The Soul of Ceylon

- A Secret Retreats journey -
10 days / 9 nights
from 3,450 USD /person



This journey has been personally designed by Madushan, general manager of Gal Oya Lodge and planner of this itinerary.

All our itineraries have generally been constructed on the basis of the rooms that have the most charm or best view, and not necessarily the first prices, nor the most expensive suites.
We can of course adjust according to your request.

Highlights of the Journey:

  • Climb the Yapahuwa Rock Oldest City
  • Bicycle Ride into remote village and discover the Paramakanda Temple & Night Walk
  • Hike across wilderness Bush, Pygmee Mountain, Pin forest, Tea Plantation
  • Walk within Seamlessly rural lifestyle surrounding, rustic atmosphere & meet its habitant in diverse region
  • Jeep Birding & Wildlife Safari within Bundala National Park
  • Beach Retreat

This journey will make you explore the deep culture, the wild nature of Sri Lanka, visit the essential and take the time to move slowly from one destination to another, in a circle around the Southern part of the island. Sri Lanka is nearly a circle around most of the Island and off the beaten tourist tracks. A great experience to admire some of the most beautiful sceneries the island can offer, enjoy gentle walks or cycling, birding, UNESCO sites, indigenous Vedda local tribes, rustic countryside and manicured tea plantations and to end the peaceful beach of Weligama...


Contact the concierge on

Your Journey Day by Day

10 days / 9 nights from 3,450 USD /person

based on 2 people traveling together and sharing the same room


Day 1 : Colombo Airport – Yapahuwa Ruins -The Mudhouse (-/L/D)
Early morning flight arrival (before 8.30am), departure in direction of the Mudhouse and on the way, we head 1hr30min drive to Yapahuwa is one of Sri Lanka’s best preserved and least visited ancient capitals. Dating from the 13th century, Yapahuwa was built in the style of Sigirya and stands resplendently above a 90m tall rock. Yapahuwa was a royal palace and a military fortress, originally constructed by King Buvanekabahu in 1273. However, Yapahuwa’s most distinguishable and striking feature is the giant stone staircase and carved lion statues (easily recognisable from their prominent appearance on the current 10 rupee bank note). This staircase was purpose built to access the shrine room where the relic was housed. It is possible to climb all the way to the summit and appreciate the spectacular 360 degree views. (careful if you have vertigo). After this history stop-over, you will take your final destination (The Mudhouse), where upon check in, you will enjoy a local lunch. Enjoy your amazing property for the whole afternoon. Upon sunset, take a bicycle or walk around the huge vicinity to spot numerous of birds. After your dinner, you will depart for 1hr night walk to try spot Slender Loris or even the giant Squirrel.
HOTEL: The Mudhouse (any house)
Day 2 : The Mudhouse (B/L/D)
Early morning, if you are up get into a sunrise walk in another location within the vicinity where can be spotted multiples local tropical resident morning birds. Back to your property for breakfast.
During your day, you can choose your program:
- Grab a bike for a land tour around The Mudhouse (predominantly flat land) to places such as the Paramakanda temple and Tonigala rock (Stunning Scenery at its top). Many of the nearby villages and lakes can also be reached on the ride. At end of afternoon, chill at your mudhouse.
- Cooking lessons are possible in either the morning or afternoon, in order to prepare the meals for lunch or dinner. Much of the produce used is harvested fresh from the farm and delivered directly to the kitchen. You can discover how to prepare some of the delicious local recipes from scratch. With no electricity there is of course no fridge in the kitchen, which means all dishes are prepared fresh and not kept or preserved. Learning to cook the traditional way is both labour and time intensive but, we feel, is directly reflected in the flavour of the food.
- For an extra charge, you can also go for a 4x4 full day Jeep Safari in the heart of Wilpattu National Park: 8-10hrs of multiple dusty roads to search for wildlife: leopard, elephant, fox, jackal, buffalo, wild boar, crocodile, spotted deer, or multiple migrant birds like crescent serpent eagle, Malabar pied hornbill, Sri Lankan grey Hornbill, Sri Lankan jungle fowl, Alexandrine parakeet, grey heron…

By day end, enjoy a stunning sunset from your property and your last dinner served at any spot you wish around the Mudhouse.
HOTEL: The Mudhouse (any house)
Day 3 : Cultural Triangle Village Experience (B/L/D)
For those who want to experience one more time a beautiful bird walk, get ready with your gear and at 6am venture for 1h-1h30 observation walk within the vicinity, the others can enjoy a longer sleep before breakfast. After you breakfast and check out, we get back on the road for 3hrs drive to the remote land of the Cultural Triangle. At your arrival to your new property, check-in, then watch how seamlessly the surrounding rural lifestyle and rustic atmosphere of the village blend. Take a walk on the many narrow lanes bordered by paddy fields or take part in seasonal agricultural activities with the farmers. Embark on a guided walk to the village with the naturalist and visit the local temple and school. Strike up a conversation with the locals and embrace the true spirit of rural community life, in the timeless village of Kalundewa.
By 4:00pm, you can take the direction of the un-famous and un-crowed Pidurangala Rock which is an overlooked gem offering giant reclining Buddha statue and a view over Sigiriya rock. After a climb of (many) steps the 360 degree scenery will be yours.
Back to rest and dinner.
HOTEL: Kalundewa Retreat (Nika Suite or Damunu Suite)
Day 4 : Gal Oya National Park (B/L/D)
- If you can wake up (by 5am), and for an extra charge, you can see the sunrise from “the 8th wonder of the World” and UNESCO World Heritage Sigiriya Lion’s Rock. Rising 200meter above the surrounding jungle with a flat plateau on top, formed from the magma of an extinct volcano over 200 billion years ago. Climbing over 1200 steps to the top to the Sigiriya rock provides one of the world best examples to view ancient urban planning built some 1500 years ago. The earlier you start the climbing the better to avoid crowd and heat. You will pass by the Mirror Wall (now Stained orange) used to be a highly polished white wall wrapping around the edge of the rock. Reaching the northern side of the rock where the main entrance to the palace, you cannot miss the huge Lion Paws, then continue the climb until the top to fell completely accomplished. After the descent, back to your property for breakfast.

- If you are a Birder, wake up to the sound of birdsong and set out to discover its origin. Depart for a morning bird watching walks, take you to lush tree groves, tranquil lakes and paddy fields surrounding the retreat, which resident and migratory bird species call home, or get to the Kalundewa Mountain, home to a number of bird species. Spot birds such as the elusive Brown Fish Owl and the colourful Green Tailed Bee Eater with the help of our resident naturalist as you explore the mountain slopes.

After breakfast, you will get back on the road (long drive of 6-7 hrs) to the lost & wild east of Sri Lanka and its astonishing Gal Oya National Park. Upon arrival at your lodge (around 5pm), check-in, and rest at the lodge or by the pool until dinner is ready.
HOTEL: Gal Oya Lodge (Bungalow)
Day 5 : Gal Oya National Park (B/L/D)
Galoya National Park records more than 150 species of birds. The lesser adjutant, spot-billed pelican and red-faced malkoha are some of the park's resident birds still very shy. The Indian cormorant, Oriental darter, grey heron, and lesser whistling duck are among the common water birds you will be able to spot around the Senanayake reservoir. The white-bellied sea eagle, and grey-headed fish eagle will be more visible in the grassland part as well as the Indian roller. Gal Oya National Park is also the only place for boat safari in Sri Lanka where you may see the Asian elephant swimming in its natural habitat, or spot some of the 32 species of mammals: wild boar, leopard, sloth bear...

4 options for today:
- Early wake, and leave at 6am with a resident naturalist for a bird walk at sunrise around the lodge, enjoying the abundant birdlife and beautiful surroundings. The walk offers a number of possible routes through the trees and around the nearby lake, to observe a wide range of bird species such as Kingfishers, Eagles, Kites and many aquatic birds. Return at the lodge for breakfast (around 8:30-9am)
- Early morning trek to the top of Monkey Mountain, especially for the adventurous early risers, a 1.5 hour uphill trek first thing in the morning is a must. Up top, dramatic 180 degree views over the large forested valley await. An early start allows you to watch the sun rise over the hills in the distance, observing the never ending jungle canopy below. Return to the lodge for breakfast around 8:30-9am.
- With extra charge: 10am, departure for a walk of discovery to a Vedda Tribe Village (1h30) - one of the last remaining communities of the Vedda – the forest-dwelling, indigenous people of Sri Lanka. The village Chief will lead through the jungle of his ancestors and share local nature as he brings the forest alive, explaining his tribe’s use of medicinal plants, ancient hunting grounds and cave dwellings.
- With extra charge: 12:30pm. Try a delicious picnic lunch in the National Park. Enjoy lunch next to the river, waterfall or overlooking one of the park’s many breathtaking views. Continue on a jeep ride and by foot for about 4hrs into the forgotten Nilgala section of Gal Oya National Park. Once protected by ancient royalty for the abundant medicinal plants and endemic birdlife, the park’s unique ecosystem is home to herds of elephants, wild boar, four species of deer, jackals, sloth bears, marsh mugger crocodiles and an array of rare exotic birds. Back to the lodge by sunset.
HOTEL: Gal Oya Lodge (Bungalow)
Day 6 : Gal Oya National Park- Hill Country (B/L/D)
Optional Boat Safari Experience (extra charge): early morning start at 5:30am, back into the Gal Oya National Park for a water boat safari (about 2-3 hrs) of the only experience in Sri Lanka that allows you to spot wildlife from the water. With a little luck you could spot elephants swimming between islands or bathing at the lake’s edge.
Breakfast at the lodge and check out.
By 11am, you will embark for 4-5hrs drive to the South Side of the Hill Country. Upon arrival at Haputale, we will take a local jeep 4x4 to reach your small remote mountain tea mansion (about 30 min drives) and its astonishing sceneries. After check in, rest and enjoy the view and the atmosphere. Dinner at the property.
HOTEL: The Planters House (Oriole, Fantail or Bluebird Room)
Day 7 : Hill Country (B/L/D)
Before your breakfast, walk to a view point and watch the most exclusive sunrise scenery Sri Lanka can offer. Take the rest of the day to enjoy the property, chill by the swimming pool, or venture in one of site adventurous locally guided hikes where stunning valleys and mountains panorama will rise to you, bountiful birdlife and the simple way of life in a Sri Lankan hill country. Enjoy slow pace in beautiful tea fields, forests and temples.
All meals at the property.
HOTEL: The Planters House (Oriole, Fantail or Bluebird Room)
Day 8 : Hill Country-Bundala National Park- Weligama (B/L/D)
After your breakfast and check out, 3hrs drive to the Down South. On the way, we will do a Bird watching jeep incursion within the first Ramsar site in Sri Lanka. Bundala National Parks is one of the most important bird-watching spot in Sri Lanka, a destination for thousands of migratory birds, away from the crowd of its main brotherhood National Parks known such as Yala or Udawalawe. We get in a 4x4 and ride across striking landscape with thorny scrublands, marshes, lagoons, waterways and dunes. The Complex eco system of Bundala National Park now has been declared as Sri Lanka’s first ‘Ramsar’ site as well as home for 32 species of mammals including Elephants, Leopard, Deer, Sloth Bear, Civets, Mongoose, Monkeys and Giant Squirrel. The marshes and lagoons of the park hold both marsh & estuarine Crocodiles. Bundala is the Nature & Birding jeep getaway to venture into the wilderness for a 3hrs Birding game drive within Bundala Park. You will be able to observe hundreds of birds from resident, vagrant, Migrant and endemic living all together.
After your safari, get back on the road for another 2-3hrs drive to your property located aside the Indian Ocean.
HOTEL: Eraeliya Ocean Villas (Villa)
Day 9 : Weligama (B/L/D)
Full free day for you to chill by the beach or the swimming pool within the vicinity of your property or walk by yourself around it. We can propose (with extra charge) some activities like:
- Half Day Catamaran Whale Watching Sailing
- Full Day Sea Kayaking along Weligama Coastline
- Half Day or full Day Diving at Unawatuna
Meal included
HOTEL: Eraeliya Ocean Villas (Villa)
Day 10 : Weligama - Colombo International Airport (B/-/-)
After your breakfast, check out and 3-4hrs transfer back to Colombo International Airport to catch your flight for your next destination.

*** END ***

Your Accommodation on this Asia Travel Itinerary

The Soul of Ceylon

10 days / 9 nights
from 3,450 USD /person

based on 2 people traveling together and sharing the same room


The total price includes:
9 nights at the 5 hotels
All meals mentioned in the program
All transfers and transportation with Private an English speaking driver guide throughout trip as specified
All activities as specified in program
Entrance, camera fees, and permits in all locations, including rangers and naturalists in the parks
All taxes

he total price does not include:
International flights
VISA – Most countries need a visa for Sri Lanka (available online). Please make sure your passport is valid for 6 months beyond your departure date.
Other meals that are not included in the program.
Drinks, personal expenses.
All optional activities (mentioned with extra charge)
Travel insurance
Personal expenses (souvenirs, laundry etc.)
Tips for drivers and guides

This Secret Journey was designed in cooperation with Madushan and Indigo Explorer (License TA/2020/0149)


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