Current as of: June 14, 2024 - 20:17

Walking Trails of Sri Lanka

Walking Trails of Sri Lanka Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Sri Lanka
  • Programmes: Walking & Trekking
  • Activity Level:

    3 out of 7 - Moderate

  • 16 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 15 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: TGY
  • Carbon Footprint: 26kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Journey off the tourist track to discover a lesser-seen side to the teardrop island

When the typical tourist route takes in dazzling beaches, fragrant spice gardens, emerald tea hills, safari wildlife and a glut of Unesco-listed landmarks, it’s no wonder few leave the well-worn path in Sri Lanka. But go beyond the classic circuit and you’ll discover a wealth of beauty and intrigue that you don’t need to share with anyone else. This two-week walking adventure combines the can’t-miss highlights, including the Sigiriya rock fortress, sacred Adam’s Peak and the wildlife of Yala National Park, with the lesser-visited trails of the Knuckles Mountain Range, where we pass rice paddies and villages virtually undiscovered by the tourist hordes. 

At a Glance

  • 13 nights in hotels, one night full-service camping
  • Eight full- and half-day walks
  • Full porterage throughout
  • Maximum altitude: 7,360ft (2,243m); average: 2,955ft (900m)
  • Maldives and Sri Lanka beach extensions available


  • Walk through paddies and tea plantations
  • Explore trails rarely taken by tourists
  • Visit the beautiful lakeside town of Kandy
  • Enjoy sunrise on Adam's Peak (seasonal)
  • Search for leopards in Yala National Park

Is This Trip for You?

This trek is graded Activity Level 3 (Moderate) with some day walks and some half-day walks. For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

There will be a backup vehicle, making all the walking optional (except for the treks through the forest areas). Some days there will be options of easier and more challenging walks. Most of the walks are between four and six hours with one seven-hour walk. The trails are fairly well made and used by locals. If it rains, some trails can get slippery and there can often be leeches. It can be very hot and humid on the lower walks, particularly where there is little shade available so make sure you have a hat and plenty of water with you.

The drives to the start of the walks and from the end of the walks to the hotels are sometimes on narrow winding roads. Most of the accommodation is comfortable with two nights spent in simple hotels and one night spent in a fixed camp.

Please note, when visiting Sigiriya Rock Fortress (Lion Rock) the final ascent to the top is on metal open stairs fixed against the side of the rock. There are hand rails on either side but those with a strong fear of heights may prefer to stay on the lower level (where the lion “paws” are) and not continue to the rock plateau.

April departures, Sinhala and Tamil New Year:

A unique celebration to the people of Sri Lanka, this important New Year national festival, known as Avurudu in Sinhala and Puththandu in Tamil, is not celebrated by any other nation. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivities are observed by both Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus across Sri Lanka for two days on the 12-13 April 2024 and 13-14 April 2025 . If you are travelling in Sri Lanka over these dates you can expect to see religious ceremonies, family activities, traditional foods, colourful decorations and a general feeling of good will toward neighbours and friends. Parties can gon into the night and it can be quite loud during this period. Your Leader will be happy to show you some of the activities where your itinerary allows. Please note, during the New Year public holiday, most shops, monuments and attractions will be closed however, your Leader will modify the itinerary as required to ensure minimal disruption.


Our Sri Lankan team of leaders has proved very popular with their incredible knowledge, passion and hospitality adding greatly to the experience. There is no better way to experience Sri Lankan culture than letting a local leader show you around their country.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16


Sept 2023

Land Only

  • Start City: Dambulla
  • End City: Colombo

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Dambulla

The group flight arrives at Colombo’s Katunayake Airport and we transfer to our hotel at Dambulla (100mi/160km, four hours’ drive). Those not flying with the group can meet us at the hotel or the airport in time for the transfer. Please be aware, if you are meeting the group at the airport for a transfer you might need to purchase a ticket outside to enter the arrivals hall.

We make our way to the hotel in Dambulla (100mi/160km, four hours’ drive).

Accommodation: Pelwehera Village Resort (or similar)

Day 2
Visit Dambulla Caves, village walk towards Sigiriya; afternoon visit to Lion Rock fortress

After breakfast, we visit the magnificent Cave Temple at Dambulla, one of the most impressive sights in Sri Lanka. There are colourful, well-preserved paintings and statues of Buddha inside, dating to the first century BCE. We then have a short, gentle, warm-up walk through villages and rice paddies and on towards Sigiriya, where we have lunch.

In the afternoon, we visit the imposing fifth-century rock fortress, which rises 590ft (180m) from the plains overlooking the countryside with far-reaching views. 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 655ft (200m) and pass an overhanging rock, under which superb portraits of indigenous maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the walls. Crowning the flat-topped summit are extensive remains of the King’s Summer Palace from where there are breath-taking views of the countryside. The descent is much easier and we have a final 35-minute drive back to our hotel in Dambulla.

Accommodation: Pelwehera Village Resort (or similar)

Distance covered: 4mi (6km)

Ascent: 1,296ft (395m); Descent: 1,296ft (395m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3
Drive to Illukkumbura; walk the Manigala Trail in the Knuckles Mountain Range

The next two days takes us across the Knuckles Mountain Range. We start early with a three-hour drive to the start of our walk, where we begin with an easy descent past paddies and through the villages of Pitawala Patana and Etanwala. Descending to the river, we cross a small bridge and climb up through more farmland. Finally, emerging at the top of an escarpment, we are rewarded with great views of the countryside. An easy trail takes us along the escarpment to Manigala Top at 3,660ft (1,115m), the high point of today. Next, we descend to the Mahalakotuwa village area, which leads to the main road and then it’s a 20-minute walk to our campsite by the river where we can bathe in the cool, refreshing water.

Accommodation: Camping at Knuckles with Eco Team (or similar)

(Occasionally, we use an alternative campsite due to high water levels, which is about 40 minutes’ drive from Illikumbura).

Distance covered: 9mi (15km)

Ascent: 2,953ft (900m); Descent: 328ft (100m); Activity hours: 7

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Walk through forests to Meemure; transfer to Orutota

We begin with a half-hour drive to the Narangamuwa Temple at Ranamuregama. Starting our walk, we pass paddies and coconut groves before we enter a heavily forested area. The trail climbs gently for an hour and then levels out before undulating though this lush forest. The only sound we can hear is the birdsong around us. Emerging from the forest in the village of Meemure, make sure to look back for a spectacular view of the Lakegala peaks. Passing farms growing pepper and other spices, we come to a small tea shop where we have lunch. After, we take a truck or rickshaws for a bumpy 90-minute ride to Corbett’s Gap, a much-loved viewpoint. Our bus meets us here for the 1hr 30min drive to our hotel at Orutota overlooking the Victoria Reservoir.

Accommodation: Oruthota Chalets (or similar)

Distance covered: 9mi (14km)

Ascent: 787ft (240m); Descent: 1,476ft (450m); Activity hours: 5

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5
To Kandy; visit the Temple of the Tooth

We enjoy a relaxing morning in the hotel garden and pool. Mid-morning, we have an 11mi (18km) drive to Kandy and the afternoon to explore. The town is located around a small lake and we can walk round to look for water birds and large water monitors. Later, we visit the Temple of the Tooth, which houses the most important Buddhist relic in Sri Lanka, the Tooth of Buddha, which was taken from the funeral pyre in India in 543 BCE and found its way to Sri Lanka in the fourth century. Hundreds of worshippers visit the temple each day and in July/August the most spectacular ceremony takes place.

Accommodation: Hotel Suisse (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Days 6 - 7
Ascend Adam’s Peak

This morning, we drive to Dickoya (three hours), where we stay for two nights in a simple summer house with a wonderful view of the Castlereagh Reservoir. On a clear day, we can see the outline of Adam’s Peak in the distance.

In the pilgrim season (December to May), we have the day to relax or you can take a walk around the lake (approximately 3.7mi/6km). We leave around midnight for the walk up Adam’s Peak (approximately 8.7mi/14km). This will take around four hours and we should reach the top with the many pilgrims at sunrise. In the off season (May to November), we spend the first day at Dickoya and can walk around the lake and we climb Adam’s Peak during daylight hours on the following day.

(Day 6: B) (Day 7: B,L)

Accommodation: Summer House Hatton (or similar)

Distance covered: 9mi (14km)

Ascent: 3,973ft (1,211m); Descent: 3,973ft (1,211m)

Day 8
Drive to Nuwara Eliya; optional walk to explore the town

This morning, we have a wonderful drive through tea plantation districts to Nuwara Eliya. This was the favourite hill station during the British era, situated in the cool highland air. Known locally as Little England, it is dotted with British-style houses, hotels and a racecourse. There will be an optional walk into the hills around the town and also time to explore the bazaar.

Accommodation: Windsor Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
Early morning to Horton Plains; walk to World's End viewpoint; to Ella by train

Today we drive to Horton Plains, a large plateau more than 6,560ft (2,000m) above sea level, overlooked by the second and third highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The scenery is beautiful and best explored on foot. We trek through the rolling grasslands, seeing forest and unusual wildlife, such as the sambar deer and purple-faced monkey, all the way to World’s End, one of the most stunning sights in Sri Lanka. Here the ground drops 3,445ft (1,050m) to the plains below. We then catch the train from the highest railway station in the country; within two hours we go from 6,197ft (1,889m) to 3,599ft (1,097m). The train travels through the cloud forest into the tea plantations, the views are spectacular; we disembark at Ella.

Accommodation: Hotel Country Comfort (or similar)

Distance covered: 6mi (9km)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10
Morning trek to Ella Rock; Free afternoon

This morning, we set out to ascend the iconic Ella Rock, the highest point in Ella standing 3,743ft (1,140m). The round trip to Ella Rock takes about four to five hours. Starting off gently with flat trail where you walk through farm land, passing by locals as they get on with their day to day life. The second phase is a gradual ascent to reach the top. You look out over the Ella gap, a deep valley connecting the city of Ella with the low country.

The afternoon is free to explore the vibrant and busy Ella town.

Accommodation: Hotel Country Comfort (or similar)

Distance covered: 7mi (12km)

Activity hours: 4-5

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11
Drive to Yala National Park; afternoon game drive

We now head south of the hills to Tissamaharama down the plains. On the way, we stop at Ella Gap where the most of the southern part of the island is in view and the shimmering silver of the ocean is visible on a clear day . We continue on our journey visiting the spectacular Ravana waterfalls, which is 82ft (25m) tall and one of the widest waterfalls in the country. We also stop at the Buduruwagala Temple, where we see seven statues of Buddha carved out of a rock that dates to the 10th century.

Tissamaharama is our base for visiting Yala National Park – its open terrain was well known for elephants for many years, but recently the park has become better known as a place to spot leopards. The park, which is primarily shrub jungle with several salt and freshwater lagoons, has one of the highest concentrations of leopard in the world. We have a game drive in the afternoon.

(Please note, the sanctuary may be closed for four to six weeks from September to October allowing the park authorities to check the animals. In this instance, we visit a nearby alternative, usually Udawalawe National Park).

Accommodation: Chaarya Resort (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
Walk around Yodakandiya Lake; transfer to the coast.

This morning, we drive to the beautiful Yodakandiya Lake in Tissamaharama where we walk for approximately 3hr 30min (approximately 3mi/5km). This is an opportunity to see the day-to-day life of the local people plus a range of birdlife.

In the late afternoon, we drive for approximately four hours to the coast and your beach front hotel.

Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)

Distance covered: 3mi (5km)

Activity hours: 3.5

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13
Free day to relax on the beach or optional activities including whale watching (November to April)

We have a free day to relax on the beach or by the pool. There are also numerous optional activities including a boat ride through mangrove swamps to a cinnamon plantation or you can go whale watching off Dondra Head from November to April. This is one of the best places in the world for seeing blue and sperm whales.

Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14
To Galle; transfer to Colombo

We drive along the coastal road to the historic port of Galle, which dates to the 17th century and is 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 among beautiful gardens. We continue along the expressway to Colombo reaching our hotel in the late afternoon (the drive takes around two to three hours plus stops).

Accommodation: Hotel Cinnamon Red (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 15
End Colombo

Today is the end of your journey. If you are travelling on the group flight we will have a morning transfer to the airport for the daytime international flight. The arrangements for those not flying with the group ends after breakfast.

If you would like to continue the adventure with our post-trip extension to the Maldives or a beach stay in Ahangama, speak to your sales representative.

Meals included: Breakfast

Post-trip Extensions

Maldives Extension

Villa Nautica Paradise Island Resort

Walking Trails of Sri Lanka

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

The flight from Colombo is around one hour and upon arrival you will be transferred by speedboat (approximately 20 minutes) to the Paradise Island four-star resort. Paradise Island is a beautiful coral island, covered with tropical vegetation and palm trees, surrounded by a wide sandy beach and an azure lagoon.

You can choose to add 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 has a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, room service and all rooms are air conditioned. There is also access to scuba diving and snorkelling or the chance to swim in the 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, we can arrange flights for you to Malé and book the hotel and speedboat transfer to the island. Please be advised, all accommodation booked at the Paradise Island four-star resort is based on minimum half-board basis but full-board and all-inclusive upgrades are available for a supplement.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Insight Resort Beach Extension

How about slowing the pace down and extending your stay a night or two? Before finishing your trip in Colombo, take a detour and stay south of Galle in the fishing village of Ahangama. There you can relax on the beautiful beach at the hotel or wander through the village watching the local people go about their daily lives. A perfect wind-down before it’s time to fly home.

Walking Trails of Sri Lanka

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Ascents, descents and distances: All ascents, descents and distances listed in the daily itinerary have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders, in many cases with satellite-based mapping software. However, different GPS measuring devices can give differing results, particularly on winding paths or in mountainous terrain. Measurements stated throughout these Trips Notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter. Timings stated will vary depending on the pace of your group.


Hotels & Wild Camping

Walking Trails of Sri Lanka

You will stay 13 nights in hotels, all with twin-bed rooms. There will also be one night of full-service wild camping.

For the one night camping, you will be in a remote area with limited facilities. The tents provided have two camp beds with bedding which your local team will prepare for you in advance. There is a toilet tent with a sit-down toilet and a shower tent for basic washing provisions. A cooking team will prepare all meals, which are usually served outside.

Worth Knowing:

  • There is no access to wifi or charging facilities (phones/cameras etc) at the campsite.
  • Hotels in Sri Lanka are becoming increasingly busy and, occasionally, we must find alternatives to the ones we typically use. We endeavour to find the nearest alternative with a similar standard of rooms.
  • The standards and styles of hotels on this trip vary. Some of our selections are based on location and what is available in the area or the character and atmosphere at the premises. Some properties in the hill region may not have air conditioning in rooms and instead have fans. This is due to the cooler climate.
  • Single supplements are available on request (not available for three nights).
  • Paying the single supplement may not mean 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 one-person room may be allocated.

Single supplement from £ 390

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, five lunches and one dinner are included.

We suggest allowing about 7,000 rupees (US$23) per day for lunch and dinner.
You can eat out very cheaply in Sri Lanka and your leader will provide recommendations for where to eat locally however, the options may not always be suited to larger groups. Some locations you stay may have limited local restaurant choice, in which case meals will be at the hotel. Hotel meals are generally buffets; the majority offer an à la carte menu, but service can be slow. Where suitable, your tour leader will be happy to arrange a shuttle transfer into the local town or, if you prefer to be more independent, take a tuk tuk or taxi. Your leader can help recommend some good places to eat.

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 (condiments), and a handful of tiny poppadum – 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, the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent in Sri Lanka. For example, wheat- or dairy-free options outside of hotels are limited. 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.

Mineral water is provided by our local operator in large containers throughout the trip so please bring a bottle with you to refill. Please note, restaurant service can be quite slow.


We use an air-conditioned minibus but depending on the size there may be two; however, vehicles in Sri Lanka tend to have limited legroom, so we try to stop for comfort breaks as needed. The back-up vehicles drop us at the start of the walks and meet us again at the end, transporting all our luggage. In Yala National Park, we use smaller 4x4s.

The train ride to Ella will be in the second-class carriage, an authentic experience and great chance for some fun local interactions. Due to the Sri Lankan rail booking system, tickets are purchased on the day from the railway station ticket office and seats cannot be reserved in advance, so we sit where we can once on board.

Please Note: We will endeavour to secure train tickets from Pattipola to Ella as per the itinerary. However, during peak holiday seasons/busy periods, if the train coming from Kandy is sold out or overcrowded, your leader will action an alternative plan. The group will travel by road to Ella railway station and from there (where most travellers disembark) you will be able to enjoy the train ride from Ella to Badulla. The journey will be approximately one hour journey and has the highlight of passing over the world famous Nine Arch bridge.

Weather & Seasonality

Generally, you should expect rain at some time but with plenty of sunshine. On the plains, day and night-time temperatures are very hot and humid with Colombo having an average daytime temperature of 30C (86F). It can be humid while walking. The temperatures drop as we go higher into the hills where daytime temperatures are 15C-25C (59F-77F) and night temperatures will be cooler (about 10C/50F minimum) and a warmish fleece will be needed.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Pelwehera Village Resort, Bulagala Junction, Habarana Road, Dambulla 21120
Phone: +94 662 284 281
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Colombo Airport (CMB)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately four hours’ drive from Colombo Airport. Exodus provides one group arrival transfer from the airport, which is timed to coincide with the arrival of a chosen flight from London, UK. You may join this transfer at no extra cost, provided you can be at the airport before the transfer leaves. Speak to your sales representative for the group arrival transfer times or to arrange a private transfer.

If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

There’s a group departure transfer to Colombo Airport for customers who Exodus booked onto a chosen flight to London, UK. Please speak to your sales representative if you wish to join. If the group departure transfer does not suit your flight time, speak to your sales representative to arrange an alternative transfer.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Dambulla
Location end: Colombo

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses
  • Refillable water bottle/water bladder (also known as a hydration pack/CamelBak, which are useful for rehydrating on the go)
  • Light casual clothing for trekking and for evenings (light cotton or quick-wicking clothing is best for the walking due to the high humidity)
  • Warm sweater/fleece for evenings
  • Trekking sandals
  • Lightweight walking boots
  • Lightweight thin walking socks with wicking properties
  • Light waterproof jacket
  • Umbrella
  • Swimwear
  • Hand washing gel, wet wipes
  • Torch (flashlight) – a red light doesn’t attract bugs as a white light does
  • Insect repellent
  • Leech socks
  • Walking/trekking pole(s)
  • Daypack (approximately 10 litres to 15 litres)

Clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee, especially when visiting temples. Women should always dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention and not to cause offence; vests, tight-fitting trousers (pants), short skirts and short shorts are not recommended.

We recommend that your main luggage consists of one soft kitbag. This will be carried in the back-up vehicle. You will need a small daypack for your daily requirements.

Drinking water

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. Drinking water is provided in large containers where available so you need only bring a re-usable bottle to top up along the way. This provides an alternative to individual single-use plastic bottles in our aim to reduce the amount of plastic used.

Environmental considerations

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impact wherever possible, even when nature calls. If no facilities are available, you may need to go behind a tree, bush or rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind, we recommend taking biodegradable bags with you. Once you have done your business, put the used paper in the bag and dispose when appropriate facilities are available.

Optional Equipment

  • If you are prone to travel sickness, you may want to bring some anti-sick treatment with you for the boat and/or some road journeys
  • Binoculars for wildlife spotting

Practical Information


Sri Lanka

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. Visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through. 

Transition from ETA to eVisa: Sri Lanka has recently moved from the ETA system to a new eVisa scheme. If you currently hold a valid ETA for an upcoming trip to Sri Lanka, your ETA is still valid for use. However, all future visits will require an eVisa, which costs US$40 for a 30-day tourist visa, plus a service fee of US$10 or US$18.50. 

Find the eVisa application and more information here: Further information can be found on the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration website. 

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below. 

You should also be aware of local laws and customs in Sri Lanka (see: The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is an offence; please note, people have been refused entry to Sri Lanka because of visible tattoos of Buddha. 

Vaccinations and Health

Sri Lanka

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, tuberculosis and typhoid. You will also need a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you’re arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or transiting for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your doctor or travel clinic for further advice. Additionally, dengue fever, a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes, is a known risk in places visited. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available; the best form of prevention is to take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Local Time

Sri Lanka's time zone: Asia/Colombo (UTC +05:30)


Sri Lanka's electricity: Plug types D (three round pins) and G (three rectangular pins) – 230V, 50Hz. The electricity supply is not 100 percent reliable but is usually only off for short periods.

Walking Trails of Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka's currency: All foreign passport holders can make payments for purchases in the local currency, Sri Lankan rupees (LKR). This is applicable to hotels, restaurants, shops and for any other services. Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard and American Express) are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and most established shops. If you wish to exchange any cash upon arrival into Sri Lankan rupees, it is advisable to exchange British pounds, euros or US dollars upon arrival at Colombo Airport where authorised bank money exchanges are open 24-hours a day. Hotels can change money as well, but the rates will probably not be favourable. Your Tour Leader will be happy to direct you to the appropriate exchange services if you wish to change money during the trip. You are no longer required to produce your receipt of foreign exchange when making payments in Sri Lankan rupees, as was previously the case. However, we suggest you retain receipts of foreign exchange which will help should you wish to change back any unused rupees at the time of departure.

ATM Availability

You will find ATM machines in many of the main towns in Sri Lanka with Visa, MasterCard and American Express widely accepted. There is often a small 3-4% fee on top of your withdrawals so bear that in mind.
It’s worth informing your bank before departure that you are travelling to Sri Lanka and carry the relevant telephone number with you in case they put a block on your card.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

For small purchases, particularly at local shops and markets, cash is generally preferred and easier for transactions than credit cards.

It is recommended that you allow at least 2,200 Sri Lankan rupees (US$6) for personal expenditures such as stamps, postcards and soft drinks. Some sites may charge a small fee for camera use. Shopping opportunities in Sri Lanka are endless and we suggest you take money for souvenirs, even if you are generally not a keen shopper, we have found most people succumb to the wide variety of handicrafts on offer.

All entrance fees and activities described in the itinerary are included with an exception for the optional activities mentioned on some days.

Optional excursions

Whale watching (November to April)

  • The whale-watching trip by private boat should cost about 32,500 rupees per person depending on the number of participants. Minimum 6 passengers required.

Below is the breakdown.

  • Cost of Boat- 110000 to 140000 (Depending on the availability, Supply, and demand on the given day)
  • Entry ticket – 8000 rupees
  • Tuk Tuks – Rs. 1500 per person. (We cannot take the bus into the Harbor.)
  • Tips – 500 to 1000 rupees per person.
    • Approximate cost for 6 pax – 80 pounds per person
    • Approximate cost for 10 pax – 65 pounds per person
    • Approximate cost for 14 pax – 55 pounds per person

Please note, if you choose to enjoy this excursion on your free day, we strongly advise booking a private charter boat through your leader in advance as the boats are always subject to availability. The more members of the group who wish to join the charter the more cost-effective it will be. We do not recommend larger, commercial boats; they may be cheaper, but they do not always respect the welfare of the animals or operate in an environmentally responsible way. We have also had reports of overcrowding on the boats. Please ask your leader for further details on how to book a private charter.


Tipping is part of the culture in Sri Lanka. However, it can often be an awkward affair, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar country. As such, your tour Leader will offer to arrange and look after a tipping kitty, which will be used to tip hotel staff, local guides, and other support staff used on the trip (optional excursions are not included in the group kitty).

Your Leader will suggest how much to contribute, but it is usually about 16,500 rupees (approximately US$50) total per person. At any time during the trip, your Leader will happily show you an account of how the kitty is being distributed.

Tips for the Leader and transfer crew are not included in the kitty and are at your own discretion. If you wish to show your appreciation, our recommendation is as follows:

For the Driver and assistant around 650 – 950 rupees (US$2 – US$3) per person per day.

For your Leader around 1,100 – 1,600 rupees (US$4-US$5) per person per day.

Where possible, please try to tip in the local currency.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:


How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food, and support of other local enterprises.
  • We have financially co-sponsored a local tsunami relief project, which has 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 operator 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 a principal agent of Unicef in development of day care and education of school children of the estate sector labourers in the hill country.


How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels.
  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment. For example, on one night of the trip we camp overnight in the Knuckles Mountain Range in a remote eco-camp.
  • By visiting Yala National Park, Dambulla Caves, Lion Rock Fortress and Dickoya tea plantations, our entrance fees directly contribute to their upkeep. Our game drive in Yala National Park promotes animal welfare and financially contributes to conservation projects in the area.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • The Exodus Travels Foundation has launched the Community Kickstart Project to help our destination communities recover and rebuild following the impact of COVID-19. In Sri Lanka, we’ve contributed to the Yala Park Driver Support initiative, more details can be found here.


How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at the majority of accommodations and restaurants.
  • This trip favours locally owned and run accommodation. When we stay overnight in the Knuckles Mountain Range, we camp overnight in an eco-camp. The camp offers visitors a unique experience while striving to minimise their carbon footprint through the implementation of various sustainable practices on site.

 Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.
  • Please be aware there are a large number of stray dogs in Sri Lanka, and you may encounter some during your trip. Our local operators are aware of this and we are monitoring any animal-welfare concerns.
  • Cultural respect:
    • One should not touch someone’s head as this is considered disrespectful.
    • It’s polite to use your right hand when shaking hands or handing money and small objects to someone else.
    • It is common practice to remove one’s shoes before entering someone’s home.
    • Clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee, especially when visiting temples.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.


Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.