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Nilaveli Beach Near Trincomalee

North Sri Lanka Explorer: Ruins, Reefs and Islands

12 nights from £2300pp (excl. international flights)
Kalpitiya  → Wilpattu  → Jaffna  → Trincomalee

Our experts say

The north of Sri Lanka is relatively unexplored and its hidden gems make for an amazing adventure.

Ancient ruins, deserted islands, colourful temples, coral reefs, and warm hospitality make the north a great choice for return visitors to Sri Lanka.

We have specially designed this itinerary to give you a flavour of this region. Assuming that this is not your first trip to Sri Lanka, we have also included some more offbeat sites in the Cultural Triangle.

This is just to give you an idea – get in touch so we can tailor your holiday to your specific requirements.

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The itinerary…

Day 1: Your adventure begins

Fly from wherever you are to Sri Lanka. From the UK the best option is overnight with Sri Lankan Airlines.

Day 2: Welcome to Sri Lanka!

We will be waiting to greet you on your arrival in Colombo. Meet your chauffeur guide who will be with you for your entire trip in Sri Lanka. Your first stop is a 45-minute drive up the coast to the town of Chilaw where you can freshen up and relax after your journey. You'll spend the night here.

Day 3: Enjoy seaside life at Kalpitiya

Dolphin Watching From  Bar  Reef  Resort

Dolphin watching in Kalpitiya

This morning drive 1.5 hours further north to Kalpitiya, a beautiful spot on a small peninsula between the Indian Ocean and a large lagoon. Check into your hotel and enjoy your choice of activities – you can go for a boat ride to spot dolphins and the occasional whale, snorkel or scuba dive on the country’s largest coral reef, do some kite surfing or just relax by the pool. You'll be staying in Kalpitiya for the next two nights.

Day 4: A day out in Wilpattu National Park


Sign in Wilpattu National Park

Leave early in the morning (with a packed breakfast from the hotel) for a day trip to Wilpattu National Park. You'll first take a boat trip across the lagoon before enjoying a game drive in an open-top jeep. You can spot a huge range of wildlife here – and this is one of the best places in Sri Lanka for leopard sightings.

Day 5: Drive to Jaffna

Fox  Jaffna  Exterior

The pool at Fox Jaffna

From Kalpitiya it's a 5-hour drive to Jaffna, the main city in the north of Sri Lanka. Jaffna was mostly off-limits to tourists during the war, but is now a fascinating place to visit with its Tamil culture, temples and forts. You probably won’t see any other tourists around here. We suggest staying in the fabulous Fox Resorts Jaffna.

Day 6: Day trip to Delft island and Nagadeepa

Wild Horses On  Delfts  Island

Wild horses on Delfts Island

Head out to explore the area today, starting with a ferry ride to Delft – a large mostly deserted island home to wild horses left behind by the Dutch, and an old fort. Continue by ferry to Nagadeepa and back to your hotel.

Day 7: Day out in Jaffna

Jaffna Temple

Jaffna temple

Spend today exploring Jaffna, including the Jaffna Fort (built by the Dutch), European churches and Hindu temples.

Day 8: Drive to Trincomalee

Shoreline At  Jungle  Beach

Jungle Beach - a Trincomalee lodge option

Today’s drive from Jaffna to Trincomalee on the north East coast will take about 4 hours. Once you’ve arrived and checked into your hotel, head out to explore the town to see the hot springs, Trincomalee harbour and Koneswaram temple.

Day 9: Trincomalee

Nilaveli Beach Near Trincomalee

Snorkelling at Pigeon Island

Enjoy today at your leisure. You can also head out to Pigeon Island for some snorkelling and whale watching.

Day 10: Drive to Habarana.

Sigiriya  Lion  Rock

Drive 1.5 hours to Habarana, in the heart of the Cultural Triangle, and check into your hotel. Now, we are assuming that if you're planning to visit North Sri Lanka, then you may have already been to some of the main sites in the Cultural Triangle. So on this trip why not explore some of the lesser known spots? Just as interesting, but far less crowded. We have suggested a few such places for the next couple of days.

Day 11: Day trip to Reswehara and Avukana Buddhas

Outside Dining At  Water  Garden  Sigiriya

Water Garden Sigirya, an accommodation option

Today head out today to see the giant carved Buddha statues at Reswehara and Avukana. The latter is the best-preserved ancient statue in Sri Lanka.

Day 12: Drive to Negombo, via Ritigala

Ritigala Forest Monastery  Credit  Adventure  Connection

Ritigala forest monastery - credit: The Adventure Connection

Today’s drive to Negombo will take under 5 hours, but break it up with a stop at the ancient monastery in the forest at Ritigala. Make sure you do this early as wild elephants make it unsafe later in the day. At Negombo check in to your hotel for your final evening by the seaside.

Day 13: Fly home!

We will drop you at the airport for your return flight home.

Duration: 12 nights

Location: Sri Lanka, Indian Subcontinent

Price: £2300pp

Our 'Journey through North Sri Lanka' itinerary includes: accommodation, daily breakfast, transfers & drives in AC vehicle with English-speaking chauffeur guide, wildlife safaris, activities and sightseeing as indicated. Excludes international flights.

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