North Sri Lanka Revealed

18 days
from
£2,179
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Trip code: 
AKSO
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture & Discovery Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

A comprehensive journey discovering this inspiring island from the very north to the very south

Sri Lanka is a small county but it offers a range of sights and experiences that few destinations can match. This is the most comprehensive itinerary of the island that Exodus runs as it includes the undiscovered Northern provinces, an area where few tourists are yet to travel. From the ornate Hindu temples of Jaffna in the north and the secluded beaches of the east, to the wildlife of Udawalawe National Park in the south and the popular highlights of Sigirya and Kandy in-between; this is a trip that explores everything that Sri Lanka has to offer.

Highlights

  • The unexplored north, including the Hindu temples of Jaffna
  • Game drives in Wilpattu and Udawalawe National Parks
  • Discover the ancient capital of Anuradhapura
  • Climb the rock fortress at Sigirya for breathtaking views
  • The beautiful lakeside town of Kandy

Key information

  • Travel by private bus, boat, bicycle and jeep
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs.
  • 16 nights hotels, all en suite

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 4 lunches
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    The group flight usually departs in the evening from London Heathrow.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Colombo; to Watalla.

    The group flight arrives at Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport and we transfer to our hotel at Watalla on the coast just north of Colombo. Those not flying with the group will meet us at the hotel.
    Palm Village Hotel or similar

  • Day 3

    Head north to Anuradhapura via Wilpattu N.P.

    We depart after breakfast for the drive to Anuradhapura (approx. 4-5 hours) including a game drive in Wilpattu National Park. Wilpattu, Sri Lanka's largest national park, is a fairly thick dry zone jungle interspersed with a number of flood plain lakes banked with delicate white sand. The biggest draws in Wilpattu are leopards and Sloth bears. Alongside these, it is possible to see Asian elephants, Spotted deer, Barking deer, Wild boar, Asiatic buffalo and Mugger crocodiles. Leaving the park, we drive to nearby Anuradhapura where we spend the next two nights.
    The Lakeside at Nuwarawewa or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Sightseeing in Anuradhapura and Mihintale.

    Today we start in the sacred city of Anuradhapura. Now picturesque ruins, it was once a major centre of Sri Lankan civilisation. There is a lot to see including huge bell-shaped stupas, the sacred Bodhi tree, eight major palaces, monasteries and monuments. Later in the day we travel the short distance to the mountain peak of Mihintale, believed to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
    The Lakeside at Nuwarawewa or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    To Jaffna via Tantirimalai.

    We have a full day's journey north today to Jaffna (approx. 6 hours). After an hour we will stop at Tantirimale monastery, which is set in a vast panoramic area amongst sprawling boulders, in the midst of thick forest. The climb and the walk around the caves and restored ruins is a pleasant experience. Reaching the top of the rock we arrive at the Bodhi tree, one of the first eight off shoots of the original Bo-sapling brought to Sri Lanka during the time of King Devanampiyatissa in the third Century BC. After our visit here we will continue our journey to Jaffna.
    Tilko Jaffna City Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Visit the islands of Nayinativu and Delft.

    Leaving Jaffna early in the morning we drive across causeways to Punkudutivu (approx. 1 hour) where we will take a ferry over to Delft (Neduntheevu). This is the largest island in the Palk Strait and is Sri Lanka's furthest inhabited point. The island has a small population but a rich history and is home to a variety of small archaeological and cultural sites, as well as wild ponies. Very few tourists venture here and with little infrastructure it is an adventurous journey. We also visit Nainativu and Nagapooshani Amman, an impressive Hindu temple, as well as the Buddhist shrine of Nagadeepa Vihare. Please note that today's inclusions are weather dependent, if it is not possible to travel to Delft then your leader will organise alternative sightseeing.
    Tilko Jaffna City Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Jaffna sightseeing including the Hindu temple at Keerimale and Dambakola Patuna.

    A slightly more relaxing day, but we still keep busy visiting a number of sites in and around Jaffna. In the morning we will head out of the main city to visit the Hindu temple at Keerimale, one of the oldest shrines of the region and the northernmost shrine on the island. Its adjacent water tank, the Keerimalai Springs, is believed to have curative properties. We will also visit Dambakola Patuna where the sacred Buddhist Bo Sapling first arrived in Sri Lanka. Returning to Jaffna city there will be time for lunch before visiting Jaffna Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1618, as well as Jaffna Public Library, a buliding known for its elegant neo-Mughal design.
    Tilko Jaffna City Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To Nilaveli, near Trincomalee; visit Kanniyai Wells en route.

    We leave the very north of the country today and head to the beaches of the east coast (approx. 6-7 hours). En route we will stop at the hot springs of Kanniyai, where there are seven hot wells of varying temperatures, commonly referred to as 'the Seven Wonders of Sri Lanka'.
    Pigeon Island Beach Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Free day to relax on the beach; optional trip to Pigeon Island.

    Today is free for you to relax by the hotel pool or do some optional activities such as whale watching (March - August) or snorkelling. The tropical conditions of the Indian Ocean mean it is the habitat to hundreds of thousands of varied species. Your leader will give you further information, and costs, for the optional activities before you arrive in Nilaveli.
    Pigeon Island Beach Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    To Sigiriya via Trincomalee; afternoon climb the rock fortress.

    We set off early this morning to see some of the sites of Trincomalee before transferring to Sigiriya (approx. 3 hours). The main site we visit is Koneswaram temple, one of the three principal places of worship dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva; we will also see the outside of Fort Frederick, built by Portuguese colonials. After transfering to Sigiriya and having lunch we drive to the foot of the Lions Rock. The imposing 5th century rock fortress of Sigiriya rises 600 feet from the plains overlooking the surrounding countryside giving far-reaching views. Used as a safe haven from invaders, the route to the top is up a series of steep steps and gangways. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive water gardens, we ascend 200m, passing an overhanging rock under which superb portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the rock wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit of the rock are extensive remains of the King's Summer Palace from where there are breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside. The descent is much easier and you can cool off in the hotel pool at dusk.
    Hotel Sigiriya or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Bike ride through country villages; optional jeep safari.

    This morning we will take a gentle bike ride through the local villages and soak up the atmosphere. In the afternoon you can either relax by the hotel pool or take an optional game drive to see elephants in their natural habitat. We will visit either Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park, or the Hurulu Eco Park. Which park we visit will depend on the time of year and where the majority of elephants are at the time.
    Hotel Sigiriya or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 12

    Drive to Kandy via Dambulla and spice gardens.

    Today we visit the magnificent Cave Temple at Dambulla, for some, the most impressive sight in Sri Lanka. There are colourful and very well preserved paintings and statues of the Buddha inside the caves, which date back to the 1st Century BC. After lunch we stop at a spice garden near Matale where you can see various spices and herbs growing. There is a chance to stock up on massage oils, spices and Ayurvedic medicines. After this we drive to Kandy.
    Hotel Thilanka or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Visit Temple of the Tooth, the Botanical Gardens and a gem factory; optional cultural show.

    Kandy is located on a small lake and we spend the day in and around the town. We visit the Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic. The Tooth of Buddha was taken from the funeral pyre in 543 BC and only found its way to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD. There are literally hundreds of worshippers who visit the temple each day and in August the most spectacular ceremony takes place. Some of our trips in August should coincide with the Kandy festival, but the exact dates, decided by priests, are not known until 5 months prior to the event. After our visit we drive to a beautiful viewpoint over Kandy overlooked by a huge Buddha, and visit a gem museum where you can see the products of the traditional methods of gem extraction. Another highlight is the vast Peradeniya Botanical Garden with species of orchid, plants endemic to Sri Lanka. In the evening we may have the chance to attend a performance of local dancing and fire eating.
    Hotel Thilanka or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Visit a tea plantation, transfer to Ella.

    This morning we leave Kandy and head towards Ella; on the way we visit a tea factory to learn about tea production. We should also have time to stop in Bandarawella, a trading centre where exotic fruits from the east coast are traded for hill-country vegetables. We continue on to Ella Gap where we hopefully have spectacular views of the coastal plain nearly 1,000m below. Almost the whole of the southern part of the island is in view and on a particularly clear day the shimmering silver of the Indian Ocean is visible.
    Hotel Heaven's Edge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Udawalawe jeep safari, to south coast.

    We have a chance for a relaxed breakfast before we head further south to Udawalawe National Park. With an area of 30,821 hectares, this park covers the catchment area of Udawalawe reservoir, and has a rich elephant population estimated at around 500. We view the wildlife of the park by jeep giving us the best chance to see elephants in their natural habitat. After our game drive we leave for the coast, with its beautiful palm fringed bays.
    Insight Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Free day.

    Today's free day to relax on the beach or by the hotel pool. There are also numerous optional activities that you can take part in during the day including a boat ride through mangrove swamps to a cinnamon plantation. From November to April you can go whale watching off Dondra head, one of the best places in the world for seeing Blue and Sperm whales. Huge pods of dolphins are also often seen playing alongside the boats.
    Insight Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

    To Colombo via Galle.

    We set off today and drive along the coastal road to the historic port of Galle, visiting a turtle hatchery on the way. Galle dates back to the 17th century, and now a UNESCO world heritage site. We take the express way to Colombo reaching our hotel in the late afternoon.
    Hotel Mirage or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 18

    Depart Colombo; arrive London.

    If you are travelling on the group flight we will have a morning transfer to the airport for the daytime flight to London. The arrangements for those not flying with the group ends after check out.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

Sri Lanka

A visa (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is required if you are British and for most other nationalities. If you do not hold a British passport, please check the visa requirements with your local Sri Lankan Embassy or the ETA website www.eta.gov.lk. Passengers should also be aware of local laws and customs in Sri Lanka (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sri-lanka/local-laws-and-customs). The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is an offence; please note that people have been refused entry to Sri Lanka because of visible tattoos of Buddha.

Vaccinations

Sri Lanka

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 4 lunches are included.

We suggest allowing about £15-£17 (approx. US$24 - US$27.50) per day for all other meals. Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the island’s heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Despite, or perhaps because of, these influences Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to simply as ‘Rice and Curry’; this is the staple dish in most restaurants and is usually a serving of rice accompanied by assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as various pickles, ‘sambols,’ and a handful of tiny poppadum’s – all using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic. The variety is constant and this along with the abundance of fresh seafood and fish ensures the cuisine is a constant highlight of the trip. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Sri Lanka the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat or dairy-free, please be prepared for this and you may need to bring these from home. Spicier food can be avoided easily and lots of the hotels with serve Western options alongside traditional food.

Weather

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with two distinct wet seasons or monsoons. The SW monsoon brings rain to that area of the island between May and August. The NE monsoon takes place from October to January and only really affects the north and east coastal regions. Generally, you should expect rain at some time but with plenty of sunshine. On the plains, day and night time temperatures are warm to hot with Colombo having an average daytime temperature of 30ºC. The temperatures drop as we go higher into the hills where daytime temperatures are between 10º - 15º C and night time temperatures will be chilly (about 8º C minimum) and a warmish jacket will be needed.

Kandy

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate) This is not a demanding trip but there are a number of long drives on bumpy and twisty mountain roads. However the tour vehicles are comfortable and air-conditioned. Temperatures can vary between the tropical heat of the coast to the cool of the mountains. Whilst travelling in the relatively remote and less developed northern regions, patience is required as the service in the hotels and restaurants will be slower than you may be used to in other countries. On day 10 we take a bike ride though the countryside. The route is flat and takes us along quiet roads and canal towpaths. However if you do not wish to participate you are welcome to follow in the tour bus.

Accommodation

Hotels

Hotels on this trip are generally of a very good standard, most with swimming pools and good facilities. Please note that hotels in Sri Lanka are becoming increasingly busy and occasionally we have to find alternatives to the ones that we usually use. We will endeavour to find the nearest alternative that provides the same standard of rooms.

Single accommodation available on request.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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