Today, you leave your everyday life far behind. Arrive into Negombo, Sri Lanka, where we meet at the Bandaranaike International Airport. We set off straight away for the historic Galle Fort, a living pastiche of a Portuguese colonial past and vibrant melting-pot present, stirred by sea breezes. With hundreds of years of history, Galle Fort has become one of Sri Lanka?s must-visit locations. Our hotel is within the fort, putting us right in the heart of the action. The fort is a melting pot of cultures, each pebble-stone lane offers a completely different experience to the next. Tonight we explore some of the best hidden spots with our guide and sink our teeth into some fresh and flavorful Sri Lankan cuisine. Overnight in Galle Fort. Dinner Included.
Van transfer: 2.5 hours
Pinch-me moment: Realizing you did it?you?re actually here.
Wake up in Sri Lanka (!), perhaps for the first time. We start our day with a walk around Galle Fort. Founded by the Portuguese, occupied by the Dutch and then the British, the site is now a fascinating microcosm of ethnic and religious diversity. Mosques sit near churches and families live in 300 year old coral houses next to chic boutique hotels. There is a richness of history here that deserves a slow walk and requires a good storyteller (and fortunately we have one). Next, we get on our bikes for a ride into the countryside. We cycle along canals and rice paddy paths, through coconut groves and villages, absorbing the sights and sounds. A stop at Yatagala Temple introduces us to facets of Sinhalese Buddhist culture. Ending at the beach, we satisfy our well-earned appetite as the sun sets over crashing waves. Overnight in Galle Fort. All meals included.
Walking: 2 hours; Cycling: 12.5 miles on flat terrain
Pinch-me moment: Getting goosebumps amidst stone walls and haunting stories of this tropical fortress by the sea.
Ever road-tripped to the rainforest? This morning we head to Sinharaja Rain Forest. One of Sri Lanka?s most significant biodiversity zones, the forest is home to over 150 species of birds. Even if birding is not your thing, you can?t help but being overwhelmed by the color, shape, size and numbers of birds within the forest. With the help of our eagle-eyed guide we hopefully spot a number of colorful species like the Blue Magpie, Yellow-eared Bulbul, and Sri Lankan Junglefowl. The walking is not too challenging, allowing us to focus on the wildlife as we weave through the lush forest. In the late afternoon we check into a simple, but pleasant guesthouse. All meals included.
Hiking: 4?5 miles (3 hours on forest trail)
Pinch-me moment: Watching a rare bird in the rainforest, feeling like you?ve stepped into an episode of Planet Earth 2.
Your quads may hate it, but your eyes and spirit will love it. The Devil?s Staircase is straight out of an adventure movie. If you look at a topographic map of Sri Lanka, you will see that, towards the center, there is a rapid increase in elevation. The Devil?s Staircase is a no-joke hike with rewarding views that will make us feel like real adventurers. Around each corner, the scenery changes. Tea plantations, forest, views out to the jagged peaks and rolling plains. We pass Bambarakanda Falls, the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, and enjoy a picnic lunch before ending near Horton Plains National Park. Tonight, we stay with a collection of families in the Ohiya area in a homestay-style accommodation. All meals included.
Hiking: 9 miles (6?7 hours on steep trails)
Pinch-me moment: Forgetting about everything except the 360-degree spectacle of wild beauty around you.
We love your stomach and strive to make it happy. So first things first: we delight in a home-cooked breakfast of fresh fruits, roti, hopper and samban before heading off to the train station. Like a daydream, this train journey carries us up into the green hills along a dizzyingly scenic route. We take in tea plantations, light-filled valleys, and villages clinging merrily to vertiginous hillsides. We pass over the vaulting stone Nine Arch Bridge as we approach Ella, a hip town tucked into the highlands of tea country. This afternoon, you?re free to explore Ella?s charms, footloose and hassle-free. (Our hotel is right in the heart of town.) We recommend a quick charge up Little Adams Peak for an incredible sunset view or a casual hike through the tea fields. Our guide is happy to show the way. Breakfast and lunch included.
Optional Hike: 2 hours; Train: 2 hours
Pinch-me moment: Crossing the Nine Arch Bridge in a weathered candy-colored train. Paging Wes Anderson ...
How?s this for a to-do list? Pedal along misty tea fields and learn to cook like a Sri Lankan. But first, sleep in! Due to the higher altitude we can enjoy a later start this morning with no need to beat the heat. Jumping on our bikes, we head out for a stunning loop ride around Ella. We take in incredible views over light hill climbs and make a thrilling (not tricky or technical) descent. Arriving back into town by mid-afternoon, we have the remainder of the afternoon for personal exploration. Tonight we are taking charge of our own dinner by joining some local chefs and learning to prepare some of Sri Lanka?s tastiest dishes. Overnight in Ella. All meals included.
Cycling: 20 miles on rolling terrain
Pinch-me moment: Feasting on flavorful, spice-tastic Sri Lankan cuisine you?ll be able to whip up at home anytime you want.
Back into the wilds today. Choose to chase morning views with a sunrise hike on Little Adam's Peak, or sleep in and enjoy the extra Zs. Later this morning, grab your binoculars because we?re off on safari. Yala National Park is known worldwide for its variety of wild animals including Asiatic elephant and leopard. Joining a park naturalist and hopping in a safari rig, we enter the park at the remote northern gate. Keep your eyes peeled as we circle round giant rocky outcrops and through dense forest in search of wildlife. At sunset we head to our comfortable lodge for dinner and a shower. All meals Included.
Safari: 3 hours
Pinch-me moment: Seeing a herd of Asiatic elephants or a sleek, slinky leopard in the wild.
Beach o?clock and all is chill. From the mountains, rainforests and wildlife preserves, our next adventure is on Sri Lanka?s spectacular coast. Checking in to our beach side resort, we slip into our bathing suits and paddle out for our first surf lessons. If surfing isn?t your thing, you can join yoga classes at the resort?s beachside studio. The beach and full service spa are at your doorstep. Swim, lounge in a hammock or post up on the sand sipping a king coconut. Like you do. All meals included.
Surfing or yoga: 2 hours; Van transfer: 2.5 hours
Pinch-me moment: Realizing the most stressful thing you have to do today is choose between surfing, yoga and beach loafing.
Wake up to another day in paradise. Morning is for a second surf lesson (or yoga session, if you prefer downward dog to hanging ten). Sunrise yoga beforehand may be an option, depending on demand. Afternoon is wide-open for you to savor as you please. Luxuriate in the feeling of tropical sunshine and hours of freedom stretching before you. Follow your bliss with a dip in the spacious freshwater lap pool, go for a swim in the ocean, wander the town, or kick back in a hammock on the white-sand beach. Interested in sustainable practices? Ask to see the impressive organic garden, compost-generating worm farm, or solar-powered systems. Tonight we gather for a final Sri Lankan dinner and toast to new friends, incredible memories and future adventures. All meals included.
Surfing or yoga: 2 hours
Pinch-me moment: Gliding across the glossy aqua waters of the Laccadive Sea.
Good morning, sunshine! Enjoy one more morning of beaches and warm waves. After lunch, we embark on a mini road trip (3.5 hours) through some of the other south coast beach towns en route to Negombo?s international airport where our journey concludes. Staying in Sri Lanka longer? We can drop you at any of those beach towns along the way. Breakfast included.
Driving: 3.5 hours
Pinch-me moment: Catching an electric-orange tropical sunrise over the ocean.