sri lanka group
Small group adventure in Sri Lanka
Hoppers and Spice

Described by Marco Polo as 'the jade of the Indian ocean', the tiny palm-fringed island of Sri Lanka is packed full of culture and animals and has a lush green interior.

This trip is one of our very occasional special set departures for a group of like-minded people. Whether it's looking at a leopard lazing in a tree, exploring UNESCO world heritage sites, meeting children on a tea estate or the thrill of being surrounded by hundreds of spinner dolphins, you'll make memories to cherish and tales to tell on this unique tour. This trip is for those who are open minded to new experiences and other cultures.

If you're travelling on your own, there is no single supplement. However, unlike many other adventure companies, this not dependent on you sharing a room, you'll have your own room throughout the tour! Maximum group size is 11, though we often close a departure at 7 people months in advance; early booking is advised.

Day 1, Saturday Fly from London Heathrow to Colombo on an overnight flight with Sri Lankan Airlines. It is also possible to book with connecting flights from Ireland, book with flights from other UK airports (usually with Emirates or Qatar Airways), or book excluding flights.

Day 2 Sunday meal/s on plane, dinner (meals included in the tour price)
Early afternoon landing at Colombo airport (approx 1pm). Then we'll drive south towards Galle. To make good time, we'll take the 'expressway' which cuts through the country's lush green interior, although we're never that far from the sea on this island. You'll have a bit of time to settle into your room at our boutique inn in the hills outside Galle and have a dip in the pool, or take a walk around the local area – you may see some birds or monkeys in the trees. This evening, we will have a welcome dinner, our first taste of Sri Lankan food, an array of curries.

"An amazing variety of locations and adventures"
– Tim Harber, Norwich

Day 3 Monday breakfast, lunch
This morning, we'll explore Galle with a local guide. This historic city with a magnificent harbour has a well-preserved fort, built during the time of Dutch rule. We'll enter through the original gate, before walking around the ramparts to the famous lighthouse, as well as stopping by a quaint historical mansion which houses everything from 18th century tea cups to modern day gems. We'll then try our hand at making hoppers, these 'pancakes' are delicious with accompanying spices.

Day 4 Tuesday breakfast, dinner
Onto our private air-conditioned vehicle we will have until the end of the tour. Today is a drive eastwards to Yala National Park, by the south east coast. It is near Tissamaharama, an ancient capital of Lanka and the large lake was part of an irrigation system built by the Sinhalese kings in the 3rd century BC. We'll arrive at our accommodation (small hotel with beautiful gardens). You will have a bit of time to settle in and enjoy a dip in the pool.

"Amazing holiday which includes so much."
– Carla Bower, London

Day 5 Wednesday breakfast, lunch, dinner
Up early this morning to head off with a packed breakfast to Yala National Park. We'll explore the park in our private jeep/s; it is absolutely teeming with animals. We'll definitely see deer, peacocks, crocodiles and more. We usually see elephants and leopard. We'll be having a picnic lunch in Yala (by the stream or on the beach) between our safaris. Then it's back for a shower and change before dinner at a local restaurant Tell Tale likes to support.

Day 6 Thursday breakfast
Early start and morning visit to Bundala, a wetlands reserve for birds.
Time at leisure to recover from the early starts! In the later afternoon, we'll head to Kataragama, a town which attracts people from all of Sri Lanka's faiths (Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim – all religious holidays are celebrated in the country!). We'll have a walk around the various places of worship, and observe the evening's 'puja' at the temple.

Day 7 Friday breakfast, lunch
A leisurely start this morning, with time to pack up. We'll then drive to the southern edge of 'hill country', the coolest part of Sri Lanka (popular with the British in colonial days). The Uva province gives some of our favourite tea, the high-lying plantations producing a more delicate tea rather than the strong 'Ceylon tea'. Truly stunning views! We will stop at Rawana, one of over 130 spectacular waterfalls in hill country. Then we'll drive on to the colourful market town of Bandarawela where we will have lunch at a friend's house and enjoy her garden. Watch out for the wildlife, like the odd porcupine, and the visiting monkeys! Then onto our hotel or tea estate bungalows.

Day 8 Saturday breakfast, lunch
Today we'll have a walk around the countryside with our local guide to see people at work on their smallholdings. Exotic fare for Sri Lanka such as cauliflower and carrots are grown in hill country, though their methods are rather different! We will also walk around a tea plantation and take a train journey on the line built by the British at the end of the 19th century to Demodara. Those that want to can climb Little Adam's Peak. This will be a gentle climb, not like its bigger namesake Adam's Peak (which is in another part of Sri Lanka).

"Good Tell Tale style! I always enjoy getting under the surface, instead of floating over the top as on standard tourist trips."
- Jacky Storey, Devon
(Third trip with Tell Tale Travel)

Day 9 Sunday breakfast, dinner
Today we're heading off to the ancient city of Kandy, home to the Sinhalese kings. This will be a long drive, though the scenery driving through hill country is simply stunning and we'll have a couple of stops en route. Settle into a converted heritage home outside Kandy (or may be a hotel), there is a pool here so you relax after the journey.

Day 10 Monday breakfast
A day sightseeing in Kandy. We'll go for a 'puja' at the famous temple on the lake which houses one of Buddha's teeth. This is a very important relic and Buddhist pilgrims make their way here from all over the world. We'll also visit the world-famous Peradeniya gardens. They are vast and have been used as a location for films such as 'Bridge over the River Kwai' (though the actual river is in Thailand) and Indiana Jones. This evening, there is an opportunity to go out in Kandy town.

Day 11 Tuesday breakfast
Today, we're heading off north to the Sigiriya/Dambulla area. On the way, we will drive through Matale, known for making batik. You can have the afternoon at leisure at our hotel in the area. There is also the option to visit the Dambulla cave temple, the best preserved cave complex on the island, dating back 22 centuries.

Day 12 Wednesday breakfast, dinner
An early start for Sigiriya, the 'Lion Rock', a UNESCO world heritage site. In ancient times, it was home to a royal palace, now gone but the layout remains. The climb to the top is rather hairy, but is achievable for most people and rewarding. You can read about Sigiriya in our handy article.

Then it's back to the hotel for a quick shower and change and we'll drive to the western coast for the last part of the trip. In days gone by, the sea in these parts was famed for golden Ceylon pearls, hunted for by free divers. Now it's home to some of Sri Lanka's best fish, as well as dolphins and migratory whales. The scenery is quite different to the rest of Sri Lanka.

Once we're on the Kalpitiya peninsular, we'll head to a charming resort. Enjoy the nature, or have a swim in the lovely swimming pool.

Day 13 Thursday breakfast, dinner
Early morning boat trip for the chance of seeing dolphins. The sight of hundreds of spinner dolphins is truly breathtaking. Keep an eye on the ones on the edges of the pod/s, they like to live up to their name.
(There is also a chance to see migratory whales, however, it's best not to get hopes up of seeing whales).

Rest of day at leisure.

Day 14 Friday breakfast, dinner
Day at leisure. Enjoy wildlife spotting around or enjoy the pool. Optional extra excursion to the ancient city of Anuradhaphura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 15 Saturday breakfast
Morning transfer to Colombo airport. Fly back to the UK with Sri Lankan Airlines, arriving back same day between 7 and 8pm UK time.

This special 15-day tour includes direct flights between Heathrow and Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines, accommodation in your own private room throughout the tour, sightseeing and other activities/excursions, guides, meals as stated and transport in a private air-conditioned vehicle. It is also possible to travel from Ireland, including connecting flights from Dublin or Cork to London Heathrow. We can also arrange separate flights from other UK airports. From other countries, please ask us for advice or book excluding flights.

Upcoming Departures:
7-21 November 2020 £1,775 excluding flights or from £2,325 including flights.

Book with deposit. Tell Tale Travel has a no surcharges guarantee i.e. your deposit will protect you from any price rises.
No Single Supplement

Please allow £75-100 for government/site entrance fees, payable on the day at the site office (in local currency). If you opt out of any excursions, you don't need to pay the entrance fee. If you take the excursion to Anuradhaphura, allow an extra approx £25.

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beach in Sri Lanka
leopard in Sri Lanka
sigiriya gail kirkham
bats in Sri Lanka
tea pickers in Sri Lanka
orchid Sri Lanka
dolphins in Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka
Photo credits: 1 Marjorie Socha; 4 Jill Forbes; 5 Gail Kirkham; 2, 6, 7 & 8 Fred Barrington (click here for more of Fred's photos).