Last Modified: 22 Jul 2012
Sri Lanka Family Adventure
Trip code: HCFS
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2011
Take a trip to the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean' and discover the lush tropical rainforests, idyllic beaches and colourful history of Sri Lanka. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, cycle through the Minneriya National Park, join pilgrims at the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic and try some traditional Sinhalese dancing. Then spend some time spotting elephant, leopard and buffalo in the Udawalawe National Park and perhaps indulge in a swim in the clear waters of Mirissa. This adventure across this teardrop-shaped island is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
This trip is operated by our trusted local partner: Chameleon Worldwide.
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.
Day 1 Negombo
Negombo is around 35 kilometres north of the capital but close to the international airport. Nothing is planned for the day except to meet up with your group leader and other group members.
You'll have an opportunity to go for a walk along the beach to explore.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Dambulla Caves / Giritale
Today's drive (approx. 5 hours) takes you north-eastwards into the so-called Golden Triangle - an area defined by the former capitals of Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, in which are found the island's major historical and cultural monuments.
Your route passes the ancient city of Kurunegala, picturesquely set against the backdrop of Aetha Gala (Elephant Rock) with a lake at its centre. The town is known for its rock formations that resemble animals: Aanda Gala (Eel Rock), Wanduragala (Monkey Rock), Ibbagala (Tortoise Rock) and Yaddessa Gala, which looks like a Kandyan dancer. Further on you stop to visit Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the spot where King Valagambahu sought refuge when driven from his capital, Anurahapura, in the 1st century BC. When he regained the throne after 14 years of exile he ordered the building of a magnificent temple on the 150 metre high granite outcrop. A series of steep steps leads to the first cave, which contains a remarkable 14 metre long reclining Buddha, carved out of solid rock. All five caves are adorned with life-size statues of Buddha and Hindu deities, and their walls and ceilings richly decorated with frescos depicting great events in Buddha's life and key moments in Sinhalese history. It's still an important place of pilgrimage and attracts many visitors from all over the island who come to the modern giant gold Buddha - said to be the biggest in the world - that overlooks the car park.
You'll then have an opportunity to do an elephant back safari (optional) near Habarana before continuing to Giritale - your base for the next couple of days. Please note that during the Kandy Perahara Festival in August, the availability of elephants for the safari may be limited.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Polonnaruwa
The morning is free so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings - and the pool!
This afternoon you'll head out to visit nearby Polonnaruwa, another World Heritage Site. Polonnaruwa was merely a residence of the Sinhalese kings who ruled from Anuradhapura, but eventually became their capital - a position it retained when invaded by the Cholas from South India. Once reconquered by the Sinhalese in 1056, under the rule of successive kings it was extended by architects and engineers who were brought from India home to a civilisation who built three concentric walls around the city, excavated a huge artificial lake, and introduced complex systems of irrigation that brought immediate improvements to agriculture.
Over the same period foreign trade with South-East Asia, Arabia and China grew considerably, and Sri Lanka grew prosperous. This new-found wealth was reflected in the construction of beautiful gardens, parks, monuments and buildings that graced the city. Its period of importance was comparatively short-lived, however, and with the onset of civil war it lapsed into terminal decline and was eventually abandoned - hence the uninhabited ruins you see today. You'll explore the ancient walled city and see several Buddhas - here too there's a massive 14 metre long reclining Buddha with three companion Buddhas, standing and seated - as well as richly decorated palace
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Giritale
Today you can enjoy a gentle cycle ride through the beautiful countryside around the giant Minneriya Tank. Man-made reservoirs like this were originally introduced to ensure a regular supply of water for rice cultivation - especially in the dry plains of the north where the first capitals were situated. They also serve as breeding grounds for fish, which in turn attract large numbers of birds, and are sometimes sited so that nearby settlements benefit from the breezes that are cooled as they blow over the surface of the water - a sort of primitive airconditioning.
Cycling is something that the entire family can enjoy, as we provide different sizes of bicycles, some equipped with children's seats for those who are unable to ride on their own. The terrain is flat, the pace is leisurely, and a support vehicle ensures that no-one need get too tired or left behind. Along the way you'll make a few stops: to visit a children's nursery (outside school holidays) and meet villagers. At one point you can watch as local people prepare a delicious Sri Lankan lunch for you. This is a great way to meet people and see how they live.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Sigiriya / Kandy
This morning you drive to Sigiriya (2 hours), where the 200 metre high, sheer-sided, flat-topped Lion Rock dominates the surrounding forested countryside.
On crossing the moat you'll pass the water gardens en route to the Elephant Gate, where the climb starts in earnest. Steps lead upward through a gallery of well-preserved frescoes, past the highly reflective so-called Mirror Wall and Lion Terrace to the ruins of the Summer Palace on the summit. Here you will hear the tragic tale of King Kasyapa who, according to legend, was the illegitimate son of King Datusena. When in 473 AD Kasyapa overthrew his father, the queen and her son, the rightful heir Moggallana, fled to India, vowing revenge over the usurper. Fearing an invasion, Kasyapa built an impregnable fortress at Sigiriya, and sure enough eighteen years later Moggallana returned - with an army. Kasayapa rode out to battle on his elephant but, in trying to out-flank his half-brother, took a wrong turn - at which point he mistakenly thought he had been abandoned by his followers and committed suicide. This World Heritage Site is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip.
Sri Lanka is well known for the production of spices and in the afternoon you'll stop to visit a spice garden. Here you can see the plants that produce nearly all the common spices and learn about their culinary and medicinal uses, and have a chance to buy some. By late afternoon you'll arrive in Kandy (another 1.5 hours drive), a former capital and the country's second largest city.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 6 Kandy
Standing at the centre of the island, at the gateway to the lush central region of mountains and tea plantations, Kandy is today capital only of the Highlands. It nevertheless retains its status as the focal point of Sinhalese culture. The city is charmingly set around a lake in which, according to legend, one king kept his treasure - guarded by crocodiles.
Its most famous attraction, however, is the Temple of the Tooth, whose origins lie in the sixteenth century - although most of what you see today dates only from the nineteenth. It was built as a sanctuary to house the holy relic of Buddha's tooth, which is kept in a locked silver casket behind gilt bars. Inside that casket in turn are another seven gold jewel-studded caskets - but the tooth itself is only shown on special occasions or to visiting dignitaries. After queuing with the crowds you enter barefoot (you'll have to wear a long skirt or trousers, or put a sarong on over shorts) but may have to put up with pushing and jostling from people who are desperate to see the sacred relic. At certain times of day, when pilgrims offer flowers to the accompaniment of beating drums and clouds of incense, it's easy to remember that this is a genuine place of worship, and not simply a tourist attraction.
Much of the afternoon is free but later on you'll visit the home of a Kandyan dancer to learn about traditional Sinhalese dancing. This exhilarating art form involves dancers in lavishly decorated costumes performing acrobatic movements to pulsating drum rhythms. There will be an optional afternoon excursion to the famous Peredeniya Botanical Gardens or for those families who want a more adventurous day, you may like to consider an optional white water rafting trip on the exciting Kelani River that flows through Kitulgala, the main location for the filming of A Bridge over the River Kwai.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 7 Nuwara Eliya
Time to catch the train! Our route continues southward (4 hrs) from Kandy through the beautiful lush hills of the highland region devoted to the cultivation of tea. This is not an express train and you should be prepared for a gentle ride through the hills with plenty of stops and the chance to chat with your fellow passengers as you make your way to Nanuoya.
From shortly after Kandy, the landscape changes dramatically. The train rounds a bend, and suddenly the vast tracts of native forest are gone. In their place stand plantations of pine, tall and stately eucalyptus trees and Sri Lanka's best known export: tea. From this point on, the train line will rarely be out of sight of the dark green mottled patchwork of tea estates, spread across the hillsides like slightly worn felt. The train winds its way slowly up a valley, curving in and out as it follows the contours of the land. A chorus of shrieks greets each of the numerous tunnels. There are occasional views of huge waterfalls cascading down the hillsides, and the Tamil women who pick the tea make a colourful contrast to the all-pervasive green.
The line climbs steadily to Hatton, then Nanu Oya, the station for the hill station of Nuwara Eliya. Adam's Peak, a sharply pointed triangle, juts up dramatically to the south; this is the most famous mountain to climb in Sri Lanka, and it is also an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. From Nanu Oya it's 30 minutes uphill to Nuwara Eliya. (You'll probably need some help to pronounce it correctly...)
Before arriving at your hotel you'll pause to visit the delightful Haggala Botanical Garden, famed for its roses; though there's also a collection of wild orchids, a Japanese garden, an arboretum and a rock garden. The monkeys here are also quite tame. This former British hill station (1990 metres) is Sri Lanka's highest town; it can be surprisingly cool at this altitude and often quite wet. Traces of the colonial era are evident everywhere: the imposing architecture of the grand hotels, the golf course, the race course, the street names, the trout streams, the bungalows with well-kept lawns and flower gardens, and the nostalgic Hill Club. The reason for its prosperity was primarily the rail connection to Colombo that allows the intensively cultivated and highly productive market gardens to transport vegetables and flowers directly to the capital. In the afternoon there will be a visit to a tea plantation to visit tea fields and see a tea factory - complete with some antiquated machinery - where the leaves are processed after picking.
The whole story of tea from bush to cuppa is fascinating - and it's thirsty work! Along with rubber and coconuts, tea is still a major contributor to the Sri Lankan economy - together they account for roughly 15% of foreign exchange earnings.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 8 Embilipitiya
East of the ridge of the Central Highlands lie a series of picturesque hills. As this area is sheltered by the massif of the highlands, the climate is dry and sunny - in marked contrast to the cloudy lushness of the Highlands. As a result it's also considerably less populated and much less cultivated. Some two hours drive away, characterful Ella qualifies easily as Sri Lanka's most beautiful village - like Nuwara Eliya it's somewhat reminiscent of an 'olde worlde' village in the English countryside. However its main claim to fame is its viewpoint - on a fine day the view past the towering Ella Rock and through the Ella Gap extends right down through tea plantations as far as the distant south coast. Not far away is the spectacular Rawana Ella Waterfall, that tumbles 90 metres from a rocky ledge down the wall of the valley.
From here you drive down from the hills to emerge onto the southern plain, which extends to the coast. This is a traditional rural area - the many sleepy villages live principally from rice cultivation, coconut farming and fishing. It's 3 hours drive to your hotel in Embilipitya - relax this afternoon.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Udawalawe National Park
Located next to the massive Uda Walawe reservoir, this park is important for its elephants. With a mixture of scrubland and teak forest, it's home to approximately 500 elephants. You'll set off on an early-morning game drive, taking your breakfast with you. If you're lucky you may spot a leopard as well as elephant, and almost certainly you'll see sambar, barking deer and water buffalo. Some of the monitor lizards here can reach up to six feet in length. For the bird lover you may see raptors such as a Crested Serpent Eagle or a Grey-headed Fishing Eagle.
A visit to the Elephant Transit Home is a heart-warming occasion and you'll see what happens when orphaned elephants are rescued including how they're returned to the wild. The organization Born Free makes sure the orphans receive the milk, care and medical attention they need; the site has life-saving facilities and equipment such as a hospital and intensive care centre, and an elephant ambulance. The orphans are monitored with the help of radio collars once they have been returned to the wild.
Return to Embilipitya for a free afternoon.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 10 Mirissa
Today you make your way down to the coast and round the island's southern tip to your beach base. The total drive will be about 3.5 hours however we will stop along the way at Dickwella to see the blowhole here. Once you reach Mirissa, unwind and relax; there's a choice of activities on offer. The Blue Whale watching is excellent here in the winter, but it's up to you to decide if the beach and pool, or the Ayurveda and Yoga, are more than enough! Other options include cooking classes in the hotel or long day trips to Bundala Wildlife Sanctuary or Sinharaja Rainforest.
After the ravages caused by the tsunami, which displaced over 500,000 people in 13 out of 14 coastal districts, according to official figures, 90% of them from small-scale fishing communities, the coastline is much changed. Signs of economic recovery are evident as businesses spring up or re-establish themselves. Tourism plays a crucial role in regeneration by bringing in scarce foreign currency - so you're playing a part just by being here.
Please note that some departures go directly to Ahangama for this night.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 11-12 Ahangama / Galle
We would strongly recommend that you drag yourself away from the hotel for a visit to Galle one day. You'll get there and back by train-ride along the coast (45 minutes each way) and will be joined by a local guide. The most important town in the south is justly famous for the mighty ramparts of its fort, which encloses fine examples of colonial architecture and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. A port of strategic importance on the sea route to the East Indies, Galle was controlled by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch, until finally taken by the British in 1796, and all have left traces of their occupation.
The city's importance was eventually eclipsed when Colombo became Sri Lanka's major port following the enlargement of its harbour. You'll walk around the almost perfectly preserved colonial town centre that stands within the massive ramparts and seems to belong to another era altogether. The area has been revitalised of late by an influx of foreign capital that has renovated many of the Dutch villas that line its atmospheric streets. The stiff breeze that always seems to blow here means that kite-making and flying is a popular pastime - try your hand and match the locals' skill at kite-flying.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 13 Negombo / Colombo Airport
Early morning departure from the south coast for the drive (4-5 hours) to Colombo international airport or drop off at Negombo if staying on after the 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.
At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Age restrictions apply to this trip - minimum age 5.
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.
Hotel (12 nts)
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.
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.
The indication of a swimming pool at a hotel should not be taken as a guarantee but rather an indication. You should also be aware that swimming pools at the hotels are often unheated and so can be cold in the winter months or even closed.
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.
12 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 3 Dinners
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.
Jeep, Minibus, Bicycle, Train
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.
Pegasus Reef Hotel
PO Box 2, Hendala, Wattala
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
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.
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
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.
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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