Circle Sri Lanka Trip Notes

Circle Sri Lanka

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2015 - 31 December 2015

Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015
Circle Sri Lanka
Trip code: HPSH
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
A jewel in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is jam-packed with ancient sites, fascinating culture, beautiful wilderness and idyllic beaches. From the ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and impressive Sigiriya Fort - Sri Lankan culture spans more than 2,000 years, still remaining vibrant and alive today. Trek through lush tea plantations, indulge in seafood feasts in quaint fishing villages and dip your toes in the calm, clear waters off the beach at Mirissa on this all-encompassing adventure for those seeking a unique travel experience.
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeEmergency contact
ThemesYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
MapSingle travellersVisas
ItineraryAccommodationIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseMeals introductionWhat to take
We also recommendMealsHealth
Itinerary disclaimerTransportSafety
Culture shock rating Group leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingJoining point Responsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingFinish point description
  • Our Original style trips have a great balance of included activities with your group and free time to explore independently. Where we stay ensures we keep our travellers firmly entrenched in a region’s people and culture, and provides them with unique local experiences that benefits the community too. In most locations we stay in simple tourist-class hotels (i.e. 2-3 stars), plus on many trips you'll also get to experience a night with a local family on a homestay or something a little different like a Bedouin camp in the Sahara. Original style trips come with all manner of transport modes and use a mixture of local and private transport. You might find yourself sailing in a dhow in Zanzibar, jumping on a rickshaw in Sri Lanka or sailing on a yacht through the Galapagos. No matter the mode, it's all about minimising our environmental impact and making getting around part of the adventure.

Day 1 Negombo
Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka.
We start our journey from the town of Negombo, which is located close to the international airport.
You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5.30PM. We will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Check-in time at our joining point hotel is after 12 pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.
Those who arrive early can get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and feasting on fresh seafood. Negombo town is a historically interesting and busy commercial centre. The surrounding countryside with its network of canals is a fascinating slice of Sri Lankan rural life and is best explored by bicycle - the hotel can help you arrange the hire of a bike.
Golden Star Beach Negombo or similar (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Anuradhapura
We leave Negombo after breakfast today. Our private vehicle takes us to ancient Anuradhapura, via the small town of Chilaw (175 km/approx. 5hrs total travel time).
Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka's most extensive and important ancient city. Ruled by Sinhalese kings for over 2,500 years as the country's first capital, the city rose to its glittering greatness over 2,200 years ago and fell to invading southern Indians several times over the next 1,000 years. The set of ruins is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We will either do our guided bicycle tour of the ancient city this afternoon or in the morning of Day 3, depending on our arrival time and the weather.
Among the ruins and restorations, we will also see the sacred old Bo Tree, a spiritual reminder of the beginnings of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and the inspiration for Anuradhapura's great buildings. The Bo tree was grown from a cutting of the original tree in Bodhgaya under which Buddha gained enlightenment. The ruins themselves are spread over quite an area, some in woodland settings and others appearing park-like with columns and ponds dotted about.
For those not able to cycle, your leader can assist you to hire a three wheeler (tuk tuk) to take you between the sights.
There are several optional museums with a range of interesting exhibits for those keen on history and archeology and there is also the possibility of an optional visit to Mihintale, the sacred birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism. Cost for the visit to Mihintale will depend on the number of people sharing the vehicle.
Please note that the stupas in Anuradhapura are still active Buddhist temples and in order to enter visitors must remove shoes and hats as well as be modestly dressed by covering shoulders and legs.
Included Activities
  • Anuradhapura Bike Tour - Bike Guide
  • Anuradhapura ancient site
  • Anuradhapura Bike Tour Back Up Trishaw
  • Anuradhapura - Sri Maha Bo Tree
Optional Activities
  • Mihintale entrance fees - LKR500
Ceylan Lodge or similar (2 nts)
Day 4 Polonnaruwa
Today we travel to Polonnaruwa by local bus (107km/approx. 4.5hrs). This was the capital of the Indian Chola Dynasty after Anuradhapura was conquered in the late 10th Century. The ruins are close together and are generally in much better repair than those we have just seen.
Cycling amid the remains of 1000-year-old Polonnaruwa is once again best way to get around. We will wait until the heat of the day has dispersed and then visit more beautiful palaces, temples and stupas, but the highlights have to be the massive stone Buddhas - the 14m high graceful granite carved reclining Buddha is a famous Sri Lankan image and represents the zenith of Sinhalese rock carving. We also visit the well laid-out museum, which has scale models of many of the buildings to show how they would have existed in their time.
Included Activities
  • Polonnaruwa Bike Tour
Siyanco Holiday Resort or similar (1 nt)
Day 5 Dambulla
Leaving Polonnaruwa this morning, we travel to Dambulla by local bus (65km/approx. 2.5hrs).
The highlight here are the Dambulla Cave Temples. Located high up on a stone cliff face, these temples house some 150 Buddha images in the five caves, all with fascinating frescoes and paintings on the walls and roofs of the caves. Each cave dates from a different era, and while you may see cave temples other places in Asia, these are truly uniquely beautiful.
Please note that there are numerous steps to get to the caves and you will need to remove your shoes and be dressed appropriately to enter.
This afternoon you may like to relax by our hotel pool or take an optional visit to a nearby wildlife reserve, with some luck maybe even spotting some wild elephants. Which park is available to visit will depend on the season, but both Minneriya and Kaudulla are within easy reach of Dambulla. The cost of these optional activities will vary depending on how many people share travel costs - your leader will be able to advise.
Included Activities
  • Dambulla - Cave temples
Gimanhala Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Kandy
Early morning on Day 6 before the heat of the day gets too intense, we head to Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka's premier sights (15 km/approx 30 min).
Sigiriya is an impressive ruined fortress built as a royal citadel on top of a 200m high rock mass. Some of the surrounding water gardens have been restored to their former glory and those who make it to the top will be rewarded with astounding views.Make sure that you are wearing sturdy footwear as it is a very steep climb with multiple steps and uneven slopes, including a spiral staircase to see some 5th century frescoes. As this is a historical rather than religious site, you will not be required to remove your shoes here.
For those that are unable to climb to the top, you can explore the gardens at the base of the rock and still get some fantastic shots of the fortress from below.
After returning to the hotel briefly to freshen up we head to Kandy (100km/approx. 4hrs). We have the chance to stop at one of the region's wonderful spice gardens along the way to see how they are grown as well as have an optional lunch.
Situated among the hills, Kandy is Sri Lanka's culture capital and the country's second-largest city. At 500m high, the city has a pleasant climate and is surrounded by lush green countryside, although the centre of town can get very busy and traffic jams are frequent!
The city has a picturesque lake and many old colonial era buildings. But the most famous sight here is the Dalada Maligawa, otherwise known as the Temple of the Tooth. We mingle with the white-clad pilgrims who come to worship at Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist site and wander through the many interesting exhibits.
Time permitting, there may be options to visit the National Museum or the Botanical Gardens, said to be among the best in Asia. There's also the option for an early evening performance of the famed Kandyan dancers, drummers and and fire-walkers.
We stay in a hotel in the hills of Kandy away from the noise of the city centre and will lovely views over the town.
On the morning of Day 7 we visit a nearby Tea Factory and take a guided tour to learn about the industry, manufacture and of course, tasting of Sri Lanka's best known beverage.
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Kandy - Tea Factory, Spice & Herb Garden visit
  • Sigiriya - Rock Fortress
  • Kandy - Cultural Dance & Fire Walking Show
Optional Activities
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens - LKR1200
  • Kandy - National Museum - LKR250
Hotel Senani or similar (2 nts)
Days 8-10 Haputale
Make a stunning train journey today into the highlands, disembarking at Bandarawela (145km/approx. 7hrs). Here we visit a local home for a cooking demonstration to learn some secrets of traditional Sri Lankan food before enjoying the delicious meal.
In Bandarawela we stay in a simple but pleasant guesthouse located in a quiet part of town.
On Day 9 we set off by local bus (approx. 45mins) to the starting point for our walk through picturesque tea plantations and small Tamil villages (approx 6.5hrs). We stay in a comfortable local guesthouse tonight.
On Day 10 we set off for some more walking (approx. 4.5hrs) to explore more of the beautiful surrounds of Sri Lanka's Hill Country, enjoying the chance to meet the curious friendly children and tea pickers along the way and a stop for an included lunch in Bambarakanda. We stay overnight in Haputale in a guesthouse tonight.
The walks require good walking shoes as the 'track' is often just rocks under shrubs and if there has been rain it can get very muddy and slippery. You do need to be fit because although the walk is not too demanding, it can be difficult walking on rough and unsteady ground. Our usual route is about 20kms total. If you do not feel that you are able to complete these walks you will be able to take an option to either stay in Bandarawela for an extra night, or if you don't wish to complete the second days walk to Haputale your group leader will be able to organise a transport alternative. These options would be at your own expense - please advise your leader at the group meeting if this is an option you wish to take.
Included Activities
  • Haputale - Tea Plantations, Hill Country & Local Villages trek
  • Bandarawela Cookery Demonstration and Local Meal
Orient Hotel or similar (1 nt), Misty Mount Lodge or similar (1 nt), Srilak View Holiday Inn or similar (1 nt)
Days 11-12 Mirissa
We set off south bound for the coast but en route we stop at the Elephant Transit Home to experience feeding time for baby orphaned elephants. The aim of the organisation is to rehabilitate and protect both injured and orphaned elephants until they are fit and strong enough to be released to the wild - a very special stop and a worthy organisation to support.
Driving further along the beautiful Sri Lankan South Coast by private bus brings us to the beautiful beach of Mirissa (185km/approx 7hrs). We base ourselves here for two days of serious relaxation, with our comfortable accommodation just meters from the water. The beach is a long curve of sand and has lovely calm clear waters for swimming - the sunsets are great too. This is a paradise that you won't want to leave!
Consider taking a bicycle ride or tuk tuk to nearby Weligama where colourful fishing boats should have just brought back their loads of fresh fish to sell along the shore of the sandy bay. You may also come across the local cottage industry of ladies making gorgeous lace products.
Included Activities
  • Elephant Transit Home Visit - Udewalawa
Optional Activities
  • Mirissa - Bike hire (per day) - LKR300
Hotel Silan Mo or similar (2 nts)
Day 13 Galle
We set off again by private bus further along the south coast, and on the way may be able to stop for a photo opportunity of the famous stilt fishermen casting their lines from their traditional poles
We come to the colonial port town of Galle (40 km/approx. 1hr), home to an impressive World Heritage-listed Dutch fort with extensive walls containing many interesting old buildings. In the evening we take a walk around the historical fort and watch the sunset from the ramparts.
The Portuguese, the Dutch and the British have all used the natural harbour as their port. Galle is now going through a major rejuvenation with many old properties being renovated and converted to boutique hotels and restaurants.
Please note: Galle and Mirissa were severely damaged by the December 2004 Tsunami. Project work still continues to repair the lives and homes of thousands of people in the area.
In Galle we stay inside the fort itself, in a 250 year old Dutch Villa that even has a courtyard garden, that has been converted into a guesthouse. Although facilities are basic the atmosphere is warm with great hospitality offered by the local family who will prepare us dinner tonight.
Included Activities
  • Galle - Fort Walking Tour
Fort Fifty Inn or similar (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Colombo
Leaving Galle, we take a classic train ride catching glimpses of the beautiful Sri Lankan coastline before we roll into Colombo (125km/approx. 3hrs).
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 15 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.
Included Activities
  • Colombo - Walking tour
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • HPSH Single Supplement (HPSH)
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    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Rupee (LKR).
    There are now many ATM machines throughout Sri Lanka, which accept both Visa and MasterCard. Although this is a safe and convenient way to access money during your trip we do recommend that you carry some money as cash/travellers cheques for when ATMs can not be accessed. Some money should be taken as US dollars cash in case of emergencies.
    A 'black market' for currency changing does exist in Sri Lanka, these are considered a danger and best avoided. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger shops and restaurants but only in the bigger cities. Some banks will allow cash advances against a credit card.
    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, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.
    Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
    At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.
    Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
    Group size
    Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. Please note that on the following nights the supplement is not available:
    - Day 8 & 9 Bandarawela/Hill Country
    - Day 13 Galle
    Ceylan Lodge or similar (2 nts), Hotel Senani or similar (2 nts), Hotel Silan Mo or similar (2 nts), Golden Star Beach Negombo or similar (1 nt), Siyanco Holiday Resort or similar (1 nt), Gimanhala Hotel or similar (1 nt), Srilak View Holiday Inn or similar (1 nt), Fort Fifty Inn or similar (1 nt), Misty Mount Lodge or similar (1 nt), Orient Hotel or similar (1 nt)
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
    Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
    Please note that not all hotels on this trip have air-conditioning. All hotels do have a fan.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    9 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
    Budget for meals not included:
    USD 300.00
    Auto rickshaw, Train, Bus, Private Bus, Bicycle, Public bus, Trishaw
    There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.
    Group leader
    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
    Your leader 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 places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
    Joining point
    Golden Star Beach Hotel
    163 Lewis Place
    Phone: +94 312233564
    Joining point description
    Located right by the beach, the hotel has a restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Rooms have en suite bathrooms, AC & TV.
    Joining point instructions
    Taxis are easy, safe and cheap. A taxi from Bandaranaike International Airport to Negombo takes approx 40minutes (approx. 10kms) and costs approx. 1,700LKR (15USD).
    Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre-arranged transfer service option.
    Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure.
    If you have pre-booked this service, upon arrival at the airport please head towards exit number 1 where you will see the booth for AIRWING TRAVEL and TOURS. Please identify yourself to the person at the booth. Your transfer driver will collect you for your onward transfer to your hotel.
    If your flight is delayed or cancelled or if you have any trouble locating your transfer representative on arrival to Colombo airport please call the below numbers:
    +94 (0) 76 831 6000
    +94 (0) 71 927 7676
    If you are staying in Colombo prior to the tour it is approximately 30km from Colombo to Negombo, which will cost about LKR2,500 (US$25).
    Normal check-in time is 12:00.
    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 contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    Mirage Hotel Colombo
    61, Moor's Road on Marine Drive (Colombo Plan Road)
    Wellawatte, Colombo 06
    Phone: +94 (0)112 363471
    Fax: +94 (0)112364922
    Finish point description
    The Mirage Hotel is located about 3 kms from the city centre of Colombo and 1 hour's drive from Bandaranaike International Airport. The hotel has a fully equipped business centre and restaurant with a bar.
    Emergency contact
    in case of an emergency please use the following emergency contact information to contact our local Sri Lanka team:
    24 hour booking/reservation issues: +94(0)76 831 6000
    24 hours crisis emergency: +94(0)71 927 7676
    For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    Australia: Yes - in advance
    Belgium: Yes - in advance
    Canada: Yes - in advance
    Germany: Yes - in advance
    Ireland: Yes - in advance
    Netherlands: Yes - in advance
    New Zealand: Yes - in advance
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Yes - in advance
    United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
    USA: Yes - in advance
    Foreign passport holders are required to obtain a visa prior to entry into Sri Lanka. This can be done on-line at the following website:
    Detailed information and application forms are provided here. The process is simple and the cost is US$20 for most countries.
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    An overnight pack is required for our two nights in the hill country, when our large luggage is left at our base. This overnight pack should be able to fit the essentials you might need for a couple of nights such as a change of clothes, toiletries, a book, flashlight, etc. While low lying coastal areas in Sri Lanka have a tropical climate that remains warm all year round, in the hills the climate can be very variable. Be prepared for chilly evenings, with temperatures on occasion close to freezing. Some of our past travellers have been caught out not bringing warm enough clothes, so some thermals and a light water and windproof jacket along with a hat and gloves if you tend feel the cold are likely to be well appreciated.
    It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
    Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
    During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk 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.
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
    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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes 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. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
    Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
    Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles. If you wish you can bring along your own.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our 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 Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. 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.
    Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 224.00 kgs per pax.
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.