Discover Sri Lanka

15 days
from
1 685 €
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Traveller ratings
4.6 / 5 from 147 reviews >
Trip code: 
AIL
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group Adventure Holidays, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture & Discovery Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Spend two weeks exploring the delights of this diverse and inspiring island

Lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a natural paradise with a landscape of verdant mountains, rainforests, paddy fields, tumbling waterfalls and sweeping gorges. From ancient Buddhist temples, the fortress of Sigiriya, the towns of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in the hill country, the wildlife of Yala National Park (which has one of the highest concentrations of leopards in the world), to the idyllic palm-fringed beaches of the south coast, this small island offers incredible variety, made extra special by its laid back atmosphere and hospitable people.

Highlights

  • The magnificent cave temples at Dambulla

  • Cycle through rice paddy fields

  • Take a train journey through tea plantations

  • Search for leopard in Yala National Park

  • Climb the rock fortress at Sigiriya for breathtaking views

Key information

  • 14 nights comfortable hotels, all en suite
  • Travel by private bus
  • Additional travel by train, bicycle and jeep
  • Some long drives

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 1 lunch
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

 

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
+47-22 41 30 30
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Veyangoda.

    The group flight arrives at Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport and we transfer to our hotel approximately 30 minutes away. Those not flying with the group will meet us at the hotel.
    The Covanro or alternative accommodation in the area

  • Day 2

    Visit cave temples at Dambulla; to Sigiriya.

    We depart after breakfast for the drive (approx. 4 hours) through lush green countryside (a mix of coconut palms, paddy fields and banana plantations) through Kurunegala to Dambulla. Here we visit the magnificent Cave Temple, for some, the most impressive sight in Sri Lanka. There are colourful, well preserved paintings and statues of Buddha inside the caves, which date back to the 1st century BC. After lunch we continue to Sigiriya where we stay for the night. From our hotel we can see Lions Rock rising up from the plains (occasionally we may stay nearer to Dambulla due to hotel availability).
    Hotel Sigiriya or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Morning climb to the rock fortress; optional afternoon game drive.

    This morning we drive to the foot of the Lions Rock at Sigiriya. The imposing 5th century rock fortress of Sigiriya rises 600 feet from the plains overlooking the surrounding countryside and giving far-reaching views. Used as a safe haven from invaders, the route to the top goes via a series of steep steps and gangways. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive water gardens, we 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 extensive remains of the King's Summer Palace.

    During the afternoon there is a chance to enjoy an optional game drive in either Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park or the Hurulu Eco Park to see elephants in their natural habitat. For those who don’t want to take part, there is time to relax at the hotel.
    Hotel Sigiriya or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    To Giritale; bike ride through country villages.

    This morning we have a short drive to Giritale where our usual hotel overlooks the scenic Giritale Tank. The island’s early inhabitants solved the dual problem of heat and lack of water in this dry area by constructing large tanks to act as reservoirs and cool the warm breeze. Nowadays they provide an important habitat for bird life, particularly from August to April. Today we take to bikes and cycle at a leisurely pace through a series of small villages and lakes (if you don't want to cycle you can follow the group in the support vehicle). We should see plenty of bird life including Egrets, Brahmany kites, Kingfishers and Bulbuls. Stopping for lunch in a traditional village will break up the journey. In the late afternoon we return to our hotel in Giritale.
    Giritale Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Visit ancient capital of Polonnaruwa; drive to Kandy via spice garden.

    After breakfast we take a short drive to the 10th century capital of Sri Lanka; Polonnaruwa, the ancient capital of the Sinhalese. Here there are many Buddhist relics and ruins dating from a thousand years ago when Sinhalese culture reached its zenith. The city flourished in the 12th century after the decision was made to move the capital from Anuradhapura, so it was further away from incursions from Southern India. The ruins are therefore younger and better preserved than those at Anuradhapura. We visit many of the temples, palaces, huge dagobas (Buddhist stupas) and remarkable Buddhist sculptures. After lunch we head into the hills to the picturesque town of Kandy. On the way we stop at a spice garden near Matale where we can see various spices and herbs growing, and there is a chance to stock up on massage oils, spices and Ayurvedic medicines. This is a long but fascinating day and we arrive at Kandy in the early evening.
    Hotel Thilanka or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Days 6-7

    Free time in Kandy to explore or relax.

    Kandy is located by a small lake and we spend two full days in and around the town. On the first day we will visit the Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic. The Tooth of Buddha was taken from the funeral pyre in 543 BC and only found its way to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD. There are literally hundreds of worshippers who visit the temple each day and in August the most spectacular ceremony takes place. Some of our trips in August should coincide with the Kandy festival, but the exact dates, decided by priests, are not known until 5 months prior to the event. After our visit we drive to a beautiful viewpoint over Kandy overlooked by a huge Buddha, and visit a gem museum where you can see the products of the traditional methods of gem extraction. Another highlight is the vast Peradeniya Botanical Garden with species of orchid that are endemic to Sri Lanka. In the evening we may have the chance to attend a performance of dancing and fire walking.

    The second day is free to explore this wonderful town. The surrounding hills are wonderful, offering fantastic views of the town below and there are many handicraft stores and antique shops in which to browse.
    Hotel Thilanka or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To Nuwara Eliya via Kitulgala; optional Adams Peak climb (Dec-Apr only).

    Leaving Kandy early, we have a spectacular drive through the countryside on the way to Kitulgala. Here we have the opportunity of going on a walk through the jungle or local villages followed by an optional white water rafting excursion. The rafting costs extra (see the Optional Excursions section), lasts a maximum of 1.5 hours and there is a choice of gentle or wild water (grade 3 rapids) depending on your preference. Those of us who do not wish to go rafting will be able to freshen up and relax by the water until the rafters return in time for lunch. Afterwards we will drive to our hotel in Nuwara Eliya.

    (Please note that from the full moon day of December to the full moon day of May it is possible to climb Adams Peak. This is optional and you need to be very fit to attempt this. You would leave Nuwara Eliya at 11pm on day 8 and drive to the base of the peak. From here it is a strenuous 4 hour climb to the top in time for sunrise. We then return to Nuwara Eliya to join the group for lunch on day 9).
    Hill Club Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Free morning in old colonial hillstation of Nuwara Eliya. Visit tea factory in afternoon.

    This morning we will have free time to explore the beautiful town of Nuwara Eliya. Nuwara Eliya was a popular hill station during the British era and is situated in the cool highland air at 1890m. Known locally as 'Little England' it is dotted with British style houses and parks and features a golf club and a racecourse! Following lunch we will visit a nearby tea factory and learn about the process of tea production.
    Hill Club Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Early morning to Horton Plains; walk to World's End viewpoint; to Bandarawela by train.

    We have an early start this morning and take a 30km drive south to Horton Plains, a large plateau over 2,000m high, overlooked by the second and third highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The scenery is beautiful and the best way to explore is on foot. We take a guided walk through the rolling grasslands where we hope to see such as the Sambur and Purple Faced monkey. We also visit 'World's End' which is one of the most stunning sights in Sri Lanka where the ground drops 1050m to the plains. Following this we catch a train from the highest railway station in the country - within an hour and a half we drop from 1889m to 1097m. The train travels through the cloud forest into the tea plantations, with breath-taking views of the lush valley below. Although the train can be very busy on occasion, this is still a great experience. We get off at Bandarawela, a town relatively untouched by tourism.
    Orient Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Scenic drive through Ella Gap to Kataragama; game drive in Yala N.P.

    Today we continue on to Ella Gap where we have spectacular views of the coastal plain nearly 1,000m below. Almost the entire southern part of the island is in view and on a particularly clear day the shimmering silver of the Indian Ocean is visible. Heading south out of the hills we travel to Kataragama on the plains; this is our base for visiting Sri Lanka's best known national park, Yala. The park is popular for elephant, leopard, bear, crocodile and Wild boar. At 97,800 hectares, this is the second largest of Sri Lanka's national parks. Its open undulating terrain made it famous for elephants for many years, but recently the park has also become better known for leopard. The park, which is primarily shrub jungle with several salt and fresh water lagoons, has one of the highest concentrations of leopard per square kilometre in the world. (Please note that the sanctuary may be closed for 4-6 weeks from September to October allowing the park authorities to check the welfare of the animals. We therefore go to an alternative area close by, usually Udawalawe National Park).
    Mandara Rosen or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Drive to Tangalle and walk through rice paddies; coastal drive to Ahangama; optional lunch at Tsunami house.

    Today we leave for the coast, with its beautiful palm fringed bays. Stopping on the way at Hambantota and walking to a nearby farm house where you be offered tea in a coconut shell along with a local snack. We will mix with real Sri Lankan life and take part in some traditional Sri Lankan games, returning to our bus in tractors used by the farmers. We have the option of having lunch at one of the houses built by Exodus for Tsunami victims; this may be one of the best curries of your trip! Continuing on to Ahangama in the afternoon we arrive at our coastal hotel and you can relax for the rest of the day.
    Insight Resort or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Free day to relax on the beach or optional activities including whale watching (Nov to April).

    Today is a free day to relax on the beach or by the hotel pool. There are also optional activities during the day including a boat ride through mangrove swamps to a cinnamon plantation or, from November to April you can go whale watching off Dondra head, one of the best places in the world for seeing Blue and Sperm whales. Huge pods of dolphins are also often seen playing alongside the boats.
    Insight Resort or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    To Galle; visit old fort and turtle hatchery; transfer to Colombo.

    We set off today and drive along the coastal road to the historic port of Galle, visiting a turtle hatchery on the way. Galle dates back to the 17th century, and now a UNESCO world heritage site. We take the express way to Colombo reaching our hotel in the late afternoon.
    Hotel Sapphire (2017 departures) / Hotel Mirage (2018 departures) or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    End Colombo.

    The trip ends after breakfast. Those on the group flights will be taken to the airport in time for their flight home.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Maldives

If you are keen to end your holiday on a very relaxed note we can arrange a visit to the Maldives for you.

The flight from Colombo is around 1 hour and upon arrival you will be transferred by speedboat (approximately 20mins) to the Paradise Island 4* resort. Paradise Island is a beautiful coral island with a total land area of 178,900 square metres, covered with lush tropical vegetation, numerous palm trees, surrounded by a wide sandy beach and the crystal clear waters of an azure lagoon.

 You can choose to add on as many extra nights to your trip as you wish; your time on the island will be at leisure for you to do as you wish. The accommodation used has a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, room service and all rooms are air‐conditioned and have en suite facilities. As well as the modern amenities of the resort there is also access to scuba diving and snorkelling or for the less active the chance to swim in these wonderful, calm waters. Either way it is a veritable paradise and a memorable end to the trip.

 If you choose to take advantage of this opportunity then we can arrange flights for you to Malé as well as booking the hotel and speedboat transfer to the island.

Essential Info

Visas

Sri Lanka

A visa (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is required if you are British and for most other nationalities. If you do not hold a British passport, please check the visa requirements with your local Sri Lankan Embassy or the ETA website www.eta.gov.lk. Passengers should also be aware of local laws and customs in Sri Lanka (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sri-lanka/local-laws-and-customs). The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is an offence; please note that people have been refused entry to Sri Lanka because of visible tattoos of Buddha.

Vaccinations

Sri Lanka

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 1 lunch is included.

We suggest allowing about £15-£17 (approx. US$24 - US$27.50) per day for all other meals. Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the island’s heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Despite (or perhaps because of) these influences, Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to as simply ‘Rice and Curry’. This is the staple dish in most restaurants and is usually a serving of rice accompanied by assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as various pickles, ‘sambols,’ and a handful of tiny poppadum’s – all using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic.

Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Sri Lanka the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat or dairy-free. Please be prepared for this and you may need to bring these from home. Spicier food can be avoided easily and lots of the hotels will serve Western options alongside traditional food.

Weather

Generally, you should expect rain at some time but with plenty of sunshine. On the plains, day and night time temperatures are warm to hot with Colombo having an average daytime temperature of 30ºC. The temperatures drop as we go higher into the hills and especially at Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains where daytime temperatures are between 10º - 15º C and night time temperatures will be chilly (about 8º C minimum) and a warmish jacket will be needed.

Kandy

Is this trip for you?

This is not a demanding trip although there are a few long drives, on bumpy and twisty mountain roads. The buses that we use are comfortable and air-conditioned. Temperatures can vary between the tropical heat of the coast to the cool of the mountains.

Call us on
+47-22 41 30 30
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

You will spend 14 nights in en suite hotels. Hotels on this trip are generally of a good standard, most with swimming pools and good facilities. The standards and styles of the hotels do vary however and some of our selections are based on location and what is available in the area or the character and atmosphere at the premises.

The hotel that we typically use in Nuwara Eliya has been selected for the character of the premises and the appearance of its grounds but the level of service is not always at the standard of the other hotels on this itinerary.

The hotel that we typically use on the south coast for two nights has been selected because it has a good beach location, where it is possible to swim in the sea most of the time, there are good photo opportunities with the stilt fisherman nearby and it is within close proximity to the optional excursions. Although service at the hotel can sometimes be rather slow it is a small property so the staff and management are flexible and cater for our group’s needs.

Please note that hotels in Sri Lanka are becoming increasingly busy and occasionally we have to find alternatives to the ones that we usually use. We will endeavour to find the nearest alternative that provides a similar standard of rooms.

Single accommodation available on request.

Call us on
+47-22 41 30 30
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
+47-22 41 30 30
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed October 2017
    Marion Johnston

    Discover Sri Lanka Sept 2017

    This was a wonderful trip, full of colour and variety. We travelled all over the country and saw so many interesting places and had fantastic experiences, but also had time to relax along the way. The tour leaders in Sri Lanka were the winning leader team in the Exodus leader awards in 2016 and I can see why.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed all of it! However I particularly liked the Polonnaruwa ruins and loved our visit to the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. The countryside was so colourful and lush, and we saw lots of animals and birds even outwith the parks. To my surprise I also enjoyed the white water rafting which I had never done before.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sujan Weerakoon was an excellent tour leader. He knows the country inside out and was a mine of interesting information but delivered in small digestible chunks. He was very well organised and gave us lot of helpful advice re what to take/wear/expect each day. Everything was taken care of for us and we were able to relax. He was friendly with everyone and had a good sense of humour. He judged the mood of the group well and on one memorable occasion was able to conjure up tea and chocolate cake just when we were all running out of energy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do take up the offer of the leader to organise the tipping kitty. Everyone expects a tip in Sri Lanka and it would have been a complete nightmare to manage this ourselves. Sujan did this for us and kept meticulous records and it smoothed our path through the country. Many of the activities are optional and opting out does not cause a problem. I did not do the cycling and was able to follow the group in the support vehicle.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As this tour is so well established, it runs like a well oiled machine. I can see why it is popular - it is very varied with something for everyone, and great fun. Go for it!
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Jamie Forbes

    Discover Sri Lanka

    What a fantastic trip! Travelled with my new wife on our Honeymoon and although I had high hopes of Sri Lanka the tour went far beyond our expectations. A guided tour of 16 with a real mixture of people we visited many sights and places and overall was a very well balanced trip that comprised of history, culture, tradition and a bit of R&R. The tour allows you to experience the different provinces of Sri Lanka that provides its unique vibe.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many to choose from. Seeing wild elephants on the roadside and a leopard on the safari to watching the sunset over the plains at Giritale. The bike ride was great fun where we were greeted with wide smiles by the village children. Every day was memorable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I cannot speak highly enough of Sujan, our group leader. Friendly, knowledgeable, funny and very professional. He made everyday run like clockwork. An example of this was that he told us exactly where to stand within the Temple of the Tooth. When the ceremony began we had perfect location. Further, he appeared to be on very good terms with all staff at every hotel and excursion personnel which helped to create a friendly atmosphere. Sujan also went the extra mile for us both knowing it was our Honeymoon and managed the tipping process perfectly. Absolute asset to Exodus and his country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely remember a jumper AND raincoat. Can get chilly when in altitude and weather in the tea plains is just like Britain. Comfy walking shoes also a necessity. A towel for the rafting also otherwise an uncomfortable trip in the bus back to the hotel.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall best overseas experience of my life. The group was fantastic and the country is something EVERONE should travel. Thank you Exodus and especially Sujan for a remarkable journey.
  • Reviewed August 2017
    Barbara Cummins

    Highly recommended introduction to Sri Lanka

    A wonderfully varied trip. We did so much. I'll try not to repeat what Karen said but will add a few thoughts. The Sri Lanka we saw was surprisingly diverse. We went from low, hot and humid, by the Indian ocean near Colombo, up into the beautiful hill country, with its expanses of tea plantations, then down to the semi arid coast in the south. A great start was meeting the group. They were all positive, punctual and friendly. We laughed a lot. I loved the food. So much choice! Buffets offered salads, curries, fruit and more for around £6. I didn't feel the need that some felt for sandwiches and chips instead. I'm not vegetarian but found the veggie choices in the buffets to be the best options. We had great "village meals" on two occasions, plus the opportunity to try mannioc and drink tea from coconut shells.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's tricky to choose from so many. If it has to be a moment, perhaps I'll choose diving into an empty pool at 7am at the lovely Mandala Rosen in Kataragama. Music played underwater, then I came up to the quiet of birdsong as blossom floated down from the trees. More widely, it was the gentle smiling people and the beautiful countryside, especially in the hills.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Neelaka is a Sri Lankan gem. He looked after us with his unfailing cheerful calm. He must have been paddling hard beneath the surface to keep everything running so smoothly. At every hotel we were greeted with a cool cloth and a drink, while our cases were whisked away to our rooms. An absolute godsend was his dealing with tips and small payments. Without this we'd have been burdened continuously, as everyone needs tipping! We loved his little extra treats which included introducing us to fruit and veg we'd never heard of, let alone tasted. He guided us to interesting restaurants, took us to special places when we expressed interest and told us about local culture and behaviour, as well as describing in detail the places we visited. We learned about puberty rituals, which prepared us for the ceremony we saw scheduled in our last hotel, plus the surprising dependence of Sri Lankans on astrologers.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Activities are optional. As the group slow coach, I didn't complete the Lion Rock climb. I went part way and then waited and watched as the stream of visitors climbed the uneven steps. I also didn't complete the Horton Plains walk in torrential rain. (NB - make sure you have a good waterproof. Some didn't. Sri Lankan rain is serious!) If you have to stay at the Hill Club, don't eat there. Go next door to the Grand. If you do have to eat there, definitely avoid the set meal. Don't buy spices at the spice place if you want a good price. A sarong or similar could be very useful in many ways. You can buy one out there. Cash can be changed in many places, with your guide's local knowledge. Check hotel bills are in rupees, not £s or you'll be paying a hotel's exchange rate instead of the bank's.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I agree with Karen about the grim Hill Club. The elephant safari was great for seeing elephants but the jeeps weren't good (cf at Yala) and there were far too many. The turtle hatchery may be doing good conservation work but was a very sad place to visit. The Indian ocean is beautiful, but it's not for swimming. Too rough. The optional boat trip was interesting for those of us who didn't view sunbathing as an activity. It was fascinating to visit the cinnamon island to see the lengthy handwork that goes into producing the spice.
  • Reviewed August 2017
    Anonymous .

    discover sri lanka 12th august

    This was an amazing trip, well organised the right amount of activities and free days. Sri Lanka is a truly beautiful country and the people are very hospitable and very friendly. On this tour you get to see and do so much looking back on our 15 days don't know how we managed to fit it all in. on the whole the hotels are of a very good standard, you do get a bit tired with them mostly serving buffet meals but they are of good quality this and plentiful. There is generally an Al a Carte menu but don't worry not like the over priced ones in the U.K just standard food and price .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This was such a good trip to many to pick just one , one of my highlights was getting to the top of lions rock by 9 am in the morning and seeing that view, breath-taking. The elephant safari was very crowded too many jeeps but did see some magnificent elephants, even better when we got to our hotel (The Lake) we saw the elephants in the distance coming down to the water for and evening drink totally on their own while we were laying by the pool what a sight!! The bike ride and lunch that followed again such a lovely day, white water rafting is a must, great fun. The temples and history was fascinating. The traditional games we played on one of the days was great fun, we were a group of 16 mixed ages from 17 to 70from solo travellers to 1 family of 4 we just hit it off from day one and were like one big family.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Neelaka was fantastic, nothing was too much trouble, everything was explained to us about the history, temples, best way to see things, he new exactly were and when we had to be somewhere to get the best view, experience on each day, this did mean a few early starts but well worth it, his knowledge and passion for his country showed in everything he did. One of the group had a birthday which none of us new about, Neelaka organised a card for us all to sign. decorated the bus with balloons and streamers and arranged a cake for our meal that evening what a special day. He stopped off on the side of the road to show us things, brought fruits for us to try, corn on the cobs, drink queen coconut milk and stopped off to see a family who produce more things from a coconut than you would ever think possible, non of this was on the itinerary .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go and see this beautiful country for your selves before it gets ruined by tourism. Be prepared for many changes in temperature and weather we went from 33 degrees to 14 and back to 36 degrees sun and rain, and make the most of every day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There are a couple of places that I think should be missed out, The Hills Club Hotel is not nice, cold damp dirty and very archaic at the moment this is on the itinerary for a 2 day stay my advise is don't bother to eat there go the the hotel next door The Grand has a fabulous Thai restaurant meal and drinks for about £12. there is a lovely coffee shop for snack lunch or just a drink and a Indian restaurant we didn't try this but wish we had eaten there one of our nights. The turtle hatchery is not great, large turtles kept in very small tanks and not much hope of release. This was my first solo holiday both Exodus and the group I was with made it a truly memorable time, if this is your first solo trip all I can say is go for it and you will be looked after every step of the way. Can't wait to plan next years adventure with Exodus.
  • Reviewed August 2017
    Susan Clark

    Inspiring Sri Lanka!

    If you want a truly diverse trip with a range of cultural and wildlfe experiences which gets you under the skin of the country then this could be the trip for you! We went with an open mind and some expectations, but they were suppassed. You get to see some beautiful architecture and scenery, enjoy the diverse flora and wildlife (yes wild elephants are amazing!), meet friendly locals and enjoy fantastic food. I have travelled to a number of different countries and as a vegetarian have often struggled with the choice of food, but not in Sri Lanka. We were helped at every turn by our amazing guide, Sujan, so we could sit back and enjoy every bit of the experience!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Standing on the top of the rock at Sigiriya and appreciating the ambition and achievements of the people that had built it and the surrounding buildings so long ago. On the jeep safari looking at my watch and realising that we had been out for more than 3 hours and I hadn't realised that the time could pass so quickly.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sujan was amazing, professional, friendly - all round super star!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It a beautiful and inspiring country. Great tour that is well organised and tries to cater for everyone.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Ruth Keir

    The bear necessities

    Overall I was left with the feeling that Sri Lanka is a vastly over-rated destination. To be fair to Exodus, most of the things I was underwhelmed by were nothing to do with the tour itself. We were taken to sites which are recommended in the top things to do on tripadvisor and in all the guide books/travel mags so I can't argue with that but I just felt a bit 'meh' about a lot of the places/sights. The food was also a massive letdown for me. I imagined a sort of cross between Indian food (which I love) and creamy, coconut based Thai curries (which I love) but it wasn't. If I never eat rice and curry again it'll be too soon! Being asked for money constantly and harassed round markets etc gets old VERY quickly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hands down the thing I enjoyed most was visiting Yala. The whole group did a game drive in the afternoon and we were lucky enough to see 2 adolescent leopards. I spotted the first one under a bush having a snooze and was so pleased the group got to see her, for a lot of the group this was their first ever big cat sighting. This was a real treat and very exciting. We had a free morning the next day and I was so fed up by this point with the activities in general that I was going to ask if I could do another drive. Roshan the guide must have read my mind and kindly offered to arrange this for anyone who was interested. 6 of us got up at 5am and never has 'you snooze, you lose' been more fitting. We entered the park at 0600 and saw our first leopard at 0624. The second followed not long after. We then had a glorious 15 minutes with a snuffling, shuffling shaggy sloth bear who was right next to our vehicle and an absolute delight to see. Just when we needed scraped off the ceiling and were on our way to the park gates, we turned a corner to find a lovely, lithe female leopard lounging in the middle of the road. We were the only vehicle there, the driver didn't phone his friends (and got a big tip as a result) and our spotty beauty gave us quite a show for 15 minutes or so. Brilliant. This was all obviously just dumb luck but wow! Climbing Sigirya was fun. The bike ride was also fun as were the local games. I was glad that the family who made our lunch on the bike ride and the banana farmer who hosted the games got to benefit from our visit. Lunch at the tsunami house was a really heartwarming experience and well done to Roshan and Exodus on looking after these people so well in their hour of need. The food here was better than all the boring buffets we had for lunch. Surely there are some more local families on the route we took that could do with a leg up? I'd much rather give a donation in return for some decent food than be overcharged for bland buffets?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Roshan was great. Nice guy, excellent sense of humour. I asked what kind of wasps the scary ones at Sigirya were and was told they were noisy woman eating wasps. Everything ran like clockwork and he really did take care of us very well. Myself and my husband have extended an offer to host him next year as we'd love to return the hospitality.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Spice Garden is interesting but don't buy anything, you can get it all in the market in Kandy for much less and the amazing, natural hair removing cream is apparently disguised Veet according to the internet! The gem 'museum' wasn't for me. Some of the things were pretty but pressure selling ain't my bag. Same with the wood carving place. If people are wanting to do this sort of thing they could do it in their own time. You can get drinkable coffee in Natural Coffee in Kandy, Cafe Walk in Kandy (also does epic chocolate cake), Barista Lavazza in Ella and Heritage Cafe in Galle. Otherwise stick to tea. The beach town was a total dump with open sewers and nowt to do. Get a tuk tuk to Galle for the day or Unawatuna where it is much nicer to hang out. Take English pounds sterling and change at the airport. Don't let people take the piss out of you with prices for tuk tuks etc. Agree in advance and walk away if it's too much. Same with the markets etc. Nice shops were few and far between but Odel Luv SL in Kandy at the Queen's Hotel (another branch in Galle), Barefoot in Galle and generally pretty much all of the shops in Galle were really good. Calorie Counter in Galle was lovely for lunch despite the slightly off putting name! Lovely juices. When staying at the massive disappointment that is the Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya, don't bother with dinner there. I was really looking forward to dressing up and pretending to be posh but the meal was the worst of the trip. Go out of the hotel, turn right and in 5 minutes you'll be at the Grand Hotel which has an Indian restaurant which delivered the best meal of the trip. Get the murgh mahkini. The Thai restaurant and coffee shop in the same hotel are also lovely, all have entrances on the road, no need to go into the hotel.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I thought the hotel selection on the whole was a bit rubbish. The first one was especially crap and did not set a good impression for the rest of the trip. Roshan acknowledged this without prompting at the introductory briefing. Hotel Sigirya was lovely, Hotel Thilanka in Kandy was nice and Mandara Rosen at Yala was nice too but the rest were VERY average. The last one at the beach had probably the worst service of the trip and the beach was too narrow to lie on with sea to rough to go into and had really annoying sellers working it the whole time. The Hill Club was a massive mothbally disappointment with well meaning but awful service and fusty rooms. It was a bit like Fawlty Towers - crap service and don't mention the war. I was also not sure why we stayed in Badurawalla not Ella which was nicer and also why we didn't have a full day in Galle which was by far the nicest place on the trip. I booked my own flights as I was coming from Glasgow. Emirates had fares for around £450 return, Exodus seem to allow around £700 in their flight included trip. My advice would be to book your own cheaper flights but book onto the premium trip instead to get better hotels. That should work out about the same price as the basic trip. I felt that the elephant safari in Minnierya was not up to scratch. The game drive vehicles were inward facing.Ours was rusty inside and you were encouraged to stand while the vehicle was moving which was not easy. The roll bars were corroded and the rear window was smashed. How are you meant to spot anything if all you can see is your pal's face?? Our driver literally said nothing to us the whole drive (but probably still expected a tip). The number of vehicles surrounding the elephants was ridiculous and bordering on animal harassment. If you've never seen an elephant and are desperate then fair enough but otherwise I wouldn't bother. At least get vehicles with forward facing seats, it can't be that much extra surely? The turtle hatchery was also questionable in terms of animal welfare. I can see the point of trying to mature the hatchlings a bit so they are stronger when it comes to going into the ocean. I was almost in tears however watching 3 big ocean going turtles each with a missing front flipper being kept in a concrete tank with scummy water in it that was probably 3m x 2m. These guys can live well over a hundred years. Roshan said they wouldn't be released as they wouldn't survive in the ocean. Are they really going to spend 100 years pacing that awful tank? There was also a poor wee turtle with a tumour who couldn't swim level and was head down, bum up the whole time. At what point do we think these guys should be released into the ocean to go out in a blaze of glory in a free environment? I left as I couldn't take it anymore. Please don't take groups there. The train journey was also rubbish I'm afraid. If you want to replicate my experience then I'd just get on the tube, find somebody who looks as if they are from the subcontinent , stick your head in their armpit and smile at each other for 90 minutes while you hang on awkwardly. I am not sure why this is recommended.....The Sri Lankans on the train were very smiley and nice to be around thank goodness otherwise it would have been even worse. I think overall points to improve - sort out the hotels, pay more attention to animal welfare, organise more lunches/activities to benefit the local people directly and try to make the free time in better areas.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Ruth for her review, although we are sorry to hear that she did not enjoy Sri Lanka as a destination and sincerely regret that some aspects of this tour fell below her expectations. The accommodation on the first night and the last night for this trip will be changed for 2018 departures based on the feedback that we have received and while the Hill Club is a hotel that splits opinion, our groups tend to love its character and quirkiness.

    Animal welfare is an important part of the Exodus Responsible Tourism policy; we are reassessing the visit to the turtle hatchery and we are monitoring the feedback we receive about the game drives to ensure our animal welfare objectives are met. We are discussing both inclusions further with our local partner and will take necessary steps to ensure these remain responsible options for inclusion. 

    John Penge - Product Manager

  • Reviewed May 2017
    Niraj Patel

    Discover Sri Lanka - Excellent!

    Highly recommended. It's an amazing country and Sri Lankan's in general have a very chilled and relaxed attitude to life/work. Which is a nice to see when you come from a big city. The country itself is lovely and picturesque. The mountain region in particular has some amazing views.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    - Elephant trip : was optional but I would highly recommend you go to this. Everyone on my tour went and came away with a massive smile and loads of photoes. It's can be dusty, hot and bumpy ride - but it's not a "drive though" zoo - its a real life national park. - Sri Lanka Housing Project : amazing story and even better food

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rowan was brilliant and very passionate about Sri Lanka, it's history, it's culture, the environment and wildlife. Always attentive and ready to help out when we need help (above and beyond in some cases during our trip).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    - Take a hat if you are folically challenged! - Money wise I took pounds with me and changed only around £150 just for me at the airport. But througout the trip I changed further pounds (only once in Kandy), used the ATMs and my debit card to pay for larger hotel bills. If I was to go again I wouldnt bother with ATMs (some worked but many didn't); instead I would convert more pounds at the airport and use the debit card at the hotels or where easy. - Only Adams Peak needed proper walking boots I think. I would get some decent walking sandals next time. - Out of the optional trips I did the : -- Elephant trip (best thing I have done in a while) -- Whiteriver Rafting (excellent - but will soon disappear due to ongoing engineering projects to build a massive dam) -- Adams Peak (excellent - brilliant views but can be difficult to walk as steps can be uneven) -- Whale Spotting (good - we saw a few whales and a killer whale - but I would not go if you can't get a "private" boat with enough Exodus members [10 people] . If you go on the "public" boats you are karted on and cannot move around freely. The "private" boat is all yours and allows you to move around to different parts of a boat. Whales come up when they want and having freedom to move around means you can see it)
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Boyd Taylor

    Discover Sri Lanka

    A great trip in a beautiful country. The people are very courteous, friendly and glad to see you. The wild life is prolific with many colourful birds, a great place for a bird watcher. It was very hot so be prepared and take lots of sun cream!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many inspirational moments: The jeep drive to see the elephants at the watering place was amazing, we were quite close to many of the wild elephants and saw about 150 in one large group. One day we walked through a Botanical Gardens and witnessed thousands of Fruit Bats flying about just over our heads, they were huge with wing spans of over 1 metre. I expected David Attenborough to appear from behind a tree like in one of his wildlife documentaries! The optional Whale Watching Boat Ride was great - we saw mother and baby Blue Whales spouting and diving, followed later by hundreds of Dolphins around our boat. On our bike ride we were invited by a local family whose home we passed to join in with their New Year celebrations and offered many home made snacks. The drive through Yala National Park was also great and we saw many animals and birds. The driver on that trip was very helpful and spotted many of them for us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Neelaka Iddamalgoda was excellent. He was very friendly; knowledgeable; and helpful. We have been on many Exodus trips and he is right up there with the best.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the heat and humidity. Take binoculars and a camera.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We enjoyed the holiday immensely and would recommend it, but there were one or two things we were disappointed with: Sri Lanka is a beautiful country but is blighted by the "huge" amounts of litter spread around the countryside, in many places we would be admiring the view in the distance whilst noting the litter on the roadsides. The train ride was "awful" it was excessively crowded and we were packed in like sardines. Most of the group could not see anything through the windows. We had to stand motionless throughout the journey due to the crowding and I was so closed in it was like an oven and I felt physically ill by the end of the journey. My wife also ended up in a carriage on her own. I was able to see into the 1st class section and there were many free seats in there. In future Exodus should ensure that all our group are booked into 1st class on this trip. Sri Lanka needs to invest in the creation of local Waste Water Treatment Plants and General Sewerage Systems - in many areas we were conscious of the smell of raw sewage and it was especially strong in one restaurant whilst we were eating a meal - it was not pleasant
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Andrew Saward

    Great tour in Sri Lanka

    Excellent tour - a good mixture of wildlife, great scenery, local interest, buddhist shrines, a good range of cycling from easy to challenging - comfortable hotels - and friendly companions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The early morning downhill from Ella to the waterfall

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh was excellent - really experienced - well organised - very informative - arranged stops which introduced local topics and people - cooking lessons with good recipes to pass on - clearly enjoys his role !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Consider taking the bus on the last section up to the tea plantations - the climb is continuous and very long.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Jill Frampton

    Good tour with a good varied itinerary

    I knew when I booked this tour that the food would be a problem as I can't eat spicy food. I managed to go the whole trip with no problems, and no Imodium either! Also I have some mobility problems but again, I was prepared not to be able to take part in all the activities. So food aside this was a full on tour, very enjoyable and varied, with good company.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    To be honest the whole trip was inspiring. To visit Sri Lanka before it gets too spoiled by mass tourism was amazing. There are already signs that tourism is becoming big business in Sri Lanka. Overall I think the contact with the local people and being able to converse in the same language was brilliant. They are such lovely, gentle people, following the way of life that is Buddhism. I feel privileged.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sujan was a great ambassador for his country. He was a bit of a stickler for keeping to his time frame but to me, this is a sign of a good leader, keeping 16 people on a hectic schedule, with lots of smiles and good humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get lots of sleep before you leave for your tour!! There are some early, early starts! Also, some of the activities are more arduous than they sound., possibly due to the heat and humidity. Climbing Lions Rock , I am told, was quite hard and not for anyone with vertigo (I didn't do this one). Another one I missed was the Horton Plains walk, which everyone enjoyed but all said it was hard going. At least they managed to get a distant sighting of a leopard. Don't take plug adaptors, they use the same plugs as us. Wifi can be patchy, usually OK in the lobby. The Yala safari would not be suitable for anyone with back problems and ladies, you may need a sports bra for this trip!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A quick word of praise for our coach driver who even managed an emergency stop on the motorway for a jaywalking land monitor!! He also provided bottles of cool water throughout the trip at very reasonable cost. Some of the hotels were a little below par, in particular the last one, Hotel Sapphire. I was glad we were leaving at 2 am, the bathroom was a bit grotty with mildew. a tap that spewed water higher than the blue whale we saw and an extractor fan caked with filth. Exodus, you need to find somewhere else in Colombo! I used about £500 on the trip for meals, the optional trips and a couple of very cheap massages. This doesn't include a small indulgence at the jewellers in Kandy!

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Jill for her review, although we sincerely regret that some of the properties on this tour fell below her expectations. We use client and staff feedback to review each property and if any concerns are raised by clients throughout the year or identified by our staff who have also stayed at the properties, these will be addressed and dealt with accordingly. We have discussed Jill’s concerns about the Hotel Sapphire with the property’s management and improvements have been made. John Penge - Product Manager

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Maldives Extension

If you are keen to end your holiday on a very relaxed note we can arrange a visit to the Maldives, just 1 hour flying time from Colombo

For more details on this particular extension please go to page 4 of the Trip Notes. Alternatively, you can call one of our Sales team, who will be happy to assist you.

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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