Last Modified: 07 Mar 2013
Family - Secrets of Sri Lanka
Trip code: FSS
Validity: 01 Jan 2013 to 31 Dec 2014
This short Sri Lanka itinerary takes in some of the must-see highlights in Sri Lanka. Climb to the top of the spectacular Sigiriya Rock Fortress, go on a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park, see the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, visit a tea plantation and explore small villages on foot.
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, The Adventure Company.
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 Dambulla/Sigiriya/Minneriya National Park
Welcome to Sri Lanka!
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 7pm on Day 1.
After arriving in Dambulla, you will have an opportunity to meet the other members of your group, before perhaps heading out to enjoy the first of many superb Sri Lankan meals.
After breakfast the following morning we drive to Sigiriya where we climb the Rock Fortress using a series of steps and walkways which zigzag their way up the seemingly impenetrable rock cliffs. The view from the summit with the golden hues of the sun setting over the cultural triangle is a perfect introduction to Sri Lanka.
The site was occupied long before the citadel was built at the end of the 5th century, and it later became a monastery before falling into disrepair. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive water gardens, you'll ascend 200m, passing an overhanging rock under which superb portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the rock wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit of the rock are the extensive remains of King Kasyapa's summer palace from where there are breathtaking views.
In the afternoon we transfer about 30 minutes by bus to Minneriya National Park, where we embark on a jeep safari.
Minneriya National Park is an ideal hubbub of 8890 hectares for some of Sri Lanka's favourites; sambar deer, wild boar, peacocks, water buffalo, crocodiles and of course elephants. One of its features is the Minneriya tank that was built in the 3rd century AD by King Mahasena. It is important for the irrigation to over 8500 hectares of paddy fields but is also where hundreds of species of birds, mammals and other wildlife flocks to bathe and graze as part of their migration path. The area around the tank is relatively clear of obscuring vegetation, making it easier to spot wildlife than in other popular national parks in Sri Lanka.
We transfer back to Dambulla, where we spend the night.
- Jeep safari, Minneriya National Park
- Sigiriya - Rock Fortress guided visit
Pelwehera Village Resort (2 nts)
Day 3 Dambulla
Leave early morning with a packed breakfast or after an early breakfast for Hiriwaduna (35 minute transfer) for a 3 hour trek through this archetypal Sri Lankan village. The trek begins with an awesome walk along a bund of a Wewa or manmade reservoir. The reservoir itself, the surrounding scrub jungle, marshland and village are a hive of early morning activity. Built to help with irrigation these lakes are now the centre of the community and life revolves around them. The amazing birdlife, butterflies and possible sightings of crocodile only add to the charm of seeing the villagers as they go about their early morning tasks of fishing, or washing clothes at the periphery of the lake. We wade through a shallow stream and the sense of adventure heightens when we need to get to Chena Cultivation via a somewhat wider tributary which needs to be crossed on an obliging farmer’s catamaran!! At the Chena cultivation you will stop to enjoy the farmer’s humble hospitality. Perhaps enjoy a drink of sweet King Coconut or some other seasonal fruit.
We’ll then switch to an alternative mode of transport - Bullock and Cart! We’ll ride through the dense shrub forests, home to forest birds and other wildlife including monkeys & bears. The ride can be quite bumpy but is a fun experience nonetheless! Our total walking/ride time should be around 2.5/3hrs and we’ll head back in time for lunch. After lunch we have some free time perhaps take a visit to the Cave Temples. Later we take a cycle ride through the village of Pelwehera.
- Dambulla - Cave temples guided visit, Dambulla - Free
Pelwehera Village Resort (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Digana
Today we transfer to Tamarind Gardens (approx 20km) from Kandy, this is a unique homestay "live as a local" set up located on the banks of Victoria reservoir. There are just four chalets here built in a similar design to a local home. Each chalet contains four single beds, bathroom and ameneties such as eletric fans and mosquito nets. This is a working farm with cattle, goats, poultry, and a vegetable and fruit garden. All the services provided to the homestay are provided by local people including any food brought in and laundry service. This is an amazing chance for your family to experience rural life like a local Sri Lankan family would live it. You can join in as many activities as you wish. Meals are cooked in traditional fashion in an open kitchen and you can choose if you would like to get stuck in with the cooking and preparation, or just observe. We have two days here in which to help with the work going on in the village and on the farm. It's a very enriching experience for all and the kids will no doubt make lots of new friends here too. The project is well run by a couple who are experienced in running community projects, they have other projects in the area such as providing chicken or goat farming start up options to establish security for local families. The project is designed with sustainability in mind to improve the lives of those who live here on a long term basis. You are invited to contribute your time and skills during your stay and can also make financial donation if you feel that is suitable at your own discretion.
On our second evening, we'll visit Kandy's Temple of the Tooth, which is said to house the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Here, we'll witness a pooja ceremony, the traditional prayer and present offering to the gods. A walk through the bustling Kandy town, is a perfect way to take in the Kandyan citadel and to experience the crimson sunset by the lake as the sun dips below the ring of mountains which surround the town. Simply stroll by the lake and soak up the atmosphere.
Tamarind Gardens (2 nts)
Days 6-8 Negombo
It's time to farewell to our new village friends today as we leave Kandy. Take a bus journey through the green ranks of tea bushes which cover the higher hillsides on our way to the coast at Negombo. You may see tea pickers expertly plucking the tips of the leaves from the bushes, searching for the best available tips to create the perfect blend for the cup. Our journey time takes around three hours and we travel accompanied by exceptional all-round scenic views of the tea plantations as we head further into the hill country. We stop enroute at the tea museum in Hantanea, an old tea factory where we can learn about the history of tea making! From here we continue down through the ever changing eco system of Sri Lanka until we reach the coast at Negombo. Here, as elsewhere up and down the coast, a wide variety of fish are caught by local fishermen in the clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Coastal lagoons yield a rich harvest of prawn, crab and lobster and all are on the menu. Our hotel here is on the beach and makes an ideal location to watch the sun go down.
We’ll have day here at leisure – ideal to relax and enjoy the beautiful beach location. For those feeling a little more adventurous, why not head out in search of dolphins along the coast. (Available on departures between November and April. Please see the optional activities section for costs). Leaving early in the morning on winter departure dates, we’ll arrive at the dolphin watching base by 0730 hrs. This is an early start but is worth it for the views to follow. Here we are met by our local Dolphin Specialist who will guide you on board the cetacean watching vessels. The nineteen-foot boats can accommodate six to eight people, depending on sea conditions, and we will be out for two to three hours. The goal is to see spinner dolphins, and if we are lucky we may have a school of over two hundred spinning and jumping out of the water to give you an official welcome to Sri Lanka! Several species of whales have been spotted in the area as well, though sightings are rare. There is almost no wind during the months of November through April and the surface of the sea is often calm enough to allow an amazing view into the azure depths beneath. It’s possible to peep over the side of the boat and see several layers of dolphins gliding along below.
Please note: dolphin watching is subject to prevailing weather and sea conditions at the time.
Tonight you and the rest of your group will enjoy a final evening together while you reflect on the memories of the time we’ve spent in this wonderfully diverse country.
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.
Goldi Sands Hotel (2 nts)
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.
- FSS - Secrets of Sri Lanka - Single supplement (FSS)
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.
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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
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.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partner, The Adventure Company.
Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 7. Please note that anyone aged under 18 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. On our Family Adventures, single relatives or friends are welcome to travel along with a family. These single travellers share with people of the same gender for the duration of the trip and in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Please note that 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 Comfort and Original style 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.
Pelwehera Village Resort (3 nts), Goldi Sands Hotel (2 nts), Tamarind Gardens (2 nts)
Accommodation is clean and simple. You'll mainly stay in small, locally-run, 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, which reflect the character of the area,generally these will be a twin room with private facilities. Sometimes you'll stay in larger, more comfortable hotels or occasionally rustic accommodation with basic facilities. We use a variety of accommodation on most trips; chosen for their value for money, location and atmosphere. We also try and incorporate unique accommodation experiences, such as a night with a local tribe, or sleeping under the stars in the desert.
GENERAL ROOMING CONFIGURATIONS:
Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.
Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.
Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
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.
7 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
Minibus, 4x4 Safari Vehicle
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.
For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
26 May 2013 (FSS130526), 04 Aug 2013 (FSS130804), 22 Sep 2013 (FSS130922), 27 Oct 2013 (FSS131027), 28 Dec 2013 (FSS131228), 04 Jan 2014 (FSS140104), 12 Jan 2014 (FSS140112), 16 Feb 2014 (FSS140216), 13 Apr 2014 (FSS140413), 25 May 2014 (FSS140525), 03 Aug 2014 (FSS140803), 21 Sep 2014 (FSS140921), 26 Oct 2014 (FSS141026), 21 Dec 2014 (FSS141221)
Pelwehera Village Resort
Bulagala Junction Habarana Road
Phone: 94 662 284 281
Joining point description
Pelwehera Village Resort is situated in Dambulla, in the central region of the island which is also known as the Cultural Trainable. It is an ideal base from which to explore the ancient cities of Sri Lanka. The hotel has a pool and 41 air-conditioned rooms with en suite facilities.
Joining point instructions
Pelwehera Village Resort is located in Dambulla, 140 kilometers from the airport. A taxi from the airport to the hotel will cost approximately US $130.
For those who have pre-booked your airport arrival transfer your representative who will be waiting in the arrival hall holding a placard bearing our company logo. If you have any problems and cannot locate our representative, or if your flight is delayed please call the following 24 hour number:+94 77 9148761
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.
For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
26 May 2013 (FSS130526), 04 Aug 2013 (FSS130804), 22 Sep 2013 (FSS130922), 27 Oct 2013 (FSS131027), 28 Dec 2013 (FSS131228), 04 Jan 2014 (FSS140104), 12 Jan 2014 (FSS140112), 16 Feb 2014 (FSS140216), 13 Apr 2014 (FSS140413), 25 May 2014 (FSS140525), 03 Aug 2014 (FSS140803), 21 Sep 2014 (FSS140921), 26 Oct 2014 (FSS141026), 21 Dec 2014 (FSS141221)
Goldi Sands Hotel
Finish point description
This hotel is located in Negombo on a busy stretch of beautiful beach. The property offers good 3 star amenities including a pool and restaurant overlooking the beach.
Finish point instructions
The hotel is 20 kilometers from the airport and a transfer from the hotel will cost approximately US $40.
The hotel check out time is 11am and they offer luggage storage if you wish to leave later in the day.
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
From 1st January 2012 Sri Lanka visa requirements are changing! The free 'visa on arrival' system will cease to exist.
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.
Below is a suggestion of what you might find useful to take on this trip.
* Lightweight cotton clothing – T-shirts and baggy trousers. Shorts are generally only acceptable whilst on the beach
* A couple of long-sleeved shirts to guard against sunburn
* Brightly coloured clothing is not appropriate in National Parks as it is easily seen by the animals; wear muted tones in natural colours
* Waterproof jacket
* Warm mid-layer (fleece or wool)
* Lightweight trail boots / trainers with grip for walks at Kithulgala
* Sun-hat and swimsuit
* Trainers/sandals for relaxing
* Sunglasses, sunscreen, waterbottle and lipsalve
* Binoculars for wildlife viewing
* Personal First Aid kit and Insect repellent
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 end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
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. 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:
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.
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.
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:
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 areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas 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.
Although western standards of dress are becoming more accepted, the Sinhalese in general remain very traditional in what they wear. Out of respect (even though you may see other travellers dressed otherwise) both men and women should dress conservatively - no sleeveless/halter-necked tops please. Whilst shorts are acceptable in tourist centres they should be modest and reach to just above the knee. Arms and legs (and, occasionally, heads for women) should be covered when in religious buildings.
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.
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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
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