Soak in the enchantment of Sri Lanka on this unforgettable journey. Refresh your spirit at the unusual Golden Temple of Dambulla, stroll spice gardens and tea plantations, and ride through Wilpattu National Park in search of elephants and leopards. Come away with an understanding of why Arab traders called the island “Serendib”—a name that gave English speakers the word “serendipity.”
- Travel Style : National Geographic Journeys
- Service Level : Upgraded
- Physical Grading : 3 - Average
- Trip Type : Small Group
- What's Included:Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Wilpattu Safari and Conservation Talk, Wilpattu National Park
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Agricultural Village Experience, Habarana
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: High Tea and Handicrafts, Kandy
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Elephant Rehabilitation Centre, Udawalawe
Your G for Good Moment: Sthree Craft Shop and Café, Kandy
Your Hands-On Moment: Visit a Coconut Plantation, Colombo
Your Foodie Moment: Sri Lankan Cooking Demonstration, Udawalawe. Arrival transfer. Tour of Anuradhapura ruins. Tour the Sigiriya rock fortress. Dambulla cave temple visit. Visit a Matale spice garden. Tour the Temple of the Tooth. Cultural show. Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. Tour Nuwara Eliya area and a Ceylon tea plantation. Hike in Horton Plains National Park. Safari drive in Udawalawe National Park. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
- Highlights:Explore ruins and archaeological sites with local experts, take in a lecture on elephant conservation, search out leopards at Wilpattu National Park, enjoy a taste of tea at its source, learn about local ingredients and flavours during a cooking demonstration
- Dossier Disclaimer:The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary. VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
- Itinerary Disclaimer:While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
- Important Notes:1. Displaying body art or wearing clothing that includes an image of the Buddha is illegal; please be culturally sensitive and respect the law and should you have any such tattoos, keep them covered at all times.
2. Traveling by road in Sri Lanka is certainly not what people are use to in Western countries. Many road ways are single lane, rules are not always followed, drivers appear to speed, do not stay in their lanes, and overtake in seemingly dangerous situations. Although their are some improvements in the works to the road infrastructure, there is a lot more to be done. As a result, some of the roads are poorly maintained, and this gets even more pronounced during and after the monsoon. As a result, travel time covering relatively short distances is very long in comparison to Western countries.
- Group Leader Description:All G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of our Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting - we think it's the best of both worlds.
- Group Size Notes:Max 15, avg 12
- Meals Included:11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
- Meals:Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. The above information applies to G Adventures group trips. For Independent trips please check the itinerary for details of meals included. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.
- Transport:Private vehicle, boat, 4x4, walking
- Solo Travellers:We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
- Accommodation:Hotel/lodges (9 nts), tented camp (2 nts).
- My Own Room:Please note that if you have booked the "My Own Room" option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops
- Joining Hotel:For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
- Joining Instructions:An arrival transfer is included in this trip when you arrive on Day 1, or if you arrive up to three days prior to the tour, and provided that you have booked your pre-accommodation through National Geographic Journeys in our joining hotel. Due to customer experience and quality considerations, all services related to the tour must be continuous.
Please look for our driver who will be waiting for you with a National Geographic Journeys Sign with your name on it.
Your CEO will contact you at the hotel on Day 1 and make sure you are settled comfortably. If you arrive late, they will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning. Your CEO will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive some general and specific information about aspects of the trip.
- Arrival Complications:We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier and contact us as soon as possible. If you have a pre-booked transfer, and you have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
- Emergency Contact:Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Local Representative (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures please note that:
Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel.
If your call is specifically concerning Airport Transfer complications please call our local G Adventures Transfer providers directly at:
Tel.: (+94)112 308 308 | Ext.: 5917 | Mob.: (+94)77 5222 800
Aitken Spence Travels
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Office (Delhi)
G Adventures South Asia Manager, Rishab (Delhi, India)
>From outside of India: +91 88 5180 6614
>From within Delhi: 88 5180 6614
>From within India, but outside Delhi: 088 5180 6614
G Adventures Office Bangkok, Thailand
During Office hours (Weekdays, 9am-5pm Local Time): +66-02-3815574
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
- Finishing Point Instructions:Marawila is a small fishing village located on the Northwest coast of Sri Lanka, close to Colombo and a short drive away from the International Airport.
- What to Take:We suggest that you pack as lightly as possible as your are expected to carry your own luggage. As a rule we try not to have to walk more than 15-20 mintues with your bags which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 10-15kg/22-30lb. Hard suitcases are not recommended for G Adventures trips! Most travellers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size (no XXL ones please!). You will also need a day pack/bag to carry water, cameras and other electronics like ipods and mobile phones.
- Packing List:Conservative Dress:
• Modest clothing that covers knees and shoulders (Long pants, long skirts, shirts that cover shoulders)
• Shawl or scarf (for temple visits)
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Small travel towel
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket
• Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes
• Hiking pants (Convertible/Zip-off and quick dry recommended)
• Smart outfit (For evenings out)
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
Note: During the months of May-Jul is the rainy season, so please make sure to pack waterproof clothes.
- Laundry:Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge. There will be times when you may want to or have to do your own laundry so we suggest you bring non-polluting/biodegradable soap.
- Visas and Entry Requirements:Most nationalities will require a visa to visit Sri Lanka. The fee is approximately $35 USD and an E-Visa can be obtained at the following website:
- Spending Money:Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
- Money Exchange:As currency exchange rates in Asia fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
As of Jan 2013 the exchange rate for Sri Lanka was 1 USD = 128 LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees). There are many ATM machines that accept both Visa and Mastercard but these are limited to major cities. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops but they may charge a 2-4% transaction fee.
- Emergency Fund:Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
- Tipping:It is customary in Asia to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is expected - though not compulsory - and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. You may do this individually, or your CEO will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from USD1-2 per person per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures CEO did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD20-30 per person, per week can be used.
- Optional Activities:Anuradhapura
- Cycle Anuradhapura
- Ayurvedic Hospital Visit
- High Tea at the Grand Hotel (15USD per person)
- Health:Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that sometimes we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our CEO are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. In Asia pharmacies tend to stock the same western drugs as you get at home but they are usually produced locally so please bring the full drug name with you when trying to purchase a prescription drug. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings for trip specific information. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveller from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our group CEO they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.
- Safety and Security:Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions. Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s). Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.
- A Couple of Rules:Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
- Travel Insurance:Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
- Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation:The Planeterra Foundation planeterra.org is a Canadian non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their cultures, and create humane and supportive systems for their endeavours. Planeterra provides capacity building and catalyst grants to get community social enterprises off the ground. These businesses address local challenges by providing benefits for indigenous people, empowering marginalized women, and granting disadvantaged youth access to education, employment, and brighter futures. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating programs into G Adventures’ itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra’s largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
G Adventures’ Dollar-a-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar for every day you are on trip. 100% of these donations go directly to support community development projects worldwide that are implemented by Planeterra.
- Local Dress:In Asia the dress standard is more conservative than it is back home. When packing try to pick loose, lightweight, long clothing that will keep you cool in the usually hot and humid climate of Asian summers. In predominately Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim countries we ask that you dress respectfully and avoid very short shorts/skirts and singlets/tanktops when visiting small rural communities or visiting temples or mosques or other holy sites as this may restrict your entry.
Sri Lanka is conservative and you should dress accordingly. As a general guideline shoulders and knees should be covered at all times. The wearing of shorts is not allowed as it will restrict your entry into buildings of a religious nature and family homes. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.
Beach attire is appropriate when on the beach.
NB: During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos/postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
- Feedback:After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at email@example.com and we will send it on to you.
- Newsletter:Our adventure travel e-newsletter is full of travel news, trip information, interesting stories and contests. To avoid missing out on special offers and updates from G Adventures, subscribe at www.gadventures.com/newsletters/
Stay current on how our company invests in our global community through our foundation – Planeterra. Sign up for Planeterra's monthly news to learn more about how to give back and support the people and places we love to visit.
- Minimum Age:You must be 18 to travel unaccompanied on a G Adventures tour. For minors travelling with a guardian over 21 years old, the minimum age is 12.
- International Flights:Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.
- Max Pax:Max 16
- Group Leader:Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
Itinerary (12 days)
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included.
Colombo/Wilpattu National Park
Depart early and visit a coconut plantation, learning about farming and popular coconut-based products. Continue north to Wilpattu National Park, known for its leopard population. Explore the park on a 4x4 and meet with a local expert to hear about conservation efforts and the issues of human encroachment on wildlife reserves. Overnight at a safari camp, located just outside the National Park.
Wilpattu National Park/Anuradhapura
Travel to the sacred city of Anuradhapura — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk through the ruins and discover ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples. Enjoy some free time this afternoon and opt to rent a bike.
Enjoy a walk through Habarana, a rural farming village, and learn about daily life. Relax with a canoe trip on the lake, ride on a bull cart, taste a local lunch, and venture out into the rice and vegetable fields. Later, continue on to Dambulla for the evening.
Head to Sigiriya (Lion) rock fortress and climb the steps to the top of this captivating site to discover UNESCO-listed ruins and take in stellar views. After, enjoy some free time to explore Dambulla.
Tour the impressive Dambulla Cave Temple and admire ancient Buddhist murals and statues then visit a spice garden in Matale to learn about the theraputic uses of local spices. Continue on to Kandy and enjoy a tour of the Temple of the Tooth, which houses an important relic — a tooth of Lord Buddha kept in a well-preserved golden casket. This evening, listen to some traditional music at a cultural show.
Today, visit the impressive Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya, considered a national asset. Enjoy the lush surroundings, pavilions, conservancy, orchid house, and stunning Javan fig tree. After, visit Sthree Craft Shop and Café, a G for Good-supported social enterprise that helps local women and youth. Here, we view a handicraft demonstration, listen to a lecture lecture, and enjoy afternoon high tea. Taste local teas, scones, clotted cream, jam, and an assortment of sweet cakes and pastries. Later, enjoy some free time to walk through the city and around Kandy Lake.
Travel through scenic mountains to the tea-producing town of Nuwara Eliya, stopping at a traditional tea plantation in the central highlands to gain insight into the process of growing tea and its effect on the Ceylon region. Enjoy a cup of perfectly blended pure Ceylon tea then continue exploring the English countryside atmosphere which was once governed by English and Scottish planters. Walk through the green grass and lanes, enjoying stunning views of this countryside hamlet. Opt to enjoy high tea at the Grand Hotel.
Enjoy a picnic breakfast and hike through the highlands in Horton Plains National Park. Continue on to our tented camp on the border of Udawalawe National Park. This evening, enjoy a cooking demonstration by the camp chef to learn about local specialties.
Enjoy a wildlife safari drive into the park to observe elephants who are in abundance here. After, visit and enjoy a lecture at the Elephant Transit Home, a haven for orphaned elephants who are rehabilitated then released back into the wild, many directly into Udawalawe National Park.
Drive to Negombo and enjoy free time to explore the city and check out the beautiful Portuguese and Dutch architecture.
Depart at any time.