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Essential Sri Lanka

Essential Sri Lanka

per person

From shark meat to safari, get fired up in Sri Lanka

On this trip we’ve taken Sri Lanka, boiled it like the tea leaves the country is famous for and strained out the most delicious stuff. Wandering past barracuda at the Negombo Fish Market, searching for elephants in Yala, munching a spicy curry in Ella and getting horizontal on the beach in Unawatuna, this 11-day tour is a Sri Lanka snapshot.

This trip is for 18 to 29-year-olds

Some of our under-30 travellers prefer to get around with people their own age. If that’s you, you’re in the right place!

Over 29? We’ve got over 900 other great adventures to choose from for solo travellers, friends, families, food lovers, hiking enthusiasts, and more.

Why you’ll love this trip

  • Cruise around in a 4WD on a wildlife safari, searching for elephants and leopards, then relax lakeside at tranquil Tissa.
  • Shark, squid, barracuda and hundreds of things with fins that nobody knows the name of – visit the sensational Negombo Fish Market.
  • Learn the benefits of washing down a spicy curry with piping-hot Ceylon tea during lunch in a lush mountain village near Ella.
  • Leave the imprint of you face on the train window as you stare out wide-eyed from Kandy to Ella – it’s basically a 6-hour movie of amazing scenery.
  • Two days (and nights) on Unawatuna’s golden, palm-lined beaches can cure almost all of life’s problems, including any residual tightness in your photo-taking finger.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Can you feel that tingling in your fingers? That my friend is power! This trip puts it in your hands – there are few inclusions, so you’ll have plenty of freedom to decide what you want to do.
  • At 6 hours, the train ride from Kandy to Ella is the longest travel day. But the only reason you’ll want to get off this train is to charge your camera after what is basically a long, natural photoshoot.
  • The road from Ella to Tissa Lake winds down mountains to the coast, which means it can be frustratingly slow. It also means that you’ll get to see the awesome scenery from literally every angle.
  • Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming, resulting in a huge increase in visitors to Yala National Park. Overtourism and lack of sustainable management practices are of major concern to Intrepid, so in order to reduce our impact on wildlife and the environment we are trialling visits in a less-touristed section of the park known as Block 5 or Veheragala. If we determine that Block 5 is also too crowded to visit responsibly, we will change our itinerary to visit Udawalawe National Park. Udawalawe is home to wild elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards. This is the same itinerary we follow from September to mid-October when Yala National Park is closed annually for infrastructure development and rejuvenation.
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  • Departure/Return Location
    Negombo, Sri Lanka / Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Departure Time
    6:00 PM
  • Return Time
    10:00 AM
  • Included
    Accommodation
    Guide
    Meals
    Transport
  • Not Included
    All Inclusive
    Flights
    Insurance
    Train Travel

Tour Plan

1
DAY 1
Welcome to Negombo, Sri Lanka. There are are no activities planned today so you're free to arrive at any time. Your adventure kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Although Colombo is the commercial capital and by far the largest city in Sri Lanka, it's still relatively small. You won't be staying in the capital itself, but in a place by the beach. There are plenty of beach bars, pubs and restaurants available close by. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Optional Activities Negombo - Spirit of Negombo Urban Adventure - USD60 Meals Included There are no meals included on this day. Special Information If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive in time for today's welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. Those who arrive early can dive straight into it by joining our local Urban Adventure - Spirit of Negombo. First check out the sights on foot and then take a leisurely boat tour, all while soaking up some epic views and learning all about the history and culture of Negombo. If you’d prefer to explore on your own, perhaps stroll the seaside observing the local fishing craft and perhaps feasting on fresh seafood. The beautiful surrounding countryside is best explored on a bicycle, which you can rent with help from the hotel reception.
2
DAY 2
Head to the fish market in Negombo this morning. This can be quite an intense affair, but the variety of fish being presented by the locals is a great experience. From here, begin your journey by private vehicle to Kandy and visit a spice garden on the way, which should take around three hours in total (120 kilometres). On arrival to Kandy, there's an optional visit to the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa), the most important shrine in the country. It's also worth attending a cultural show while in town - the Kandyan dance performances are awesome. The Royal Botanical Garden is just ten minutes away from your accommodation and there is access to the swimming pool of Kandyan Residencies (next door). Your evening is free to do as you wish. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Included Activities Negombo - Fish market Matale - Spice Garden visit Optional Activities Kandy - Temple of the Tooth - LKR2000 Kandy - Cultural performance - LKR1000 Kandy - Botanical Gardens - LKR2000 Meals Included Breakfast
3
DAY 3
Today is a free day to explore Kandy or perhaps organise a day trip to visit both Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Dambulla Caves Temple. The World Heritage-listed temple has been a pilgrimage site for 22 centuries and for good reason, these interconnected caves offer ancient Buddhist cave art. At Sigiriya, also on the World Heritage list, you can scale the remains of an ancient fortress carved into the magnificent rock that juts from the low-lying plains. Chat to your leader and fellow travellers about organising and booking optional activities while in Kandy. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Optional Activities Kandy - Botanical Gardens - LKR2000 Dambulla - Cave Temples - LKR1500 Sigiriya - Lion Rock - LKR4650 Meals Included Breakfast
4
DAY 4
Feeling a little worse for wear? If you’re looking to relax you might want to book an Ayurvedic massage to relax those weary muscles. Or if you haven't had a chance to visit the Royal Botanical Garden yet, then why not take a stroll around it today. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Meals Included Breakfast
5
DAY 5
This morning, say goodbye to Kandy as you hop on a train for around 6 hours to Ella. It’s a kinda long trip, but you can buy all sorts of yum treats from the onboard sellers. On arrival to Ella, check in to your accommodation which is within walking distance of the station. Once you've dropped off your luggage, perhaps head out for a visit to a local tea factory. If this doesn't take your fancy, go for dinner in one of the many local restaurants and bars. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Included Activities Kandy - Scenic train ride to Ella Meals Included Breakfast
6
DAY 6
Venture out on an included half day trek to Ella Gap this morning. We'll stop in a small mountain village for a spicy curry lunch and a pot of Ceylon tea. This is an awesome way of getting to know the area and a great opportunity to rub shoulders with the locals. The rest of the day is then free to do what you want. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Included Activities Ella - Trek to Ella Gap Ella - Nine Arch Bridge Meals Included Breakfast
7
DAY 7
Head out of Ella in a private vehicle for around three hours to your resort on the edge of Tissa Lake. Once settled, you'll head out on a jeep safari where you'll come across the area's native wildlife such as elephants, leopards and aquatic birds. This is an amazing experience that you'll never forget. After your day in nature soak in the view from the lovely hotel pool overlooking lake Tissa. Accommodation Lakeside Resort (1 night) Included Activities Yala/Bundala National Park - Wildlife safari Meals Included Breakfast Lunch Special Information Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming, and with it has come a huge increase in visitors to Yala National Park. Overtourism and lack of sustainable management practices have become a major concern for us in continuing to visit Yala. In order to reduce our impact on wildlife and the environment we are trialling visiting a less touristed section of Yala, known as Block 5. Should we determine that high tourist numbers at Block 5 also make it difficult to continue visiting responsibly we will change our itinerary to visit Udawalawe National Park, where wild elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards also reside. From September through October when Yala National Park is closed annually for infrastructure development and rejuvenation we go on a jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park. Udawalawe is home to wild elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards.
8
DAY 8
Journey west in a private vehicle for around three and a half hours to Unawatuna. This fantastic stretch of beach has plenty of local restaurants and bars to relax in. There are no included activities today, so you'll have plenty of free time to explore Unawatuna and its surrounds. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Optional Activities Mirissa - Whale Watching (Nov to Mar) - USD55 Meals Included Breakfast
9
DAY 9
Life’s a beach, so spend the day on one. With a book and a cocktail and a bottle of sunscreen. Possibly head out early on an optional whale watching tour or take a day trip to visit the Galle Royal Dutch Fort. Walk around the fort for free or 'bikesplore' the lesser known areas of the city on an Urban Adventure. You'll be staying at a guest house on the beach tonight, so make use of the many beach restaurants and bars that line the shore. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Included Activities Galle - Walking tour Optional Activities Galle - Dutch Fort - Free Mirissa - Whale Watching (Nov to Mar) - USD55 Galle - Bikesplore Galle Urban Adventure - USD49 Meals Included Breakfast
10
DAY 10
Leave Unawatuna behind and make the short journey to Galle, where you'll jump on a train to Colombo (approximately four hours). On arrival to Sir Lanka's capital, why not head out on an optional city walk with your leader? If you'd rather pick up some last-minute shopping, then pay a visit to the mass amounts of shops that are available. Tonight is free but your leader will suggest a spot for an optional final group dinner. Accommodation Hotel (1 night) Included Activities Galle - Scenic train ride to Colombo Colombo - City tour by bus Colombo - Guided Market Visit Meals Included Breakfast
11
DAY 11
Have string hoppers and a super-black coffee for breakfast, then pull your saddest face as our trip comes to an end. Optional Activities Colombo - Colombo by Tuk Tuk Urban Adventure - USD55 Colombo - Eat, Eat, Repeat Urban Adventure - USD55 Meals Included There are no meals included on this day.
Tours start from 15 Mar 2020, Speak to us for more details.