Affectionately known as the 'Teardrop Isle', Sri Lanka has just about everything a traveller could want – superb ancient sites, magnificent scenery, amazing wildlife, delicious cuisine, incredibly friendly and welcoming locals and lovely palm-fringed, white sandy beaches. Add to this a history touched by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, and a society with a strong and devout adherence to the Buddhist faith and you will find an island-nation of incredibly rich diversity.
Among the many highlights of this 15-day trip are a visit to Mihintale – the birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism; the historical royal capital of Anuradhapura; the immense Buddhas carved from rocks of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa and Dambulla's Buddhist caves. To really immerse ourselves in the local culture we'll cycle through small villages, visit local markets and stay overnight in a village homestay in Polonnaruwa. A hike through montane forests and tea plantations to 'World's End' will add another dimension to this adventure. You will know when you reach it – the ground will drop beneath your feet and the stunning views out across the plains below will leave you in awe.
There will also be several wildlife spotting opportunities including a visit to the Elephant Transit Home, where orphaned baby elephants are introduced back into their habitat. We will search for wildlife in Yala National Park – home to the elephant, leopard, sloth bear, spotted deer (chital), wild boar and sambar deer as well as over 140 species of birds. And in Bentota – a beach resort on the beautiful south-west coast, we’ll visit the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery.