Last Modified: 23 May 2016
Sri Lanka Family Holiday
Trip code: HHFL
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
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
Is this trip right for you?
- Though its equatorial position means fairly constant year-round temperatures, the summer months in Sri Lanka are very hot with short, sharp monsoons in the south-west of the country. Be sure to use adequate sun protection and drink plenty of water.
- We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.
Why we love it
- Imagine the once fearsome giant lion's head that marked the entrance to Sigiriya’s Lion Rock, then climb up to a 200 metre high abandoned palace fortress
- Get up close to elephants in Udawalawe National Park, and learn about the nearby organisation that works with orphaned or abandoned baby elephants
- Jump in a jeep to safari though national park, and feel the excitement and anticipation of maybe spotting a leopard
- Watch the skills and precision of the local fishermen, and soak up the noise and smell at the Negombo fish market
- See Buddha’s famous sacred tooth in Kandy, then watch out for the local monkeys as they hunt for snacks, drinks, trinkets – anything they can get their hands on!
- Canoe down the picturesque yet feisty Kelani River, pass where the famous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ was filmed, and enjoy watery fun surrounded by stunning forests
- After a fun and activity-filled Sri Lankan adventure, spend a few days relaxing on one of the country’s most beautiful beaches
Day 1 Seeduwa
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. There are no activities planned today so you're free to arrive at any time. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these with you. You’ll begin your adventure by getting in the seaside spirit in Seeduwa, halfway between Negombo and the commercial capital of Colombo. Negombo is a historical commercial centre surrounded by a fascinating network of canals teeming with rural life. You’ll stay by the Negombo Lagoon, about 10 kilometres away from Colombo International airport. After arriving in Seeduwa, there will be plenty of time for relaxing by the swimming pool and meeting the other members of your group.
Ramada Katynayake Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Dambulla
In the morning, before you leave the coast behind, weave through stalls piled with shark, squid, barracuda and all types of sea creatures as the sellers call out their wares in Negombo fish market. It’s fun to pick your way through large sheets covered in drying fish, and a great insight into daily life and local commerce. Then drive inland to Dambulla and the “dry zone” in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle (approximately 3 hours). Dumbulla is home to vibrantly decorated cave-temples and a great base to explore the wide array of natural wonders and historic sites in this fascinating area. En-route you will visit a hand loom factory, where an old tradition is being revitalised. Continue to the Palwehera area of Dambulla, famous for its mangoes, and rest up in your eco-friendly accommodation, surrounded by green gardens and vast green paddy land. The rest of the day is free to relax by the pool or perhaps take an optional bike ride to check out the surrounding countryside.
- Negombo - Fish Market Tour
Pelwehera Village Resort (1 nt)
Day 3 Sigiriya
This morning, drive from Dambulla to Sigiriya (approximately 30 minutes). Here you’ll have the chance to shake off any cobwebs with a climb/leisurely walk back in time to the top of enormous Sigiriya rock and its elaborate ancient fortress complex (approximately 2.5 hours round-trip). Climb this famous ‘Lion Rock’ via a series of steps and walkways, which zig-zag up the seemingly impenetrable rock cliffs. The site was occupied long before the 5th century citadel was built, and it later became a monastery before falling into disrepair. To reach the summit, you’ll ascend 200 metres past impressive water gardens of landscaped beauty and an overhanging rock, where superb portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit are the extensive remains of King Kasyapa’s summer palace, with breath-taking views. Later, keep the active theme going with an exploration of village life by bike. On an afternoon ride you may see fishermen at work, families washing their clothes and possibly even bathing by the lake. Witness the rituals of daily life unfolding around you, and cycle through some beautiful countryside and wildlife. In the late afternoon, return to your accommodation to relax.
Pelwehera Village Resort (1 nt)
Day 4 Polonnaruwa
Grab a packed breakfast for a very early start this morning, driving 1.5 hours to Parakrama Lake. Arrive at Minneriya National Park at dawn, a magical start to the day, with the plains covered in mist. Parakrama is one of Sri Lanka’s greatest man-made lakes (known as ‘wevas’ and created to provide irrigation), and you can watch the light play on the water and the changing colours as the sun comes up. It’s a fun, friendly experience as you wait alongside the wives and young children of the fisherman who’ve gone out to retrieve last night's fishing nets. It’s a great way to get to know the locals! After the fishermen have sorted their catch, it’s time for a real adventure – exploring the lake by catamaran. In the middle of the lake is a small island, a rocky outcrop that provides great 360-degree views of lake and forest beyond – keep an eye out for local birdlife as you travel. Return to shore and bid the fishermen families farewell, then continue the short distance to Polonnaruwa. Refresh and refuel with lunch, then explore some nearby ancient ruins around 2pm. Polonnaruwa was the capital from the 10th-12th centuries, and its monuments tell part of Sri Lanka’s history. See 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 return to your accommodation, maybe in time for a cooling swim.
Notes: The catamaran ride is subject to water levels and not usually available from June to September.
- Boat ride Polonnaruwa
- Polonnaruwa exploration
Sudu Araliya Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Kandy
Leaving Polonnaruwa this morning, break up your journey to Kandy by stopping off to explore Dambulla properly and learn its fascinating history (approximately1.5 hours). The Sinhalese King, Valagam Bahu, took refuge here when he was ousted from his capital. He transformed five caves of a granite outcrop into a rock temple decorated with statues of Buddha and frescoes, some of which are over 2,000 years old but still as brightly painted as ever. The steep 150 metre ascent to the top of the rock will reward you with more magnificent views down to the jungle and forest below. You’ll then travel southward along the main trunk road to Sri Lanka’s second city and the physical and spiritual heart of the country – Kandy (approximately 2 hours). Keep an eye on the landscape as you’ll pass through a fertile spice-growing area and plantations where coffee, cacao and rubber are cultivated. This evening you’ll visit the Dalada Maligawa, the famous Temple of the Tooth. This is a 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. Your accommodation for the next two nights will be here in Kandy.
- Dambulla - Cave temples
- Temple of the Tooth
Hotel Senani Kandy (1 nt)
Day 6 Kandy
The royal city of Kandy is a pleasant city surrounded by lush green hilly countryside, and it’s home to a picturesque lake, old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants. It was once the capital of the last Sri Lankan king, and the area managed to resist European control for hundreds of years, long after the coastal areas surrendered. This morning you’ll visit the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens – among the best in Asia – which has an immense fig tree and exquisite orchid collection and lots of space for kids to run around in. In the afternoon, walk through the town to take in the sights of Kandy, including an exploration of the bazaar area and a visit to the citadel in time for sunset over the lake. The rest of your 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. Be sure to try some Sri Lanka food specialties today, like ‘short eats’ and Kothu Roti.
Hotel Senani Kandy (1 nt)
Day 7 Kitulgala
Leaving Kandy, take a bus journey through hill country and the green ranks of tea bushes that cover the higher hillsides on your way to Kitulgala (approximately 2.5 hours). Soak up this beautiful landscape, descending to Kitulgala, to arrive around lunchtime. Located in thick forest on Sri Lanka’s second-longest river, the Kelani, Kitulgala is rapidly becoming something of an adventure centre, and so is a great place for a variety of activities. The river, where the classic ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was filmed (doubling up for Thailand), is an ideal location for swimming and other water-based activities. The surrounding forest, with their wide variety of flora and fauna, offers you a variety of spectacular walks and some stunning views over the valley. This afternoon you’ll get active, first crossing the Kelani River on a suspension bridge used by the local villagers, then walking through the small village and the forest reserve on the opposite bank. You’ll finally re-emerge on the bank of the Kelani River, and then cross the river in a canoe to tonight's accommodation. Tonight you’ll enjoy the rustic setting of your Kitulgala accommodation, with sweeping views across the river and forest.
Kithulgala Resthouse (1 nt)
Day 8 Nuwara Eliya/Bandarawela
Today you'll drive about 80km (approx 3hrs) to Nuwara Eliya along windy roads lined by green slopes of tea leaves. This old British hill station is the heart of the tea growing industry and full of colonial charm. Built entirely during the 19th century, its quirky architecture reflects what you'd normally expect to find in an English country village, which will make you feel like you've stepped back in time. Once known as 'Little England' by British colonialists, it’s a fascinating mix of water buffalo and brick Victorian buildings, golf courses and tea plantations. En-route you will visit Devon and St Clair's waterfalls – the 97 metre high Devon waterfall is one of the most scenic in the country, while St Clair is sometimes exaggeratingly called the ‘Little Niagara of Sri Lanka’. Devon Falls are named after a pioneering English coffee planter – the failure of those plantations due to disease lead to the cultivation of tea, and the rest is history. This afternoon you’ll visit a tea factory to learn about the country’s most important export. You’ll see every step of the tea making process, from bush to cup, and sip on some local brews. Head to your accommodation and enjoy the views across the hills and tea plantations.
Galway Forest Lodge (1 nt)
Day 9 Bandarawela
Today you set off through the hills once again (approximately 1.5 hours). Along the way, you’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, you’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, where you'll look down over a sweeping vista filled with bright green tea bushes and vegetable gardens. Tonight’s accommodation will be a memorable experience – a camp nestled in a clearing cut into the side of a tea mountain. Surrounded by the Haputale mountain range, Horton Plain Range and the Hakgala Mountain Range, it has many round-topped peaks to look out on as the sun sets. The tents are very spacious, clean and modern, and you will drift off to sleep listening to nature's very own orchestra.
Bandarawela Campsite (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 10 Bandarawela
After breakfast, leave the campsite and head to tonight’s accommodation, where you can drop you bags and either head out to explore Bandarawela on your own, or just relax at the hotel. Bandarawela is an unhurried, unpretentious hill-country town that exists to supply the needs of the tea plantation workers, farmers and its hardworking inhabitants. The people of Bandarawela enjoy a simple way of life, where school children and grandparents together work the family plot for the home’s requirement of fruit and vegetable and also tend their cattle and goats. Another distinctive feature of Bandarawela is the colonial flavour still preserved in the many old buildings, including the Bandarawela Hotel and the old Cargill’s Supermarket.
Orient Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Uda Walawe National Park
Descend south from the highlands and stop by Diyaluma Falls, one of Sri Lanka's most spectacular waterfalls, before continuing on to Uda Walawe National Park (approximately 3 hours). The park has an amazing array of animal and birdlife, with herds of wild elephant more numerous here than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. After lunch, discover how the majestic elephant has been part of Sri Lankan culture for many centuries while visiting the nearby Elephant Transit Home. Run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, it provides shelter for orphaned or abandoned baby elephants with the aim of releasing them into the wild. Arrive at feeding time and see the elephants from a viewing deck just metres away! Once feeding is over, hop in a jeep for a safari inside the park. If you’re lucky, you may also catch glimpses of macaque and larger monkeys, leopard, spotted deer and crocodiles. This is a real safari experience, nothing like a zoo or safari park, and all ages will love the thrill of coming across a herd of wild elephants! Late on this afternoon, continue south to coastal Nonagama (approximately 1.5 hours). Head along the coast road west and by early evening, arrive at your hotel near the small fishing village of Tangalle (approximately 40 minutes). Enjoy dinner, and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
- Diyaluma falls
- Jeep Safari Uda Walawe National Park
- Elephant Transit home
Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort or similar (1 nt)
Day 12-15 Bentota
Continue northwest along the coast today towards the perfectly preserved colonial township of Galle (approximately 2 hours), a blend of European architecture and South Asian traditions. Here you’ll visit the fabulous 400-year-old Dutch fort, exploring the winding passageways and maze of gallery-filled narrow streets, as well as the International cricket stadium. Travel on to the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery (approximately 1.5 hours), which was set up to help protect Sri Lanka’s turtles against the threat of extinction. This remarkable project has helped four million baby turtles get into the sea. Then, just up the coast is the beach town of Bentota – what better way to finish this Sri Lankan adventure than relaxing by the pool and enjoying some beach life. Bentota beach is made up of a wide stretch of sand backed by dense thickets of palm trees, and is one of the most attractive beaches on the island. You'll spend the next three nights here. Enjoy relaxing on the beach and sharing stories about your incredible Sri Lanka adventure. Low-key, quiet, and relaxing, Bentota is also the perfect place for water sports, with the turquoise waters are excellent for swimming, snorkelling, bodysurfing and diving. Sri Lanka’s hypnotic essence will remain with you long after you come home. The trip comes to an end on Day 14. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart your accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities. Those on group flights will be transferred to the airport for the flight back home.
Bentota Beach Hotel (3 nt)
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. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! 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. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
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.
Negombo - Fish Market Tour
Climb Lion Rock
Boat ride Polonnaruwa
Dambulla - Cave temples
Temple of the Tooth
Kandy exploration walk
Canoe on Kelani River
St Clare Waterfall
Jeep Safari Uda Walawe National Park
Elephant Transit home
Galle Dutch Fort
Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
Minimum age for children on this trip is 5 years old.
A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 14 years and under at time of travel.
Maximum of 20 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.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
Camping (with facilities) (1nt), Guesthouse (1nt), Hotel (12nt)
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.
14 breakfasts, 1 dinner
The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Rupee (LKR).
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 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.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
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.
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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
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.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
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.
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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. 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 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 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 or on the floor 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!
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.
Ramada Katynayake Hotel
842 Airport Colombo Main Road
Phone: +94 112253646
Bentota Beach Hotel
Bentota 80500 Bentota, Sri Lanka
Phone: 94 34227517
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
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.
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, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (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.
Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:
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.
Climate and seasonal information
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. Due to Intrepid's stance on Elephant cruelty we do not visit the Perahera and cannot purchase tickets on your behalf. .
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 Travel 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.
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 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.
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.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
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 by wearing sleeves and long trousers. 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.
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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
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.