Highlights of Sri Lanka Trip Notes
Trip code: GIHS
Trip valid from: 29/09/2007
Trip valid until: 30/09/2011
Trip length: 13 days
Trip starts in: Negombo, Western, Sri Lanka
Trip ends in: Colombo
Maximum group size: 16
- The World’s End At Horton Plains
- The Rock-carved Buddha Statues Of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ancient City Of Polonnaruwa
- Unawatuna Beach
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Anuradhapura - The Largest And Most Important Ancient Site In Sri Lanka
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Dambulla Rock Temples
- The Elephants Of Pinnawela
- The 'Temple Of The Tooth' In The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sacred City Of Kandy
- Matale Spice Garden
- Negombo's Beach, Canals And Old Dutch Architecture
- Old British Hill Station Of Nuwara Eliya
- Swim The Streams Of Beautiful Belihul Oya
- Chaotic Colombo
This fantastic tour covers the highlights of Sri Lanka from ancient cities to charming hill stations and awesome beaches. Sumptuous scenery, abundant wildlife, great food and welcoming people – Sri Lanka is a wonderful country. We start near to Colombo and head north, visiting an elephant orphanage along the way before exploring the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, as well as Sigiriya rock fortress and the Buddhist cave paintings at Dambulla. From there we head south into the hilly tea plantation region, visiting Matale’s spice gardens, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, where we stay in a heritage bungalow. After trekking to the spectacular lookout at World’s End, we take a nature walk through a beautiful forested area and then hop aboard a train for the spectacular journey to Ella, which offers awesome views down to the south coast. We enjoy time on the beach before heading back toward Colombo for our flight home.
NegomboYour trip starts today with your arrival in Wattala, situated about 15 minutes drive from Bandaranaike International Airport (the country's only international airport). No activities are planned fpor today, although a pre-departure meeting takes place this evening at the hotel. Please also bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the meeting. Afterwards we have the opportunity to go out for an optional group dinner. Visiting Colombo Depending on the time of day you can get a taxi from Negombo to the capital, Colombo (should you wish to check it out), for about US$50 and it takes about an hour each way. However, at ‘rush hour’ times (early morning and late afternoon) the roads in and out of Colombo become extremely congested and it can take hours to get anywhere. Colombo has a few points of interest but we have chosen Negombo as our starting point because of its proximity to the airport and easy accessibility. Consider spending an extra night at the end of your trip should you wish to explore Colombo.
Pinnawela - Mihintale - AnuradhapuraAfter breakfast we proceed to Anuradhapura. Along the way we visit the famous elephant sanctuary at Pinnawela, home to 60-odd elephants who were orphaned, abandoned or injured by poachers. It’s a moving experience and visiting this place enables us to support a worthy project. The next stop is Mihintale – the birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism. The walk up 1840 granite steps (no kidding) is rewarded by awesome views and Buddhist monuments of great significance. We spend the evening in the town of Anuradhapura. (B)
AnuaradhapuraWe enjoy insights into Sri Lanka’s history on this action packed day. In the morning we explore the ancient city of Anuradhapura, built in the 3rd century BC and regarded as the most important of the ancient cities. It is home to a sacred bo or bodhi tree, grown from a cutting of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. It is supposedly the oldest living tree in documented history. Nearby we find the remnants of the Brazen Palace, the enormous Ruwanveliseya Dagoba, the seated Samadhi Buddha and the remains of various temples and palaces that bear testament to the proud and imaginative people of this ancient kingdom. Next, we check out the extraordinary Sigiriya (Lion Rock) rock fortress. King Kassapa, who had killed his father and feared retribution, built this virtually impregnable fortress in 471AD. It’s a challenging walk to the terrace, which sits beneath enormous carved lion paws (remnants of the lion façade that once protruded from the edifice) and a further walk to the summit offers great views, as we explore the ponds and structures that cover the top of the rock. The fascinating 1500-year-old frescoes are remarkably well preserved. (B)
PolonnaruwaLet’s hire some bikes and explore this second ancient city! Built after the decline of Anuradhapura, this medieval capital is well preserved and allows great insights into the lives led by its inhabitants over a thousand years ago. The unique irrigation complex, known as the Sea of Parakrama, and the enormous man-made reservoir are fascinating, as are the many buildings many adorned by carved faces and Buddha images. In the evening there is the option (time permitting) of a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park. Home to elephants, leopards, macaques, sambar deer and many species of the birds, it is a favourite haunt of wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Allow about US$35 (depending on how many people are keen) if you’re interested in joining a game drive. (B)
Dambulla Cave Temples - Spice Garden - KandyWe check out the well-known Dambulla Cave Temples first thing in the morning. A series of five caves are home to some fascinating rock art and many Buddha statues and are well worth a visit. From there we travel to Kandy, via the Matale Spice Garden, where many of Sri Lanka’s world-famous spices are grown. Kandy is a charming town and we spend two nights here and visit the Temple of the Tooth, where we witness the daily Thewawa ceremony. The ‘tooth’ in question is said to have been snatched from Buddha’s funeral pyre in 543BC. In the evening we enjoy a Sri Lankan cultural show. (Please ensure that you wear long pants or a long dress when visiting the temple, out of respect to the local community.) The following day we take a tour around Kandy, visiting a few of the highlights including the world-class botanical gardens and the local market. There is also plenty of free time to explore this pretty town on your own. (2B)
Tea Plantation - Nuwara EliyaWe travel from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, known as 'Little England' because of its British-influenced cottages and mansions. Overlooking pretty valleys with beautiful mountains forming a backdrop, it is a beautiful spot to spend a day or two and offers respite from the heat in hotter months. We spend the night in a rest house, with our own cook who will prepare for us some Sri Lankan delicacies – feel free to help out! (B)
World’s End - Belihul Oya - EllaWe rise early, and take a packed lunch to the Horton Plains Nature Reserve. Set on a 2,000-metre-high plateau and overlooked by some of the highest peaks in Sri Lanka, it is a beautiful spot. We take a guided walk through the forest and grassland to ‘World’s End’. Options are a 9 km or 22 km walk - you may need walking shoes ). If you are not keen to participate, you can proceed to the next hotel by the vehicle. World’s End offers a mind-blowing view from the 328-metre precipice to the Indian Ocean - over 50 kilometres away (keep your fingers crossed for a clear day though!). We spend the night in a rest house in the pretty hill region of Belihul Oya. The rest house is a great place to spend the night and it sits next to a small stream that rushes down from the Horton Plains. Why not take a refreshing dip in the rock pool? The following day, we take a nature walk to make the most of the awesome views, then continue on to Haputale, where a scenic train trip takes us to Ella. Ella is a small town with awesome views over the hills towards the coast. (2B, L)
AhangamaAfter several days of cooler temperatures in the high altitude of the hills, we descend toward the south coast and its amazing beaches. Travelling along the coast, we past small seaside villages and sweeping bays before arriving at the funky beach town ahangama. We chose this spot for its great beach, good vibe and proximity to Galle. On Day 11 we can laze on the beach, head down the road to check out the famous stilt fishermen or visit Galle – a fascinating historic city with much to see. (2B)
ColomboIn the morning we head back to Colombo and arrive around lunchtime. The afternoon is free to explore this busy and chaotic city. Galle Face Green contains vestiges of Dutch and British colonial influences and the historic Galle Face Hotel is a great place to enjoy a drink on the terrace and look out over the ocean. In the evening, why not enjoy a final meal with new friends? (B)
ColomboOur trip ends today after breakfast. If you wish to stay on in Colombo, please pre-book your post-tour accommodation before you commence your travels. (B)
Itinerary VariationWhile the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Whether you’re taking in man’s greatest works at places like Petra or Angkor Wat, experiencing grand set-pieces like the Trans-Mongolian Railway or trying your hand at regional specialities like tango in Buenos Aires, getting to grips with local cultures is what travel’s all about. A few tips from a local guide and a sense of adventure are pretty much all you need. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get the lowdown on high Tibet among Lhasa’s magisterial temples; follow up Delhi’s eye-popping bustle with a fix of its fiery food; and mix manic markets and Incan masterpieces in Peru.
This is a fairly active trip, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. We will be riding bikes, climbing lots of stairs to monuments (see for instance Day 2), so if the weather is hot it can be pretty tiring.
• Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour leader throughlout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
• Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): ancient city of Anuradhapura; Dambulla Cave Temples; and Matale Spice Garden.
• Walks to Mihintale – the birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism, Sigiriya (Lion Rock) rock fortress, and to 'World’s End’ in Horton Plains Nature Reserve.
• Bike ride around the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
• Visit to the elephant sanctuary at Pinnawela.
• Two nights in Kandy including a visit to the Temple of the Tooth to witness the daily Thewawa ceremony.
• A night in a rest house in Nuwara Eliya, with our own cook preparing Sri Lankan delicacies.
• A night in a rest house in Belihul Oya with access to a rock pool and a nature walk.
• Time to relax on the beaches of Unawatuna and free time to explore Colombo.
• Train from Haputale to Ella Ella.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, airport/departure taxes, local payments, visas, pre or post tour accommodation, all other meals, optional tours sightseeing or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature, laundry and flights unless specified. Some places that we visit charge additional fees if you are entering with a camera or camcorder - your city guide will advise on these and they can be paid for locally.
12 breakfasts, 1 lunch
12 nights Hotels/guesthouses
Single room supplementMost of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.
Bus,TrainThe itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and The Imaginative Traveller.
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Imaginative Traveller & Gecko's Adventures This trip is operated by our partner company, Gecko's Adventures. Gecko's is an Australia based company with more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a code shared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Gecko's travellers on your trip.
Last updated: 19/10/2011