Sri Lanka highlands

Highlands of Sri Lanka Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
Sri Lanka
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TGY
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

16 Days Flight Inclusive
15 Days Land only
Ages: 16+

Trip Overview

Behind the dazzling beauty of Sri Lanka’s world famous beaches is an island of lush jungle, spice gardens, ancient Buddhist temples and an abundance of wildlife - all of which makes for a unique trekking experience. Our adventure begins in Sigiriya with a visit to the stunning Lion Rock. From here the trekking begins in earnest, through the unspoilt World Heritage conservation area of the Knuckles Mountain Range, past rice paddies and brushing the vibrant, emerald-green tea plantations of Dickoya. After this we tackle the challenging Adam's Peak (2243m) and then enjoy the spectacular 1000m cliff drop of World's End.

At a Glance

  • 13 nights hotels, all en suite, 1 night full-service camping
  • 8 full and half-day walks
  • Full porterage throughout
  • Maximum altitude 2243m/average altitude 900m

Trip Highlights

  • Walking through rice paddy fields and tea plantations
  • Exploring parts of Sri Lanka rarely seen by other Westerners
  • Visit the beautiful lakeside town of Kandy
  • Sunrise on Adams Peak (except between May-November)
  • Searching for a Leopard in Yala National Park
  • Maldives extension available

Is This Trip for You?

This trek is graded level 3 (Moderate) with some day walks and some half day walks.

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 4 and 6 hours, with one longer 7 hour walk. The trails are fairly well made and used by locals. If it rains some of the trails can get slippery and there can be leeches. It can be hot and humid on the lower walks.

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.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

Our Sri Lankan team of leaders have 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

TGY Trip Map

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Dambulla.

    The group flight arrives at Colombo's Katunayake Airport and we transfer to our hotel at Dambulla (160km, 4hrs 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.
    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 and very well preserved paintings and statues of Buddha inside the caves, which date back to the 1st century BC. We then have a short, gentle, warm up walk which takes us through villages and rice paddies and on towards Sigiriya, where we have lunch. In the afternoon we visit the imposing 5th century rock fortress, which rises 180m from the plains overlooking the surrounding countryside giving far-reaching views. Used as a safe haven from invaders, the route to the top is up a series of steep steps and gangways. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive water gardens, we ascend 200m and pass an overhanging rock under which superb portraits of native 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 breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The descent is much easier and we have a final 35 minute drive back to our hotel in Dambulla.

    Approximate walking distance 6km. Alt. gain 395m, Alt. loss 395m
    Pelwehera Village Resort or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 6 km / 3 miles
  • Day 3

    Drive to Illukkumbura; walk the Manigala Trail in the Knuckles Range.

    The next two days takes us across the famous Knuckles Mountain Range. We start early with a three hour drive to the start of our walk, from where we begin with an easy descent past rice paddies and through the villages of Pitawala Patana and Etanwala. Descending to the river we cross a small bridge and start to climb up through more farmland. Finally emerging at the top of an escarpment we are rewarded with great views of the surrounding countryside. An easy trail takes us along the top of the escarpment to Manigala Top at 1115m, 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.

    Today is the longest walk and is approx. 7 hours walking, 15KM, Alt gain 900m, alt loss 100mAlt. gain 240m, Alt. loss 450m

    (Please note – occasionally due to high water levels we use an alternative campsite. The alternative campsite is about 40 minutes’ drive from Illikumbura).
    Camping at Knuckles with Eco Team or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 15 km / 9 miles
  • Day 4

    Walk through forests to Meemure; transfer to Orutota

    We begin with a short half hour drive to the Narangamuwa Temple at Ranamuregama. We then pass rice paddies and coconut groves before entering 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 all around us. Emerging from the forest in the village of Meemure, make sure to look back for a spectacular view of the peaks of Lakegala. Passing farms growing pepper and other spices, we come to a small tea shop where we have lunch. After lunch, we take a truck or rickshaws for a bumpy 90-minute ride to Corbetts Gap, a famous viewpoint. Our bus will meet us here for the 1.5hr drive to our hotel at Orutota overlooking the Victoria Reservoir.

    Oruthota Chalets or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 14 km / 8.7 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    240
    Total descent (m):
    450
    Activity (hours):
    5
  • Day 5

    To Kandy; visit the Temple of the Tooth.

    A relaxing morning to enjoy the garden and pool at the hotel. Mid-morning we have a short 18km drive to Kandy and have the afternoon to explore. The town is located around a small lake and we can walk round to hopefully spot several varieties of water birds and large water monitors. Later we visit the Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic - The Tooth of Buddha, which was taken from the funeral pyre in India in 543 BC and only found its way to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD. There are literally hundreds of worshippers who visit the temple each day and in July/August the most spectacular ceremony takes place.
    Royal Kandyan Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Days 6-7

    Ascend Adams Peak (2243m).

    This morning we drive to Dickoya (3 hours), where we stay for two nights in simple summer house, with wonderful view of the Castlereagh Reservoir. On a clear day we can see the outline of Adams Peak in the distance.

    In the pilgrim season (December-May) we have the day to relax or you can take a short walk around the lake (approx. 6km). We leave around midnight for the walk up Adams Peak (approx. 14km). This will take around 4 hours and we should reach the top, with the many pilgrims at sunrise. In the off season (May – November) we spend Day 6 (Day 7 Ex London) at Dickoya and can walk around the lake and on Day 7 (Day 8 Ex London) we will climb Adams Peak during daylight hours.

    Total accent 1211m, decent, the same.

    (Day 6: B) (Day 7: B,L)
    Summer House Hatton or similar

    Distance covered: 14 km / 8 miles
  • 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 at 1890m and has a very British feel. 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.
    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 over 2,000m above sea level, overlooked by the second and third highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The scenery is beautiful and is 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 1050m to the plains below. We then catch the train from the highest railway station in the country; within two hours we’ve dropped from 1889m to 1097m. The train travels through the cloud forest into the tea plantations, the views are spectacular; we disembark at Ella.

    November 2021 update: Please note that due to current covid restrictions we will be driving to Ella rather than take the train.

    Hotel Country Comfort or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 9 km / 5 miles
  • Day 10

    Daywalk around Ella; visit the Ravana Waterfalls and Ella Gap.

    We drive to Kithalaella and climb up to a rocky area to enjoy stunning views of the waterfalls. Continuing on to Ella Gap, we have dramatic views of the coastal plain nearly 1,000m below. Almost the whole of the southern part of the island is in view and on a particularly clear day the shimmering silver of the ocean is visible (approx. 12km walk). We return in the late afternoon to our hotel in Ella.
    Hotel Country Comfort or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7 miles
  • Day 11

    Drive to Yala National Park; afternoon game drive.

    We now head south out of the hills to Tissamaharama down the plains stopping en route to visit the spectacular Ravana Waterfalls as well as the Kataragama Temple. This is a pilgrimage place for both Hindus and Buddhists, who come to worship here in the early mornings and evenings. Colourful and noisy, the temple is always busy. Tissamaharama will be our base for visiting Yala National Park. Its open undulating terrain made it famous for elephants for many years, but recently the park has become well 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. We will have a game drive in the afternoon. (Please note that the sanctuary may be closed for 4-6 weeks from September to October allowing the park authorities to check the animals. In this instance we will go to an alternative area close by, usually the Udawalawe National Park).
    Chandrika Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Visit Kataragama Temple and walk around Tissamaharama lake; transfer to the coast.

    This morning we drive to the beautiful Tissamaharama Lake where we walk for approximately 3.5 hours (approx. 5km). This is an opportunity to see the day to day life of the local people as well as a range of birdlife. In the late afternoon we drive for approximately 4 hours to the coast.
    Insight Resort or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 5 km / 3 miles
  • Day 13

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

    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 from November to April you can go whale watching off Dondra Head. This is one of the best places in the world for seeing Blue and Sperm whales.
    Insight Resort or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    To Galle; 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 (the drives takes around 2-3 hours, plus stops).

    Hotel Mirage or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 15

    End Colombo.

    If you are travelling on the group flight we will have a morning transfer to the airport for the daytime flight to London. The arrangements for those not flying with the group ends after breakfast.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

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. Please be advised, all accommodation booked at the Paradise Island 4* resort from 28th December 2021, will be based on half board included. 

Accommodation

Hotels & Camping

You will stay 13 nights in hotels all of which have en suite facilities; all hotels have twin bedded rooms with attached bathrooms. There will also be 1 night of full service camping. The tents have two camp beds with bedding. There is a toilet tent with sit down toilet and a shower tent. A cook team will prepare meals which are usually served outside. Wi-Fi is available at the majority of places, either in the rooms or the communal areas.

Single supplements are available on request (not available for 3 nights).

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

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £360.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 1 dinner is included.

We suggest allowing about GBP10-15 (approx. . USD16-24) per day for all other meals and drinks. 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.

Drinking water is provided in large containers where available so you need only bring a re-usable bottle to top up along the way.

Transportation

We use an air-conditioned minibus but depending on the size there may be two. The back up vehicles will drop us at the start of the walks and meet us again at th end, transporting all our luggage. In Yala National Park we use smaller jeeps. On the train to Ella, seats cannot be reserved in advance, so we just sit where we can on the day.

Weather & Seasonality

When to go

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with two distinct wet seasons or monsoons. The SW monsoon brings rain to that area of the island between May and August. The NE monsoon takes place from October to January and only really affects the north and east coastal regions.

Weather Information

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 30ºC. It can be humid whilst walking. The temperatures drop as we go higher into the hills where daytime temperatures are between 15º - 25º C and night time temperatures will be cooler (about 10º C minimum) and a warmish fleece will be needed.

Weather Charts

Kandy

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 16 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Sri Lankan Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up-to-date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 15 days starting in Dambulla and ending in Colombo

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Dambulla in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure. Accommodation check-in times are normally from around 12 noon.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

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.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Location start:
Dambulla
Location end:
Colombo

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Sunhat, Sun cream, Sunglasses
Water bottle
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
Swimming costume
Hand washing gel, wet wipes
Torch - a red light doesn't attract bugs as a white light does

Insect repellent
Leech socks
Walking/trekking pole(s)
Daypack (approx 10 – 15 litre)

Especially when visiting temples men and women's clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee. Women especially should always dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention and not to cause offence; vests, tight fitting trousers, 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 impacts wherever possible, this goes for when you need to spend a penny in the great outdoors! If no facilities are available there may come a time when you need to go to the loo behind a tree/bush/rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind we recommend taking biodegradable dog poo/sandwich bags with you. Once you have done your business you can pop the used toilet roll in here and take it off the mountain or trail at the end of the day and dispose of it when there are appropriate facilities available.

Optional Equipment

If you are prone to travel sickness then 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

Passport

Sri Lanka

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Sri Lanka

For a quick and easy guide to the latest travel advice to Sri Lanka, as well as by nationality, we recommend using the CIBT entry guide accessible via Exodus Travel's Travel Hub https://www.exodus.co.uk/travel-hub or via https://cibtvisas.co.uk/

A visa (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is required if you are British and for most other nationalities. A visa (ETA) can be obtained before travel through http://eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ and costs US$35 per applicant. Exodus strongly recommends travellers to obtain their visa (ETA) online prior to travel in order to avoid any complications and delays on arrival. 

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.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

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.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Sri Lanka's Timezone:
Asia/Colombo +0530 (GMT +05:30)

Electricity

Sri Lanka's Electricity:

220/230 volts AC, 50 Hz. The electricity supply is not 100% reliable but it is usually only off for short periods of time.

There are recharging facilities at all the hotels, but not at the campsite. 

Money

Sri Lanka's Currency

The national currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lanka Rupee (LKR) with an exchange rate at the time of publication (August 2021) of approximately 274 to the GBP, 197 to the USD, 157 to the CAD, 233 to the EUR, 145 to the AUD and 138 to the NZD.

It is advisable to bring your money in cash (GBP, EUR or USD). Travellers cheques are very difficult to change and not recommended. We advise you to change money on arrival at Colombo airport. The hotels will be able to change money as well but the rates will probably not be favourable. There are banks at the airport open 24 hours a day.

ATM Availability

You can change money in Kandy and there are now ATM machines in many of the main towns in Sri Lanka. Please inform 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. You should keep all exchange receipts as these will be needed if you want to change any excess rupees back into hard currency. It is useful to bring a credit card for more expensive purchases in the better souvenir shops. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted.

It would be best if you change about £100-£150 (approx. US$130 - US$190) into local currency on arrival.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

All entrance fees and activities described above are included. It is recommended that you allow at least £5 per day (approx. US$7) for personal expenditure such as stamps, postcards and drinks. There are some souvenir shops in Kandy.

Optional Excursions (approximate costs, depending on group sizes)

Whale Watching – please note if you choose to enjoy this excursion on your free day we strongly advise booking a private charter boat through your leader. The more members of the group who wish to join the charter the more cost effective it will be. We do not recommend the 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. Whale watching is only possible between November – April.

The whale watching trip by private boat should cost between £40 and £80 (approx. US$50-100) per person depending on the number of participants.

Tipping

Tipping is a way of life in Sri Lanka and we suggest you allow about £3 (approx. US$4) per day for this. With the permission of the group, your tour leader may collect a kitty to cover tips for hotel staff, toilet attendants and porters etc. Tipping of the leader, driver and driver's helper is at your discretion but we suggest around £2-3 (US$3-4) per person per day.

Responsible Tourism

We work hard to create trips which 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 and 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 enterprise.
  • 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.

Places

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

  • 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 N.P. 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 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 Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise here, including our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • 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 stay overnight in the Knuckles Mountain Range, we camp overnight in an eco-camp. The camp offers visitors a unique experience whilst 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 re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable
  • 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, men’s and women’s clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee.

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake 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.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances 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.

On all trips

In 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 you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 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.

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; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, 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.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

Important Notes

In line with our ‘book and travel with confidence’ promise which allows you to cancel free of charge up to 42 days prior to departure, or transfer to another trip free of charge up to 21 days prior to your trip starting in country, please be aware that this excludes ‘irrecoverable costs’. Details can be found here: https://www.exodus.co.uk/about-exodus/exodus-booking-conditions

For this trip, the irrecoverable costs related to in-country operations are outlined below, if booking flight inclusive your sales agent will confirm the terms related to your international flights at the time of booking.

If cancellation occurs 21 days or up to 24 hours prior to departure:

Accommodation: £438 / USD $569.40 / CAD $832.20 / AUD $862.86 / €481.80

Costs are accurate at the time of writing in October 2021

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. Book with confidence: 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 monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.