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Essential Sri Lanka

11 Days | Spot wildlife on safari, soak up some beach-side sun and sip the finest Sri Lankan tea

4.7 out of 5 based on 15 reviews submitted.
18 to 29s
EUR €527
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This trip is for the 18 to 29 year olds

On this trip we’ve taken Sri Lanka, boiled it like the tea leaves the country is famous for and strained out the most delicious stuff. Wandering past barracuda at the Negombo Fish Market, searching for elephants in Yala, munching a spicy curry in Ella and getting horizontal on the beach in Unawatuna, this 11-day tour is a Sri Lanka snapshot.

Trip overview

Map of Essential Sri Lanka including Sri Lanka
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka
18 to 29s
Sri Lanka
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 18 - Max 29
Group size
Min 1 - Max 16
Trip code
This trip generates 33.21 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.
Bucket list destinations

Tick off all the popular spots and enjoy unique local experiences

Great value

Affordable trips with the freedom to choose how you spend your time

Responsible travel

You book, we donate to help support local communities

Why you'll love this trip
  • Cruise around in a 4WD on a wildlife safari, searching for elephants and leopards, then relax lakeside at tranquil Tissa.
  • Get a taste for the vibrant culture in Sir Lanka with visits to the sensational Negombo Fish Market, the bustling markets of Colombo, and the tranquil Kandy Lake.
  • Learn the benefits of washing down a spicy curry with piping-hot Ceylon tea during lunch in a lush mountain village near Ella.
  • Leave the imprint of you face on the train window as you stare out wide-eyed from Kandy to Ella – it’s basically a 6-hour movie of amazing scenery.
  • Two nights on Unawatuna's golden, palm-lined beaches can cure almost all of life’s problems, including any residual tightness in your photo-taking finger.

Is this trip right for you?
  • This trip puts the power in your hands – there are few inclusions, so you’ll have plenty of freedom to decide what you want to do.
  • At 6 hours, the train ride from Kandy to Ella is the longest travel day. But the only reason you’ll want to get off this train is to charge your camera after what is basically a long, natural photoshoot.
  • The road from Ella to Tissa Lake takes a winding road down the mountains to the coast, which means it can get frustratingly slow. But don't worry it also means that you’ll get to see the awesome scenery from literally every angle.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2023 to 31 December 2023.

View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2024 - 31 December 2025

Map of Essential Sri Lanka including Sri Lanka



10 breakfasts, 1 lunch


Public bus, Train, Private vehicle


Hotel (10 nights)

  • Negombo - Fish market
  • Mawanella - Spice Garden visit
  • Kandy - Scenic train ride to Ella
  • Ella - Trek to Ella Gap
  • Ella - Nine Arch Bridge
  • Ella - Lunch at a Local Family Home
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari
  • Galle - Walking tour
  • Colombo – Guided Market Visit
  • Galle - Local train ride to Colombo
Add on activities
  • Kandy - Cultural Dance Performance - USD7
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens - USD10
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth - USD7
  • Dambulla - Cave temples (entrance) - USD7
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock Fortress (entrance) - USD30
  • Kandy - Cooking Class in a Sinhalese Home - USD12
  • Mirissa - Whale Watching (Nov to Mar) - USD70

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. The Perahera 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 perfomers, including dancers, drummers, and a parade of more than 50 decorated elephants. Due to Intrepid's stance on elephant cruelty we do not visit the Perahera Festival and cannot purchase tickets on your behalf.
3. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking for train tickets. Fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing new tickets.
4. Train tickets are in very high demand. We always try our best to secure tickets, but on the rare occasion that we cannot book them, you will continue your journey by private vehicle.
5. All visitors to Sri Lanka will need to pay mandatory local covid insurance of 12 USD with one month cover of 50,000 USD

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Read Essential Trip Information


4.7 out of 5 based on 15 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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daniela · Traveled September 2023
This tour has changed my life. I’ve made friends for a life time and learn things about myself that I needed to learn. Hashan our tour guide is one of those people in life that you will never forget. He is special and no doubt the best your guide I have ever had. He is so talented and intelligent. Every nish thing you asked, he had an answer for it. He was always there for us and made me feel welcome, safe and protected. He always had a good vibrant attitude during the trip and wanted to please every single one of us with the things we needed/or wanted to do. Hashan is a very friendly and kind person that lives to teach others and make people fall in love with Sri Lanka.
Review submitted 26 Sep 2023

Ellie · Traveled July 2023
Fantastic tour, the perfect mix of activities (something for everyone!) and a great way to see the country. Locals are incredibly friendly and our tour guide Mathisha was brilliant. Cannot recommend this enough! Made friends and memories for life too :)
Review submitted 25 Jul 2023

Nicholas · Traveled July 2023
Fantastic trip with something different every day! Really great taste of an amazing country. Our tour guide Mathisha was excellent and we felt in safe hands the whole time. Highly recommended.
Review submitted 25 Jul 2023

Tristan · Traveled February 2023
During this tour I experienced an entirely different culture of people, with a fascinating history and religion Srilanka is an unforgettable country and I wouldn't have experienced half of without this tour! 100% would recommend!
Review submitted 13 Feb 2023

Chloe · Traveled February 2023
Sri Lanka was amazing. I’d recommend this trip to everyone. Our group leader Ku was fantastic. Such a beautiful country and Ku made it an unforgettable experience.
Review submitted 14 Feb 2023
Essential Sri Lanka
EUR €527