delight. As one of the resort’s most sought-after dining options in Sri Lanka, your SmartFlyer travel advisor can reserve your table for this intimate dining experience. Similar to a Teppanyaki-style dinner, your host chef will curate a menu personalized to your personal pallet all while serving samples of appetizers, soups, sorbets, and mains. For a nightcap, your host chef will lead you over to Surf Bar to enjoy one of their local cocktails and confectionery.

4 Yala, Sri Lanka
Weligama to Yala

Today, check out of Cape Weligama and set out for a three-hour private drive to your next destination: Wild Coast Tented Lodge. This property is Replendent Ceylon’s masterpiece which seamlessly immerses guests into Sri Lanka’s local wildlife. The moment you step onto the property, you’ll feel completely transported into a world filled with dense, verdant foliage. One of the things that makes Wild Coast Tented Lodge unique is its completely unfenced setting, allowing both guests and wildlife to coexist. Whether it’s the larger gray langur money or the mischievous macaque, you can catch these primates often wandering the property as you navigate the winding paths to your private Cocoon accommodation. After settling into your fully air-conditioned tented suite, you can either wade through your own private pool or head to the Dining Pavilion and enjoy lunch by the main pool.

This evening, take to the wild side of Sri Lanka with a private three-hour game drive through Yala National Park. This unique brushland features an epic assortment of Indian elephants, crocodiles, spotted leopards, and sloth bears. Your local guide will know the land like the back of their hand and drive you out for intimate encounters with these exotic creatures. Close out your day with one of their daily sundowners – a staple activity at Wild Coast Tented Lodge – followed by dinner at their Dining Pavilion. The menus here are always changing based on the local catches and harvest, so be sure to go in with an open mind and an appetite.

5 Yala, Sri Lanka
Hike through Yala

Today is the day to unlock your inner explorer. Following breakfast, kick off your day with a guided nature walk out by the sea. Unique to Yala National Park, the coastline is just as ecologically rich as the neighboring forests. As you take in the land and soak in the sea breeze, your guide will help identify various tracks found along the route from elephants to wild dogs and boars. Once you’ve gotten a lay of the land, follow your guide as they trace their steps back to lunch on property by their expansive pool.

The full 360-degree views of the park is a truly breathtaking sight.

For your afternoon excursion, follow your guide to the peaks of Sithulpawa Ancient Monastery. Sri Lanka is known for its celebration of Buddhist culture, and this ancient temple perfectly embodies the spiritual power which draws millions here each year. Believed to date back to 2nd-century BC, this monastery straddles a collection of rocky outcrops and caves deep in the heart of the national park. Rumor has it that there are hundreds of unexplored caves and shelters within and around the complex that housed monks for centuries. As you ascend, you’ll also come across various stupas that contain ancient and revered religious relics. Reaching the monastery’s peak is sure to be a highlight; the full 360-degree views of the park is a truly breathtaking sight. Be sure to take a moment to practice your own meditation above the serene jungles before heading back to the property for dinner.

6 Hatton, Sri Lanka
Yala to Hatton

For your final stop on your Sri Lankan adventure, board your private seaplane following breakfast and check-out for a half hour scenic flight to the stunning Ceylon Tea Trails. Located in a picturesque emerald landscape, this resort is composed of five fully-restored and reimagined tea planter residences. Even touchdown is magical as your plane glides across Castlereagh Lake.

The Tea Trails team will ensure you are taken care of every step of the way, from the shuttle ride to the moment you step through the doors to your private Garden Suite. Following check-in, the team will shuttle you over to one of their bungalows for a high tea lunch. This includes a blend of British and Sri Lankan teas, as well as the country’s signature curry sandwiches. The rest of the day is yours for the taking: Ceylon Tea Trails is the ideal place for full R&R where you can choose to do as much or as little as you’d like. Soaking in the sun by one of their five lakeside pools before dinner is a delight on its own.

7-8 Hatton, Sri Lanka
Choose your own Sri Lankan adventure

In the spirit of choose-your-own-adventure, Hatton is your time to either engage with or completely unwind in a tropical sanctuary. Following breakfast, the Tea Trails team can guide you through a variety of excursions throughout the area. Those looking to delve further into Sri Lankan culture can opt to take a private guided tour of the famous Dunkeld Estate which showcases the storied history of Ceylon Tea. You can also take a guided morning hike among the tea trails, filled with lush green fields of blossoming tea plants. This hike is our favorite way of getting to know the Sri Lankan way of life. The trails are lined with homes inhabited by local workers who are happy to welcome you to the region and talk you through the lush history of the land.

For lunch, we recommend their alfresco barbecue where Tea Trails’s dining team will serve up a blend of classic and Sri Lankan dishes in a private and serene setting. You can also opt for a charming “Planter’s Lunch” served picnic-style in tiffin boxes. This meal is set along the hillside between the tea fields and neighboring jungles. Afterward, you can choose either to head back out on the trails or melt into the resort’s wellness activations. For the adventurous at heart, the guided mountain biking tours are a fantastic way to explore the rolling landscape. While we recommend this activity for more experienced riders, the Tea Trails team can guide you through easier trails for a more leisurely tour.

For those who elect to stay on property, your SmartFlyer travel advisor can arrange a variety of in-room massage treatments. Your dedicated spa specialist will help all the tension in your body melt away as they tailor therapies to your specific needs. For your final couple of nights in Sri Lanka, indulge in the resort’s Tea Infused Dinners. Utilizing the locally harvested leaves, staple local dishes are elevated to new heights with a variety of fresh herbs, chilies, and of course, teas.

9 Home
Return home

In the spirit of ayubowan – the traditional Sri Lankan farewell – the Tea Trails team will help you ease into your final seaplane ride back to Colombo. While you prepare for your flight, we recommend dining at the famous Ministry of Crab and feasting on their legendary lagoon crustaceans. And as you board your plane home, get in touch with your SmartFlyer travel advisor to share stories about the adventure you had in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean as they help you plan the next one.

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