Last Modified: 18 Feb 2013
Cycle the Backroads of Sri Lanka
Trip code: HZXS
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Mar 2013
Sri Lanka is both compact and diverse, offering something for everyone. Through rural surroundings we explore the island by bicycle giving us the best means to see the country, its people and different ways of life. Beginning our journey in its region of ancient cities, we travel along the old King's Route, created more than 1000 years ago. Here we stop to climb the impressive 'Lion's Rock' fortress at Sigiriya and explore the cave temples at Dambulla.
We visit Kandy before riding through the tea estates of Nuwara Eliya in the Central Highlands where the cooler temperatures and lush scenery make for a relaxing ride. In the south we visit Yala National Park where there are leopards, elephants and an abundance of colourful birdlife before ending the trip on the beaches of Sri Lanka's beautiful south coast. This trip covers a substantial part of the island, taking in as much as possible of the scenic and cultural variety that Sri Lanka has to offer.
The operator for this trip is our experienced sister company Exodus. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Days 1-2 Sigiriya
We meet up after lunch to put our bikes together for an afternoon ride around the tarred and gravel roads that surround Sigiriya. Virtually traffic free, we may encounter a monkey or two. Land only passengers can meet us at the hotel or at the airport in time for the transfer to Sigiriya.
After breakfast the next day, we ride along gravel roads following an old irrigation canal to Dambulla, the second century BC Buddhist cave temple. It is well worth the walk to view the five caves, which contain many ancient Buddha statues, some carved from the solid rock. Returning via the busy market town we take another quiet back road riding through chilli and rice fields, we end back at our hotel for lunch and a relaxing swim in the pool. In the late afternoon we climb Sigiriya, the fifth century rock fortress, to see the beautiful frescoes painted onto the rock face (this is not recommended for those who suffer from vertigo). The ruins of the palace on the summit are surpassed only by the magnificent aerial view of the surrounding jungle. Stay as long as you like, as it's only 10 minutes walk back to our hotel.
- Sigiriya - Rock Fortress guided visit
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Polonnaruwa
Today we have a long morning ride along a quiet back road which is part of the Sigiriya nature reserve, before joining the highway travelling east towards Polonnaruwa, riding all the way to our lunch stop and over night stay. For those who feel they need a swim, the hotel also has a swimming pool, a pleasant place to spend the hot early afternoon. Later we tour the old ruined city of Polonnaruwa, which dates from the 10-13th centuries.
Ride approx. 73 km.
- Polonnaruwa - ancient site guided bicycle tour
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Matale Region
We follow the lake's man-made 6 km dam and feeder canal to its source, the Amban Ganga River, stopping for lunch in the shade of one of the giant overhanging trees. The river's cool water may tempt you for a swim (so keep a spare pair of shorts in your day pack) before lunch, a mixture of local speciality rotis (spicy curry pancakes) and fresh fruits from the market. The afternoon ride is flanked by the stunning Kalanduwa hills on one side and the borders of Wasgomuwa Wildlife Park on the other. As the jungle gives way to plantations, we enter the spice growing region of Sri Lanka. The night is spent in a small family-run guest house with small cabanas dotted around the estate, it’ s basic but the home cooking in clay pots on wood fired stoves gives you the real flavour of Sri Lanka. If you would like to find out more about the spices used in the piquant Lankan curries, the owners can arrange a visit to one of the renowned spice gardens a short walk down the road.
Ride approx. 80 km.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Kandy
Today is tougher as we head for the hills and Kandy, the spiritual and cultural capital of the hill country. Those who feel like an easy day can jump onto the bus for the 50 km trip to Kandy, while the rest of us pedal away, riding through the Moorish town of Matale. Its inhabitants, descendants from the Arab spice traders, still control most of the spice market, which is a good place to pick some freshly ground curry powder of your own. We may have to transfer the last few km to avoid traffic, as Kandy's roads are as old as the city. Surrounded by hills the town is centred around the Temple of the Tooth. The afternoon is free to wander through the streets and markets.
Ride approx. 53 km.
Tomorrow is a free day in Kandy to explore the town. Kandy has many interesting attractions including the wonderful Botanical Gardens, the famous Temple of the Tooth, and streets lined with interesting curio shops, while the surrounding hills that are dotted with wonderful temples.
- Botanical Gardens - LKR1230
- Kandy - Temple of the Tooth - Free
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 7 Nuwara Eliya
For anyone who doesn't do hills, we strongly recommend the train ride to Nuwara Eliya, the highest point on the island! For those who feel like a challenge, it’s 94 km, climbing up to 2000 m above sea level to reach the highest and most favoured Hill Station. We take the old road, a far more pleasant route, and one of the few places where you see terraced paddy fields. Beyond the paddy fields is tea country and the area is reputed to produce the finest teas on the island.
Ride approx. 94 km.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 8 Ella
The morning is free to visit the town and a tea factory or you can organise a trip to Horton Plains, a 2 km undulating plateau of grassland and forest. Several of Sri Lanka's endemic birds can be seen here as well as Sambur and spotted deer. Leaving Nuwara Eliya mid morning, we cycle towards Ella, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant and later tea in Bandarawella a trading centre, where exotic fruits from the east coast are traded for hill-country vegetables. Arriving in the late afternoon, we watch the sunset from the famous view point Ella Gap. On a clear day you can see the coast shimmering in the distance.
Ride approx. 66 km.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 9-10 Tissamharama/Yala National Park
Descending 1000 m we leave the breathtaking scenery of Uva Province for the gentle rolling hills of the dry zone, stopping at the impressive rock-cut Buddha Satutes at Buduruvagala. The giant 15 m rock carving of Buddha is flanked by small figures depicting his helpers and a very rare image of Maitreya, the future Buddha, which dates from the 10th century. The tranquillity of the place is enhanced by the lotus-covered lake; on whose banks we can enjoy some fresh fruits before riding on to lunch. Here we can relax from the heat of the day, before the final 30km to Tissamharama the Capital of the old Ruhuna Kingdom.
Ride approx 102 km.
Tissa is close to Yala National Park, the best park in Sri Lanka to see leopard. During the morning safari, you may see elephant, deer, wild boar, sloth bear, Asian jackel, and lots of birdlife and, if very lucky, a leopard. We return to Tissa for lunch and an afternoon cycle to Kataragama temple, which lies 16 km northeast of the town. People of all faiths come to seek favour with the god Skanda, who is reputed to restore people's health. The colourful and noisy night time pooja is always busy, with thousands of pilgrims during the festival season, July - August.
Ride approx. 32 km.
- Buddha statues
- Jeep safari
- Kataragama Temple
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 11-12 Ahangama
Leaving early to avoid the heat of the dry zone, we ride along the boundary of Bundala Bird Sanctuary. During certain times of the year thousand of flamingos can be seen wading in the brackish shallows, eyed up by crocodiles, basking in the early morning sun. After 25 km we hit the coast road for the final 30 km to Hambantota, a series of sandy bays fanning out from this typical coastal town. Transfer from Hambantota to Ahangama by coach. For the next 2 nights we stay in Ahangama.
The following day you can choose to relax at the hotel or join a late morning ride along rural roads to Wandurugama, a small village, for lunch at a family home. Return via Koggala lake, in time for a swim, before watching the sunset followed by an evening fish BBQ at the hotel. From November to April you can also go Whale watching off Dondra head, near Mirrissa, which is one of the best places in the world for seeing blue and sperm whales. Huge pods of dolphins are also often seen accompanying the boats.
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 13-14 Galle/Colombo
Leaving mid morning, we will stop to visit Galle. The Old Dutch fort was built in 1663 after the Dutch took the island from the Portuguese. The old ramparts and small back streets bring alive some of the history of the fight for colonial domination of this prized island. You’re free to find your own lunch, meeting back at the bus at 1.30pm for the 3 hour drive to Colombo, arriving late afternoon. The rest of the day is free to relax by the pool or shop along the main street. For the last evening meal we can choose from one of the many restaurants in Colombo.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Hotel (1 nt)
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.
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. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
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.
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.
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
This trip requires you to have a good level of fitness, although you do not have to have technical experience. The average daily ride is 80km (50miles). There is vehicle support throughout the trip. The roads are mostly surfaced, but you may come along some rough roads. Keeping to the backroads means that there is less traffic but it will become busier when approaching towns.
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.
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 for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Rupee (LRK).
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.
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 leader. We suggest US$2-3 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$1-2 per day for drivers.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-4 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$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
At your group meeting on day 1 your tour guide 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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
If you need to hire a bike please let us know at time of booking. Your sales consultant will be able to provide you with the cost for bike hire.
A surcharge will apply for stays in Kandy during the Perahera Festival (dates are based on the lunar calendar, usually in July-August). 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. Our local representative can purchase tickets on your behalf if required (at an extra cost). Please request at time of booking.
Average daily distance: 75 km (47m)
No. of days cycling: 10 - 11
Vehicle Support: 100%
Terrain and route: 95% tarmac, 5% unsurfaced road. Terrain is hilly, particularly around Nurawa Eliya and the hill country, but support vehicle available if required. Routes mostly follow quiet backroads with occasional unsurfaced roads. Rides are designed to run door-to-door without transfers.
Keeping to the backroads means that there is less traffic but it will become busier when approaching towns.
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
The minimum age of clients on this trip is 16 years. Please note that teenagers aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
Maximum of 16 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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
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 room (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 refer to your booking agent for further information.
Hotel (13 nts)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
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.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
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.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
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.
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.
14 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
Support vehicle, 4x4, Bicycle
All your luggage and personal belongings will be carried by the support vehicles, which are a minicoach and a Landrover, though these might change, depending on the group size. Transfer sections will be done in the minicoach, which is air-conditioned. The Landrover will follow the riders most of the time for those on the main route, allowing you to cycle as much or as little as you like.
There will be a local leader and drivers and local guides where needed.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and 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 in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest 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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
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.
LOCAL BIKE HIRE:
Specialized Rockhopper with front suspension, £120, paid on booking.'In-country' bike hire should be arranged at the time of booking, and the cost will be added to your invoice. Please note that in a few locations, there may be a limited number of bikes available locally. On the rare occasion there is not a bike available, we will inform you of this prior to departure. You would then be required to either bring your own, or hire one in the UK.
BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE:
Many people choose to bring their own bikes on our trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles. For more detailed information on bringing a bike from the UK (hired from Exodus, or your own), Information Sheet MBX will be sent to you on booking. This can also be found on our website at: www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/MBX.pdf
EXTRA BIKE BITS:
You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. "We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left
HELMETS AND SAFETY:
Exodus believes that all cyclists should wear helmets in the interests of personal safety, and our leaders are required to do so at all times on all trips. Customers must wear helmets at all times on any 'off-road' cycling holiday and certain 'road'
On most road cycling holidays, wearing a helmet is strongly recommended, but we accept that some customers will want to exercise their own choice in this matter. Those who decide not to wear a helmet do so entirely at their own risk, and in the knowledge that some 'road' trips may include some 'off-road' sections. If wishing to use a helmet you must bring your own with you as they are not available for hire.
Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.
CLIMATE, CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT:
Because of its location near the equator, Sri Lanka has a hot and humid climate. At the higher elevations, however, the climate is cool; the humidity is relatively lower in the northern and central parts of the country. The average annual temperature is 32ºC (90ºF) in the lowlands and 21ºC (70ºF) in the higher mountainous regions, though
it can get chilly in the hill country at night.
Rainfall is determined by seasonal and regional variations. The monsoon season in the south-west lasts from May to November, when the rainfall can be exceptionally heavy. In the northern dry zone, most of the annual precipitation, roughly 1,016 millimetres (about 40 inches) occurs during the monsoon season, which begins in the first week of November, though we do not really visit this region and so are largely unaffected by this monsoon. The hills and lowlands of the south-west section, normally have some rainfall throughout the year, with the heaviest occurring in May and June and again in October and November.
You are required to bring the following personal items, which we view as crucial for the health and safety of our clients:
- a helmet
- eye-protection (sunglasses)
- cycling gloves
- waterbottles or hydration system (e.g. camelbak).
Recommended Cycling Clothing include:
Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small closefitting daysack. High factor sun-cream, warmer layers for the evenings in the hills, cotton trousers and even your favourite energy snacks may be useful.
Please be aware that you will be passing through some remote villages where the locals are unaccustomed to seeing people in tight lycra - we recommend you wear baggy shorts or loose 'over shorts' so as not to cause offence.
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
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.
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. 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 group 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 group 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:
For the last 22 years Sri Lanka has been in the throes of a civil war and though long-term peace is now a positive prospect some sections of the country are still deemed as unsafe to travel to. The itinerary has been chosen with the safety and security of our travellers in mind however we retain the right to alter the itinerary at any time, if we deem it necessary.
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.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
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!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
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 group 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:
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.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.