Kick off your stay on a high - take the helicopter from Colombo to Ulagalla, and you can be on your sunlounger in an hour.

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Pack your binoculars, as there's plenty to see at this boutique hotel in the heart of the Cultural Triangle; mischievous monkeys play in the bushes, and elegant peacocks perch majestically in the trees.

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Set in 58 acres of jungle, the serene scenery (and privacy) is the big draw here - there are 20 thatched villas dotted around open paddy fields. Activities include guided nature walks, jungle kayaking and Balinese spa treatments, while beyond the gates are the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the centuries-old, 200m-high Sigiriya rock fortress, and the Minneriya National Park - it's the place to see elephants in the wild.

WOW FACTOR A sunrise hot air balloon ride over the misty valley around the rock temple of Dambulla. Unforgettable.

ONE-STOP WONDERS

FLIGHT TIME 10.5hrs from the UK

GO Ampersand Travel www.ampersandtravel.com offers seven nights from £2,020 per person, B&B. Includes flights and transfers