Circle Sri Lanka Trip Notes

  • Trip code : IHPSH
  • Trip length : 15 Days
  • Trip starts in : Negombo, Sri Lanka
  • Trip ends in : Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Maximum group size : 12
  • Ages : Min 15
  • Meals : 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Accommodation : Guesthouse (2 nts), Hotel (12 nts)
  • Transport : Auto rickshaw, Bicycle, Bus, Private Bus, Train




Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka.

You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5.30PM. If your flight arrives after this time we recommend that you consider booking a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you can ensure you are able to attend this meeting. We will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader. Your group leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. Your leader will leave details for your late arrival on where and when to meet.

Check-in time at our joining point hotel is after 12 pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.

Those who arrive early can get into the spirit of the seaside of Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and feasting on fresh seafood. Negombo town is a historically interesting and busy commercial centre. The surrounding countryside with its network of canals is a fascinating slice of Sri Lankan rural life and is best explored by bicycle - the hotel can help you arrange the hire of a bike.

Accommodation: Golden Star Beach Hotel or similar (1 nt)



Our private vehicle takes us to Anuradhapura, via Chilaw a small town with fantastic local fish markets (approx. 7hrs).

Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka's most extensive and important ancient city. Ruled by Sinhalese kings for over 2,500 years as the country's first capital, the city rose to its glittering greatness over 2,200 years ago and fell to invading southern Indians several times over the next 1,000 years. The set of ruins is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We start our guided bicycle tour of the ancient city at the central and sacred old Bo Tree, a spiritual reminder of the beginnings of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and the inspiration for Anuradhapura's great buildings. The Bo tree was grown from a cutting of the original tree in Bodhgaya under which Buddha gained enlightenment. The ruins themselves are spread over quite an area, some in woodland settings and others appearing park-like with columns and old ponds dotted about.

There are several museums with a range of interesting and amusing exhibits and there is the possibility of an optional visit to Mihintale, the sacred birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism.

Accommodation: Ceylon Lodge or similar (2 nts)



We travel to Polonnaruwa by local bus (approx. 4.5hrs), which was the capital of the Indian Chola Dynasty after Anuradhapura was conquered in the late 10th Century. The ruins are close together and are generally in much better repair than those at Anuradhapura.

Cycling amid the remains of 1000-year-old Polonnaruwa is the best way to get around. We cycle and visit more beautiful palaces, temples and stupas, but the highlights have to be the massive stone Buddhas - the 14m high graceful granite carved reclining Buddha is a famous Sri Lankan image and represents the zenith of Sinhalese rock carving. We visit the well laid-out museum, which has scale models of many of the buildings to show how they would have existed in their time.

Accommodation: Siyance Holiday Inn or similar (1 nt)



From Polonnaruwa we travel to Dambulla by local bus (approx. 2.5hrs). On the way we visit the Dambulla Cave Temple. Located high up in a stone cliff face, these temples house some 150 Buddha images in the five caves.

In the afternoon there is an option to visit to a nearby wildlife reserve and with some luck spot wild elephants.

Sigiriya (approx. 20mins drive from Dambulla) is an impressive fortress built as a royal citadel on top of a 200m high rock mass, and early on the morning of day 6 we take the steep climb to the top for fantastic views. The water gardens have been restored to their former 5th century glory and we will follow a spiral staircase to see the famous 5th century frescoes.

Accommodation: Gimanhala Transit Hotel or similar (1 nt)



On the way to Kandy (approx. 4hrs) we stop at one of the region's spice and herb gardens to see how they're grown. Situated among the hills, Kandy is Sri Lanka's culture capital and the country's second-largest city. At 500m high, the city has a pleasant climate and is surrounded by lush green countryside.

The city has a wonderful atmosphere with a picturesque lake, old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants. Here we see an evening performance of the famed Kandyan dancers and fire-walkers, before a evening visit to the octagonal Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic) where we may also experience drumming and chanting rituals of the white-clad pilgrims who come to worship at Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist site. In Kandy there is also a National Museum, monasteries, scenic walks around town and the botanical gardens are among the best in Asia.

The next morning we visit a Tea Factory and take a guided tour to learn about the industry, manufacture and finally some tea tasting.

Accommodation: Senani Hotel or Similar (2 nts)



We make a stunning train journey into the highlands disembarking at Bandarawela (approx. 7hrs), where we are invited into a local home for a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets of traditional Sri Lankan food before enjoying the delicious meal.


In Bandarawela we stay in a simple but pleasant guesthouse located in a quiet part of town.


On day 9 we set off by local bus (approx. 45mins) to the starting point for our walk through picturesque tea plantations and small Tamil villages (approx 6.5hrs).


Tonight we stay in a comfortable local guesthosue.

On day 10 we set off for some more walking (approx. 4.5hrs) to explore more of the beautiful surrounds of Sri Lanka's Hill Country, enjoying the chance to meet the curious friendly children and tea pickers alike.

We stay overnight in Haputale in a guesthouse. On a clear day you can see the ocean from here!

The walks require good walking shoes as the 'track' is often just rocks under shrubs and if there has been rain it can get muddy. You do need to be fit because although the walk is not too demanding, it can be difficult walking on rough and unsteady ground. Our usual route is about 20kms total. If you do not feel that you are able to complete these walks you will be able to take an option to either stay in Bandarawela for an extra night, or if you dont wish to complete the second days walk to Haputale your group leader will be able to organise a transport alternative. These options would be at your own cost.

Accommodation: Srilak view Holiday Inn or similar (2 nts), Perpetual Guest Inn or similar (1 nt)



We set off south bound for the coast but en route we stop at the Uda Walawe National Park to experience feeding time for baby orphaned elephants. The aim of the organisation is to rehabilitate and protect both injured and orphaned elephants until they are fit and strong enough to be released to the wild - a very special stop and a worthy organisation to support.

Driving further along the beautiful Sri Lankan South Coast by private bus brings us to the beautiful beach of Mirissa (approx 7hrs). We base ourselves here for two days of serious relaxation, with our comfortable accommodation just meters from the water. The beach is a long curve of sand and has lovely calm clear waters for swimming - the sunsets are great too. This is a paradise that you won't want to leave!

Consider taking a bicycle ride or tuk tuk to nearby Weligama where colourful fishing boats should have just brought back their loads of fresh fish to sell along the shore of the sandy bay. You may also come across the local cottage industry of ladies making gorgeous lace products.

Accommodation: Paradise Beach Club or similar (2 nts)



We set off again by private bus further along the south coast, and on the way may be able to stop for a photo opportunity of the famous stilt fishermen casting their lines from their traditional poles

We come to the colonial port town of Galle (approx. 1hr), home to an impressive World Heritage-listed Dutch fort with extensive walls containing many interesting old buildings. In the evening we take a walk around the historical fort and watch the sunset from the ramparts.

The Portuguese, the Dutch and the British have all used the natural harbour as their port. Galle is now going through a major rejuvenation with many old properties being renovated and converted to boutique hotels and restaurants.

Please note: Galle and Mirissa were severely damaged by the December 2004 Tsunami. Project work still continues to repair the lives and homes of thousands of people in the area.

In Galle we stay inside the fort itself, in a 250 year old Dutch Villa that even has a courtyard garden, that has been converted into a guesthouse. Although facilities are basic the atmosphere is warm with great hospitality offered by the local family who will prepare us dinner tonight.

Accommodation: Fort Fifty Inn or similar (1 nt)



Leaving Galle, we take a famous train ride catching our final glimpses of the beautiful Sri Lankan coastline before we roll into Colombo (approx. 3hrs).

Upon arrival we set off for a walk via the bustling Petta bazaar, independence square, parliament, past the national museum, before finishing at a shopping opportunity for a good cause at the Barefoot fair trade store where you can find a collection of handicrafts from around the area supporting small cottage industries.

There are no activities planned for day 15 and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time from the hotel is at 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. Additional accommodation is available at the hotel and is best booked at the time of booking your Intrepid trip.

Accommodation: Mirage Hotel or similar (1 nt)


  • Anuradhapura - Ancient city cycling tour
  • Bandarawela - Cooking demonstration & local meal
  • Colombo - City orienation tour
  • Dambulla - Cave temples
  • Galle - Fort Walking Tour
  • Haputale - Tea factory tour
  • Haputale - Tea Plantations
  • Hill Country & Local Villages trek
  • Kandy - Cultural dance performance
  • Kandy - Spice & Herb Garden visit
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Polonnaruwa - Cycling tour
  • Sigiriya - Rock Fortress
  • Uda Walawe National Park - Elephant Orphanage visit


  • Mihintale - LKR500
  • Minneriya National Park entry - LKR3250
  • Minneriya National Park jeep safari - LKR6000
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens - LKR1230
  • Kandy - National Museum - LKR250
  • Mirissa - Bike hire (per day) - LKR300


International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.



For those of you who dream of experiencing a location in depth and comfort but are mindful of budget. Ideal for those that enjoy the quirkier side of a destination without roughing it. Join inquisitive travellers of all ages for an fun, informative experience.

Style Facts

  • Comfortable tourist class hotels
  • Family Homestays
  • Private and local transport
  • More inclusions than Basic tours
  • Fully trained and experienced leaders


Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.

This tour is operated by our partners Intrepid.


A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.

The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.

Please click here for more information


All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.


Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping.


You must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information


Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.

As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it 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.

We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.

For further information about responsible travel please click here.

other-important-informationBILINGUAL TRIPS:

On selected departures the tour leader also speaks German, although English will remain the main language spoken on this trip.

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.


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