Current as of: July 23, 2024 - 20:23

Leopard Yala

Wild Sri Lanka Trip Notes

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

    2 out of 7 - Easy & Moderate

  • 11 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 10 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: WIYA
  • Carbon Footprint: 41kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Discover the best of Sri Lanka’s wildlife, from the national parks to the ocean

Sri Lanka is well known for cultural heritage and picture-perfect beaches, but perhaps less known is that it’s one of the best locations in Asia for wildlife. The wide range of altitudes on this small island results in a variation of climates and diversity that is normally only found across a whole continent. Blue whales congregate off the southern coast, elephant herds gather in Udawalawe and the elusive leopard rules in Yala. As well as game drives in the most famous national parks in Sri Lanka, we visit the steamy Sinharaja Rainforest and relax on the south coast, where the warm waters of the Indian Ocean lap the shore.

At a Glance

  • Travel by private bus, boat and 4×4
  • Nine nights in comfortable hotels and lodges
  • All breakfasts and nine dinners are included
  • Whale-watching season: November to April

Highlights

  • Private whale watching from a chartered boat
  • Four game drives within Yala and Udawalawe national parks
  • Visit Sinharaja Rainforest and Dickwella Beach
  • Enjoy the benefit of naturalist guides throughout the tour

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is rated Activity Level 2 (Easy & Moderate) with a Wildlife Rating of Four. Visit our Activity Level Guidelines page for more on our trip gradings or our Wildlife Holidays page for more on our Wildlife Ratings. If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip please do not hesitate to contact us.  

This is a moderately easy itinerary, staying in comfortable accommodation throughout and travelling on air-conditioned buses, private boats and 4×4 game vehicles. There are some long drives and early starts, and if you’re prone to sea sickness you may wish to take medication for the whale-watching excursions. Temperatures are typically hot although the early mornings can be cool.

There are some important things to note about wildlife watching in Sri Lanka:

Yala is the most popular national park in Sri Lanka, attracting many international and local visitors in peak season. Game drives in Yala are a very different experience to being in Africa; geographically the area is much smaller and wildlife tourism is a relatively new thing, which means the number of vehicles in parks and communication between vehicles is not being controlled by the authorities at this time. In peak times, there can be many vehicles in the park and this can result in traffic jams, where several vehicles are present at the same sighting. The naturalist guides and drivers that Exodus work with do their best to avoid such sightings and, although we always try to make sure you see a leopard, we ensure this is done in a safe and sensible way away from the crowds as much as possible. Our preference is to focus on the quieter areas of the park to enhance the quality of the wildlife encounters – we believe this is the most responsible way to operate game drives in Yala.

Whale watching is becoming an increasingly popular activity here, yet there are very few regulations on the industry in Sri Lanka. Exodus have chosen a responsible operator and our boat trips are always accompanied by a naturalist guide, with a focus on education. We are careful to use small, private boats for our groups and ensure wildlife is approached at a minimum boat speed and only ever from a sideways angle, as approaching head-on can be threatening for cetaceans. In addition, we adhere by responsible tourism guidelines to spend no more than 20 minutes at any sightings.

Enforcing these regulations on ourselves, and educating our clients in best practice, is the simplest way of encouraging responsible behaviour around marine life and we hope to see such behaviour adopted by other boats in Sri Lanka.

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

Group

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

Itinerary

Wild Sri Lanka

Land Only

  • Start City: Ahangama
  • End City: Colombo

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Colombo; transfer to Ahangama beach hotel

Our Sri Lankan adventure begins. It’s a 2hr 30min transfer to Ahangama on the south coast – please refer to the Joining Instructions for further information. As we approach the seaside suburb of Galle, we see coastal coconut groves and tall palms giving way to magnificent views of the ocean.

Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)

Meals included: Dinner

Day 2
Morning private whale-watching excursion; afternoon visit to Galle Fort

We depart for the harbour shortly after sunrise, where we board a small, privately chartered boat for a whale-watching excursion. Accompanied by excellent crew and a naturalist guide, we spend the morning searching the Indian Ocean for whales and other cetaceans. The vessel is fitted with radar and GPS, which increases our chance of success. Blue whales, the largest animals that have ever lived, typically frequent these waters between November and April. They are huge, reaching up to 100ft (30m) long and weighing about the same as 30 elephants. We may also be lucky enough to encounter sperm whales, bryde’s whales and large pods of spinner or bottlenose dolphins. After spending the morning at sea, we return to the harbour and our hotel in Ahangama. Later this afternoon, we have a guided visit to Galle to discover the historic fort, a fabulous Unesco World Heritage site. Built by the Dutch in 1663, it is a maze of cobbled streets crammed with cafes, boutique shops and beautifully restored colonial houses.

Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3
Transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest; afternoon walk

This morning, we transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest, the last undisturbed rainforest area in Sri Lanka. This biodiversity hotspot harbours several endemic species. Canopy trees reach heights of up to 145ft (45m) and bird species number 160 and counting. Among the insects, amphibians and reptiles are mammals such as sambar deer, marking deer and wild boars. Purple-faced langurs usually congregate in groups of 10 or more and are fairly common to see among the trees. Around 15 leopards are known in this area but sightings are very difficult due to the dense vegetation. This afternoon, we take a walk to discover Sinharaja and its many inhabitants, accompanied by our naturalist guide.

Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4
Full day to discover Sinharaja Rainforest

Wake up to birdsong and get ready for another day in the forest. Sinharaja covers a narrow sliver of land, covering roughly 27,643 acres (11,187ha). Within this area live 43 percent of all species recorded in Sri Lanka. Our naturalist guide takes us on a wildlife walk to discover the many trails and abundant diversity here.

Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5
To Udawalawe; afternoon game drive in Udawalawe National Park

This morning, we leave the rainforest and travel further inland to Udawalawe National Park, which lies on the boundary between the wet and dry zones of Sri Lanka. Udawalawe is one of the best parks in Sri Lanka to see elephants with around 600 in the park roaming in herds of up to 50 – the highest concentration of wild elephants in Sri Lanka. The Udawalawe Reservoir is at the centre of the park and makes a stunning backdrop among the otherwise lightly vegetated area. For this reason, wildlife watching in the national park is relatively easy. Aside from elephant families feeding in the grasslands, we may encounter sambar deer, spotted deer, water buffalos, wild boars, jackals and mongoose on this afternoon game drive.

Accommodation: Centauria Wild (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6
Morning game drive in Udawalawe National Park; visit Elephant Transit Home at feeding time

This morning, our 4×4 safari vehicles are waiting to take us back into Udawalawe for a second game drive. Game drives typically last for three hours, depending on sightings, and are always accompanied by a naturalist guide. In the afternoon, we visit the Elephant Transit Home, just 3mi (5km) from the park entrance. The transit home is run by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and supported by the Born Free Foundation. It provides a safe environment for orphaned elephants, who are typically looked after at the home until they reach four years’ old, at which point they are old enough to be released back into the wild. Our visit coincides with feeding time, where the juveniles are given bottled milk by a team of park rangers and the noisy spectacle can be witnessed from the viewing platform.

Accommodation: Centauria Wild (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7
Dawn village walk; transfer to Tissamaharama; afternoon game drive in Yala National Park

We start our day before breakfast and head out on a walk to a nearby village (approximately 3kms), a chance to observe and interact with the locals starting their day as well as spot the wide variety of wildlife en route. The early walk takes us alongside an irrigation canal, rich in bird life such as Ibis, Kingfishers, Cormorants and Storks. The canal feeds into the banana, mango, guava, peanut trees and many more crops grown alongside it. This area is also home to eagles, kites, horn bills, lapwings, sun birds, mongooses, monitor lizards and chameleons. Midway through our walk, we stop at the village shop for tea and a piece of fruit to snack on.

During our walk, we have a local initiative in place which distributes a variety of fruit trees to the families in the village. These fruit trees hold a sustainable and commercial value to the villagers, in time they can be cultivated and sold to generate income for the families as well as provided for the community. We finish our walk at a farm where our breakfast will be served close to the river.

After breakfast, we return to the hotel by 4×4 vehicles and get ready to depart for Tissamaharama and Yala National Park, a drive of around three hours. On arrival in Yala, we check into our hotel; around 3pm, we head out in 4x4s for our afternoon game drive. Yala is famous for having one of the highest concentration of leopards in the world. In the lowland dry zone in the southeastern corner of the country, Yala is extensive, covering some 242,000 acres (97,880ha). The vegetation primarily consists of dense secondary forest, semi-arid thorny scrub, brackish lagoons and mangroves since the park borders the coastline. With this diverse habitat comes a huge array of wildlife, including elephants, sloth bears, spotted deer, water buffalos, sambar deer, wild boars, langurs and macaques. Bird counts are also high, with more than 215 recorded species, including thousands of migrating waterfowl. Our group is split evenly between 4x4s and is joined by the tour leader, naturalist and tracker who each sit in a different vehicle. The game drive this afternoon lasts around three to four hours, before we return to the hotel to freshen up and have dinner.

Accommodation: Kithala Resort (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8
Morning game drive in Yala National Park; to Dickwella

Wildlife tends to be at its most active in the early morning, so we have a morning game drive in Yala, returning to our hotel for a rest and lunch afterwards. Our naturalist guide will focus on the diverse wildlife and birds of Yala, with our game drive lasting around three hours.

After lunch, we transfer (around 3hr 30min) to Dickwella – in our opinion, one of the most picturesque beaches in Sri Lanka – where traditional fishing boats rest on the sand in front of palm trees. Accommodation for our two nights here is at a lovely resort with direct access to the beach. The resort is set on tropical grounds and is among the top beach hotels in Sri Lanka! Relax under swaying palms by the pool and enjoy long beach walks. The rooms have contemporary amenities and you could simply surrender yourself to healing Balinese rituals at the spa during your seaside getaway in paradise.

Accommodation: Dickwella Resort & Spa (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9
Relax by the beach in Dickwella

Today is free to enjoy all the facilities at Dickwella Resort & Spa. Why not stroll over to Turtle Cove, true to it’s name you’re almost certain to see turtles swimming around by your feet. Alternatively, just relax within the hotel grounds, enjoying the sea view while taking a dip in the pool.

Accommodation: Dickwella Resort & Spa (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10
To Colombo; end Colombo

This morning, we check out and make our way to Colombo Airport where our adventure comes to an end. Alternatively, an additional night’s accommodation can be organised near to Colombo Airport if you would like fly home the following day.

Meals included: Breakfast

Post-trip Extensions

Maldives Extension

Villa Nautica Paradise Island Resort

Wild 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.

Accommodation

Hotels and eco lodges

Wild Sri Lanka

We have nine nights in comfortable hotels and lodges, several of the hotels have swimming pools. We have four nights at the coast, two at the Insight Resort in Ahangama and two at Dickwella Resort & Spa on the south coast. Dickwella Resort & Spa will no doubt be a highlight – set in tropical grounds with a freshwater swimming pool, comfortable rooms, three different dining options, a spa and fitness centre that makes for a memorable and fantastic island getaway.

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 be allocated.

Single supplement from £ 395

Food & Drink

All breakfasts and nine dinners 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 in large containers throughout the trip so please bring a bottle with you to refill. Please note, restaurant service can be quite slow.

Transport

We use an air-conditioned minibus or coach depending on the size of the group. Vehicles in Sri Lanka tend to have limited legroom so we try to stop for comfort breaks as needed. In Udawalawe and Yala National Park, 4x4s are used for our game drives. For whale watching, we use a small, private boat for a maximum of 16 people, which has an overhead canopy for shade.

Weather & Seasonality

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with two distinct wet seasons or monsoons. The southwest monsoon brings rain to that area of the island between May and August. The northeast monsoon takes place from October to January and only really affects the north and east coastal regions. Generally, expect rain some of the 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 30C (86F).

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Insights Resort, No 67 Matara Rd, Ahangama 80650, Sri Lanka
Phone: +94 912 283 296
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: Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately two hours 30 minutes’ drive from the airport. Your options for this journey are:

Take an Exodus transfer

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, 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.

Make your own way

We recommend joining the group transfer where possible given the distance to travel to the south coast. If not, a taxi from the airport to the start hotel costs approximately US$125-US$150. On arrival at the hotel, please make the reception staff aware that you are part of an Exodus group and they will have more details on meeting with your leader and group.

Catching your return flight

There’s a group departure transfer to the 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: Ahangama
Location end: Colombo

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Sunhat
  • Sunscreen and lip salve with sun protection
  • Sunglasses
  • Light cotton clothes (neutral colours)
  • Warm sweater/fleece
  • Torch (flashlight)
  • Comfortable sports/walking shoes
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel
  • Small personal first-aid kit

In Sinharaja, leeches are common so we recommend bringing leech socks for the walks here. These can be borrowed from the accommodation if you would prefer not to purchase your own.

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

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

  • Raincoat
  • Binoculars (recommended but not essential)
  • Swimwear

Practical Information

Visa

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: www.srilankaevisa.lk. 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: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sri-lanka/local-laws-and-customs). 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)

Electricity

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.

Wild Sri Lanka

Money

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

There are ATMs in many of the main towns in Sri Lanka with Visa, Mastercard and American Express widely accepted. There is often a 3%-4% fee on top of your withdrawals. 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.

Tipping

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 is used to tip hotel staff, local guides, bus drivers, and other support staff 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 15,000 rupees (approximately US$45) 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, national park guides 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: 650-950 rupees (US$2-US$3) per person per day
  • For your leader and the two naturalist/national park guides: 1,400-1,900 rupees (US$4-US$6) 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:

People

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 by supporting other local enterprises.
  • During our stay in Udawalawe (day 7), we visit a local village and support an initiative to provide fruit trees to families within the community. Every Exodus group that visits the community will be actively donating a fruit tree which, in time will be commercially beneficial in providing additional income revenues within the families and local community.
  • 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 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 daycare and education of children from the estate sector labourers in the hill country.

Places

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.
  • By visiting Sinharaja Rainforest (a Unesco Natural World Heritage site), Yala and Udawalawe national parks, our entrance fees directly contribute to their upkeep. For example, our game drives in Yala and Udawalawe national parks promote animal welfare and financially contributes to conservation projects in the area.
  • We visit the Elephant Transit Home, which is run by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and supported by the Born Free Foundation. It provides a safe environment for orphaned elephants, who are typically looked after at the home until they reach four years’ old, at which point they are old enough to be released back into the wild.
  • 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 re-usable 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.

 Planet

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 majority of accommodation and restaurants.
  • This trip favours locally owned and run accommodation. When we visit Sinharaja Rainforest for two nights, groups stay at the Rainforest Eco Lodge. The lodge strives 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.
  • Especially when visiting temples, clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee.

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.

Licensing

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.