The island country down south is not too far for a great family holiday, and offers a variety of experiences. Here’s a week-long itinerary in Sri Lanka to help you max out your time.
Land in Colombo and drive to Unawatuna. Spend your day relaxing on the beach. Base yourself here for the next few days and make day trips to surrounding sites.
Wake up early and go on a whale-watching trip with the government-run Ceylon Fishery Harbour Corporation from Mirissa Harbour. You could spot some of the seven species of whales that visit the area between October and April. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, flying fish and seabirds.
Come face-to-face with the wonders of the underwater world when you go diving at the Posiedon Diving Station in Hikkaduwa. It offers a variety of courses for young explorers too, so long as they’re over eight. Kids are kitted out and taken into the shallows, and then, after a while, into deeper waters. A parent or guardian must be with the kids, though. Later on in the day, visit the Kosgoda Sea Turtles Hatchery & Research Centre to check out the green, hawksbill, leatherback, Olive Ridley and loggerhead turtles.
Introduce the young ’uns to trumpeting elephants at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and Breeding Centre in Kegalle. They’ll be able to watch the ellies being bathed and fed. While visiting the orphanage is fun, riding the elephants is not encouraged.
Go hot-air ballooning over Galle in an early-morning adventure that’s operational from October to April. The ride starts a little inland and goes on for about an hour, affording magnificent views all along. Remember, it depends largely on the weather and will only be confirmed the previous night.
Day 6Check into Elephant Reach Hotel at Tissamaharama, near Yala National Park. It’s a long drive from Unawatana, so spend the rest of the day relaxing and go to bed early.
Be ready at about 5.30am for a safari into Yala National Park. Eat your packed breakfast in the vehicle before entering, because you won’t get a chance once you set out. If you’re lucky, you could see elephants, leopards, crocodiles, boars, monkeys, storks, egrets… the list is endless.
Drive to Kitulgala for your last night on vacation. As a treat, go white-water rafting on the Kelani River. Make a day of it and have lunch right there on the riverbank. Rafter’s Retreat is a good place to stay while you’re here.
Main photo: Valentin Shevchenko/123rf
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