Sri Lanka Express

Sri Lanka Express Route

In our express discovery tour of Sri Lanka, we capture the different landscapes, cultures, history and wildlife of this beautiful island nation. Guests experience evidence of Sri Lankan history dating back over 2,000 years, visit wildlife in their natural settings and enjoy the exciting local Sri Lankan cuisine in a timeline to fit your busy schedule. We explore the history of Sri Lanka as we trace the various kingdoms that ruled Sri Lanka until the British defeated the last kingdom in Kandy.

Multiple two-night stay destinations ensure you aren’t rushed off your feet, yet this express tour ensures you can see a lot in your short break. We also allow you to add your own adventures to the already very generous inclusions list.


This tour of Sri Lanka includes such a great variety of experiences that it is bound to appeal to people with a wide range of interests. It’s for anyone who loves the great outdoors and spotting wildlife and marine life. The tour will also satisfy those who want to experience a truly authentic sense of place when they visit a small regional town. History buffs will enjoy the journey back in time from modern times to colonial remnants and relics from thousands of years ago.

Many of the experiences are outlined in the day-to-day program below, with further details on separate pages for each tour day. For a quick overview, here is a snapshot of what is included in the program:

  • Entry toPinnawala Elephant Orphanage
  • Entry and guided tour of the Dambulla cave temples
  • Entry and guided tours of the major sacred sites in Polonnaruwa.
  • Entry and guided tours of the major sacred sites in Sigiriya, including rock climb.
  • Authentic meal at a family restaurant on the outskirts of Polonnaruwa.
  • Entry and guided tour of the major sacred sites at the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
  • Tea museum tour experience, including a cup of local tea.
  • Rail journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya.
  • Horton Plains National Park admission fees.
  • A jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park.
  • Entry to the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home.
  • Entry and tour of a green turtle conservation centre.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Beachside Arrival

On arrival at Colombo International Airport, your guide for your Sri Lanka tour will meet and greet you and transport you to your beachside resort in Negombo. During 2017, the airport is closed during the day, so most fights will arrive in the evening or early morning. Guests have the option to arrive a day earlier if they wish to spend a day on the beach recovering from any jetlag before commencing their Sri Lanka tour.
Hotel: Jetwing Blue (or similar)
Meals: Nil (guests arriving early can have meals added if required)

Day 2: Dambulla Caves and Elephant Orphanage

Our first morning starts with a journey from the beachside resorts of Negombo to the drier region around Sigiriya. On our journey we visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a home where orphaned elephants and raised to health. We also visit the stunning rock caves in nearby Dambulla, each containing a different representation of Buddha before arriving in Sigiriya in the late afternoon.

Hotel: Hotel Sigiriya (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Polonnaruwa Palaces and Sri Lankan Cuisine

Our journey today explores Polonnaruwa as we trace the steps of kings across ancient ruins. The ruins we explore today are younger than those in Anuradhapura, making it easier to imagine how the palaces once rose into the sky. We wander ruins of palaces, shrines and temples of the old capital of Sri Lanka. Exploring can build up an appetite, so we visit a local home turned restaurant to experience some authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. We enjoy the local food against a scenic backdrop of farms and rice fields. The afternoon is yours to explore the local village in Sigiriya, where your guide will help out to ensure an enjoyable afternoon.

Detailed Itinerary: Polonnaruwa Palaces and Authentic Cuisine
Hotel: Hotel Sigiriya (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Sigiriya Rock

Visiting the impressive Sigiriya rock fortress, we enter the stairs between the giant stone Lion Gate, of which only the paws remain, and make our way up to the palace ruins perched on top of the flat rock. We admire ancient rock art and impressive engineering feats as we explore this sacred and unique part of Sri Lankan history. We also visit the stunning rock caves in nearby Dambulla, each containing a different representation of Buddha. As we approach Kandy, we visit a commercial spice farm and learn about the spices that once enticed many traders to Sri Lanka. This is followed by lunch in the nearby restaurant. Our arrival in Kandy allows guests to relax or create their own adventures in the afternoon and evening.

Detailed Itinerary: Sigiriya Rock and Ancient Caves
Hotel:  Cinnamon Citadel (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Kandy – the last kingdom of Sri Lanka

As Sri Lanka’s last kingdom, Kandy resisted both the Portuguese and Dutch before falling to the British empire in 1815. The capital of each kingdom before Kandy protected the Buddha’s tooth relic within the palace complex. As the last kingdom, Kandy remains home to the Buddha tooth relic, a most precious and sacred site in Sri Lanka. We explore the Temple of the Tooth Relic, Kandy’s most visited site, during morning offerings before the crowds become too intense. The afternoon and evening are open to guests to discover some of the British contribution to the region or the remains of the Kingdom of Kandy. Colonial experiences include visiting a tea museum and having lunch in the nearby botanical gardens. Historical experiences include exploring the rainforest above Kandy and viewing the ancient town from the hills above. Whatever your adventure, your guide will help you to get the most out of your visit to Kandy.

Detailed Itinerary: Kandy, Sri Lanka’s Last Kingdom
Hotel: Cinnamon Citadel (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast.

Day 6: Tea Country Train Journey

Train travel in Sri Lanka is one of the best ways to get off road and see parts of the countryside that are inaccessible by car. Our Sri Lanka train journey takes place on one of the most scenic sections of railroad in Asia: the line between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. Our day starts on the outskirts of Kandy, from where we climb 1,300m into the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country. Although we travel less than 100km, the four-hour journey takes in some breathtaking scenery that can only be seen from the rails. Riding in second class, we feel the temperature drop with fresh burst of air flowing freely through open windows. The train weaves its way along hillsides covered in tea plantations towards Sri Lanka’s high tea country. On arrival in Nuwra Eliya, guests have the afternoon to explore the small colonial town or organise their own adventure in what we think is one of the most beautiful parts of Sri Lanka.

Detailed Itinerary: Sri Lanka Railway to the Sky
Hotel: Jetwing St. Andrews (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast.

Day 7: Journey to Worlds End

Horton Plains National Park is the destination of today’s trip for our early morning hike to World’s End. Once the hunting grounds for the elite, these plains are now a national park perched over 2,100m above sea level. Hiking to World’s End takes us across grassland plateau and through jungle to the breathtaking precipice dropping 1,200m to the valley below. The view extends to tiny towns surrounded by tea plantations. On clear days, you can see Sri Lanka’s south coast from here. Heading back, we pause at the beautiful Bakers Falls before descending to the town of Haputale and then making our way to the southern plains of Udawalawe. We explore historic railway bridges, waterfalls and ancient rock carvings before arriving at Udawalawe National Park. We take to a jeep for a safari of a national park that rivals the savannah of Africa. As the sun sets across Udawalawe dam, we search for elephants, the elusive leopard and crocodiles on our Sri Lanka Safari. After an exciting day witnessing the circle of life, our evening ends with a group dinner

Detailed Itinerary: Udawalawe National Park Safari
Hotel: Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Colombo

We start our day with a visit to the elephant transit home where elephants are rehabilitated for release into the wild. Leaving the savannah-like plains of Udawalawe, we head  towards the commercial and trading hub of Sri Lanka: Colombo. After visiting a unique turtle conservation facility that has assisted in the safe hatching and release of thousands of baby turtles, we take one of the country’s few highways into Colombo. Our guide takes us on a tour of the highlights of this hectic city before we take a sundowner on the checkerboard of the famous Galle Face Hotel to conclude our tour of Sri Lanka.

Hotel: Galle Face Hotel (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, Sundowners.

Day 9: Farewell Sri Lanka

Although the tour program is complete, your trip doesn’t need to end just yet. For those wishing to explore Colombo further, we can arrange add-on accommodation. And for anyone wanting the ultimate in island paradise relaxation, we can assist in booking a few nights in the Maldives to complete your holiday.

Meals: Breakfast.


What’s included and not included in this Sri Lankan packaged tour is pretty clear, we think. We like to keep things simple, so you won’t find page after page of terms and conditions (although we are required to have some to protect both you and us).

For this program, we include 8 nights’ accommodation at the hotels listed above, or if they are unavailable for whatever reason, something of comparable rating and value. If we say we include an activity in the itinerary above, then we include it. Optional activities or what we suggest you could do in your free time are just that – optional and not included – although we have tried to include as much as possible so you get the best experience possible.

July 2024

Book your Travel Consultation


Every holiday starts with an idea or a dream. Start the process of turning that idea into a plan today by making booking for an online travel consultation. You’ll get a 30min Zoom call to start planning your next holiday. No need to go anywhere to get the best travel advice at home. We’ll discuss where you want to go, what you want to do, what kind of bed you’d prefer to sleep in and everything you want to get out of your next holiday. After the consultation I’ll do the research to pull your holiday together and then you’ll receive a quote for your holiday. 

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If you want to chat about our tours or your holiday, book a consultation using the calendar above. For all other enquiries, feel free to give us a call on:

0407 859 456

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