Sri Lankan Highlights

9 days
from
£1,699
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Leisurely
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Trip code: 
AIA
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

A week experiencing the very best of the Island of Serendipity, Sri Lanka.

With so much diversity Sri Lanka has enough to keep even the most jaded traveller engrossed for several weeks. However, for those with less time this trip visits the essential highlights. The island is packed with Buddhist cities, fragrant spice gardens, ancient fortresses and a multitude of temples all set amongst the verdant flora that only a tropical climate can produce. With a cycle ride and visits to historic cities and temples included, this is a busy itinerary but with enough time to unwind and enjoy some tropical sun.

Highlights

  • The magnificent cave temple at Dambulla
  • Cycle trip through a series of lakes and a rice paddy plantation
  • The ruins at Polonnaruwa
  • Climb the rock fortress at Sigirya for breathtaking views
  • Explore the beautiful lakeside town of Kandy

Key information

  • Travel by private bus or minibus
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 7 nights comfortable hotels with en suite facilities
  • All breakfasts and 1 lunch is included

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 1 lunch
  • 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
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade 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

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

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London.

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

  • Day 2

    Arrive Colombo; transfer to Wattala.

    The group flight arrives at Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport and transfer to our hotel at Wattala on the coast. The rest of the day is free to relax at the hotel and recover from the flight. Those not flying with the group will meet us at the hotel.
    Pegasus Reef Hotel or similar

  • Day 3

    Game drive near Giritale to see elephants in their natural habitat.

    Today we travel to Giritale, where we will stop in one of three parks, either the Kaudulla or Minneriya National Park or the Hurulu Eco Park for a game drive. We will take to jeeps to explore the park and observe elephants in their natural habitat.

    We then continue onto Giritale where we stay overnight. Our hotel overlooks the Giritale Tanks – the island’s early inhabitants solved the dual problem of heat and lack of water in this dry area by constructing these large tanks to act as reservoirs and to help cool the air. Nowadays these provide an important habitat for birdlife, particularly between April and August.
    Giritale Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Cycle trip to Dambalawewa Lake with a village lunch.

    Today we cycle at a leisurely pace through a series of small villages to Dambalawewa Lake. We should see plenty of birdlife including Egrets, Brahmany Kites, Kingfishers, Bulbuls. We stop for lunch in a traditional village which will break up the journey. In the late afternoon we return to our hotel in Giritale.
    Giritale Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Visit ancient capital city of Polonnaruwa; to Sigiriya; evening visit to rock fortress.

    After breakfast we take a short drive to Polonnaruwa, the ancient capital of the Sinhalese. There are many Buddhist relics and ruins dating from a thousand years ago when Sinhalese culture reached its zenith. Polonnaruwa flourished in the 12th century after the decision was made to move the capital from Anuradhapura so it was further away from the incursions from southern India. We visit many of the temples, palaces, huges dagobas and remarkable Buddhist sculptures. After lunch we drive to Sigiriya about an hour away. This impressive 5th century rock fortress rises 180m 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 remains of the King's Summer Palace from where there are breathtaking 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 6

    To Kandy via the cave temples at Dambulla; visit Temple of the Tooth.

    Today we head into the hills to the picturesque town of Kandy. On the way we stop at Dambulla, famous for its cave temple, one of Sri Lanka’s most impressive sights. There are colourful, well preserved paintings and statues of the Buddha inside, some of which date back as far as the 1st century BC.

    Kandy is located on a small lake and we spend time in and around the town. Visiting the Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic. The Tooth of Buddha which 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 July/August the most spectacular ceremony takes place. Some of our trips in July/August should coincide with the Kandy festival, but the exact dates, decided by priests (depending on the auspicious time), are not known until 5 months prior to the event. We drive to a beautiful viewpoint to get a great view of Kandy and its environs that are overlooked by a huge Buddha and visit a gem museum where you can see the products of the traditional methods of gem extraction. In the evening we may have the chance to attend a performance of the athletic Kandian Dancing and fire walking.
    Royal Kandyan Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    To Colombo via Peradeniya Botanical Gardens then the tour ends in Colombo

    An early departure to Colombo as the drive is  approximately 3 ½ - 4 hours (115km). En route we’ll stop  at Peradeniya Botanical Gardens with its vast array of orchid species endemic to Sri Lanka.  The lunch stop will also be a traditional  Sri Lankan rice and curry . On arriving in Colombo our guided walking tour commences in the Galle Face Green area focussing on Colombo’s colonial architecture . It includes the old Parliament, Old Fort City area and the Old Dutch Hospital. We will walk through Chatham Street to a famous colonial hotel close to the harbour and finally end the tour near Pettah bazaar. Here, there will be some free time to explore the market before transferring to the hotel to freshen up. In the evening there will be farewell dinner at a seafood restaurant in the Mt Lavinia area.


    Ramada Hotel or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    After breakfast those on the group flights will be taken to the airport in time for their flight home.

    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

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 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.

This is a busy itinerary and because of this and the location of some of the hotels most of the main meals are taken at hotels. These are often buffet style. Whilst in Kandy there are options to eat at restaurants and the leader will help with recommendations for this.

Weather

Kandy

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely). This is not a demanding trip although there are some long drives on bumpy and twisty mountain roads as well as some busy days; this is an itinerary where we attempt to show you as much as possible in your short time in Sri Lanka. Temperatures can vary between the tropical heat of the coast to the cooler hill country. All of the hotels have swimming pools. There are a few long drives, but the buses are comfortable and air-conditioned and the trip is generally relaxed and undemanding.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade 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

Hotels on this trip of are generally of a good standard, all with swimming pools and with good facilities. Our property in Sigiriya is of a particularly high standard with a lovely pool, looking out over the famous Lion Rock.

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 tailormade 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

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Dates & Prices

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

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Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

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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 3 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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Call us on 020 8772 3936