Sri Lanka: Wild Family Adventure

12 Days Starting in Negombo and ending in Colombo

Visiting: Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka

Tour operator:

Exodus

Tour code:

FIA

Group size:

8 - 18

Physical rating:

Moderate

Age range:

9-16

Trip Styles:

Adventure Tours

Interests:

Cultural

From:
$2850
$2772 Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$78

NB: Prices correct on 18-May-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

Explore Sri Lanka, where enchanting wildlife, ancient ruins and mystical landscapes make for an unforgettable family trip. This activity-packed adventure uncovers the country’s many treasures: we climb the ancient rock fortress at Sigiriya, spot elephants on safari and raft down the Kelani Ganga river. And that’s just the start. We also take a train ride through the tea hills, enjoy an authentic cooking class, and visit the Elephant Transit Home to learn about their vital conservation work. Finally, we head to the palm-fringed beaches of the south coast, an idyllic end to a trip that will be talked about for years to come.

Highlights

  • Climb to the top of the ancient city fortress of Sigiriya

  • Cycle through rural villages and lush paddy fields

  • See elephants in their natural habitat

  • Raft down the Kelani Ganga river

  • Take a train ride through the tea hills

  • Spend two days relaxing on palm-fringed tropical beaches

Itinerary

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Day 1 : Start In Negombo

Accommodation Name: Amagi Aria Hotel (or similar)

Meals Included: dinner

The adventure begins at our start hotel, which is approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Bandaranaike Airport in Colombo. This evening, we have a welcome briefing and group dinner at the hotel – a great chance to meet your travel companions. The tour leader will advise on the time and location.



Accommodation: Amagi Aria Hotel (or similar)

Day 2 : Drive To Sigiriya; Afternoon Village Cycle To Stretch And Enjoy Fresh Air After The Long Drive

Accommodation Name: Sigiriya Village Hotel (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast

We leave the coast and head to Sigiriya, the journey takes around 3hr 30min but there are breaks en route. Passing the impressive Elephant Rock in Kurunegala city, which rises 1,037ft (315m) from the plains, we stop at a nearby lake for a comfort break and to stretch our legs before continuing to our hotel.



In the afternoon, we hop on bikes for a gentle cycle through paddy fields, quiet villages and landscapes enveloped by the grandeur of the Sigiriya fortress. With the help of our tour leader, we can interact with local people along the way and learn about their daily routines and lifestyles.



If you prefer not to cycle, there’s no need to miss out. You can hire a tuk tuk to follow the group and explore the same sites by motor. The tuk tuk ride can be arranged through your leader for 4,000 rupees (US$13) per tuk tuk.



Accommodation: Sigiriya Village Hotel (or similar)

Day 3 : Climb To The Top Of The Sigiriya Rock Fortress; Game Drive To Spot Elephants

Accommodation Name: Sigiriya Village Hotel (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast

After an early breakfast, we climb up the rock fortress at Sigiriya, a giant ruin-topped granite peak high above the jungle. Now a UNESCO site, it was once used as a haven from invaders; crowning the flat summit are the extensive remains of the fifth-century Summer Palace, from where we can enjoy breath-taking views of the countryside.



The route to the top is via a series of steep steps and gangways. The descent is much easier and takes a lot less time.



Please make sure your children are always accompanied as there are some steep drops. It is, of course, optional and you may not wish to climb all the way to the top of the fortress itself.



This afternoon, we enjoy a family-favourite activity: spotting elephants on safari! To give us the best experience, we visit one of three parks: Minneriya National Park, Kaudulla National Park or Hurulu Eco Park. The park we visit is determined by our local knowledge of where the elephants are congregating, giving us the best chance of spotting big herds!



Accommodation: Sigiriya Village Hotel (or similar)

Day 4 : Drive To Kandy; Visit The Temple Of The Tooth

Accommodation Name: Hotel Suisse (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast

This morning, we leave Sigiriya and journey to Kandy, the former capital of Sri Lanka. The drive takes approximately three hours with a comfort stop along the way.



Kandy is a picturesque hill town on a lake and it’s home to the Temple of the Tooth, which holds the most important Buddhist relic in Sri Lanka: the Tooth of Buddha. This was taken from his funeral pyre in 543 BCE and only found its way to Sri Lanka in the fourth century CE.



The rest of the day is free to relax and cool off in the hotel pool. Alternatively, you could wander around Kandy, visit the Royal Botanical gardens, or take a taxi up to the surrounding hills for wonderful views over the town.



Accommodation: Hotel Suisse (or similar)

Day 5 : Relaxed Start To The Day Before Driving To Kitulgala And The Kelani Ganga River

Accommodation Name: Kitulgala Rest House (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast, dinner

It’s a slow start this morning, so enjoy a lie-in or spend time by the pool. Later, we travel down to Kitulgala (approximately three hours’ drive). Nestled amid forested hills, Kitulgala is bordered by the Kelani Ganga, a river that provides a stunning backdrop and white-water rafting opportunities (which we take full advantage of tomorrow!).



Today, we may have time for an optional walk to Makul Ella waterfall in Makandawa, a lesser-known rainforest with a diverse range of plants and animals (some of the resident birds can only be found here). To get there, you can either cross the river using a bridge or take a hand-pulled ferry. The tour leader can advise on the best route and will accompany you on the walk. Please note, there is an entrance fee of 500 rupees (US$1.50) per person for the rainforest, payable locally.



Accommodation: Kitulgala Rest House (or similar)

Day 6 : Morning White-Water Rafting; Afternoon, Drive And Train To Ella

Accommodation Name: Heaven’s Edge Hotel (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast, lunch

After breakfast, we enjoy an exhilarating white-water rafting session. Navigate the scenic Kelani Ganga, conquering five major rapids and four minor ones – a thrilling adventure tailored for adrenaline enthusiasts. The experience includes safety gear, modern rafts, and a comprehensive briefing from our expert white-water rafting instructors. You have the flexibility to choose a distance ranging from 1.25mi-3mi (2km-5km); however, there may be some limitations on the route for children based on height/weight. Once we’ve dried off and packed up, we drive (approximately one hour) to Watawala, where we board the train to Ella.



The journey takes approximately four hours. It’s not fast but it’ll be a ride to remember! During the journey, we enjoy a picnic lunch and breath-taking views of the remote hill country – you may want to bring additional snacks to keep you going along the way.



Arriving into Ella station, we are transferred to the hotel and then have free time to explore this little hill town. It comes to life in the evenings with shops and restaurants to suit all tastes.



Accommodation: Heaven’s Edge Hotel (or similar)

Day 7 : Mid-Day Cooking Class; Afternoon Visit Nine Arch Bridge And Hike Up Mini Adam’S Peak

Accommodation Name: Heaven’s Edge Hotel (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast, lunch

We have an easy start to the day, leaving the hotel late morning to visit a local village house for a Sri Lankan cooking class and lunch. Our host talks us through traditional cooking methods and shows us how to create authentic Sri Lankan food, while also discussing the family’s values and culture. We then feast on our creations! An excellent chance to sample new and unique flavours.



This afternoon, we visit the Nine Arch Bridge, an iconic construction also known as the Bridge in the Sky. The walk down to the tracks is approximately 30-minutes and if we’re lucky, we may even see a train roll over the arches and through the tunnel.  Following that, we head to the trailhead for Mini Adam’s Peak (also known as Little Adam’s Peak) – named after the holy mountain Adam’s Peak (locally called Sripada) because of their similar shapes.



Our Mini Adam’s Peak route is a relatively easy hike (approximately 1.2mi/2km) but the final ascent includes about 10 to 15 minutes of steps – save energy for that! At the top, we can enjoy 360-degree views with clouds rolling in; on a clear day, you can almost see to the south coast.



The visit to Mini Adam's Peak and Nine Arch Bridge will fill the afternoon – we return to Ella just before sunset; however, if you wish to skip the hike, you can relax at the hotel, enjoying the pool or just a little downtime.



For adrenaline fanatics, Ella also has the Flying Ravana, the first-ever zip line in Sri Lanka, located amid the tea estates. The two-wire line stretches for more than 1,640ft (500m), slides at 50mph (80kph) and offers a bird’s-eye view over the beautiful hills. This is an optional activity, close to Mini Adam's Peak which can be arranged through your tour leader for an additional cost (details in the Trip Notes).



Accommodation: Heaven’s Edge Hotel (or similar)

Day 8 : Transfer To The Coastal Village Of Ahangama Via The Elephant Transit Home

Accommodation Name: Insight Resort (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast, lunch

This morning, we leave for the coast through Ella Gap, where we have spectacular views of the coastal plain nearly 3,280ft (1,000m) below. Almost the entire southern part of the island should be in view and, on a particularly clear day, the shimmering silver of the ocean is visible.



On the way, we stop off for lunch at a local restaurant before heading on to visit the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe. Located on the outskirts of Udawalawe National Park, the transit home is run by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and supported by the Born Free Foundation. It provides a safe environment for orphaned elephants, who are typically cared for at the home until they reach four or five years old, at which point they are released back into the wild. Our visit coincides with feeding time, where the juveniles are given bottled milk by park rangers and the noisy spectacle can be witnessed from the viewing platform.



From Udawalawe, we continue to Ahangama (approximately two hours’ drive), a small fishing village on the south coast with golden sandy beaches. Arriving early evening, we can relax for a few days on the beach, sinking toes into the sand and taking dips in the pool!



Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)

Day 9 - 10 : Visit To Weligama For Optional Surf Lesson And Snorkelling

Accommodation Name: Insight Resort (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast

Over the next two days, we have free time with a chance to do any one of numerous optional activities, which our tour leader can help arrange.



On Day 9, the tour leader will arrange a round-trip transfer to Weligama Beach, a great spot for surf lessons or snorkelling with plenty of beachfront bars and restaurants.



From November to April, there is also the opportunity to go whale watching but as public boats are not recommended, the more of you keen to go, the lower the cost for a private boat hire.



On Day 10, the tour leader will arrange a beach barbecue dinner (included) for the group. The perfect setting to gather and enjoy sundowner drinks and delicious Sri Lankan barbecue bites.



Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)

Day 11 : Drive To Colombo Via Galle

Accommodation Name: Fairway Colombo (or similar)

Meals Included: breakfast

We set off today and drive along the coastal road to the historic port of Galle, which dates to the 17th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.



After sightseeing and souvenir shopping in Pedler Street, we continued along the expressway to Colombo, reaching our hotel in the late afternoon. As our trip comes to a close, take a moment to savour the sights, sounds and flavours you and your family have experienced.



Accommodation: Fairway Colombo (or similar)

Day 12 : End Colombo

Meals Included: breakfast

The adventure ends today and it’s time to begin your return journey home. It’s been a culture-packed adventure, so if you’re craving a little R&R, speak to your sales representative about joining our post-trip getaway to the Maldives. Alternatively, if you’d like to explore Sri Lanka a little more, you can book an extension to your stay at the beach or in Colombo.

What's Included

  • All breakfasts and three lunches & three dinners

  • All accommodation

  • All transport

  • Monuments and attractions entrance fees as detailed in the itinerary

  • Village Cycling

  • Afternoon Game Drive

  • White water rafting

  • Local Cooking Class (one of the included lunches)

  • Tour leader throughout

What's Not Included

  • Travel insurance

  • Single accommodation (available on request)

  • Visas or vaccinations

Food

All breakfasts and three lunches and three dinners are included.



We suggest allowing about 7,000 rupees (US$22) per day per adult for lunch and dinner (less if you are sharing dishes as a family). You can eat out very cheaply in Sri Lanka, but if you mainly eat at the more expensive restaurants, you will spend more than the suggested amount.



Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the island’s heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Despite (or perhaps because of) these influences, Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to as simply rice and curry. This is the staple dish in most restaurants and is usually a serving of rice accompanied by assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as various pickles, sambols (condiments), and a handful of tiny poppadum – all using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic.



Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note, the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent in Sri Lanka. For example, wheat- or dairy-free options outside of hotels are limited. Please be prepared for this, you may need to bring these from home. Spicier food can be avoided easily and lots of the hotels will serve Western options alongside traditional food.



Mineral water is provided in large containers throughout the trip so please bring a bottle with you to refill. Please note, restaurant service can be quite slow.

Accommodation

On this family adventure, we spend 11 nights in comfortable hotels and one night in a simple lodge in Kitulgala. Most of the properties are in quiet village areas with limited local restaurants and shops, so many of your evening meals are in the hotels, typically buffets with a mix of international and local cuisines. Where possible, the tour leader can recommend local places to eat but often these will be small establishments where the service is relaxed. The normal accommodations used on this trip can be found on the day-to-day itinerary; however, below are a few of the notable places we stay.



Sigiriya: Sigiriya Village Hotel (nights 2-3)







The hotel at Sigiriya is surrounded by lush jungle and commands stunning views of the magnificent rock fortress. It is styled in a traditional village theme and has a swimming pool and wellness centre for rest and relaxation after days out sightseeing.



Kitulgala: Kithulgala Rest House (night 5)







Kithulgala Rest House is a historic property on the Kelani River with a tropical backdrop. Rest houses have a long history in Sri Lanka, dating to the 18th century when they were introduced to host European traders and families. The guestrooms at our rest house are simply decorated with dark-wood furniture, clean, comfortable facilities, and private bathrooms. The area is also home to a bird sanctuary, where you can see a variety of rare birds.



Ahangama: Insight Resort (nights 8-10)







Insight Resort is right on the beach, where it is possible to swim in the sea most of the time. Spacious rooms offer sea views and the quiet fishing village is an easy walk for those wishing to explore the local community. We also offer the opportunity for a day trip to Weligama just down the coast, which is a great spot for snorkelling and well-known as a top surf spot for beginners. On the evening of Day 10, the hotel hosts a beach barbecue exclusively for our group, with sundowners and local cuisine cooked over the grill.



Worth knowing



Almost all the hotels have swimming pools except the one-night stay in Kitulgala and the last night in Colombo.

Triple rooms are available on request but may be limited in some locations.

While we do our best to ensure families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family trips occur during peak season and we sometimes have little control over where you are put.

You can add a beach extension to your trip by staying on at Insight Resort in Ahangama for your chosen number of nights departing from the main group on Day 11 of the itinerary.

Check out our Q&As

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    If you wish to make any changes to your booking, particularly if you need to alter any flights booked through us, please let us know as soon as possible. There is a booking or flight amendment fee of £40 per change and flight amendments often incur extra airline costs depending on the changes to be made and if the ticket has been issued or not.

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Exodus has been trading since 1974

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Your final joining instructions and flight details, if booked with us, will then be sent out 2 to 3 weeks before departure. If you would like a hard copy posted, or if you require these any earlier, please contact the customer operations team. We advise that if you are booking connecting travel before receiving these, please ensure you leave plenty of time.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Travellers are welcome to opt to share a room with a tour member of the same gender for no additional charge. If you'd like your own room, we can request a single supplement so that you will have your own room throughout.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    You are welcome to meet the group after the tour has departed however there is no reduction in rate for joining a tour after the departure date.

Reviews of this operator

Gergana Racheva  

Very helpful and prompt service

06-Jan-2023

Very helpful and prompt service. I called to check for an already booked trip and once we sorted this, the agent was ready to help me with another booking as well. He actually waited for me to book my flight tickets, answered all my questions, informed me of all my options. Exodus is a tour company I am using regularly due to the quality of their trips, ease of booking and helpfulness of their customer service team

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Tim Hardy  

Stunning walking. Walking the Amalfi Coast

04-Nov-2021

This trip takes you through the most beautiful parts of the Mediterranean walking with a guide and also discovering the wonders of Pompeii and Vesuvius. The hotel had a nice feel as family run, spotless and comfortable rooms, we were well looked after for breakfasts and dinner each day, and the barmen fixed some mean cocktails for us.!

Paul Green  

It's amazing what you can do in a week! Cycling the Dalmatian Coast.

08-Oct-2021

This holiday was extremely enjoyable. The itinerary is well planned and the route takes you to a variety of destinations. Not having been to Croatia before I didn't know there were so many beautiful small islands and I loved the ferry and catarmaran rides. The coastal route we took was dramatic and the World Heritage sites in Split and Dubrovnik very interesting and worth visiting. The Adriatic Sea was warm, blue and inviting, good for swimming even in October. The hotels we stayed in varied in size from medium to large. I particularly liked the one just outside Dubrovnik as I had a sea view. Tourists were plentiful in Split and Dubrovnik but in the other places we stayed there was an end of season feel and it was quiet on the roads and in the resorts. The food was good and our guide was always able to recommend a nice restaurant for our evening meal. The weather in October was good for cycling - not hot, partly cloudy most days and one day it rained!

Mrs Y Morrison  

Fabulous company and trip

06-Jan-2023

We went overland from Cape Town to Zimbabwe through Botswana and Namibia. What a fantastic trip. Our first time with Exodus although we have travelled extensively around the world. We would highly recommend this company for such a brilliant trip - we got everything and more all at a good price. Thanks to everyone involved. We are looking at our next trip!

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John Edwards (Google Reviewer)  

I went cycling in Albania...

19-Aug-2023

I went cycling in Albania with exodus as my first holiday with them. Such a well organised and wonderful experience where I met multiple fellow travellers who have been advocates of them for many years. You can't argue with happy repeat customers and I'm planning my next adventure with them soon

Rob Burridge (Google Reviewer)  

I'v just come back from...

17-Jul-2022

I'v just come back from an amazing Wildlife & Wilderness trip in Botswana and I highly recommend Exodus Travels. Our guide Brian, was extremely knowledgeable on both the wildlife and history of Botswana and neighbouring countries. The other three staff, Abbis, Chief & Mr T, who accompanied us through out our 2 week trip, put in the hard work and made sure our camp was always prepared and that we we're well fed and looked after. The tour took us to some beautiful places and we saw some amazing wildlife, and on several occasions this was due to Brian's knowledge of the area and wildlife behaviour. Exodus have been very quick to respond to any queries I had, and the whole experience ran smoothly. I was also pleased to hear that during lockdown they provided staff with food packages 👍. I'd normally go on self organised trips, however, with this trip, the tour and guide Brian took us to places not possible otherwise and showed us things that we would'v missed out on. All of which were the highlights of the tour.

Daphne Partridge (Google Reviewer)  

After 14 roup adventure holidays...

26-Nov-2023

After 14 roup adventure holidays with Exofus we would not hesitate to recommend them as an excitingholiday company. They take you off the beaten track but offer great support and expertise :)

Alison Payton (Google Reviewer)  

I've done 8 trips in...

17-May-2023

I've done 8 trips in the last 14 years with Exodus, and have been rewarded with a 10% discount on all future bookings. I feel very confident that I'll receive pleasant, efficient service, and have the unusual holiday experience that I'm looking for each time. I've trekked to the top of snow-capped peaks, wild-camped in the desert, seen amazing spectacles of nature, visited 4 capital cities in a week, and learned about local culture and experienced local hospitality in a way that I simply wouldn't on a conventional holiday. The quality of the accommodation and guides can vary, but this is mainly down to cultural differences and things that Exodus can't control. I've only ever complained once, my complaint was taken seriously, and I was sent a discount voucher - you can't say fairer than that. I remain a loyal customer.

Jacquelyn Moore (Google Reviewer)  

Food came quickly. Staff very...

07-Mar-2024

Food came quickly. Staff very friendly and polite . However the chef or person preparing the food did not seem to read the menu! If it says a meal should come with vegetables, you should not have to ask for them. They served shepherds pie with garlic bread! The munchies ice cream sundae said it should come in a glass with a flake but came in a little bowl with just a few munchies! When asking the staff were happy to replace and correct but customer should get what they order and what menu says first time round!!

johanna leonor (Google Reviewer)  

If you like to be...

07-Sep-2023

If you like to be mistreated Exodus is perfect for you. If you enjoy terrible choices for hotels and pseudo restaurants Exodus is perfect for you. Careless about their clients and loveless about their propositions. Exodus has been a dissatisfaction and disappointment about every dealing i and my group have had with him. Especially a man called Simone who just cares about the money he can get from you couldn’t care less about service.

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  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Exodus allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform exodus, 43 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Exodus requires a minimum deposit of 25% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 90 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of exodus charges.

    Up to 70 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

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