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North Central Province

Cruises & boat tours

Our most recommended North Central Province Cruises & Boat Tours

Wilpattu National Park: 3-Hour Morning or Evening Safari

1. Wilpattu National Park: 3-Hour Morning or Evening Safari

Go on a thrilling 3-hour morning or evening safari adventure in Wilpattu National Park, the largest national park in Sri Lanka. Capture unforgettable sights of a diverse range of flora and fauna, and an outstanding array of wildlife that charms travelers from all around the world.  Explore the stunning scenery and incredibly abundant wildlife overlooking the dazzling dry tropical rainforest and the silver-blue small water pools. Take in the sights of mighty elephants as well as views of spotted deer, barking deer, jackals, sambhar, wild pig, and water buffalo. Apart from the mammals, your safari can guarantee you ample opportunity for spotting incredibly beautiful swamps of butterflies saturated with vivid colors including great egg fly, great orange tip, glad-eye bushbrown, blue Mormon, common Mormon, crimson rose, and more. Thanks to the stunning coastal belt, shallow lakes, dense scrublands, treeless grasslands, and thick forests, catch a variety of wildlife during your safari experience. The small water bodies scattered around the park are a prominent feature that enhances the photographic character of the park, while also attracting a variety of aquatic birds and reptiles.

From Colombo: 4-Day Essence of Sri Lanka Heritage Tour

2. From Colombo: 4-Day Essence of Sri Lanka Heritage Tour

After pickup from your hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Mount Lavinia, drive to Dambulla. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site then spend overnight in Sigiriya. On day two get an early start and drive to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Polonnaruwa. Take a cycling tour through the well-preserved ancient city to see the beautiful stupas or dagobas, moonstones, parks, buildings and stunning statues. In the afternoon, you will be taken to the 5th-century rock fortress of Sigiriya, regarded as one of the Wonders of World and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend overnight in Sigiriya.   On day three after leisurely breakfast, visit an archetypal Sri Lankan village. Experience a bullock cart ride, see traditional cultivation methods, enjoy a boat ride and an authentic Sri Lankan lunch at a village house. After lunch, continue to Kandy, stopping at a wood carving center and a spice garden in Matale. Upon arrival, take a city tour of Kandy including a visit to the temple of the sacred tooth relic, upper lake drive, the market square, and more. Spend overnight in Kandy.     After breakfast on the fourth day, you will depart from Kandy and be driven back to your hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Mount Lavinia, or dropped off at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.

Wilpattu National Park Safari Tour from Colombo

3. Wilpattu National Park Safari Tour from Colombo

Benefit from pickup at your hotel in Colombo, and then relax in air-conditioned comfort on the 4-hour journey to Wilpattu National Park, located on the northwest coast of Sri Lanka's lowland dry zone. Enter the vast nature reserve, declared a national park in 1938, and discover the unique willus water basins that fill with rainwater. Look for native wildlife, including herds of elephants in their natural habitat. Keep a look out for elusive leopards, along with spotted deer, sambar deer, barking deer, wild boar, wild buffalo, sloth bear, mongoose, crocodiles, and peacocks. Get some free time to enjoy a local lunch at the nearby Puttalam Hotel, at your own expense. Then, relax on the journey back to Colombo and get dropped off at your hotel on arrival.

Hurulu Eco Park: 3-Hour Morning or Evening Safari

4. Hurulu Eco Park: 3-Hour Morning or Evening Safari

Sneak along the narrow tracks of Hurulu Eco Park on a 3-hour morning or evening jeep safari searching for the best sights of majestic elephants and leopards. Overlooking the dense shrublands and forests, this is the ideal place for spotting wild animals in their natural habitat.  Each year during the months of July to September large groups of elephants are found in the Minneriya National Park. They then migrate to Kaudulla National Park during the months October to November due to high rains and lakes filling up. The elephants then move on to Hurulu Eco Park for the final leg of their migration during the months of December and January. Playing a dominant role in the park’s wildlife, see the majestic Sri Lankan elephants — a very common sighting that safari-goers never tire off. The Hurulu Eco Park assures you a feast of sightings of leopards, rusty-spotted cats, star tortoise, jungles fowl, parrots, and hawks. Explore the land of 10,000 hectares of mysterious wilderness that plays a precious role in the dry ecosystem in Sri Lanka, supporting the wildlife as an evergreen forest. Look for the phenomenal wildlife sightings around the scenic Hurulu Wewa reservoir, right in the heart of the park.

Dambulla: Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour

5. Dambulla: Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour

Begin your day at sunrise with a unique experience high above Dambulla and Kandalama in a hot air balloon. Take in the incredible view of the sunrise, bathing the landscape below in golden light. Learn all about the Kandalama Tank, the Golden Buddha statue, Sigiriya, and many other landmarks that you’ll be able to see from above. Relax and enjoy the sights, as your pilot harnesses the wind from above and provides a smooth ride. Depending on the wind directions and where you will be landing, your hot air balloon will touch down after about an hour or hour and a half.

Colombo: Yapahuwa, Dambadeniya, & Panduwasnuwara Tour

6. Colombo: Yapahuwa, Dambadeniya, & Panduwasnuwara Tour

The tour begins with early morning pickup from your Colombo hotel at 6am, then travels the 2-hour journey to the first stop of the day, the Kingdom of Dambadeniya. Step back in time as you wander around the ruins of Dambadeniya, once a bustling mid-13th century hub reigned over by King Parakramabahu II. See the recently excavated remains of the Temple of the Tooth, as well as the fascinating royal palace complex with its gardens, walls, and moats. By 10:30am arrive at the next stop of the day, the former capital of Sri Lanka, Yapahuwa. Marvel at the city’s fortress which was built on a giant rock, boasting wide staircases, beautiful stone sculptures, and highly detailed pillar carvings. Climb to the top of the fortress to view the ruins of the stupa on the summit of the rock, which once would have been used as a center for meditation. Spend a few hours exploring ruins of Yapahuwa, then head to a local restaurant for a traditional lunch at your own expense. After lunch head to the final stop of the day, the ancient city of Panduwasnuwara, which was one of the first kingdoms in Sri Lanka. Once the capital city of the country during 5th century BC, the site was used up until the 12th century resulting in a vast array of architectural influences and styles. Once you’ve marvelled at the ruins, visit the onsite museum which houses fascinating archaeological finds from excavations in the area. After an hour and a half exploring Panduwasnuwara the tour comes to an end and you will be dropped off back to your hotel at around 7:30pm.

Colombo: 3-Day Cultural Triangle 5 UNESCO Heritage Site Tour

7. Colombo: 3-Day Cultural Triangle 5 UNESCO Heritage Site Tour

Embark on an exciting 3-day tour of Sri Lanka's holiest area, the Cultural Triangle. See 5 UNESCO-listed sites including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Kandy. Stay overnight at a hotel in Sigiriya between private-guided sightseeing ventures. Get picked up in Colombo and head to your hotel in Sigiriya via Anuradhapura, the oldest city in Sri Lanka. Imposing Buddhist temples, dagobas, palaces, gardens, and other remarkable structures in the city testify to the grandeur of ancient civilization. Settle in for a good night's sleep at your hotel in Sigiriya. After breakfast at the hotel, leave for Sigiriya rock fortress, home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the world, and then to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Witness massive stone-cut Buddha statues, dagobas, an audience hall, and much more at the cultural museum of Polonnaruwa. Opt to enhance your experience with a wildlife safari at Minneriya National Park. Spot wild elephants, bears, wild boar, deer, buffalo, monkeys, and maybe even a leopard. Stay overnight in Sigiriya. Depart early for Colombo via Kandy, visiting a spice garden en-route. In Matale, spices and herbs are used for Sri Lankan cuisine and medicine. Hear about this history as you explore the site. The Dambulla Golden Temple and Tooth Relic Temple are sure to add another level of sacrosanctity to your experience. Dambulla hosts more than 150 Buddha statues and a large number of ancient murals. The next stop will be Kandy city. Today Kandy is one of Sri Lanka's most important cities because of the presence of the temple of the sacred tooth of the Buddha. This is the most visited Buddhist temple on the island, frequented by thousands of devotees every day. Return to your hotel in Colombo.

Sri Lanka: 7-Day Culture and Heritage Tour

8. Sri Lanka: 7-Day Culture and Heritage Tour

Discover historic ruins and temples on this 7-day trip from Colombo, Mount Lavinia, Negombo, or Bandaranaike International airport. Stay overnight in 4-star hotels with complementary breakfast. Watch a cultural show and partake in a woodcarving experience. Day 1: Select to be picked up from at your accommodation in Colombo, Mount Lavina, or Negombo, or be picked up from Bandaranaike International airport. Be greeted by your driver and sit back and relax on the drive to Kandy. Check into your 4-star hotel and relax for the evening. Day 2: Enjoy breakfast the the hotel before embarking on a trip to the see the 500-year-old wood carvings at the temple of Embekke, the Buddhist temple of Lankathilaka, and the ancient temple of Gadaladeniya.  Stop at the temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha and view the large Buddha statue at Bahirawakanda Buddha. Make your way to Kandy lake for a scenic drive along the upper lake. Dive into a cultural show before returning to your hotel for the night. Day 3: Admire the Buddhist and Hindu architecture at the temple ruins of Nalanda Gedige. Travel to a factory in the village of Matale for a live wood carving experience. In the afternoon, visit the well-preserved Dambulla rock cave temple. Drive back to your hotel to rest for the evening. Day 4: Explore the ruins and monuments of the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa. Next, head to a UNESCO World Heritage 5th century fortress at Sigiriya. Climb up 1200 steps to the top where a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape awaits you. Go back to your hotel for the evening. Day 5: Journey to Anuradhapura to see an extensive complex of monasteries, temples, buildings, bathing pools, and a complex irrigation system. Uncover the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka at the Minintale mountain peak. Rest at your hotel for the remainder of the evening. Day 6: Make your way to the capital of medieval Sri Lanka in Yapahuwa where you can admire architecture from the 4th Kingdom of Sri Lanka. View an an enormous rock fortress which housed the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha for 11 Years. Afterwards, spend the night at a hotel in Negombo. Day 7: Let your driver take you back to your accommodation in Colombo, Mount Lavina, or Negombo, or be dropped off at the Bandaranaike International airport.

Colombo: 8-Day Private Cultural Triangle & Wildlife Trip

9. Colombo: 8-Day Private Cultural Triangle & Wildlife Trip

Discover the best of Sri Lanka on an 8-day private trip to the Cultural Triangle. Experience game drives in Wilpattu and Minneriya National Park, visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura, and experience the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple complex. Day 1:Get picked up from Colombo, Negombo, or Bandaranaike International Airport and admire the beautiful scenery of Sri Lanka's North Western Province as you drive to Chilaw. Arrive in the coastal town of Chilaw, known for its stretching beaches and tall coconut trees, and spend the night in a 4-star hotel. Day 2:Wake up early in the morning with the sunrise and drive to Wilpattu National park. Spend a full day exploring one of the largest and oldest parks in Sri Lanka, world-renowned for its leopard population. Benefit from the expertise of the safari team as you go on a game drive through the park, observing rare animals in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for leopards, mongooses, and water buffalo. Leave the national park and set off for Anuradhapura, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. Check into your 4-star hotel when you arrive in the city. Day 3:Take a little more time to relax in bed this morning, before getting up for a delicious breakfast, traditionally made up of kiribath, hoppers, and pani pol. Depart from the hotel and set off into the ancient city of Anuradhapura, making a visit to the well-preserved ruins of a Sinhala civilization. In the afternoon, climb up to Mihintale, once a dense jungle that was reserved by the royals as a hunting ground. Learn why the mountain peak is now referred to as the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, as you enter a Buddhist monastery. Return to your hotel in Anuradhapura and settle down for the evening. Day 4: Tuck into another Sri Lankan breakfast in the morning and get ready for an adventure to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Polonnaruwa Ancient City. Arrive at the archaeological site and discover the monumental ruins of the stunning garden city, created in the 12th century. Drive on from Polonnaruwa, making a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress of great historical significance. Rest for the night at a 4-star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 5: Enjoy a late breakfast, then be driven to a rural village for an authentic experience of traditional Sri Lankan life. Take in scenic views on a short walk, before getting into a bullock cart for a ride across the countryside. Arrive at a picturesque lake and trade off the wheels for a sail as you cruise across the waters on a catamaran tour. Disembark from the boat in the afternoon and get driven to Minneriya National Park. See Sri Lankan wildlife in a different light on an evening game drive, with "oohs" and "ahhs" as Asian elephants stomp by the 4x4 in the sunset. Return to your 4-star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 6: Finish off your breakfast and make your way to Dambulla. Be absolutely blown away as you delve into the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple complex. Explore this cave temple complex, the largest and best-preserved in Sri Lanka, containing five caves with 157 statues and over 2000 meters of intricately painted walls and ceilings. Make a visit to Pidurangala, the tallest mountain in the country, and view the Buddhist monastery settled upon the slopes. Learn about the history of the monastery and how monks have made use of the sacred site. Return to your 4-star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 7: Try something new this morning at breakfast and fuel up for your day. Leave Sigiriya and drive to Matale to observe a wood carving demonstration at a local factory. Discover more local traditions as you make a visit to the spice garden. Watch a live cooking demonstration with fresh spices and learn about how they are grown. Join a guided tour of Kandy in the afternoon, home to many tea plantations, sacred Buddhist sites, and biodiverse rainforest land. Finish your tour and check into a 4-star hotel in Kandy for the night. Day 8:Think back on your memories of the trip over a final Sri Lankan breakfast. Say goodbye to your new friends and helpful guides, before being transferred back to your accommodations.

From Dambulla: Sigiriya Rock, Village, and Minneriya Tour

10. From Dambulla: Sigiriya Rock, Village, and Minneriya Tour

See Sigiriya Rock Fortress, visit a local village, and go on a two-hour safari ride: with this tour you’ll make the most of a full day in Sri Lanka.   Start your tour at 8:30 AM with pickup at your hotel in Dambulla and head to your first destination, Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Rising from the central plains, the iconic rocky outcrop of Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most dramatic sight. Climb a series of narrow staircases to reach its top, passing frescoes and colossal statues of lion paws carved into the bedrock. At the top, you’ll be able to take in unforgettable views of the surrounding moats, water gardens, and quiet shrines.   Follow this experience with a tour of a local village, where you can take an oxen cart ride and experience the world from the view of a village farmer. Take a relaxing catamaran ride through a calm lake and walk through golden fields ripe with their harvest. Finally, watch a cooking demonstration that teaches you the basics of Sri Lankan cuisine, and taste the results for lunch if you choose.   Finish your day with a 2-hour safari ride through Minneriya National Park, home to elephants, 160 species of birds, deer, leopards, sloth bears, and more. At the end of a long but fulfilling day, you’ll be taken back to your hotel in Dambulla at around 6:00 PM.

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What people are saying about North Central Province

Lalli (German speaking guide) and Jayasuriya (driver) did a super job. We got to see many places and were able to experience Sri Lankan culture. It was fun, thanks for that.

Truly great experience, great guide and very professional pick up. We actually saw leopards. Prepare for the long ride, and pack some snacks and drinks with you.

Incredible Safari, saw lots of animals including leopards, elephants, bear, crocodiles, monkeys and more! Comfortable ride to and from Colombo.