Essential Sri Lanka

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

4.9 out of 5 based on 21 reviews submitted.
18 to 35s
GBP £509
View dates and book
This trip is for the 18 to 35 year olds

Take Sri Lanka, boil it like the tea leaves the country’s famous for and strain out all the best stuff. On this 11-day trip through natural paradise, small villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you’ll wander past barracuda at the Negombo Fish Market, search for elephants in Yala National Park, feast on spicy curry prepared by a local in Ella, hike through lush mountains and get horizontal on the beach in Unawatuna – Sri Lanka’s idyllic beach spot, perfect for lounging, tanning (don’t forget the sunscreen) and sipping cocktails. With a local leader who knows where to find all the best teahouses and a group of likeminded travellers, this one’s gotta be an adventure of a lifetime!

Trip overview

Map of Essential Sri Lanka including Sri Lanka
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka
18 to 35s
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 35
Group size
Min 1 - Max 16
Trip code
This trip generates 40.6 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 majestic elephants, lone leopards and aquatic birdlife in Yala National Park.
  • Learn the benefits of washing down a spicy curry with piping-hot Ceylon tea during lunch in a lush mountain village near Ella in a local home.
  • Kick back on the warm sands of paradisical palm-lined Unawatuna, with plenty of free time to soak up the sun at the beach and the opportunity for an optional whale-watching tour.
  • Leave the imprint of your face on the train window as you stare out wide-eyed on a journey from Kandy to Ella – this scenic rail ride is basically a six-hour nature documentary, there’s so much amazing scenery!
  • Enjoy super fun included activities mixed with plenty of free time to choose your own adventure – maybe use some of it to visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Sigiriya. These palace ruins sit atop a massive rock structure surrounded by gardens and are a must-see for any Sri Lanka visit.
  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Zero Plastic. Donations help them educate Sri Lankan communities about the impact of plastic on the environment and reduce plastic pollution in the UNESCO-listed Sigiriya.

Is this trip right for you?
  • This trip puts the power in your hands – there’s tonnes of free time for optional activities, so you’ll have plenty of freedom to decide what you want to do.
  • The road from Ella to Tissamaharama takes a winding road down the mountains to the coast, which means the drive can feel a little slow. But don't worry, it also means that you’ll get to see the awesome scenery from literally every angle.


Map of Essential Sri Lanka including Sri Lanka



10 breakfasts, 1 lunch


Train, Private vehicle


Hotel (8 nights), Hostel (Multi-share) (2 nights)

  • Negombo - Fish market
  • Matale - 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
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock Fortress (entrance) - USD35
  • Dambulla - Cave temples (entrance) - USD7
  • Kandy - Cooking Demonstration and Dinner in a Local Home - USD12
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens - USD10
  • Kandy - Cooking Class in a Sinhalese Home - USD12
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth - USD7
  • Kandy - Cultural Dance Performance - USD7
  • 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 is not available on Days 3 and 4 (Kandy) 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.

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


4.9 out of 5 based on 21 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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Liam · Traveled March 2024
Sri Lanka was an incredible country to explore, made even better with the great people from Intrepid and especially the helpfulness of our guide Chathu!
Review submitted 14 Apr 2024

Alana · Traveled March 2024
This was the perfect trip to experience the highlights of Sri Lanka! Good food, good people and beautiful sights. I’ll be back to Sri Lanka for sure
Review submitted 13 Apr 2024

elanor · Traveled March 2024
Amazing trip would recommend! Great variety of activities, transport and accommodation with lots of local experiences. Loved this tour and Sri Lanka.
Review submitted 10 Apr 2024

Jodi · Traveled March 2024
Essential Sri Lanka was unreal, 2 weeks of a fast paced over view of such an incredible country. I can’t wait to come back. Our intrepid leader was awesome and so passionate about his country. I can’t recommend coming to Sri Lanka enough.
Review submitted 09 Apr 2024

George · Traveled February 2024
What a great 11 days in Sri Lanka! Our leader Uthpala gave us such a great insight into her country. Loved the safari and all the food we tried!
Review submitted 19 Feb 2024
Essential Sri Lanka
GBP £509