The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka. 

For further information, click here.

Tailormade: Discover Sri Lanka

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Trip code: 
BBS
Way to Travel:
Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Min age:

Tailor your own trip and explore the delights of this diverse and inspiring island

Treat this sample itinerary as inspiration, your trip can be created specifically for you by one of our Tailormade experts and we will help you choose how you wish to travel through this destination. Maybe add in an extra day’s sightseeing, take time out to relax or we can change accommodation to your budget. It will be your adventure, your way!

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 car
  • Additional travel by train, bicycle and jeep
  • Some long drives

What's included

  • All breakfasts 
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Local guides 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

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 UK

    If you are booking a flight incusive package leaving from London, your flight usually departs in the evening from London Heathrow. Please note that we are able to book alternative flights and routes from other UK airports on request.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Colombo; transfer to Veyangoda.

    You will arrive at Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport and transfer to the start hotel approximately 30 minutes away. 
    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
  • 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 you 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 the UK

    If you are travelling flight inclusive you will have a morning transfer to the airport for the daytime flight to London or others UK airports. The arrangements for those not flying end 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

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

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?

There’s a world of life-changing experiences out there, and all our trips are hand-crafted to showcase the best, wherever you’re headed. But what happens if you want to take a detour? Linger a while longer? Or want something completely unique to you? With Exodus’ Tailormade Adventures we can tailor almost any holiday to suit you, creating a bespoke adventure. Every element can be tailored to suit your requirements: we can sort flights and hotel upgrades, extra nights, regional departures, beach extensions, stop overs and more.

This sample itinerary is not demanding 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 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

Tailormade accommodation

Whether the destination is more important than the accommodation, or you would like to overnight in comfort, our Tailormade team can offer a wide variety of accommodation options from camping and village houses, to some of the finest hotels around. We do this so we can offer accommodation to suit every budget. The team will listen to your requirements to insure we find the right accommodation to suit you.

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

Be the first to post your review! If you have recently returned from an Exodus adventure and want to help other travellers with your feedback then simply use the link below to post your holiday review.

Dates & Prices

Your Tailormade adventure starts here!

Send us your requirements and we will create your bespoke itinerary just for you. To speak to one of our dedicated tailormade team, simply enter your details below and tell us when it’s convenient for you.  

Your Tailormade adventure starts here!

Send us your requirements and we will create your bespoke itinerary just for you. To speak to one of our dedicated tailormade team, simply enter your details below and tell us when it’s convenient for you.  

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!

Call us on 020 8772 3936