Sri Lanka Family - Elephant Paradise Trip Notes

Enjoy close encounters of the wild kind in Sri Lanka. Take a safari, camp under the stars and absorb the island’s breathtaking natural beauty with the family.

    • 15
    • HHFL
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $2,245
      CAD $2,390
      AUD $2,485
      EUR €1,630
      GBP £1,480
      NZD $2,945
      ZAR R22,625
      CHF FR1,995
      *
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    • Explorer, Family, Wildlife
    • Original
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There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. View later Sri Lanka Family Holiday.
Print Version
Last Modified: 09 May 2014
Sri Lanka Family - Elephant Paradise
Trip code: HHFL
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Take the kids on an intrepid adventure to the island paradise of Sri Lanka. Set adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean, this tropical land offers fascinating ancient history in incredible natural settings, making its sites ideal for inquiring minds to explore. Inspire children with the chance to get up close to wild elephants, turtles and perhaps even an elusive leopard. Challenge the family to something new, from bird-spotting from a catamaran and canoeing down a river to camping in a tea plantation. Set against an enthralling cultural backdrop and pristine white sand beaches, Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination to enjoy as a family.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency contact
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency funds
MapYour fellow travellersVisas
ItinerarySingle travellersIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseAccommodationWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionHealth
Culture shock rating MealsSafety
Physical ratingTransportTravel insurance
Included activitiesGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point A couple of rules
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingFinish point description
Departure taxFinish point instructions
Style
Original
  • 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.
Themes
Family, Wildlife, Explorer
Map
Sri Lanka Family - Elephant Paradise
Itinerary
Day 1 Seeduwa
Welcome to Sri Lanka!
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Seeduwa is a suburb of Negombo city. The hotel is located 10 kilometres away from Colombo International airport.
After arriving in Seeduwa, there will be plenty of time for relaxing by the pool and to meet the other members of your group.
Accommodation
Ramada Seeduwa (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Dambulla
Leaving Seeduwa behind we head inland to Dambulla. Our journey will take approximately 4 hours as we travel into the 'dry zone' in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle. The rest of the day is left free for you to relax or explore at will. Why not take an optional cycle around a local lake, or perhaps relax by the pool.
This morning we drive a short distance from Dambulla, we’ll have the opportunity to climb to the summit of Sigiriya’s famous Lion Rock using a series of steps and walkways which zig-zag their way up the seemingly impenetrable rock cliffs. 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, a moat surrounds impressive water gardens of landscaped beauty. To reach the summit, we’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.
ITINERARY CHANGE FOR 2014: In order to comply with Intrepid's responsible travel policy, the elephant ride has been replaced with a bike ride in 2014.
A great way to see lots of village life in cycling through it! On our bike ride, you may see fishermen at work, families washing their clothes and possibly even bathing by the lake. This ride will be a great way to experience the local lifestyle while also seeing some beautiful countryside and wildlife.
In the late afternoon we will return to your accommodation.
Included Activities
  • Dambulla - Bike Ride
  • Climb Lion Rock
Accommodation
Pelwehera Village Resort (2 nts)
Day 4 Polonnaruwa
Very early this morning we make the one and a half hours drive (complete with packed breakfast) to Parakrama Lake. We will drive via Minneriya National Park arriving at dawn, a very mystical way to start the day as the plains are covered in mist! Parakrama Lake is known as one of Sri Lanka’s greatest man-made lakes and we can watch the changing hues as the light comes up. These man-made lakes are known as 'wevas' to the Sri Lankan people and were created to provide irrigation. It’s a fun, friendly experience as we wait alongside the wives and young children of fisherman, who’ve gone out to retrieve their fishing nets laid out the night before - a great way to get to know the locals!
After the fishermen have sorted their catch, it’s time to head out on a catamaran across the lake; a real adventure! We may even be able to spot white bellied fish eagles, brahmini kites, ibis, cormorants and other native birds as we travel. In the middle of the lake is a small island, a rocky outcrop that provides great 360° views of the lake and forests beyond.
NB – The catamaran ride is subject to water levels and not usually available from June to September.
Bidding the fishermen and their families’ farewell, we continue to your new hotel to check in. After a little time to refresh and to have some lunch, we'll continue to Polonnaruwa at about 2pm in order to explore the ancient ruins. Polonnaruwa was the capital from the 10th – 12th centuries, following the decline of Anuradhapura. Here we can explore many monuments which pay great testimony to the city’s important role in Sri Lanka’s history, such as the Royal Palace complex and the Gal Vihare complex, with four impressive Buddha images cut from a single slab of granite. In the late afternoon we will transfer back to your accommodation in Polonnaruwa.
Included Activities
  • Boat ride Polonnaruwa
  • Polonnaruwa - Cycling tour
Accommodation
Sudu Araliya Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Kandy
This morning we explore Dambulla properly, to learn its fascinating history. The Sinhalese King, Valagam Bahu, took refuge here when he was ousted from his capital. He transformed the five caves of this granite outcrop into a rock temple, decorated by statues of Buddha and frescoes, some of which are over 2000 years old but still as brightly painted as ever. The steep 150m ascent to the top of the rock rewards you with more magnificent views down to the jungle and forest below. You then travel southward along the main trunk road to Sri Lanka’s second city, Kandy, a journey of around two hours. We'll pass through a fertile spice-growing area and plantations where coffee, cacao and rubber are cultivated.
This evening we’ll visit the Dalada Maligawa, the famous Temple of the Tooth. This is the major shrine where pilgrims have revered Buddha’s tooth since the 16th century; its gilded roof seems to act as a beacon to visitors throughout the day and into the evening. Our accommodation for the next two nights will be in Kandy.
The royal city of Kandy is pleasantly set on the edge of a lake surrounded by hills. It was once the capital of a kingdom, and managed to resist European dominance for hundreds of years - long after the coastal areas surrendered.
The following morning we will visit the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, with their immense fig tree and exquisite orchid collection. In the afternoon walk through the town to take in the sights of Kandy including a visit to the bazaar area and a visit to the citadel in time for sunset over the lake.
The rest of our time here is free to explore. Take a nature walk at Udawattakele Sanctuary, close to Kandy, which offers the chance to see flowers, birds and monkeys amid 160 acres of tropical rainforest. Kandy is perfect for those who enjoy walking - the town has many hidden corners to explore and views from walks around the lake are spectacular.
Included Activities
  • Dambulla - Cave temples
  • Temple of the Tooth
  • Kandy exploration walk
Accommodation
Senani Hotel (2 nts)
Day 7 Kitulgala
Leaving Kandy you take a bus journey (approx 2.5 hours) through the green ranks of tea bushes which cover the higher hillsides on our way to Kitulgala. We continue our drive through this beautiful landscape, descending to Kitulgala, to arrive around lunchtime.
Located amidst thick forest on Sri Lanka’s second-longest river, the Kelani, Kitulgala is rapidly becoming something of an adventure centre and is a great place for a variety of activities. The river, setting for the epic film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ is an ideal location for swimming and other water-based activities. The surrounding forests with their wide variety of flora and fauna offer you a variety of spectacular walks, with some stunning views over the valley.
This afternoon we will first cross the Kelani River on a suspension bridge used by the local villagers. Then we'll proceed to walk through the small village and the forest reserve on the opposite bank and finally re-emerge on the bank of the Kelani River to take a canoe to get across to the night night's accommodation. Tonight we will stay in rustic accommodation in Kitulgala.
Included Activities
  • Canoe on Kelani River
Accommodation
Kithulgala Resthouse (1 nt)
Days 8-9 Nuwara Eliya/Bandarawela
Today we'll drive about 80km (approx 3hrs) along windy roads lined by green slopes of tea leaves. There’s plenty of interest along the way however, including a stop at some waterfalls. We'll reach Nuwara Eliya, heart of the tea growing industry and full of colonial charm. Built entirely during the 19th century, it's quirky architecture reflects what you'd normally expect to find in an English country town, which will make you feel like you've stepped back in time. En route we will visit Devon and St Clare's waterfalls. This afternoon we make a visit to a tea factory to see the process of making one of our favourite drinks in action. You’ll see every step of the tea making process, from bush to cup!
The next day we set off through the hills once again. Along the way we’ll see tea pickers deftly plucking the tips of the plants and throwing them into the baskets carried on their backs. Taking the twisting roads of hill country, we'll pass through the lush greenery of this region. Today's journey will end at Bandarawela, another hill town once popular with British plantation managers. We can relax in the evening with an overnight’s stay here.
Included Activities
  • St Clare Waterfall
Accommodation
Galway Forest Lodge (1 nt), Orient Hotel (1 nt)
Day 10 Bandarawela
After a short walk around Bandarawella and the vegetable gardens that surround it, you set off on your way down out of the mountains towards your campsite, nestled in a clearing cut into the side of a tea mountain which overlooks a beautiful valley. This fantastic hillside location is a climatically transitional area, linking both the dry and wet zones and the hill and low country at an altitude of less than 1500m. At this altitude we can see the mist gathering across the hills. As a result, the vegetation consists of moist semi-evergreen forests, tropical savannah forests, dry patana grasslands and montane temperate forests, making it one of the richest biodiversity spots in Sri Lanka- a perfect location for nature lovers.
The camp site provided an ideal opportunity to experience nomadic style camping where our camp will be set up almost exclusively for Adventure Company groups, with all services being provided by our camp crew. The tents are very spacious, clean and modern and guests will drift to sleep listening to nature’s very own orchestra!
Included Activities
  • Bandarawela walk
Accommodation
Bandarawela Campsite (1 nt)
Day 11 Uda Walawe National Park
This morning, we'll leave camp at approximately 8am. We'll continue south where we'll visit the Diyaluma Falls, one of Sri Lanka's most spectacular waterfalls, before venturing approaching Uda Walawe National Park. The 308km sq park has an amazing array of animal and birdlife; herds of wild elephant are more numerous here than anywhere else in Sri Lanka.
After lunch, we will visit the nearby Elephant Transit Home. Run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation and set up in 1995, it provides shelter for orphaned or abandoned baby elephants, releasing them to the wild when they are strong enough to survive in their natural habitat. We will visit the Elephant Transit Home at feeding time and see the elephants from a viewing deck approximately 10m away; a great chance to learn more about Sri Lanka’s national animal.
Once feeding is over, we'll embark on a jeep safari inside the park. If we are really lucky you may also catch glimpses of macaque and larger monkeys, leopard, spotted deer and crocodile. This is a real safari experience; kids will love the thrill of coming across a herd of wild elephants; it’s nothing like a zoo or safari park!
Late on this afternoon, we continue our journey south to reach the coast at Nonagama. Here we’ll take a short drive along the coast road west and soon arrive at your hotel near the small fishing village of Tangalle where we'll arrive early evening in time for dinner.
Included Activities
  • Diyaluma falls
  • Jeep Safari Uda Walawe National Park
  • Elephant Transit home
Accommodation
Ranna 212 (1 nt)
Days 12-13 Beach
Sri Lanka is justifiably famous for its exquisite beaches, washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Here, we have plenty of time to unwind on the white sandy beach listening to the lapping of the waves after the previous day’s travelling. Our time is your own here and you can either relax on the palm-fringed beach, splash around in the pool or explore further afield
Accommodation
Ranna 212 (2 nts)
Days 14-15 Seeduwa
After our time on the beach it's time to head north back to Seeduwa. As we head out along the coast you reach the town of Galle. Here we can walk the walls of the famous Dutch fort or explore the maze of backstreets and market stalls. En route we can pay a visit to the turtle hatchery at Kosgoda. Turtles are kept here for the first few days of their lives before being released into the sea and the project does much to help safeguard the welfare of these endangered animals. Heading north, your last night will be spent at a hotel not far from the airport. Before we return home your Group Leader will probably arrange a final ‘last supper’ where we can reflect on the kaleidoscope of wonderful things we have seen.
There are not activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Included Activities
  • Galle Dutch Fort
Accommodation
Ramada Seeduwa (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.
  • HHFL - Elephant Paradise - Single supplement (HHFL)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. 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.
    Culture shock rating

    The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Rupee (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.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.
    Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
    At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.
    Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    PERAHERA FESTIVAL:
    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.
    AGE RESTRICTIONS:
    Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5.
    A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 11 or younger at the time of travel.
    Group size
    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: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    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.
    Accommodation
    Ranna 212 (3 nts), Pelwehera Village Resort (2 nts), Ramada Seeduwa (2 nts), Senani Hotel (2 nts), Sudu Araliya Hotel (1 nt), Kithulgala Resthouse (1 nt), Orient Hotel (1 nt), Bandarawela Campsite (1 nt), Galway Forest Lodge (1 nt)
    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.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    14 Breakfasts, 1 Dinner
    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.
    USD 350.00
    Transport
    Private Bus, 4x4 Safari Vehicle, Canoe
    Group leader
    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
    Joining point
    Ramada Seeduwa
    842 Airport-Colombo Main Road
    Seeduwa
    Seeduwa
    SRI LANKA
    Phone: +94 112253646
    Arrival complications
    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.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    Ramada Seeduwa
    842 Airport-Colombo Main Road
    Seeduwa
    Seeduwa
    SRI LANKA
    Phone: +94 112253646
    Finish point description
    This is a small 3 star hotel located in Seeduwa. The hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with en suite facilities and a swimming pool.http://www.ramada.com
    Finish point instructions
    The hotel located 10 kilometers away from the airport and a taxi would cost approximately US$ 35.
    A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trips start date.
    Check out is at 12noon and the hotel offer luggage storage.
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency our local operator Nature Odyssey can be reached on the following numbers (24 hours):
    Asitha +94 779148761
    Suren +94 773580043
    For all other enquiries please contact our reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$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
    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.
    SRI LANKA:
    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:
    www.eta.gov.lk
    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).
    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.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. 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.
    Health
    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.
    DENGUE FEVER:
    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.
    Safety
    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!
    CIVIL WAR:
    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
    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:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    LOCAL DRESS:
    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:
    Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.