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Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Culture & History

Our most recommended Southern Province, Sri Lanka Culture & History

From Kalutara: Lunuganga Estate, Turtles and Madu River Tour

1. From Kalutara: Lunuganga Estate, Turtles and Madu River Tour

Check out some of Sri Lanka’s most gripping scenery while experiencing firsthand the flora and fauna of this stunning region. Marshy wetlands, river islands, baby turtles and fish foot massages await you in this sultry, exotic wonderland. First stop: Bawa’s estate in Lunuganga. Sir Geoffrey Bawa, the renowned lawyer-turned-architect, made this place his country home and experimental lab from 1947 till his death in 1998. See the surrounding exotic gardens of this partial country inn, as well as Bawa’s many architectural additions. Next stop: Kosgoda for an exciting visit to a real turtle hatchery. Learn about the conservation of sea turtles and dip into touch pools, deep tubs of seawater where curious guests can actually handle the baby versions. Proceed to Balapitiya and enjoy a lovely boat safari on Madu River. This is a high biodiversity zone that relies on the lagoon created by the river as it flows into the Indian Ocean. See the dense mangrove forest that grows along the marshy banks of the river, as well as several free-standing islands. On one such island you will find an old Buddhist monastery. The locals work harvesting cinnamon, and here you can experience the famous fish massage at a ‘massage parlor’, or hut on stilts. Relax while the fish work their magic on your toes. Afterwards, stop for lunch on your way back to Kalutara.

Mirissa or Galle: Transfer to Ella with Udawalawe Safari

2. Mirissa or Galle: Transfer to Ella with Udawalawe Safari

Enjoy a morning pick-up from your hotel in Mirissa. Weligama, Unawatuna or Galle area and head for Udawalawe National Park, where you'll switch to an open-topped safari jeep to get the best views. See the animals early in the day at their most active. Pass by herds of elephants and watch for crocodiles, monkeys, water buffalo, a large variety of bird species, and more. Snap some great photos and learn about the wildlife. Sit down to a packed meal later in the morning and then switch back to an air-conditioned car for the ride on to Ella where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.

From Ella: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

3. From Ella: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

After 5:00 AM pick-up from your hotel in Ella, Haputale or Bandarawela, head for Udawalawe National Park, where you'll switch to an open concept safari jeep in order to have the best views. An early morning start ensures you'll see the animals during one of their most active times of day. See herds of elephants for sure and have fun watching for crocodiles, monkeys, water buffaloes, various endemic birds species and much more. Along the way, you'll learn about and observe the natural habitats of the local wildlife while you snap some amazing photos. In the Morning/Afternoon, enjoy a packed meal. Then, at the end of your 3-hour safari adventure, switch back to the comfortable, air-conditioned car for the ride on to Mirissa/Weligama/Unawatuna or Galle where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.

Mirissa, Weligama, or Galle: Transfer to Ella & Yala Safari

4. Mirissa, Weligama, or Galle: Transfer to Ella & Yala Safari

Combine a transfer from Mirissa, Weligama, or Galle to the town of Ella with the adventure of a Sri Lankan animal safari day trip. Experience the immense biodiversity in Yala National Park and stop for a delectable packed meal. Be picked up from your accommodation in Mirissa, Weligama, or Galle. Relax and take in the local scenery on the drive to Yala National Park. Board an an open-topped safari jeep to get the best views and photo angles. See the animals during the day when they are the most active. Watch for leopards, sloth bears, elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, water buffalos, and a large variety of bird species. Get some great shots of these magnificent creatures. Hear about about the wildlife and get photography tips from your local guide. Let your guide show you the spots where the animals are likely to congregate. Have a nice packed meal before heading back to your air-conditioned car for the ride to your accommodation in Ella.

Galle/Unawatuna/Weligama/Mirissa: Yala National Park Safari

5. Galle/Unawatuna/Weligama/Mirissa: Yala National Park Safari

Your experience begins with a pickup from your hotel in either the Galle, Unawatuna, Weligama or Mirissa areas. From there, relax on your drive to Yala National Park. Upon arrival you'll go for a safari drive by Jeep, keeping an eye out for local leopards and elephants in their natural habitat. Other indigenous wildlife which are able to be spotted in this park includes sloth bears, jackals, mongoose, spotted deers, buffalo, wild boars, sambhur, and hare. Now the most-visited park in Sri Lanka, Yala is also an important nature reserve for 50 species of butterflies and many species of birds. After the safari, journey back to your point of origin to be dropped off back to your accommodation.

Galle and Bentota Day-Tour From Colombo

6. Galle and Bentota Day-Tour From Colombo

After being picked up at your hotel, hop onboard your Madu Ganga Magrove boat safari and explore the Madu River. See the mangrove forests and marshlands that surround the river. Stop at a cinnamon garden, and try some of the area’s famous cinnamon. The Madu Ganga River region is home to some of the best quality cinnamon in the world as well as a flourishing cinnamon industry. Afterward, marvel at the fishermen who stoically sit atop large branches planted in the middle of the water waiting for their catch. Continue to a local Turtle Hatchery, where your guide will introduce you to the many local varieties of turtles. End your tour with a visit to the Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fort illustrates the unique interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries. After discovering the fort, you will be returned to your hotel in Colombo.

Bentota: Yala National Park Safari Jeep Tour

7. Bentota: Yala National Park Safari Jeep Tour

Head off on a wildlife and nature adventure on a Jeep safari tour in Yala National Park. Keep an eye out for indigenous animals, including sloth bears, jackals, and more. Learn about Sri Lanka's most-visited park from your local guide. After your hotel pickup in Bentota, sit back and relax in your car as you make your way to Yala National Park. The park is Sri Lanka's second-largest wildlife park and an important nature reserve for around 50 butterfly species and many bird species. Upon arrival, embark on your safari drive by Jeep, keeping an eye out for local leopards and elephants in their natural habitat. Spot other indigenous animals, such as sloth bears, jackals, mongoose, axis deer, buffalos, wild boars, sambar deer, and hares. After the safari, journey back to Bentota to be dropped off back at your accommodation.

2-Day Whale Watching & Southern Sri Lanka Tour

8. 2-Day Whale Watching & Southern Sri Lanka Tour

The sea off Mirissa between Galle and Matara is one of the best places in the world to see endangered blue whales. This two-day tour also gives you the opportunity to see some of the important places in the southern coastal belt such as Galle fort, Unawatuna beach, sea turtle hatchery and more. On day one, meet your tour representative and proceed to your hotel in Mirissa, En-route enjoy a Bentota and Galle sightseeing tour. Bentota beach is the most popular beach holiday destination in the island. Galle is one of the ancient sea ports of Sri Lanka and was an anchor point in the Silk Route. It was later discovered by the Portuguese where they built a fortress and the Dutch that succeeded them fortified it further. This fortress is today a World Heritage Site. During the Galle city tour, visit Galle Fort, Bentota Beach, Galle coastal area, Galle lighthouse, Kande Vihara, Cinnamon Island, a handicraft center and mask carving center. Visit a sea turtle hatchery project, spice garden at Matale where spices and herbs used for Sri Lankan cuisine and medication are grown. Then take a Madu Ganga boat ride to discover this Ramsar Wetland. Hikkaduwa Marine Sanctuary is the place where you can have a glimpse of the fascinating underwater world and see the creatures that inhabit the unfathomable depths of the sea. The famed coral gardens are located here. Just get hold of a glass bottomed boat or goggles and flippers and plunge into the ocean. Overnight stay in Mirissa  Day two is filled with whale-watching experiences. Miriissa off the southern Sri Lanka coast is one of the best-known places for the greatest wildlife spectacle on the planet – lunge-feeding humpback whales and blue whales. Groups of whales construct enormous circular fishing nets with bubbles to catch vast shoals of herring and then launch themselves high into the air with their mouths wide open. This activity is most prevalent from November to April, but can be observed throughout year. 

1-Day Tour of Both Yala and Udawalawe National Parks

9. 1-Day Tour of Both Yala and Udawalawe National Parks

Start the day with an early morning pickup at 5 AM from your hotel and make your way to Yala National Park, home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Meet your private guide and climb into a sturdy 4x4 vehicle. Enjoy sunrise at the park — the ‘Golden Hours’ of the day — and explore the light forests, scrubs, grasslands, lagoons, and magnificent range of animals Following the safari, there will be a picnic lunch before the drive to Udawalawe National Park. Arriving here in the afternoon allows you to explore from 2:30 PM until sunset when the park closes at 6 PM. Search for the world’s most concentrated number of elephants, spotted deer, jackals, wild boar, wild buffalo, crocodiles, and many other animals as your knowledgeable guide and driver expertly navigates the vast area and roads.   After the closure of the park, the trip concludes with a drop-off at your hotel.

From Negombo: Bentota Full-Day Tour

10. From Negombo: Bentota Full-Day Tour

Begin your day at 8:00 AM at Madu River in Balapitiya for a boat safari. For one-hour, journey through the primitive depths of the mangrove marshes. Traverse the dark and dangerous caverns, formed by the thick mangrove forests, interspersed with stretches of bright open water.  The next destination is the Kothduwa Temple. This Buddhist temple is located on the island and is known as the Kothduwa Raja Maha Viharaya. The island is within the Madu Ganga Estuary. Madu Ganga is an archipelago of fifteen different islands and a lagoon. It is believed that a Relic of Lord Buddha was once sheltered in the Kothduwa temple circa 340CE.  Enjoy lunch then visit the Lunuganga Garden. Geoffrey Bawa was one of Asia's finest architects. He passed away in 2003. Lunuganga was Bawa’s country home. It sits in an enchanting atmosphere with glorious views. It is now managed by the Lunuganga Trust. Admire the home’s features and blissfulness. It is now run as a country hotel and the proceeds go to Negombo.

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What people are saying about Southern Province, Sri Lanka

I highly recommend using apple vacations agency when you visit Sri Lanka! They offer a wide range of tours and packages to fit a variety of budgets. Our guide Niraveen and driver were on time and accommodating. This full day tour was lovely and enjoyable! Loved visiting the turtle hatchery center, the boat ride through the mangrove, and the place they took us for lunch was superb! Really trustworthy company!

The guide showed up on time in the morning and he was very polite and informing. They took us to a very nice restaurant for lunch near the ocean and the food was delicious. Whole tour was satisfying with very nice views, herbal garden visit and boat tour on Madu River.

I had a tour guide Muditha from Withlocals. A well educated and very nice young man with proper knowledge of English and international experience. Enjoyed talking to him and his company. From the downside - expected to see more for this money.

Great tour, guides and service. Everything was on time and smooth. The national park was beautiful. The only complaint we have is that it's more expensive than if we'd have just arranged with local tour operators.

Everything was great Picked up from the hotel Brought to the yala Ride along the yala Saw a leopard Arrived at the hotel in Galle