Discover Sri Lanka

16 days
from
£1,999
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Traveller ratings
4.7 / 5 from 199 reviews >
Trip code: 
AIL
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
4–18
Min age:
16

Spend two weeks exploring the delights of this diverse and inspiring island

Lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a natural paradise with a landscape of verdant mountains, rainforests, paddy fields, tumbling waterfalls and sweeping gorges. From ancient Buddhist temples, the fortress of Sigiriya, the towns of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in the hill country, the wildlife of Yala National Park (which has one of the highest concentrations of leopards in the world), to the idyllic palm-fringed beaches of the south coast, this small island offers incredible variety, made extra special by its laid back atmosphere and hospitable people.

Highlights

  • The magnificent cave temples at Dambulla

  • Cycle through rice paddy fields

  • Search for leopard in Yala National Park

  • Climb the rock fortress at Sigiriya for breathtaking views

Key information

  • 14 nights comfortable hotels, all en suite
  • Travel by private bus
  • Additional travel by train, bicycle and jeep
  • Some long drives
  • Countries visited: Sri Lanka

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 1 lunch
  • All accommodation
  • 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
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

All the hotels used on this trip are dedicated to hiring local staff and uses local produce wherever possible. This thereby provides employment opportunities and ensures that the money stays within the local community. We strongly encourage fostering interaction with the locals and hence, we have visits to a farm house and a Tsunami victim’s home in Tangalle to foster friendship over a meal. Additionally, we ensure that the vehicles used on this tour are subjected to annual eco testing and monitored closely to minimise our carbon footprint.

We have financially co-sponsored a local Tsunami relief project – ‘Back to Life’ after the Tsunami in 2004. This enabled 25 families to be rehoused and for two schools to be equipped with toilets, running water and outdoor swings.  In collaboration with a German partner and the village temple, we have helped towards 10 large water tanks and an eye clinic in a remote village with a donation of 200 pairs of glasses. We also assisted in the development of a day care and education of school children in the hill country.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Depart London.

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

  • Day 2

    Arrive Colombo; transfer to Veyangoda.

    The group flight arrives at Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport and we transfer to our hotel approximately 30 minutes away. Those not flying with the group will meet us at the hotel.
    The Covanro or alternative accommodation in the area

  • Day 3

    Visit cave temples at Dambulla; to Sigiriya.

    We depart after breakfast for the drive (approx. 4 hours) through lush green countryside (a mix of coconut palms, paddy fields and banana plantations) through Kurunegala to Dambulla. Here we visit the magnificent Cave Temple, for some, the most impressive sight in Sri Lanka. There are colourful, well preserved paintings and statues of Buddha inside the caves, which date back to the 1st century BC. After lunch we continue to Sigiriya where we stay for the night. From our hotel we can see Lions Rock rising up from the plains (occasionally we may stay nearer to Dambulla due to hotel availability).
    Hotel Sigiriya or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Morning climb to the rock fortress; optional afternoon game drive.

    This morning we drive to the foot of the Lions Rock at Sigiriya. The imposing 5th century rock fortress of Sigiriya rises 600 feet from the plains overlooking the surrounding countryside and giving far-reaching views. Used as a safe haven from invaders, the route to the top goes via 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.

    During the afternoon there is a chance to enjoy an optional game drive in either Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park or the Hurulu Eco Park to see elephants in their natural habitat. For those who don’t want to take part, there is time to relax at the hotel.
    Hotel Sigiriya or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    To Giritale; bike ride through country villages.

    This morning we have a short drive to Giritale where our usual hotel overlooks the scenic Giritale Tank. The island’s early inhabitants solved the dual problem of heat and lack of water in this dry area by constructing large tanks to act as reservoirs and cool the warm breeze. Nowadays they provide an important habitat for bird life, particularly from August to April. Today we take to bikes and cycle at a leisurely pace through a series of small villages and lakes (if you do not wish to participate you can hire a tuk tuk locally for approximately £10 per tuk tuk and follow the group but not cycle). We should see plenty of bird life including Egrets, Brahmany kites, Kingfishers and Bulbuls. Stopping for lunch in a traditional village will break up the journey. In the late afternoon we return to our hotel in Giritale.

    Giritale Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Visit ancient capital of Polonnaruwa; drive to Kandy via spice garden.

    After breakfast we take a short drive to the 10th century capital of Sri Lanka; Polonnaruwa, the ancient capital of the Sinhalese. Here there are many Buddhist relics and ruins dating from a thousand years ago when Sinhalese culture reached its zenith. The city flourished in the 12th century after the decision was made to move the capital from Anuradhapura, so it was further away from incursions from Southern India. The ruins are therefore younger and better preserved than those at Anuradhapura. We visit many of the temples, palaces, huge dagobas (Buddhist stupas) and remarkable Buddhist sculptures. After lunch we head into the hills to the picturesque town of Kandy. On the way we stop at a spice garden near Matale where we can see various spices and herbs growing, and there is a chance to stock up on massage oils, spices and Ayurvedic medicines. This is a long but fascinating day and we arrive at Kandy in the early evening.
    Hotel Thilanka or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Days 7-8

    Free time in Kandy to explore or relax.

    Kandy is located by a small lake and we spend two full days in and around the town. On the first day we will 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 that are endemic to Sri Lanka. In the evening we may have the chance to attend a performance of dancing and fire walking.

    The second day is free to explore this wonderful town. The surrounding hills are wonderful, offering fantastic views of the town below and there are many handicraft stores and antique shops in which to browse.
    Hotel Thilanka or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    To Nuwara Eliya via Kitulgala; optional Adams Peak climb (Dec-Apr only).

    Leaving Kandy early, we have a spectacular drive through the countryside on the way to Kitulgala. Here we have the opportunity of going on a walk through the jungle or local villages followed by an optional white water rafting excursion. The rafting costs extra (see the Optional Excursions section), lasts a maximum of 1.5 hours and there is a choice of gentle or wild water (grade 3 rapids) depending on your preference. Those of us who do not wish to go rafting will be able to freshen up and relax by the water until the rafters return in time for lunch. Afterwards we will drive to our hotel in Nuwara Eliya.

    (Please note that from the full moon day of December to the full moon day of May it is possible to climb Adams Peak. This is optional and you need to be very fit to attempt this. You would leave Nuwara Eliya at 11pm on day 8 and drive to the base of the peak. From here it is a strenuous 4 hour climb to the top in time for sunrise. We then return to Nuwara Eliya to join the group for lunch on day 9).
    Mirage Kings Cottage (or similar) 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Free morning in old colonial hillstation of Nuwara Eliya. Visit tea factory in afternoon.

    This morning we will have free time to explore the beautiful town of Nuwara Eliya. Nuwara Eliya was a popular hill station during the British era and is situated in the cool highland air at 1890m. Known locally as 'Little England' it is dotted with British style houses and parks and features a golf club and a racecourse! Following lunch we will visit a nearby tea factory and learn about the process of tea production.
    Mirage Kings Cottage (or similar) 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Early morning to Horton Plains; walk to World's End viewpoint; to Bandarawela by train.

    We have an early start this morning and take a 30km drive south to Horton Plains, a large plateau over 2,000m high, overlooked by the second and third highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The scenery is beautiful and the best way to explore is on foot. We take a guided walk through the rolling grasslands where we hope to see such as the Sambur and Purple Faced monkey. We also visit 'World's End' which is one of the most stunning sights in Sri Lanka where the ground drops 1050m to the plains. Following this we catch a train from the highest railway station in the country - within an hour and a half we drop from 1889m to 1097m. The train travels through the cloud forest into the tea plantations, with breath-taking views of the lush valley below. Please note that at times, particularly in peak season, the train may be extremely busy with standing room only. As a result you may get a choice between taking the train or going by road, and in extreme cases the leader may decide that the whole group should go by road and avoid the train. We get off at Bandarawela, a town relatively untouched by tourism.

    Orient Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Scenic drive through Ella Gap to Kataragama; game drive in Yala N.P.

    Today we continue on to Ella Gap where we have spectacular views of the coastal plain nearly 1,000m below. Almost the entire southern part of the island is in view and on a particularly clear day the shimmering silver of the Indian Ocean is visible. Heading south out of the hills we travel to Kataragama on the plains; this is our base for visiting Sri Lanka's best known national park, Yala. The park is popular for elephant, leopard, bear, crocodile and Wild boar. At 97,800 hectares, this is the second largest of Sri Lanka's national parks. Its open undulating terrain made it famous for elephants for many years, but recently the park has also become better known for leopard. The park, which is primarily shrub jungle with several salt and fresh water lagoons, has one of the highest concentrations of leopard per square kilometre in the world. (Please note that the sanctuary may be closed for 4-6 weeks from September to October allowing the park authorities to check the welfare of the animals. We therefore go to an alternative area close by, usually Udawalawe National Park).
    Mandara Rosen or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Drive to Tangalle and walk through rice paddies; coastal drive to Ahangama; optional lunch at Tsunami house.

    Today we leave for the coast, with its beautiful palm fringed bays. Stopping on the way at Hambantota and walking to a nearby farm house where you be offered tea in a coconut shell along with a local snack. We will mix with real Sri Lankan life and take part in some traditional Sri Lankan games, returning to our bus in tractors used by the farmers. We have the option of enjoying lunch at one of the houses that we built for Tsunami victims; this may be one of the best curries of your trip! Continuing on to Ahangama in the afternoon we arrive at our coastal hotel and you can relax for the rest of the day.
    Insight Resort or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Free day to relax on the beach or optional activities including whale watching (Nov to April).

    Today is a free day to relax on the beach or by the hotel pool. There are also optional activities during the day including a boat ride through mangrove swamps to a cinnamon plantation or, 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 alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    To Galle; visit old fort; transfer to Colombo.

    We set off today and drive along the coastal road to the historic port of Galle, which dates back to the 17th century, and now a UNESCO world heritage site. On the way we stop at a small folk museum inspired by the local writer Martin Wickramasinghe. The museum is a typical house from the Koggala region and is set amongst beautiful gardens. We continue along the expressway to Colombo reaching our hotel in the late afternoon.

    Hotel Mirage or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Fly to 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
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Maldives

If you are keen to end your holiday on a very relaxed note we can arrange a visit to the Maldives for you.

The flight from Colombo is around 1 hour and upon arrival you will be transferred by speedboat (approximately 20mins) to the Paradise Island 4* resort. Paradise Island is a beautiful coral island with a total land area of 178,900 square metres, covered with lush tropical vegetation, numerous palm trees, surrounded by a wide sandy beach and the crystal clear waters of an azure lagoon.

 You can choose to add on as many extra nights to your trip as you wish; your time on the island will be at leisure for you to do as you wish. The accommodation used has a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, room service and all rooms are air‐conditioned and have en suite facilities. As well as the modern amenities of the resort there is also access to scuba diving and snorkelling or for the less active the chance to swim in these wonderful, calm waters. Either way it is a veritable paradise and a memorable end to the trip.

 If you choose to take advantage of this opportunity then we can arrange flights for you to Malé as well as booking the hotel and speedboat transfer to the island.

Essential Info

Visas

Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan Department of Immigration & Emigration has announced that from 1 August 2019 to 31 January 2020, British nationals on short visits to Sri Lanka of up to 30 days can get a visa on arrival free of charge. For up-to-date information and advice on visas, check with the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK

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.

Exodus visa information sheet for British passport holders.

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 1 lunch is 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 as simply ‘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.

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 will serve Western options alongside traditional food.

Weather

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 and especially at Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains 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?

This is not a demanding trip although there are a few long drives, on bumpy and twisty mountain roads. The buses that we use are comfortable and air-conditioned. Temperatures can vary between the tropical heat of the coast to the cool of the mountains.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

You will spend 14 nights in en suite hotels. Hotels on this trip are generally of a good standard, most with swimming pools and good facilities. The standards and styles of the hotels do vary however and some of our selections are based on location and what is available in the area or the character and atmosphere at the premises.

The hotel that we typically use on the south coast for two nights has been selected because it has a good beach location, where it is possible to swim in the sea most of the time, there are good photo opportunities with the stilt fisherman nearby and it is within close proximity to the optional excursions. Although service at the hotel can sometimes be rather slow it is a small property so the staff and management are flexible and cater for our group’s needs.

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 a similar standard of rooms.

Single accommodation available on request.

Please  note paying the  single supplement may not mean that you receive a double or twin room for sole use. The room you are allocated may differ from hotel to hotel , and on some nights a  smaller room for ‘one person’ may well be allocated.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2019
    Peter Woodward

    Would I go again? Yes I would.

    From tropical beaches, through steaming jungles to Scottish moorlands Sri Lanka has it all. Where else can you grow where they grow pineapples, coconuts and cashew nuts a few miles down the road from tea, potatoes and leeks? Fantastic scenery, great food and wonderful people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a 5ft water lizard at our first road side stop after leaving the airport. Just a taste of what was to come.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader had a great sense of humour and loved his country. Standard answer to any question was usually "90 minutes" and he wasn't far wrong.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with the flow. Sri Lankans don't like to hurry and preparing fresh food takes time.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Not quite paradise but not far from it. If you have been you will know what I mean, if not then what are you waiting for?
  • Reviewed May 2019
    tom jestico

    We scratched the surface

    We were a mixed bunch of travellers from mainly the UK, aged from 24 to 76, single and partnered. Roshan was our tour guide - he'd been doing it for over 10 years, so there was a certain repetition in his recommendations. Sometimes we were simply let loose to explore without guidance. We enjoyed his descriptions about social life in Sri Lanka and his take on politics but he was reticent about the current situation and we learned little about his private life. He was very helpful at all times. Some days were full of activity and others were more relaxed. Sigirya was my favourite hotel. We were there over the New Year's holiday so some activities such as the Tea factory visit, were not as illuminating as they would otherwise be. The buffet food was excellent and the hotels left little to complain about. Unfortunately our trip ended on Easter Sunday, when over 250 people were killed in Colombo. Exodus were very good at organising transport to the airport despite the curfew.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visit to the Tsunami house.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As above. Roshan is, I felt, naturally reserved. Apart from learning our names, he seemed disinterested in who we were and where we had come from. He delivered his messages as required but I felt he was sometimes bored. He rarely asked us how we were and did not fully engage with us. (I went on an Exodus Rajasthan trip last year and had an excellent guide, Ayjay, so I had high expectations). Occasionally, towards the end of the trip, he spent more time with us at our evening meal. I foolishly left my camera behind at the Tea factory and he was very good at recovering it. I wish him well for the future.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Relax. Sri Lanka is not Europe. Go with the flow. Service can sometimes be slow and unresponsive. This was my third trip to Sri Lanka. The people you will meet are kind and helpful. Health and safety warnings can be excessive. I had no insect bites and was never exposed to danger. Lions Rock, Adams Peak and the walk to Worlds End can be hot and challenging.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Lynda Hoar

    Amazing tour

    A tour to be thoroughly recommended, covering all aspects of Sri Lanka and it’s lovely people. Busy, lots of early starts and some long journeys but so worth it. The trip notes were accurate and we were also able to see sights at their most opportune moments, I.e. climbing Lion Rock before breakfast and before the crowds, Temple of the Tooth while a ceremony with drumming was on, Horton Plains early before the heat and the mists descended. Having lunches cooked by villagers and our guide stopping and buying us bananas, watching curd (yogurt) making and tasting it, eating freshly sliced Jack fruit at the roadside. We enjoyed every minute.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing elephants and leopards (and other animals) close up from a jeep in Yala and Minneriya. The ceremony at The Temple of the Tooth. Climbing Lion Rock. On the cycling day we enjoyed seeing the countryside, wildlife, and the local people, also having an amazing collection of curries cooked on a farm for lunch. Paul and I don’t cycle but tuc tucs were hired for the non cyclists so that we could still enjoy the day to the full.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ruwan was an amazing tour leader. There are some long journeys on this trip but they didn’t seem long as he made them very interesting with his informative talks on the history and culture of Sri Lanka and by regular stops for treats like bananas and Jack fruit, view points and waterfalls. He was very calm and well organised, warm and friendly and a good sense of humour. We were always well informed on where we were going, timings and what to take etc. Nothing was too much trouble for Ruwan and it was a pleasure to have him as our tour guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel light, the hotel laundry service was excellent, good value, and in most cases same day service. Leave some room in your suitcase for purchases, I.e. tea. It was very hot and humid during our stay (March) so you’ll need loose cool casual clothing. It’s probably best if you like curry, there’s the most amazing selection at the buffets, and a lot are vegetarian. However, it’s usually possible to order a la carte, just remember to do so at least half an hour in advance! Binoculars were useful, especially in the game parks. Walking trainers best for Horton Plains. We changed some money at the airport on arrival but all the hotels took credit cards.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    David & Gill Jackson

    One of the best

    Deservedly one of the top selling trips to a country that prides itself in welcoming visitors. The design of the trip includes much of the green and exciting scenery which highlights the Buddhist nature of the people. The simple act of picking up a caterpillar from the path to avoid killing it, simple but touching. Excellent hotels chosen for their location were another great feature.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people. The demure attentive school parties studying their history. The simple delight of the toddlers waving at "funny people" wobbling past on bikes. The sheer scale of the monuments and the civil works built centuries ago. The cleanliness of a poor but proud community. The tolerance of the traffic simply weaving its way all over the roads even if they start from the left! Hardly a horn to be heard

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Neelaka twice joint runner up in Exodus's leader poles was the finest guide we have experienced, absolutely on top of his job, and obviously enjoying it! Nothing left to chance based on years of experience and practice and a genuine love of people, fine ambassador for his country. Very touched to be introduced to his wife on the last night, a first for her and us, thank you!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go and embrace this wonderful place, and do the optional extras too!
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Suzanna Dell

    Loved Every Minute

    This holiday met my expectations and more, It really does live up to its title of ‘Discover Sri Lanka’. The itinerary is comprehensive and varied. In two weeks it looks at the culture and history of this truly beautiful island as well as there being many opportunities to observe its bird and wild life, The hotels on this trip are comfortable and it was good to have a number of stays lasting more than one day. Although I was unable to take part in some of the activities, thiose who did thoroughly enjoyed them. The tour leader was excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting Polonnaruwa, the Martin Wickramasinghe Museum and the Game Drives. But it’s hard to close as I enjoyed the whole trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Neelaker, our group leader, was excellent. He is warm, caring, considerate and very knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that the walk on Day 10 on Horton Plain is approximately 9km.
  • Reviewed March 2019

    Totally enjoyable trip packed with variety

    Two weeks packed with variety of scenery, wildlife, culture on this beautiful island. The itinerary is well balanced to enable you to experience so many highlights yet still have relaxation time. The hotels, apart from the Orient, were a very high standard and in great locations. I travelled on my own yet always had an enormous double/twin room and felt safe. Our guide Nala and the driving crew were superb, everything was well organised yet flexible enough to allow us to enjoy "local experiences" which added to our fun. You will return from this trip with so many happy memories.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to choose from so many highlights - on wildlife has to be seeing a leopard so close up in Yala national park as well as elephants passing so near to the jeep. On scenery, the far-reaching views from Lions Rock and watching the sunrise from Adams Peak (after 2.5 hours of effort climbing up steps with hundreds of others). Patiently queuing to view the casket in the Temple of the Tooth was a humbling experience. The trip was full of other enjoyable experiences - biking, rafting, canoeing - where we were so warmly welcomed by the locals. Their smiles were simply heart-warming!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nala was a key factor in the success of this trip. He was an excellent guide, working very hard behind the scenes to offer us "local experiences" such as lunch in a traditional village, a spontaneous game of cricket or a stop at a roadside fruit stall. He was keen to impart knowledge about Sri Lankan life to us, was extremely well organised (giving us verbal then written details about the day's plans!), unfailingly calm and pleasant. An absolute delight to know! Nala worked well with our driver Dinesh and assistant Clement - they were a very competent team giving us excellent service (those cold flannels on returning to the minibus to escape the heat were bliss!).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Dinners were mostly eaten in the hotels for convenience but if you don't want the buffet, you can choose a la carte, just order well in advance! Lunchtime was when we tended to experience locally prepared food. When you visit the national parks they do bag checks so make sure you don't take any plastics in. Have a pair of socks handy for temple visits, saves burning feet on hot stones!
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Jane Hall

    A wonderful holiday

    Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with very friendly people. We experienced so many different things and visited so many places that gave us an insight into life in Sri Lanka. It was very well organised and it would be hard to see as much as we did without such a tour

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many inspirational moments it is hard to decide. Probably seeing blue whales and dolphins on a boat trip from Mirissa. Seeing the wildlife in Yala National Park including a leopard.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dileepa was a brilliant tour leader, very knowledgeable and approachable with a great sense of humour. There were personal touches that made the holiday extra special including playing traditional games in a village and watching Dileepa and some of the young men in the village play cricket. The driver and assistant were also extremely helpful.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Doreen Drews

    Wonderful holiday on a lovely island with a huge amount of variety over the two weeks

    Very much recommend this trip to people who like a huge variety of experiences on holidays. The trip notes are very accurate and you will travel through, walk through and stay in many different scenic places ranging from small villages, paddy fields, national parks, hill plantations and beach locations. You have opportunities to see and get close to a range of wild animals, bird life and to have contact with local people and their lives during walks and other activities. There are UNESCO world heritage sites and a range of towns to explore. Above all, there are the lovely, smiley Sri Lankan people to meet.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to choose one. I loved all the world heritage sites (especially Sigiriya) and the game drives (although there is a bit of an issue with the optional elephant game drive ...more later) Others in the group would identify the white water rafting or whale watching so it depends on individual choices.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ruwan was the best tour leader I've travelled with on my many Exodus (and similar companies) holidays. Well organised, personable, knowledgeable and with a passion for his country but also willing to discuss its difficulties. On long journeys he would give us a 'talk' on a particular subject be it Buddhism, history of the country etc. He had a lovely sense of humour which encouraged all of us to participate in activities and there is no doubt that his leadership and good relationship with the coach driver and co-driver helped everyone feel comfortable throughout the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the days involve long coach journeys but each of these were broken up by stopping at interesting spots or having breaks for tea or lunch. There was much more eating in hotels than I've ever experienced on previous Exodus trips. In some cases this was necessary as the hotel was 'out of the way' with little opportunities for cafes/restaurants around , but in other cases you could choose to not eat with the group and search out alternatives (which would be cheaper) locally. Be aware that in all hotels and some restaurants there are taxes to add onto your meal and drinks which increase the cost by 25% The hotels were of a much higher standard than I expected. You don't need to bring a hairdryer or shampoo/conditioner as all provide ...except one. The cottage hotel in Nuwara Ellya had an issue with hot water in some rooms and food service was painfully slow but this hotel only stood out as the others were so great.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Whilst I enjoyed seeing Asian elephants in the wild on the optional game drive near Sigiriya, be aware that currently there are no licenses granted or restrictions put on the number of people who can take tourists in jeeps. This of course leads to far too many vehicles being in the park at any one time. There seems little thought given to the welfare of the elephants as jeeps were allowed to get too close to them surrounding them at certain points. It felt uncomfortable. The game drive in Yala National Park seemed better managed with fewer jeeps and much greater distance kept back from the animals in the main.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Caroline Curnock

    Discover Sri Lanka tour

    The holiday was an excellent mix of activities - walking, cycling, exploring wildlife and looking at cultural sights. The hotels, with the exception of the Sevonra Garden, were excellent with good service and helpful staff. The food was great across the hotels, again with the exception of the Savonra Garden, with plenty of Sri Lankan dishes to explore. The changes I would make would be to have longer in Galle as it was such an interesting town and we only had a couple of hours there which was not long enough. Also to factor in less time in the woodcarving shop.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The day spent cycling as it was well organised and lovely to have time exploring along the watercourses with all the sights and sounds.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suneth was an exceptional leader - he was full of information about Sri Lanka and all the wildlife but more importantly he was a very kind caring man who went out of his way to make our trip special - introducing us to different foods, buying fruit for us to try, taking us out on birdwatching trips in his own time. He was very careful for our safety and was always available if we needed him. It was very sad that he had to leave early for family reasons but he handled what must have been a very difficult and emotional time for him in an extremely professional way.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To add in a few days at the end to relax as the trip was very full on in the best way. it would have been great to have a few days at the end to relax and mull over the experience and to explore Columbo as a city.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Virginia Young

    It all feels like a dream now but what a fabulous holiday!

    This was my first Exodus trip and was booked to celebrate a big birthday and make wonderful memories and I certainly did that! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as a single traveller but the holiday was fantastic, I needn’t have worried - I was in safe hands with our wonderful guide Ruwan and surrounded by a lovely group of friendly travellers. We did such a lot! Everyday was packed with new experiences from climbing Lion’s Rock to whitewater rafting to watching a snake try to eat a bat!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many great moments. I enjoyed visiting Kandy and attending the Tooth Ceremony with the smell of the beautiful flower offerings and the colours! . The thrills and spills of whitewater rafting! The lunches prepared by the village ladies, so many different dishes, all tasting wonderful, with some even cooked in front of us! Cycling beside the beautiful waterways was very special with all the children coming out to greet us! And the wildlife was amazing, from elephants to monitor lizards to hornbills to crocodiles!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ruwan was well organised and had a great sense of humour. He took time to explain the history and customs of the island as well as the geography and language. He took care of everyone. Any problems were quickly sorted out calmly and efficiently He gave us great tips on where to visit in our free time. We couldn’t have had a better group leader!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take insect repellant and don’t forget to use it! Take a camera with a large memory card! There is lots to photograph! Enjoy every minute as it goes too fast!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I appreciated the opportunity of visiting one of the Exodus tsunami houses for lunch. Discover Sri Lanka is a holiday packed with different experiences, sights and smells. Don’t wait -GO! I’ll be booking another Exodus holiday!

Dates & Prices

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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]

Maldives Extension

If you are keen to end your holiday on a very relaxed note we can arrange a visit to the Maldives, just 1 hour flying time from Colombo

For more details on this particular extension please go to page 4 of the Trip Notes. Alternatively, you can call one of our Sales team, who will be happy to assist you.

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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