Slow Travel

A Slow Sojourn In Sri Lanka

Nature, Culture & Relaxation

You could travel the length and breath of the island and still not see it all. You left the urban world behind and traveled through this stunning landscape to arrive in the jungle. As you track leopards and sloth bears in the wild, you are awe-struck by the stealth and strength of these creatures.

Then you find yourself in an ancient civilization from the distant past. You are awe-struck by the richness of Sri Lanka’s history and culture. Ride the railway and find yourself amid the most stunning and gorgeous countryside, a world of natural beauty that is simply breathtaking. Wander down to the coast and hit the beach. Wallow in the waves and soak up the sun, surf and the good life. Do you think you’re really going to want to say goodbye at the end of your trip?

This relaxed 13 day journey is a slow waltz across the Emerald Isle. As you make your way from Wilpattu National Park to Sigirya, Kandy, Ella and finally down to the shores of the Indian Ocean, you will explore rural Sri Lanka, meet engaging and fascinating individuals, and absorb the island spirit.

You travel by road and by rail. Your stays are in hand-picked boutique properties, full of comfort and character, where you will be treated to exquisite cuisine and warm service. Your Encounters Asia naturalists and experts are extremely knowledgable, hospitable and highly experienced. If you’re ready to venture across to Sri Lanka, we’re ready to take you on the trip of a lifetime.

Who It’s For:

This is an ideal blend of culture and wildlife. You will visit three of Sri Lanka’s best national parks in Wilpattu, experience cultural highlights in Sigiriya and Sri Lanka’s famous railway en route to Ella. End up on the south coast so that you can kick back and relax at the beach.

Difficulty:

The relaxed pace of this journey is ideal for those who enjoy taking it slow. The charm of Sri Lanka lies in its easy-going people and the enormous diversity of both nature and culture that are cradled within the island. Fantastic wildlife, abundant natural beauty, a touch of activity and easy-going folk make this trip an absolute pleasure.

Our Travel Style

Slow and leisurely. Luxurious boutique accommodations, warm service and incredible experiences create a journey that you will remember for a long time. From game drives in the jungle, to unwinding on the beach, there’s something to look forward to throughout your journey.

Lush jungle. Pristine Nature. Sea shore Serendipity.

This itinerary is designed for you to immerse yourself completely in the best of Sri Lanka. Let us create an exclusive Encounters Asia itinerary for you, which takes you to the highlights of Sri Lanka, at a relaxed and easy-going pace, which can be custom-designed for your dates of travel. Let’s set off on the trip of a lifetime!

Client Reviews

Martin Wickramasinghe

“Thinking is a kind of wandering. Reasoning becomes useful only to let the mind wander in the directions you want it to.”

Michael Ondaatje

“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.”

Tour Program

Day 01

Colombo

Touch down in Colombo, where Sri Lanka’s international airport is located. As you disembark the plane, the Encounters Asia team will be waiting for you as soon as you exit Customs. Encounters Asia will organize a private transfer to your hotel, situated close to the airport, for a comfortable first night’s stay.

Day 1 – Highlights

Buddha Dordenma, Royal Takin Reserve

Overnight – Jetwing Beach / The Wallawwa

Day 02

Wilpattu

This morning, you will drive from Colombo to Wilpattu National Park, which is situated on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Check in at your wilderness camp, and after you’ve freshened up, enjoy a delicious lunch before heading out on your first game drive.

Wilpattu is a short distance away from Anuradhapura. The park is filled with villus or waterbodies that attract a variety of animal and bird life.

These are primarily rain-fed lakes. As a result, the park is a winter roost for several migratory species, as well as a habitat for various native varieties as well. The park has over 30 species of animals such as the Asiatic Elephant, as well as the Sri Lankan Leopard and the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear. The wetlands are a habitat for species such as the Spoonbill and Pintail, and the forest is also home to the Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl, an endemic species.

Day 2 – Highlights

Game drives in Wilpattu National Park

Overnight – Mahoora / Leopard Trails

Mahoora

Where You Will Sleep:

A luxurious tented camp, each tented suite is beautifully decorated with local touches, enhanced by warm service. Comfortable beds, flushing toilets and plush amenities make this the perfect camp to base yourself, while exploring Wilpattu. Mahoora has a strong sustainability ethos and is a carbon neutral camp.

Leopard Trails

Where You Will Sleep:

Elegant and well-appointed, Leopard Trails’ tented suites are air-conditioned and have fans to keep you cool in the sultry Sri Lankan weather. Comfortable queen-sized beds, flushable toilets, an outdoor shower and several thoughtful touches such as charging points and water bottles, make this a great place to stay during your time in Wilpattu.

Day 03 & 04

Wilpattu

Wake up before sunrise for an early morning game drive into the national park. You will be escorted by Encounters Asia’s experienced naturalists as you explore this beautiful dry zone jungle. Enjoy a delicious packed breakfast, and lunch amid the stunning environs of the park, after which you can continue on your afternoon game drive to explore this jungle more deeply and search for rare species like the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear which is an endangered species that is endemic to Sri Lanka.

Head back to your campsite after your safaris, where you will be greeted by traditional flaming torches and a roaring campfire.

Enjoy a relaxed drink and chat with your fellow travellers, before dinner.

Day 3 - 4 – Highlights

Game drives in Wilpattu National Park.

Overnight – Mahoora / Leopard Trails

Day 05

Sigiriya

Head out into the jungle for your early morning game drive. Return to your camp for breakfast, and then check out for the drive to Sigiriya. Situated in Sri Lanka’s Central Province, Sigiriya is famous for its ancient fortress that is perched high up on a rocky cliff.

Early morning game drive and breakfast at the campsite. Transfer to Sigiriya and check-in at the hotel.

Rest of the days is at leisure to enjoy hotel facilities.

Day 5 – Highlights

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Overnight – Cinnamon Lodge / Vil Uyana / Water Garden

Cinnamon Lodge

Where You Will Sleep:

Lush and forested grounds give way to a lodge that is full of rustic charm. Traditional tiled roofs, an organic garden, and an array of wild birds and small animals that run across the property give it a lovely ambience. Spacious rooms and suites are decorated with warm colours, and one and can opt to dine indoors or by the lake.

Vil Uyana

Where You Will Sleep:

Inspired by the London Wetland Centre, this eco-luxury property is set amid reeds, waterbodies, paddy fields and marshland. With 36 rooms and suites, the Paddy and Forest Dwellings have their own private plunge pool. Luxurious furnishings and amenities make each dwelling extremely comfortable. Four dining outlets, an infinity pool, wellness centre along with a gym and yoga make this an ideal place to relax and soak up the environs. Nature trails, bicycles, a Loris conservation centre and a library add to the ambience.

Water Garden

Where You Will Sleep:

The villas at Water Garden are situated amid an expansive property and a gorgeous landscape. Flanked by winding tributaries and surrounded by vegetation, these villas are chic, spacious and exclusive. Secret gardens and private plunge pools, along with a host of amenities and other features, make this property exceptional. Excellent cuisine in a casual, chic ambience surrounded by forest, and a gorgeous spa make this property a dream.

Day 06

Sigiriya & Polonnaruwa (optional safari in Minneriya National Park)

This morning, wake up to an early breakfast followed by a morning visit to Sigiriya to visit this striking rock fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to the 5th Century AD, it was commissioned by King Kasyapa as his fortress and palace.

Return to your hotel and the rest of the day is at your leisure to relax and enjoy your environs.

Overnight – Cinnamon Lodge / Vil Uyana / Water Garden

Day 07

Sigiriya

This morning, head over to Polonnaruwa, the medieval capital of Sri Lanka. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient citadel is full of beautiful architecture, ornate gardens and a massive 2500 hectare water tank called the Parikrama Samudra. Polonnaruwa is easily explored on foot, and if you prefer, you can also explore the area by bicycle.

If time permits, drive down to Minneriya National Park, a tranquil wilderness which is well known for its elephants as well as rare primates like the toque macaque and the Sri Lankan purple faced langur.

One can also spot leopards, sloth bears, the slender grey loris, and various types of deer.After finishing your safari in Minneriya, return to your hotel in time for dinner.

Overnight – Cinnamon Lodge / Vil Uyana / Water Garden

Day 08

Kandy

After breakfast, check out of your lodge in Gal Oya and drive to Kandy, through the highlands. Check in to your boutique hotel and freshen up. After lunch, explore the centre of Kandy and visit the Temple of the Tooth.

Situated in the heart of the central highlands, Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is naturally protected by a barrier of mountains, rivers and jungles.

The kings of Kandy fended off attacks from the British, the Portuguese and the Dutch for two centuries. Untouched by colonialism, Kandy remains the centre of cultural heritage in Sri Lanka. The Sacred Tooth relic of the Buddha is housed at the Temple of the Tooth, which dates back to the 16th century.

Day 8 – Highlights

The Temple of the Tooth

Overnight – Elephant stables / Stone House / Kandy House

Elephant Stables

Where You Will Sleep:

This old colonial bungalow was the former residence of Sir Cudah Ratwatte, this hotel features a collection of 7 rooms and suites, which combine colonial charm with chic elegance. A beautiful swimming pool, and a relaxed bar, living room, and reading room make this property cozy and welcoming. What we love is the hotel’s private collection of classic cars, ideal for an excursion into the city.

Stone House

Where You Will Sleep:

The rooms and suites at Stone House are individually designed, with unique local artwork. Luxurious furnishings, modern amenities and a blend of cultural influences adds to the eclectic feel of the place. Delicious meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner are enhanced with local ingredients and Sri Lankan spices, but the highlight is Afternoon Tea, with a selection of Ceylon tea and a variety of treats.

Kandy House

Where You Will Sleep:

Situated on the outskirts of Kandy, this is a nine-bedroom former manor, and one of Sri Lanka’s best boutique hotels. An original 18th century residence, it is situated amid a jungle full of birds and lush vegetation. Graceful arches and a low pitched roof give it immense character. The service is warm yet discreet, and the hotel has a no-children under 12 years of age policy. Each room is unique, embellished with antiques, vintage prints, wood carvings and silks.

Day 09

Ella

After a leisurely breakfast, leave Kandy to go to Ella. You can opt to either take a train all the way, or drive part of the way and then take the train for the most scenic portion of this famous rail route. You will pass through Nuwara Eliya before you begin your ascent into the highlands. Climb up to 6000 ft and enjoy stunning views of the highland landscape.

Lush tea plantations, high mountain peaks and waterfalls cascading down the hill slopes make this region extremely scenic.

Encounters Asia’s team on the ground gets you first-class tickets and will arrange for transfers to and from the railway station, as well as porters for your luggage. Once you arrive in Ella, transfer to your hotel and the rest of the day is at your leisure.

Day 9 – Highlights

Epic rail road journey through the highlands

Overnight – 98 Acres Resort & Spa / Nine Skies

98 Acres Resort & Spa

Where You Will Sleep:

Situated on the outskirts of Kandy, this is a nine-bedroom former manor, and one of Sri Lanka’s best boutique hotels. An original 18th century residence, it is situated amid a jungle full of birds and lush vegetation. Graceful arches and a low pitched roof give it immense character. The service is warm yet discreet, and the hotel has a no-children under 12 years of age policy. Each room is unique, embellished with antiques, vintage prints, wood carvings and silks.

Nine Skies

Where You Will Sleep:

This stylishly refurbished five-bedroom tea bungalow is majestically perched on a tea-fringed hill near Ella. This heritage property dates back to the colonial era, and retains its legacy enhanced by contemporary facilities and personalized service. Gourmet dining and a beautiful pool, add to its charm, along with fantastic views over the Demodera Loop.

Day 10

Explore Ella

Today you are at leisure to explore Ella on your own. You can opt to go on a trek in the countryside, or alternatively take in a little sightseeing and just enjoy your hotel. If you feel like being outdoors, we recommend an excursion to Lipton Seat, or a walk across one of the tea estates.

Day 10 – Highlights

Explore the natural environs and soak up the charm of Ella

Overnight – 98 Acres Resort & Spa / Nine Skies

Day 11 - 13

South Coast

Depart Ella after breakfast and head to the south coast of Sri Lanka. After a gorgeous drive through the countryside, you will arrive at the beaches that border the Indian Ocean. Soft sand, swaying palms and a gentle sea breeze add to the beach vibe.