Sri Lanka luxury cultural & wildlife tour

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sri Lanka luxury cultural & wildlife tour

Environment

This itinerary has been crafted to ensure that it positively effects the local communities and environments visited.

Elephant trekking may be popular, but the elephants used for trekking are often treated cruelly. There are also a number of elephant 'orphanages' which supposedly look after orphaned elephants, but the animals are actually bred within the sanctuary and trained to interact with tourists in a way that is unnatural.

Therefore, this itinerary is suited to those who wish to observe elephants in an ethical way by visiting the national parks, such as Yala, Minneriya, Kaudulla and Gal Oya. At the parks, you’ll have the opportunity to see elephants in the wild, where they belong.

The entrance fees to Sri Lanka’s national parks are quite high, however your money goes towards protecting the wildlife and the environment (note: all national park entrance fees are included in the cost of this Sri Lanka itinerary). By visiting a national park you are endorsing tourism within protected areas, which encourages the Sri Lankan government to provide more funding and employment opportunities in these areas.

Whilst on safari, you should be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb or scare the local wildlife. Don't ask your driver to get closer or divert from the road and be sure not to leave any litter, as this harms both the environment and the animals which call the parks home.

We only work with accommodation providers which are committed to responsible travel initiatives, so you can be assured that your money is supporting locally-managed hotels or establishments dedicated to conservation and community support, plus your experience is more authentic than it would be staying at a big chain hotel. For example, this itinerary includes a stay at The Mudhouse, a property in Anamaduwa built using traditional village construction methods. A stay here will give you a clearer insight into life in Sri Lanka and a more authentic experience.

Community

We ensure that our local guides are paid fairly, our partner accommodations take responsible initiatives and our tours have ample cultural interactions.

Sri Lankans are known for being warm, friendly, genuine and hospitable. Our expert local guides offer a unique insight into Sri Lankan culture and we encourage you to get to know them to learn more about the history and customs of this region, which is sure to enrich your travel experience.

A great way to support local people and the Sri Lankan economy is by purchasing handicrafts such as silver jewellery, pottery, wood carvings, cotton and silk, which are best bought at smaller souvenir shops than in hotel gift shops or on organised shopping excursions.

During your time in Kandy make time to visit the Kandy Central Market, which is a daily market frequented by local people. This is a great place to buy locally-grown spices, which can be used to make your own authentic Sri Lankan dishes once you get home!

Bartering is commonplace in local markets, but when you're haggling please keep in mind that bartering is the art of finding a price both parties are happy with, rather than negotiating for the cheapest deal. The profit directly benefits the seller and their family, so don't push too hard to get the best price. Smile, be reasonable and remember that haggling is meant to be fun!

Sri Lanka is a very religious country and Theravada Buddhism is the main religion. Images of the Buddha are strictly regulated and any perceived insults of Buddha or Buddhism are taken very seriously, so be mindful of your actions.

When visiting temples and religious sites, be sure to dress modestly and behave in a respectful way. This includes covering knees and shoulders (ideally you should wear white clothing, which is readily available in most markets) and remove your shoes upon entry.

We also recommend that you eat in local restaurants during your trip and even try some authentic Sri Lankan delicacies at the street stalls. This supports the local economy and also provides you with a real taste of Sri Lankan cuisine. Dishes to look out for include Kukul Mas Curry (chicken curry), Hoppers (Sri Lankan pancakes), Fish Ambul Thiyal (sour fish curry) and Kottu Roti, the best in Sri Lankan street food!

During your visit to Sri Lanka, you may see local children begging around tourist sites or selling things. Though it may seem counterintuitive, refrain from giving gifts, money or sweets (access to dentists in Sri Lanka is very limited), or from buying what they're selling. We also advise against visiting orphanages in Sri Lanka, as this interaction can be unsettling for young children and puts them in a position where they become a tourist attraction. Instead, we encourage you to donate to a local or international NGO, or bring needed supplies via an organisation such as Pack for a Purpose.

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