There’s a new adventure on every plate with this food exploration of Sri Lanka

Leave moderation at home and indulge on this gourmet adventure in Sri Lanka. Lie back on the coast, cool down in the highlands and weave through the streets of the buzzing capital. Taste melt-in-the mouth desserts, cook seafood straight out of the hands of a fisherman, uncover fiery curries and spend time with welcoming locals keen to share the mysteries of Sri Lankan cuisine. There’s also time to explore the rich culture of Sri Lanka: elaborate temples, ancient fortresses and wildlife-filled countryside. This is truly an adventure for the senses.

Start
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Finish
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Countries
Sri Lanka
Themes
Food
Code
HPZM
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
179kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Sip the pure water of a king coconut in Dambulla
  • Climb the imposing ancient Sigiriya rock fortress in the central Matale District
  • See the most sacred tooth around in Kandy’s Holy Temple
  • Stock on up ‘short eats’ like hoppers, samosa and roti in Colombo
  • Feel the rhythmic energy of a Kandyan dance show
  • Taste a distinctive brew at a Bandarawela tea plantation
  • Be brave and opt for a ‘hot’ curry in the shadow of Galle Fort
  • Share the freshest of seafood with local stilt fishermen in Mirissa

Itinerary

Pull up a deck chair on Negombo’s huge beach and enjoy the Indian Ocean before meeting up with your group in the evening. Perhaps go out for a meal together for your first taste of Sri Lankan cuisine.
In the morning pick your way past large hessian sheets covered in drying fish at Negombo fish market. Weave through stalls piled with shark, squid and all manner of sea creatures. At a coconut plantation discover why this tree is so central to life in Sri Lanka. Sip the water of a king coconut, watch ‘toddy tappers’ get palm wine from the coconut sap and taste the sweet results. Enjoy Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch filled with Chilaw prawns and cashews. Head inland to Dambulla, home to vibrantly decorated cave-temples. An evening street food crawl might be on the cards.
Observe age-old farming traditions at a nearby chena cultivation area before feasting on tropical vegetables, curry made with tapioca and fried fish caught in the nearby lake. Work off a full stomach with a climb to the top of enormous Sigiriya rock and its elaborate fortress complex. Return to Dambulla to explore the Wholesale Market and dodge the trucks and people piled high with every type of produce imaginable. Use the free evening to explore town, or just sit back with a drink.
On the way to the physical and spiritual heart of the country stop for lunch at a spice garden. It’s not just food; Sri Lankan spice masters also create cosmetics and Ayurveda medicine. Smell the fragrant odours of cumin, cinnamon and curry leaves before tasting pumpkin curry flavoured with aromatic fenugreek with a side of Sri Lankan coconut roti. Slide in alongside locals worshiping in Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth, where Lord Buddha’s sacred molar lives. The booming drums that accompany the elaborately costumed performers of a Kandyan dance show break the holy hush of the temple. End the day full and happy with a culinary crawl.
Take a walk around the city before hitting the local market to sample ‘short eats’. Be sure to get your hands on a hopper, a bowl-liked pancake, soft and doughy at the bottom with a fried egg in the middle. In the evening, join a family for a demonstration of Sri Lankan desserts.
Look out the carriage window to spot waterfalls and little villages in the mountains on the railway from Kandy to Bandarawela. Peer down over the cool highlands filled with bright green tea bushes and visit a restored tea planter’s bungalow. Enjoy dinner expertly prepared by an 'Appu' who, in former times, would cater to the colonial residences.
Rise early to trek high up to Lipton’s Seat in the Haputale Mountains and look down over the surrounding plantations, then it’s teatime at the Dambetenna factory where you’ll taste the signature brews. Tear into traditional Tamil lunch in Haputale with a dosa, a crispy rice pancake, and idli, a savoury steamed rice cake served with curry sauces or chutneys.
Start the day sweetly with a visit to a dodol producer. This sticky treat is a favourite among Sri Lankans. Later in the day get your binoculars out to search for the leopards that lounge in trees or stalk through the brush, crocodiles that patrol the river or the wild elephants that graze across the savanna of Yala National Park.
En route to the beautiful beach village of Mirissa, discover the Muslim influence on Sri Lankan food with dishes like biryani and watalappam at lunch in Hambantota. Spend the rest of the day relaxing on Sri Lanka’s southern coastline. Maybe take a boat to spot whales and dolphins or wash down all that chilli with a beer while watching surfers take on the waves.
Why are those men hanging on to sticks in middle of the sea? Find out by meeting a stilt fisherman and learn about their craft and lives. Eat with the fisherman’s family for the freshest seafood lunch possible. Continue on to the perfectly preserved colonial township of Galle and admire its blend of European architecture and South Asian traditions as the sun sets.
Head north for the final stop on this gastronomic adventure to Sri Lanka’s commercial heart: Colombo. Choose which of the thousands of stalls will get your business in the buzzing bazaar in Pettah. Feast your way around lanes filled with street food possibilities and bustling local eateries. Share a final feast with new friends at a Dutch Burgher dinner, a group whose food brings together the many culinary influences of the Sri Lankan table.
This gastronomic tour finishes after a final Sri Lankan breakfast.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
10 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners
Transport
Private vehicle, Safari Vehicle, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (11 nights)
Included activities
  • Colombo - Dutch Burgher Farewell Dinner
  • Dambulla - Chena Farm Visit and Lunch
  • Dambulla - Wholesale Markets tour
  • Haputale - Tamil family lunch
  • Haputale - Tea Factory Visit
  • Kandy - Cooking Class in a Sinhalese Home
  • Kandy - Temple of Tooth
  • Matale - Spice Garden Tour and Lunch
  • Negombo - coconut plantation visit and lunch
  • Negombo - Fish Market Tour
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
  • Tissamahamara - Buffalo Curd Tasting
  • Yala National Park

Dates

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Trip notes

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

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Reviews

Our Real Food Adventure - Sri Lanka trips score an average of 4.81 out of 5 based on 32 reviews in the last year.

Real Food Adventure - Sri Lanka , January 2016

Real Food Adventure - Sri Lanka , January 2016