Essential Sri Lanka


Essential Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka, land of rolling tea plantations, wild cinnamon groves, heaps of elephants and amazing surf breaks. And really incredible food. Chow on curry everywhere you go, check out where Buddha’s tooth is said to live in Kandy, spot elephants and leopards in Yala and have a whale of a time at the beach in Unawatuna.

Trip Name
Essential Sri Lanka
Last Updated
  • Hike to the spectacular Ella Gap in Sri Lanka's Hill Country
  • Practice sticking out your little finger and delicately holding a teacup with your thumb and forefinger. Why? To prep for a delicious cuppa in the tea-heartland of Kandy.
  • Go on safari in search of leopards and elephants in Yala National Park.
  • Three days (and nights) on Unawatuna's golden beach can cure almost all of life’s problems.


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 is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. 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 only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be 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 leader know you are interested 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 leaders 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
Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Your adventure begins in the town of Negombo, located close to the international airport. You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5.30 pm. Those arriving early can get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and perhaps feasting on fresh seafood. The beautiful surrounding countryside is best explored on a bicycle, which you can rent with help from the hotel reception.
Day 2 - Kandy
From here, begin your journey by private vehicle to Kandy and visit a spice garden on the way, which should take around three hours in total (120 kilometres). On arrival to Kandy, there's an optional visit to the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa), the most important shrine in the country. The Royal Botanical Garden is just ten minutes away from your accommodation and there is access to the swimming pool of Kandyan Residencies (next door). Your evening is free to do as you wish.
Day 3 - Kandy
Today is free to explore Kandy. Perhaps organise a day trip to the famous palace of Sigiriya and Dambulla Caves Temple - discovering this magnificent cave complex. The World Heritage listed cave monastery has been a pilgrimage site for 22 centuries and for good reason. If you're feeling a little worse for wear in the afternoon after all those steps, why not try an Ayurvedic massage to relax those weary muscles?
Day 4 - Ella
This morning, say goodbye to Kandy as you travel for around six hours to Ella. On arrival to Ella, check in to your accommodation. Once you've dropped off your luggage, perhaps head out for a visit to a local tea factory.
Day 5 - Ella
Venture out on an included half day trek to Ella Gap this morning. We'll stop in a small mountain village for a spicy curry lunch and a pot of Ceylon tea. This is an awesome way of getting to know the area and a great opportunity to meet local people.
Day 6 - Tissamaharama
Head out of Ella in a private vehicle for around three hours to your resort on the edge of Tissa Lake. Once settled, you'll head out on a jeep safari where you'll come across the area's native wildlife such as elephants, leopards and aquatic birds. This is an amazing experience that you'll never forget. After your day in nature soak in the view from the lovely hotel pool overlooking Lake Tissa.
Day 7 - Unawatuna
Journey west in a private vehicle for around three and a half hours to Unawatuna. This fantastic stretch of beach has plenty of local restaurants and bars to relax in. There are no included activities today, so you'll have plenty of free time to explore Unawatuna and its surrounds.
Day 8 - Unawatuna
Life’s a beach, so spend the day on one. With a book and a cocktail and a bottle of sunscreen. Possibly head out early on an optional whale watching tour or take a day trip to visit the Galle Royal Dutch Fort. Walk around the fort for free or 'bikesplore' the lesser known areas of the city on an Urban Adventure. You'll be staying at a guest house on the beach tonight, so make use of the many beach restaurants and bars that line the shore.
Day 9 - Unawatuna
You have another free day beside the beach today. Take a towel and relax on the beach, sleep in, work on your tan or grab a cocktail under the shade of a restaurant. This is the perfect way to chill out and enjoy the Sri Lankan coast. Otherwise maybe today is the day to hop in a tuk-tuk and discover some of the other amazing beaches on Sri Lanka's southern coast.
Day 10 - Colombo
Leave Unawatuna behind and travel on to Colombo (approximately four hours). Stop by some of the city's main sights on a bus tour including Independence Square, Parliament, and past the National Museum, finishing with a shopping opportunity for a good cause at the Barefoot Fair trade Store. Here you can find a collection of handicrafts from around the country and support small cottage industries. If you are lucky enough to be in Colombo on a Saturday, visit Good Market, a local market full of stalls showcasing social enterprises and responsible businesses. Tonight there's an optional final group dinner to celebrate your journey together.
Day 11 - Colombo
Your trip comes to an end today, with no activities planned. Checkout time at the hotel is 12 noon.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
17-11-201927-11-2019AUD $ 1,258-
01-12-201911-12-2019AUD $ 1,305-
22-12-201901-01-2020AUD $ 1,580-
29-12-201908-01-2020AUD $ 1,550-
05-01-202015-01-2020AUD $ 1,485-
19-01-202029-01-2020AUD $ 1,485-
16-02-202026-02-2020AUD $ 1,485-
15-03-202025-03-2020AUD $ 1,430-
22-03-202001-04-2020AUD $ 1,430-
05-04-202015-04-2020AUD $ 1,430-
12-04-202022-04-2020AUD $ 1,430-
19-04-202029-04-2020AUD $ 1,430-
17-05-202027-05-2020AUD $ 1,375-
07-06-202017-06-2020AUD $ 1,375-
28-06-202008-07-2020AUD $ 1,375-
05-07-202015-07-2020AUD $ 1,375-
19-07-202029-07-2020AUD $ 1,375-
26-07-202005-08-2020AUD $ 1,375-
09-08-202019-08-2020AUD $ 1,375-
16-08-202026-08-2020AUD $ 1,375-
06-09-202016-09-2020AUD $ 1,375-
20-09-202030-09-2020AUD $ 1,375-
04-10-202014-10-2020AUD $ 1,287-
18-10-202028-10-2020AUD $ 1,287-
25-10-202004-11-2020AUD $ 1,287-
15-11-202025-11-2020AUD $ 1,287-
22-11-202002-12-2020AUD $ 1,287-
29-11-202009-12-2020AUD $ 1,336-
13-12-202023-12-2020AUD $ 1,336-
20-12-202030-12-2020AUD $ 1,336-
22-12-202001-01-2021AUD $ 1,336-
27-12-202006-01-2021AUD $ 1,364-


Hotel (10 nights)


Private vehicle,Train,Public Bus