Sri Lanka tour, off the beaten track

“A 15 day, small group tour, exploring the cultural sites, national parks and unspoiled coast of central and northeastern Sri Lanka.”

Highlights

Colombo | Negombo | Galle | Nuwara Eliya | Horton Plains National Park | train ride to Kandy | Temple of the Tooth | Matale Spice Garden | Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle | Dambulla Cave Temples | Sigiriya | Polonnaruwa | Minneriya National Park | Trincomalee | snorkelling Pigeon Island | Anuradhapura | Mihintale

Description of Sri Lanka tour, off the beaten track

This exciting Sri Lanka tour - Ancient Cities and the Hill Country - is a fascinating 2-week guided tour of the central and northern regions of this wonderful island. We’ll take in no less than 7 of the country’s 8 UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites while also finding the time to venture into some of Sri Lanka’s lesser-known parts.

We include the picturesque Hill Country and Horton Plains National Park, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the cave temples at Dambulla, Sigiriya rock fortress and the historic towns of Galle and Kandy while also travelling to off the beaten track destinations such as the ancient port of Trincomalee – long off-limits due to the tragic civil war – Wilpattu National Park, (Sri Lanka’s largest and best-preserved, yet one of its least visited, protected areas) and World Heritage Anuradhapura.

Varied activities include exploring the narrow lanes of charming Galle, a hike to the Hill Country’s ‘World’s End’, overnight camp and jeep safari in Wilpattu, discovering Sigiriya’s famous ‘Maidens of the Clouds’, roaming the back streets and local markets of bustling Colombo and, with luck, seeing Minneriya’s awe-inspiring Elephant Gathering.

We’ll ensure a leisurely pace - with time to relax and do your own thing - as well as including a beach stay at Nilaveli with whale-watching and snorkelling options. Last but not least there’s plenty of opportunities to meet the extremely friendly residents and sample the world famous Sri Lankan curries.

A highly varied and rewarding tour of the fabulous island of Sri Lanka.

Features:

1. Includes visits to no less than seven of Sri Lanka's UNESCO World Heritage Sites
2. Overnight in a camp and a jeep safari in the vast Wilpattu National Park
3. Visit the dramatic Sigiriya rock fortress and its famous Cloud Maidens
4. Relax (or whale watch) at the stunning and unspoilt coast around the old port of Trincomalee
5. Charming lakeside Kandy, home to the famous Temple of the Tooth and the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
6. Jeep safari to see the famous 'Elephant gathering' in Minneriya National Park

Optional extensions

1. Spend a few days quality island time at a well-appointed Maldives eco-resort
2. Hidden Maldives - discover the local life, culture, food and unique island capital Malé, join a marine conservation project and explore its fabulous reefs and turquoise seas

Note groups sizes are 2 to maximum 12 persons with most meals (local-style) included and accommodation in 3 to 4* hotels.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Check dates, prices & availability

Date
Price
Basis
02 May 2021
£1545
excluding flights
Available
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30 May 2021
£1545
excluding flights
Available
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21 Jun 2021
£1545
excluding flights
Available
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25 Jul 2021
£1545
excluding flights
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15 Aug 2021
£1595
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 15 Aug 2021 departure
07 Sep 2021
£1545
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 07 Sep 2021 departure
03 Oct 2021
£1545
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 03 Oct 2021 departure
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type
This is a genuine small group adventure tour with group sizes limited to a maximum of 12 persons. Experience has taught us that smaller numbers are less intrusive to local cultures and environments whilst allowing more interaction with local people. Furthermore, it means greater flexibility on a day to day basis and on a social level has proved to be more fun as you make new friends and share your experiences with like-minded people.

Minimum numbers are either 2 or 4 so, while in low season in particular, sizes can be small, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet both locals and other travellers along the way.

The tour price is based upon 2 persons sharing, twin or double rooms, while single room supplements are also available should you prefer. The intention is to travel as a group of friends rather than a typical tour group, so don't expect stick-on name badges or any following the umbrella. Please note that all activities are fully flexible and most age and fitness levels can be accommodated.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
The Sri Lanka - Off The Beaten Track - The North tour introduces travellers to the culturally rich and environmentally diverse island state of Sri Lanka, with an emphasis on contributing to the local economy and community projects while respecting local traditions and the natural environment. Sri Lankan guides are at the heart of the tour, whether driving visitors around the island, guiding in national parks or introducing visitors to the 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites on this itinerary. Some of the guides come from community-led projects which helps local people gain access to education and employment. The tour stays in family-run guesthouses, the wonderful Mudhouse, Puttalam; a traditionally built retreat of wattle and daub walls and thatched roofs and eats at local restaurants, which not only enables visitors to meet local people and enjoy authentic home cooking, but also contributes directly to the local economy and provides much needed employment.

Travellers are also encouraged to be aware at all times how to create a positive impact on the environment and local people.


Information: Providing suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning, genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes. To be aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment, and to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travellers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices

This tour visits many places only recently opened up to tourism and so helps spread the tourist dollar beyond the more well known and popular tourist sites in Sri Lanka.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

Local products: As much as possible we aim to employ local personnel, (guides, drivers, agents etc), use local restaurants and smaller privately owned accommodation. Customers are also encouraged to buy and use local products and services as much as possible in order to support and stimulate the local economy.

Guides often come from community-led projects which helps local people gain access to education and employment.

Group sizes: By limiting groups to small sizes we aim to reduce the impact on both local communities and the environment whilst allowing for greater genuine interaction with said communities. It also results in a higher guide/customer ratio thus greater facility for supervision and individual assistance and allows us to use smaller hotels and restaurants and employ the services of more genuinely ‘local’ operators perhaps not otherwise well equipped for larger groups.

Destinations: We combine the well known tourist sites with many off-the-beaten-track, rarely visited destinations thus diverting tourist revenue and contact with responsible tourism into areas not usually benefiting as well as providing a more authentic view of the region visited.

Instruction: By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves and guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect.

Climate

1 Reviews of Sri Lanka tour, off the beaten track

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 18 Feb 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The glories of Sri Lanka, from the Dambulla caves to Horton Plains to the southern ocean. This was a fabulous itinerary, leaving us with rich memories that will endure. Our guide, Srinath, was particularly knowledgeable and passionate about the archaeology, history, and Buddhist religion, helping make the ancient cities the most enjoyable and memorable part of the trip for us. The van was comfortable and Indica was a careful and safe driver.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Lodging: Half of the hotels were good. These included: the Casamara in Kandy; Olga’s reach near Yala National Park; and Lagoon Paradise Beach Resort in Tangalle. The hotels that were not so good were: Paradise Beach Hotel in Negombo (old and noisy); the Acme Hotel in Habarane (under construction work, and with a vast and uninviting dining room, separated from the main hotel and only accessible via the un-tarmacced parking lot); the Ceybank Resort in Nuwara Eliya (tired, worn and dirty).

Dining. Food on our tour was organized with pre-allotted costs for each meal that varied day-to-day. Each couple ended up paying the guide 6,150 rupees to cover supplemental food. The amounts are relatively small, but they contributed to an unpleasant sense of nickel and diming. Paying separately for alcoholic
drinks was fine, but it was strange that water was not included with meal costings. (Similarly, it was disappointing that water was not provided in a coolbox in the van).

We were bewildered by the fact that our train reservations were in the overcrowded Third Class section; it would have cost very little more to have booked us in first or second class, and the experience would have been entirely different.

The wildlife safari in Yala West National Park was good, but the authorities need to rethink their visit strategy: for our morning safari, when we arrived at 6am we were vehicle number 230 and the rutted road was ridiculously crowded with jeeps. If you have experience of game reserves from other countries, you will not be impressed by the organization here.

Frankly, we would have been happy to pay an additional few hundred dollars, and have an even better experience, so my advice is don't go for the cheapest option you find, and look carefully at the details of your tour. This must be a very competitive market.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


All hotels and restaurants were managed by Sri Lankans and probably Sri Lankan owned.

We drank bottled water everywhere, and there did not appear to be any recycling efforts in place. As tourist numbers continue to increase, until the water is made drinkable, this poses a major environmental concern.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We are all so pleased to have seen so many wonders of Sri Lanka. Troubles from the civil war linger. The minor irritants we experienced throughout related to costing choices, but could not spoil the experience. We remain very grateful to the tour company, especially for having organized this at relatively short notice, after we felt obliged to cancel our Myanmar / Burma tour with them.

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