Tag: Udawalawe with kids

Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids.

We absolutely loved our time in Sri Lanka and it was easily one of our best family trips to date. You can read here why we think Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids. So we thought we’d share with you our Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids. Feel free to copy it exactly for your own travels, tweak it to fit your own time or interests, or just simply use it for inspiration.

TraveLynn Family in Sri Lanka

We focused on a Southern loop to take in pristine beaches, colonial architecture, a safari to meet elephants and some time in the Hill Country. It was only about 2 to 4 hours generally between destinations which is very doable with young kids. Our preferred mode of transport was train, but if the tracks didn’t go to where we wanted we would opt for a tuk-tuk and time the drive with our 12pm nap/downtime. A car would have been faster, we just prefer to travel in tuk-tuks as they’re open and offer that sense of freedom as you watch the world breeze by. We did miss out some classic tourist spots such as Sigiriya and Dumbulla, but the former particularly requires a lot of climbing for little legs (our boys are aged 2 and 3) and we figured we’d leave that for another trip.

So here is our day by day Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids.

Day 1-2 Colombo

Arrive in Colombo. Head to the train station first thing to book your train tickets (if you haven’t already done this online). Wander around the historic Fort area and old town quarter of Slave Island, visit Gangaramara Temple, let the kids enjoy all that Viharamahadevi Park has to offer – a playground, water fountains to run in, a small train, horse-riding, an aquarium – and head to to Galle Face Green around sunset for dinner from a street vendor and watch the kites and snake charmers. Getting around Colombo is very easy as all tuk-tuks use the meter. Just ensure you have Google Maps downloaded offline to direct them, if necessary. You can read more about Colombo with kids here.

We stayed at: Anugaa in the City

Sri Lanka with kids Colombo

Day 3 Galle

Catch the train to Galle, just a 2.5 hour journey along the coast. Take a walk along the fort walls and explore the Dutch Colonial buildings. Try to time this later in the day to escape the heat and package tourist day-trippers. The full circuit along the top of the wall can be done in under 2 hours. However, for little explorers that like to climb the walls, look for dragons and generally walk a little slower, we suggest splitting the walk in two and saving a section for an early morning stroll on Day 4. Read more about Galle here.

We stayed at Fort de 19 villa

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Galle

Day 4-5 Mirissa

After your early morning stroll exploring more of Galle Fort, take a tuk-tuk to Mirissa (LKR1800, 1 hour), via a turtle hatchery, to enjoy some beach time. The main beach at Mirissa offers a long shady stretch of sandy beach, perfect for building sandcastles. The waves and current are strong, so join the kids in jumping over the waves. You can also visit Secret Beach and walk back to the main beach through the jungle. Ensure you receive clear directions. We got very lost. The walk should take around 40 mins with little legs.

If your visiting between September and April, you may like to go on a whale watching cruise in Mirissa (tours are also running in July and August, but the water may be a bit choppy for little ones). It’s one of the best places in the world to see the blur whale!

We stayed at Lashan Guest House. It’s tucked away in a quiet area 400m from the beach, but the owners will happily drop you at the main beach in their tuk-tuk. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Mirissa

Day 6-7 Udawalawe National Park

It’s time to meet some elephants! Take a tuk-tuk to Udawalawe (3hrs, LKR5000, would be 2hrs in a car). We stayed in glamping tents at Kottawatta Village just outside the National Park. Book your 3 hour safari with the resort for 5:30am. Kids under 5 are free and so the total price for entrance fee, jeep hire and safari guide was LKR7500 for our family of 4. The resort provides snacks for the safari and breakfast on your return. You are pretty much guaranteed to see elephants! When not on safari, enjoy your time at the resort. It has an onsite restaurant, swimming pool with kids’ area, hammocks for napping and you’ll meet monkeys on your veranda. You can read our full post on Udawalawe National Park here.

We stayed at: Kottawatta Village

Day 8-10 Arugam Bay

Another tuk-tuk ride (4.5hrs, LRK7500, 3hrs by car) brings you to Arugam Bay, the surf mecca of Sri Lanka. But there’s more to this surfer town than barrels and boards (that’s as far as my surfing lingo goes!). Wonderful family friendly accommodation awaits at Elephant Road Resort, set back from the main party strip. Air conditioned rooms with two double beds and a comfortable outdoor space (with hammock and hanging bed) overlook a sandy courtyard where your kids can run free. The super-chilled Israeli owner (Miki) has created a community vibe, very welcoming of children. Miki also knows THE BEST spots around Arugam Bay. Our favourites were Elephant Rock Beach, Peanut Farm Beach and watching the sun set from Crocodile Rock. You can read our full post on Arugam Bay with kids here.

We stayed at: Elephant Road Resort

Day 11-12 Ella

It’s time to say farewell to the beaches and head inland to explore the tea plantations and jungle-clad hills of the Central Hill Country. A tuk-tuk will take 4 hours to get to Ella (LRK2000). Again, you can do the journey quicker by car (3hrs), but be weary that there are many hairpin bends as you approach Ella and the open sides of a tuk-tuk may help with kids who are prone to travel sickness. Whilst in Ella, visit a tea plantation (the kids will love seeing all the big machinery in operation), visit the Nine Arches Bridge and climb Little Adam’s Peak (ask a tuk-tuk to take you as far as possible to save those little legs for the steep stairs they need to navigate at the top).

We stayed at Ella Ridge View, a lovely family homestay with lots of toys and other children to play with.

Arthur_summit

Day 12-14 Living Heritage Koslanda
After all that travelling, it’s time to treat yourselves indulge and in some luxury. Take the 1hr train from to Haputale; this stretch of track is perhaps the most stunning in all of Sri Lanka. A tuk-tuk will then drive you down into the valley to the tranquility of Living Heritage Koslanda. The smiling Mr Carrim awaits to escort you to your stylish villa with plunge pool and outdoor shower. Enjoy the incredible infinity pool, take a hike to the private waterfall, or just enjoy the space, freedom and peace that the 80 acres of pristine land offers. You can read our full review here. We only stayed 2 nights, but we seriously wished we’d stayed 3.

We stayed at Living Heritage Koslanda

Day 15 Kandy

Today is your longest travel day. 5.5 hours on a train to Kandy. We found the bustle of Kandy to be quite a shock to the system after the serenity of Living Heritage Koslanda. However, there is a good playground, which the boys certainly appreciated, and a visit to the Temple of the Tooth is a must.

We stayed at River Side Homestay Appartment. This is a lovely family homestay about 5 minutes drive out of Kandy. Tuk-tuk drivers from Kandy will not know the way. Ensure you have the property marked on Google Maps on your phone and take the phone number of the owner with you. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Kandy

Day 16 Back to Colombo

A 2 hour fast train completes the loop and returns you to Colombo. We spent our last day catching up with old friends who live in Colombo, enjoying a swim in their pool and eating pizza.

 

I hope this helps you work out your own Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids. Although feel free to copy ours exactly! If your kids are older, check out this great list of 12 Best Things To Do In Sri Lanka.

Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family was kindly hosted by some accommodations mentioned above.  However the opinions and words are all our own, based on our own experiences. This post also contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I get a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

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Udawalawe National Park with kids

Udawalawe NP with young kids: meeting elephants in the Sri Lankan wilderness

Are you looking to visit Udawalawe NP with young kids? We were only twenty minutes into our safari, when a Mummy elephant and her calf appeared from behind a bush and stood just a few metres away from us. Watching such a majestic and powerful creature in their natural setting was incredible and her peaceful nature created a serene atmosphere in the early morning light. Even our two boys (aged two and three years old) instinctively knew to whisper, so as not to disturb the magical moment.

Udawalawe with kids - elephants

Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations in the world to see elephants in the wild, and all at a fraction of what it would cost in Southern or East Africa. We loved our visit to Udawalawe National Park where you are pretty much guaranteed to see them. If you ask my three year old for the highlight of his Sri Lanka travels, he answers straight away: Mummy Elephant. Read here why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids.

Udawalawe with kids - boys on safari

The details

The safari was just three hours long, the perfect length of time for little ones.  We were provided with our own private jeep (including driver/guide). Half the fun of the safari was actually bouncing along in the open jeep through the bush with the wind rushing past.  And it didn’t feel busy; much of the time, there wasn’t another jeep in sight!

Kids under 5 are free, so the total price for entrance fee, private jeep and safari driver/guide was LKR7500 for our family of four. We booked through our accommodation (see below) and we had a choice of a 5:30am or 2:30pm safari. We went for the early morning to embrace the morning light and avoid the daytime heat. Our accommodation provided snacks of banana, biscuits and chocolate bar each.

Udawalawe with kids - jeep

Other animals to see

There are plenty of peacocks and colourful birds to see. Your safari guide will point them out to you. There are also monkeys, water buffalo, crocodiles, and if you’re extremely lucky and look very very hard, a leopard. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t our day to meet a leopard but you may have more luck.

Udawalawe with kids - bird

Udawalawe with kids - crocodile

Where we stayed

We stayed in glamping tents at Kottawatta Village just outside the National Park. The tents (£19 per night at the time of writing, including breakfast) come with a double bed (which the four of us shared – cosy!), mosquito net, a large industrial fan (there’s electricity!) and an ensuite bathroom with hot shower. There’s a veranda overlooking the rainforest and expect to see a lot of monkeys. If camping really isn’t your thing and you need sturdier walls, you can pay a little more to stay in a bungalow.

Udawalawe with kids - Kottawatta Village

We opted to stay for two nights as the resort is a lovely place to relax. There’s an onsite restaurant serving Western, Chinese and Sri Lankan dishes, a swimming pool with separate kids’ area, and some comfy hammocks for chilling.

Udawalawe with kids - Kottawatta Village swimming pool

Udawalawe with kids - Kottawatta Village hammocks

How to get there

Udawalawe isn’t on the train network. We chose to get a tuk-tuk from our accommodation in Mirissa. The 3 hour journey cost LKR5000. Otherwise you could take a car, which would take 2 hours and cost a little more. You can easily organise a tuk-tuk or car through the accommodation you stay at prior to arriving at Udawalawe. We then organised a tuk-tuk to Arugam Bay through Kottawatta Village (4.5hrs, LRK7500, 3hrs by car). We always opt for a tuk-tuk over a car as we love the sense of freedom they provide; open sides, air rushing past as you drive through the countryside.

Where else can you see elephants?

You can also hang out with the elephants at Minneriya National Park, Yala National Park, Kumana National Park and the lagoons around Pottuvil. However, Udawalawe fitted in nicely with our Sri Lanka itinerary, breaking up the journey between the Southern beaches of Mirissa and the Eastern beaches of Arugam Bay. Also, research advised us that Udawalawe provides the best chance of seeing the elephants. However, Minneriya is famous for ‘The Gathering’ which takes place during the dry season (July to November), when hundreds of elephants gather around the shores of an ancient reservoir – although expect there to be A LOT of tourists.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I get a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 

Udawalawe with kids. Pin for later.

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

You may also wish to read:
Why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids
Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids
Arugam Bay SRI LANKA with kids

Tin Box Traveller

 

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