Essential Sri Lanka

Essential Sri Lanka

From $ 1,045 AUD


Take Sri Lanka, boil it like the tea leaves the country’s famous for and strain out all the best stuff. On this 11-day trip through natural paradise, small villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you’ll wander past barracuda at the Negombo Fish Market, search for elephants in Yala National Park, feast on spicy curry prepared by a local in Ella, hike through lush mountains and get horizontal on the beach in Unawatuna – Sri Lanka’s idyllic beach spot, perfect for lounging and sipping cocktails. With a local leader who knows where to find all the best teahouses and a group of likeminded travellers, this one’s gotta be an adventure of a lifetime!

Trip Name
Essential Sri Lanka
Last Updated
  • Cruise around in a 4WD on a wildlife safari, searching for elephants, lone leopards and aquatic birdlife in Yala National Park.
  • Learn the benefits of washing down a spicy curry with piping-hot Ceylon tea during lunch in a lush mountain village near Ella in a local home.
  • Kick back on the warm sands of paradisical palm-lined Unawatuna, with plenty of free time to soak up the sun at the beach and the opportunity for an optional whale-watching tour.
  • Leave the imprint of your face on the train window as you stare out wide-eyed on a journey from Kandy to Ella – this scenic rail ride is basically a 6-hour nature documentary, there’s so much amazing scenery!
  • Enjoy super fun included activities mixed with plenty of free time to choose your own adventure – maybe use some of it to visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Sigiriya. These palace ruins sit atop a massive rock structure surrounded by gardens and are a must-see for any Sri Lanka visit.


ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It's important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, political unrest or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. Your group leader or local representative will keep you up to date with any such changes once your trip is underway. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance fees only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your group leader or local representative know you are interested at the Welcome Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and group leader or local representative are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Negombo
Ayubowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Your adventure kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight in Negombo. If you arrive early, you might like to stroll the seaside and witness some of the local fishing craft. Maybe explore the beautiful surrounding countryside on a bicycle, which you can rent from your hotel reception. Tonight, maybe head out with your fellow travellers for dinner and get to know each other over a couple of drinks. You’ll spend the night by the beach, near plenty of beach bars and pubs.
Day 2 - Dambulla
Head to the fish market in Negombo this morning – this can be quite hectic, but the variety of fish presented by the locals is a great insight into local culture. From here, you’ll make your way to Dambulla – the second-largest centre in the Matale District. A popular activity today is a visit to Sigiriya – an ancient rock fortress and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the palace ruins that sit on top of a massive 200-m-high rock (leftover lava plug from an extinct volcano) that’s surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens and reservoirs. If you decide to take this activity, you’ll want to bring your camera, the photo ops are endless! If you like, your leader can take you for dinner tonight to a local restaurant to taste some delicious local cuisine.
Day 3 - Kandy
This morning, you have the option to visit Dambulla Cave Temple (also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla) – a UNESCO World Heritage site of various temples built into five different caves under an overhanging rock. Explore the paintings, statues and wall murals of this fascinating place and then head to Kandy, making a stop at a local spice garden in Matale along the way. When you arrive in Kandy, enjoy a free afternoon. Maybe take up a cooking class and learn how to make some of the local cuisine you’ve now grown to love!
Day 4 - Kandy
If you’re looking to relax this morning, you might want to book an Ayurvedic massage to rejuvenate those weary muscles. Kandy is home to a picturesque lake, some great old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants, so there’s lots to see and do with your free day today. Once the capital under the last Sri Lankan king, this area managed to resist European control for hundreds of years, long after the coastal areas surrendered. Maybe walk through the town to take in the sites of Kandy, head to the Royal Botanical Gardens, visit the Temple of the Tooth or book a cultural dance performance.
Day 5 - Ella
This morning, say goodbye to Kandy and you hop on a train to Ella. This train trip is kind of famous, due to the gorgeous views along the way of lush, green scenery and surrounding mountains (so grab a window seat if you can!). It’s a long journey, but you can buy all sorts of yummy treats from the onboard sellers. When you arrive, maybe visit to local tea factory or go for a drink in one of the many bars. Tonight, your leader can help you with the best spots for nightlife – maybe grab a couple of pals and head to a local restaurant nearby that boasts live music and delicious eats.  
Day 6 - Ella
Today you’ll venture out on a half-day trek to Ella Gap. Get active and traverse the green mountainsides for some fresh air. Along the way, stop in at a small village for a spicy curry lunch at a local family home. Get to know your gracious hosts as you eat together and refresh with a steaming pot of Ceylon tea to wash it all down. This is the perfect opportunity to rub shoulders with the locals, learn about their lifestyle and swap stories. After the hike, the rest of the day is then free for you to explore on your own.
Day 7 - Tissamaharama
Head out of Ella this morning in a private vehicle to Tissamaharama. When you arrive, you'll head out on an exciting 4WD safari through Yala National Park, where you'll come across the area's native wildlife – look out for elephants, leopards and aquatic birds. Make sure you grab your camera and stay hydrated! Tonight, while you reflect on a super-fun day, why not go out with your travel buddies in search of some appa (hoppers), kottu roti and parippu (lentil curry).
Day 8 - Unawatuna
Journey west in a private vehicle this morning to Unawatuna – this stretch of beach has plenty of local restaurants and bars to relax in. Along the way, stop in Galle and head out on a walking tour with your local leader, maybe grabbing some lunch to refuel. After, arrive at your destination where you’ll have free time to explore Unawatuna and its surroundings at your own pace.
Day 9 - Unawatuna
Today is all about the beach! Grab a good book, order a cocktail and don’t forget the bottle of sunscreen – today is for rest, relaxation and reclining on the warm sands of Sri Lanka. If you like, you can even book an optional whale-watching tour or go 'bikesplore' the lesser-known areas of the city on two wheels. Make use of the many beach restaurants and bars that line the shore tonight after an epic sunset.
Day 10 - Colombo
Leave Unawatuna behind and make the journey to Galle, where you'll jump on a local train to Colombo. When you arrive in Sri Lanka's capital, head out on a city walk with your leader. On your way, visit local shops and do some sightseeing. After, maybe explore the collection of temples and churches that all live alongside each other – apart from the gorgeous architecture, this is also a great example of how different types of belief systems and places of worship can come together side by side, creating a sense of community and peace. Tonight is free, but your leader will suggest an optional group dinner for your final night together. After, why not head out in search of the perfect spot to toast to a trip well-travelled?
Day 11 - Colombo
Enjoy your last string hoppers and a super-black coffee for breakfast. With no further activities planned, your trip comes to an end this morning. If you’d like to stick around to explore more, just speak to your booking agent.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
14-07-202424-07-2024AUD $ 1,120-
18-08-202428-08-2024AUD $ 1,085-
15-09-202425-09-2024AUD $ 1,045-
22-09-202402-10-2024AUD $ 1,130-
13-10-202423-10-2024AUD $ 1,085-
03-11-202413-11-2024AUD $ 1,085-
17-11-202427-11-2024AUD $ 1,115-
24-11-202404-12-2024AUD $ 1,125-
08-12-202418-12-2024AUD $ 1,135-
22-12-202401-01-2025AUD $ 1,125-
29-12-202408-01-2025AUD $ 1,125-
05-01-202515-01-2025AUD $ 1,200-
12-01-202522-01-2025AUD $ 1,200-
19-01-202529-01-2025AUD $ 1,150-
26-01-202505-02-2025AUD $ 1,150-
02-02-202512-02-2025AUD $ 1,105-
09-02-202519-02-2025AUD $ 1,105-
16-02-202526-02-2025AUD $ 1,105-
23-02-202505-03-2025AUD $ 1,150-
02-03-202512-03-2025AUD $ 1,150-
09-03-202519-03-2025AUD $ 1,200-
23-03-202502-04-2025AUD $ 1,200-
06-04-202516-04-2025AUD $ 1,200-
20-04-202530-04-2025AUD $ 1,200-
11-05-202521-05-2025AUD $ 1,150-
25-05-202504-06-2025AUD $ 1,150-
08-06-202518-06-2025AUD $ 1,150-
22-06-202502-07-2025AUD $ 1,105-
29-06-202509-07-2025AUD $ 1,105-
06-07-202516-07-2025AUD $ 1,105-
13-07-202523-07-2025AUD $ 1,105-
27-07-202506-08-2025AUD $ 1,105-
10-08-202520-08-2025AUD $ 1,150-
24-08-202503-09-2025AUD $ 1,150-
07-09-202517-09-2025AUD $ 1,200-
21-09-202501-10-2025AUD $ 1,200-
28-09-202508-10-2025AUD $ 1,150-
19-10-202529-10-2025AUD $ 1,150-
02-11-202512-11-2025AUD $ 1,105-
09-11-202519-11-2025AUD $ 1,105-
16-11-202526-11-2025AUD $ 1,105-
23-11-202503-12-2025AUD $ 1,150-
30-11-202510-12-2025AUD $ 1,150-
07-12-202517-12-2025AUD $ 1,200-
14-12-202524-12-2025AUD $ 1,200-
21-12-202531-12-2025AUD $ 1,200-
28-12-202507-01-2026AUD $ 1,200-
04-01-202614-01-2026AUD $ 1,100-
25-01-202604-02-2026AUD $ 1,100-
08-02-202618-02-2026AUD $ 1,100-
22-02-202604-03-2026AUD $ 1,100-
08-03-202618-03-2026AUD $ 1,100-
22-03-202601-04-2026AUD $ 1,100-
05-04-202615-04-2026AUD $ 1,100-
19-04-202629-04-2026AUD $ 1,100-
21-06-202601-07-2026AUD $ 1,100-
12-07-202622-07-2026AUD $ 1,100-
09-08-202619-08-2026AUD $ 1,100-
06-09-202616-09-2026AUD $ 1,100-
20-09-202630-09-2026AUD $ 1,100-
18-10-202628-10-2026AUD $ 1,100-
15-11-202625-11-2026AUD $ 1,100-
06-12-202616-12-2026AUD $ 1,100-
20-12-202630-12-2026AUD $ 1,100-
27-12-202606-01-2027AUD $ 1,100-


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


Train,Private vehicle