Explore ruins, relax on stunning beaches, and find tranquillity in the temples of Sri Lanka

Drive along the road in Sri Lanka and you can pass Hindu temples, Buddhist shrines, churches and mosques all on the same stretch. This fusion – found in the history, the culture, the Arabian, Indian and European-inspired food – makes Sri Lanka a delicious melting pot to explore. From laid-back Negombo venture through ancient Anuradhapura city to the lesser explored surrounds of the north, the secrets and hidden places of Jaffna, and on to the beautiful coastlines of Trincomalee and Batticaloa. Discover the spiritual heart of the country in the dagobas of Mahiyangana and serene temples of Kandy, and enjoy the natural world too, in a country that overflows with plants and wildlife. Spend time with locals keen to share their homes, food, and stories on an adventure that will leave you with many to tell.

PLEASE NOTE:
Bandaranaike International airport in Colombo Sri Lanka will undergo maintenance work daily between the hours of 0830am – 1630 (430pm) between 05th Jan – 05Apr 2017.
All flights scheduled to arrive or depart during these times will be affected and be subject to a schedule change. Please consult your airline or travel agent with regards to changes and advise Intrepid as soon as possible so we can rebook arrival and/or departure transfers. Please note that during this time, your flight may change several times. It’s a good idea to recheck your flight details several days prior to travelling.

Start
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Finish
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Countries
Sri Lanka
Themes
Explorer
Code
HPKS
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
224kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • The best way to rediscover the once lost city of Anuradhapura is by bicycle. Cycle around the stupas, citadel and monasteries of this ancient capital
  • Head into the newly reopened north of Sri Lanka and see a side of the country closed to tourists for 30 years
  • The beaches of Sri Lanka’s east coast are beautiful, secluded and perfect for unwinding
  • Witness ritual and devotion in the spiritual heart of the country during an evening puja at Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Your journey starts from the coastal town of Negombo, a short drive from the international airport. You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5:30 PM, when insurance details and next of kin information are collected. Those arriving early can get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka by 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.
In the morning weave through stalls piled with shark, squid, barracuda and all types of sea creatures as the sellers call out their wares in Negombo fish market. Continue on to a coconut plantation to learn how all parts of the tree play an important part in daily life and sip the refreshing water of a king coconut. Travel north by private vehicle to Anuradhapura, stopping at Wilpattu National Park en route. This fine National Park is filled with unique water basins and lakes and is known for the leopards, elephants and sloth bears that call it home. Enjoy a three hour jeep safari within the park
Todays travel time is approx. 6 hours.
The grand ruins of Anuradhapura point to its status as Sri Lanka’s ruling city for almost one and a half millennia. Take a guided cycling tour of the large number of archaeological sites – the stupas, citadel and monasteries – and stop by the Bodhi Tree Temple, the second-most sacred site in Sri Lanka.
If you don't feel like cycling, there is the chance to have a wander around the ruins or jump in a rickshaw and follow the group.
This morning transfer to the station to catch the train north to the coastal Tamil town of Jaffna, inaccessible for years due to the civil war. Journey around the Jaffna Peninsula, taking in Point Pedro (Sri Lanka’s northernmost point) the healing waters of Keerimalai Spring, the ruined dagobas of Kantarodai, and Nilawari, a bottomless well where it’s said that the Hindu God, Rama, shot an arrow to get water. Travel time approx 4 hours by local train.
Special Information
International tourism is slowly returning to Jaffna and as such hotels in the city are not quite at the standard as the rest of the country. We stay in the best available hotel in Jaffna.  
Rise early this morning and stroll around the ancient Buddhist temple of Nagadeepa, once visited by Buddha to settle a dispute between two local kings, and the colourful Nagapoosani Amman temple. Take a tour of Jaffna city and the sprawling Hindu temple complex of Nallur. In the evening spend time with a local Jaffna family whilst they conduct a cooking demonstration in their home. A lovely way to get a better understanding of life in the north of Sri Lanka.
Leave Jaffna today and transfer to Trincomalee by public bus (approx 4 hours)
Discover the beach vibes of Trincomalee, relax in the shade of a palm tree and drink ‘toddy’ straight its flowers. Trincomalee is said to be one of the world’s finest deep-water harbours, attracting famous sailors like Marco Polo to its shores. there are no activities planned today so its a great chance to relax by the pool.
Take the free day to enjoy a range of optional activities like snorkelling at Pigeon Island, or climb aboard a boat for some whale and dolphin watching in the bay. Don’t feel like doing anything? Then simply sit back, relax and enjoy the peaceful beach lifestyle.
Explore the town of Trincomalee in the morning, stopping at Fort Frederick, the hilltop temple of Koneshwaram, and the natural hot springs of Kanniya. Continue by private vehicle for around 4 hours along the coast to Batticaloa, a lagoon-surrounded town that’s the home of the famous Sri Lankan street food Kottu Roti.
Travel by private vehicle this morning as you head inland to the small town of Mahiyangana. Visit Mahiyangana temple and the country’s first dagoba, marking the spot where Buddha is said to have first preached.
Continue into the physical and spiritual heart of the country travelling via the Knuckles Mountain Range to Kandy, the former home of the last Sri Lankan king. this evening observe locals worshiping in Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth, one of Sri Lanka’s most sacred shrines and home to a tooth relic of Buddha. Travel time approx. 3 hours
Leaving Kandy this morning, we stop en route to visit the Giragama tea factory, where we can sample some of the best of Sri Lankas biggest industry. (120km/approx. 3.5hrs). Continue to Colombo.

After check in we set off for a city walk via the bustling Petta Bazaar, Independence Square, Parliament, past the National Museum, before finishing at a shopping opportunity for a good cause at the Barefoot fair trade store. Here you can find a collection of handicrafts from around the country and support small cottage industries.

Tonight we celebrate our journey around Sri Lanka with an optional final night group dinner.
There are no activities planned for day 12 and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. Additional accommodation is available through your booking agent at the time of booking your trip.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
10 breakfasts, 1 dinner
Transport
Private vehicle, Safari Vehicle, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (11 nights)
Included activities
  • Wilpattu National Park
  • Anuradhapura - Bike Tour
  • Anuradhapura - Sri Maha Bo Tree
  • Mihintale - Entrance
  • Jaffna Cookery Class with a Local Family
  • Kandy - Temple of Tooth

Dates

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is available on this trip and is applicable for all nights on tour. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information.

ARRIVAL TRANSFER
An arrival transfer is included on this trip. Please advise flight details at time of booking.

PERAHERA FESTIVAL - The Festival is a 10 day period of evening processions to honour the Sacred Tooth, which is enshrined at Kandy's Temple of the Tooth. Each night features thousands of dancers and drummers, and a parade of more than 50 decorated elephants. Due to Intrepid's stance on Elephant cruelty we do not visit the Perahera and cannot purchase tickets on your behalf. .

PLEASE NOTE:
Bandaranaike International airport in Colombo Sri Lanka will undergo maintenance work daily between the hours of 0830am – 1630 (430pm) between 05th Jan – 05Apr 2017.
All flights scheduled to arrive or depart during these times will be affected and be subject to a schedule change. Please consult your airline or travel agent with regards to changes and advise Intrepid as soon as possible so we can rebook arrival and/or departure transfers. Please note that during this time, your flight may change several times. It’s a good idea to recheck your flight details several days prior to travelling.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Sensational Sri Lanka trips score an average of 4.35 out of 5 based on 20 reviews in the last year.

Sensational Sri Lanka , September 2016

Sensational Sri Lanka , September 2016