Inside Sri Lanka
Wildlife, beaches, meditation, tea and luxurious hand-picked retreats
Inside Sri Lanka
About your trip
Dramatic landscapes, fragrant cuisine, pristine beaches and exotic wildlife. Sound like your perfect adventure combination? Ours too.
From ancient cities to tropical beaches and the misty hills of Tea Country, Sri Lanka is an island perfectly set up for immersive group adventures – and on this 12-day Flash Pack escape you’ll really get the inside view.
Whether it’s seafood beach BBQs by candlelight, releasing baby turtles or sleeping in an ancient fort, nothing you experience on this trip will feel off-the-shelf. Instead of joining the crowds at Sigiriya Rock Fortress, for example, your group will scale the neighboring Pidurangala Rock for sunset tea – which is equally as beautiful and far more fun. To top it all off, your experience in Sri Lanka will be elevated by stays in some beautiful hotels: we’re talking rooftop pools, fancy spas, cocktails by starlight and idyllic lagoons. Ready? Sri Lanka awaits.
- Max 14 travelers per group
- Exclusively for people in their 30s & 40s
- All activities mentioned on the itinerary
- 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 9 dinners
- Stay in hand-picked 3 - 5 star hotels
- We offset 0.56 tCO2e (carbon) per person on this trip
- Tips for your Pack Leader & driver
- Private minibus & train
- Arrival airport transfer
- Accommodation in twin rooms
- Experienced Pack Leader with you throughout the trip
Flashpackers are required to produce proof of COVID-19 vaccination 30 days before departure OR proof of a negative test within 72 hours of their adventure starting. Flashpackers must also provide evidence that they have purchased travel insurance for the duration of their adventure. Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.
Day 01 A tropical welcome
Welcome to Sri Lanka. It’s hard to imagine a more stunning start to a trip, as you’re whisked by private transfer from the airport to Jetwing Lagoon – one of the country’s finest boutique hotels with the largest pool on the western coastline. Settle into poolside living here, with views of yachts and catamarans out on Negombo Lagoon, as your fellow Flashpackers arrive. In the early evening, you’ll gather by a frangipani tree for a passion fruit cocktail and welcome briefing from your guide. Then it’s time to head out to a local restaurant in the laid-back fishing port of Negombo – and your very first taste of homegrown Sri Lankan cuisine.
Day 02 Sunset atop Pidurangala Rock
You’ll stop by Negombo fish market today, to learn all about the catch of the day from the friendly fishing community over huge trays of freshly-caught crabs and calamari. Later, you’ll transfer to your hotel on the shores of peaceful Lake Kandalama. Surrounded by lush jungle, it’s a great spot for birdwatching and immersing yourself in nature. Your next stop is nearby Pidurangala: an ancient rock formation that’s less touristy than neighboring Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The climb to the top is also more challenging – but nothing you can’t handle with Flash Pack teamwork. After a summit scramble (watch out for monkeys), soak in a sunset view over tea, with Sigiriya cast in a golden glow.
Day 03 The temples of Polonnaruwa by bicycle
Today you’ll head to Polonnaruwa, an ancient city of 12th-century temples and palace ruins, where you’ll hop aboard bikes for an alternative view of this medieval kingdom. Then it’s onto a farmer’s house for lunch. With chickens roaming around and mango trees overflowing with fruit, this is a great local experience. Watch on as the farmer whips up fresh, flavor-packed curries, with women making bread nearby and perhaps coconuts foraged for coconut sambol. Rest back at Amaya Lake ahead of a very special experience this evening. All we’ll say for now is that it involves immersive dining with live music, lantern light and colorful sarongs.
Day 04 A private spice plantation & Kandy
Today, you’ll travel inwards to a private spice plantation, where a spice connoisseur will explain how fragrant spices are grown and used for cooking/medical purposes. It’s a rare experience, and the treats just keep coming as we travel onwards to the sacred city of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage City. You have a lovely hotel with pool in this home-place of the Temple of the Tooth Relic. In the evening, gather for a meal at a quaint local restaurant before enjoying a walk around this buzzing city.
Day 05 Meditate with a master
Today you’ll enjoy an early breakfast before being taken to meet a yoga and meditation master at their home on the outskirts of Kandy. Surrounded by a picturesque landscaped garden, your host will talk deeply and beautifully about Buddhism and what it means to him, before moving on to yoga and all of its benefits. You’ll be taken through a private yoga session and put into practice the deep breathing techniques your guide has taught you. After a spiritual morning, you’ll meet Chami, a local Kandyan artist and your inside guide to the delights of Sri Lankan cooking. You’ll accompany Chami to the local market first, travelling in Tuk Tuks with a shopping list of vegetables and spices to buy. Then you’ll work as teams to conjure up a curry feast.
Day 06 A spectacular train ride
A Sri Lankan train trip is a bucket-list moment; and today you’ll experience it first-hand. You’ll board a four-hour train from Kandy to Nanuoya, traveling third class for a local experience with spectacular jungle views. Your group’s first stop is Nuwara Eliya, an elegant city in the tea country hills of central Sri Lanka. Have lunch at a local restaurant and wander around the charming streets and colonial-era cottages of a place dubbed “Little England”. Then, travel further into tea country to your tranquil lodgings at a boutique resort and spa. Upon arrival at your unique abode, surrounded by rolling hills and plantations, you’ll receive the ritual Hindu Tilak mark on your forehead. Then, once settled in, it’ll be time to relax around the cerulean pool overlooking the misty landscapes.
Day 07 Learn the art of tea-making
Today is a special one. Having taken a leisurely breakfast, you’ll immerse yourself in the precise art of tea-making. You’ll explore a tea plantation, watching the Tamil tea pickers at work before learning the technique and plucking some leaves yourself. You’ll then carry the leaves you’ve picked back to the factory, where the factory manager will guide you through the process of weighing, withering, rolling, fermenting and drying. Finally, you’ll be given a box of this handcrafted tea to take home, which you’ll appreciate all the more for your efforts. Tetley this isn’t. After lunch, you’ll have some time to relax. Feeling refreshed? A beautiful hike from your hotel will lead you right to the foot of a crashing waterfall.
Day 08 Journey to the Indian Ocean
Today you can put your feet up as we travel some hours south to Yala National Park. You’ll stop en route on the Colombo-Badulla highway to marvel at the mighty Diyaluma Falls, tumbling 220 meters down a rocky escarpment. You’ll also stop to see a train passing over the dramatic Nine Arches Bridge – a man-made masterpiece close to the town of Ella. Finally arriving at your five-star hotel, on the brink of Yala National Park, you’ll have a blissful couple of hours to unwind. Take a refreshing dip in the 75-meter pool or book in for a massage at the Balinese-inspired spa before dinner overlooking the ocean. Get an early night tonight ahead of your early-morning game drive.
Day 09 Leopard spotting at Yala
You’ll make a super-early start today to beat the crowds at Yala National Park, home to elephants, crocodiles, aquatic birds – and the highest population density of leopards worldwide. Spotting these elusive creatures on a morning game drive is a pinch-me moment; keep your eyes peeled for them and other wildlife (elephants, bears) in the wilderness. You’ll hit the hotel pool before moving into the beautiful old trading port of Galle, with lunch along the way. In the afternoon, you’ll arrive at The Heritage Galle Fort and explore the 300-year-old UNESCO World Heritage setting. Overlooking the Indian Ocean, Galle city is packed with art galleries, grand colonial-Dutch mansions and a thriving craft beer scene: the evening is yours to enjoy.
Day 10 16th-century forts & beach time
You’ll have a bit more time to explore Galle this morning, before driving up the coast to the chilled beach area of Kosgoda. This will be the final stop of your Sri Lanka trip and it’s well worth the wait. Known for its sea turtle conservation project and stunning palm-fringed beach with dreamy sunsets, you’ll be staying in five-star luxury just steps from the sand. Make the most of this idyllic setting for the rest of the day: you can stretch out by the sea or the hotel pool or unfurl at the on-site spa. Come evening, head to the hotel’s rooftop lounge and relax with a sundowner to the sound of lapping waves.
Day 11 Baby turtles & a candlelit dinner
More beach life beckons today: enjoy a long, leisurely breakfast at the hotel followed by free time to laze around and soak up the rays in your last full day in paradise. In the evening, you’ll gather for a very special visit to Kosgoda’s Turtle Hatchery & Conservation Project. Discover how volunteers take care of these endangered marine creatures, then volunteer yourself – as you and your Flash Pack group release baby turtles into the ocean. There is one more treat to come, as we drive over to a nearby beach for a private farewell dinner. Tuck into Sri Lankan seafood platters in the glow of a candlelit beach BBQ, with live DJ music. A worthy end to a sensational trip.
Day 12 Until next time, Sri Lanka
There’s time for one last breakfast spread at the hotel before your group goes its separate ways. It’s been an adventure, that’s for sure. Wherever life takes you next, we know you’ll fly out of Sri Lanka fuelled by new friendships, great food and a lifetime of memories.
OUR FAVORITE HOTELS
Here's a taste of the hotels we sometimes use on this adventure. The hotels you'll stay in for your departure will be shared with you one month before you go.
From its stunning beach views to a huge pool overlooking the Indian Ocean and a spa with ancient healing treatments, this hotel is all about luxury beachside living. Rooms come with sea views, private balconies, rain showers and pampering toiletries.
Nestled amidst sand dunes and spectacular coastal scrub, this eco-conscious boutique hotel is an idyllic place to relax after wildlife spotting in nearby Yala National Park. Facilities include a 75-meter pool and open-air lounge-bar overlooking the ocean.
Jetwing Lagoon, Negombo
An architectural masterpiece designed by Geoffrey Bawa, this chic Ayurveda spa resort offers the largest pool on the western coastline, a range of ancient healing therapies and an enviable position on a skinny peninsula between the ocean and Negombo Lagoon.
- Which airport do I need to fly in and out of? Plus airport code
Fly into and out of Colombo International Airport (CMB).
- What time should my flight arrive (so I arrive in time for the welcome drinks)?
Before 3pm ideally. The welcome meeting and dinner will be from 5:30pm onwards starting at the hotel, which is located approximately 30 minutes away from the airport.
- What time should my flight depart on the last day?
There are no activities planned for the last day, however, your last hotel in Kosgoda is located around two hours away from Colombo where the airport is. Therefore, we advise booking flights past 2pm to account for travel time. We also advise you to arrive three hours before your flight home, so please take this into account.
- Are airport transfers included?
Yes, we offer an arrival transfer which is private to Flash Pack. Sometimes this means waiting in the airport for a short while until other flights have arrived so you can make your own way to the first hotel if you wish.
We also include group transfers back to the airport on your last day depending on flight times. This is because your last hotel in Kosgoda, is located around two hours away from Colombo where the airport is, and so it would be hard to organize these transfers yourself. However, if you wish to relax at the hotel a little longer, it is up to you to book a private transfer back to the airport or for your onward journey. Your Pack Leader can help you book your transfers the night before if needed.
- How much should I budget per day for extras?
8,000 LKR, the equivalent of 30 GBP / 40 USD per day.
- What fitness levels do I need for this trip?
We recommend having a read-through of the itinerary above, and getting in touch if you have specific questions on fitness. Overall, the trip is relatively relaxed so no level of fitness is needed. However, there is a good amount of walking (at your own pace) and a climb up Pidurangula rock on Day 2 so good, worn-in walking shoes or trainers are advised. When climbing Pidurangala, the last 800 meters will be challenging as there are no fixed steps and so you have to navigate around the rocks, which is really fun.
- When's the best time to go? What is the weather like?
November to March are usually the best months to go weather-wise, however because of this they can get quite crowded, so we also recommend going in the shoulder seasons on either side. November to March sees pleasant temperatures ranging between 80-90ºF (27-32ºC). April, July, and August are the hottest months, with temperatures elevating to 97ºF (36ºC).
May and June are monsoon periods so best to avoid if possible. September and October are inter-monsoon periods, so can still be a great time to travel as it is much quieter, just with a few rain showers.
- Are the Guides / Coach drivers and local suppliers fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine?
All our staff including the Pack Leaders, coach drivers, local suppliers, airport representatives, and the regional experts are fully vaccinated, further, we always make sure to adhere to the safety measurements and maintain quality safety standards.
As per the current local health protocols you need to wear a mask, avoid crowds and maintain social distancing.
- What should I pack?
Your Sri Lankan adventure will involve a variety of activities, so you’ll need to pack a range of clothes. Generally, we recommend bringing light and breathable tops and shorts that will keep you cool in the humid climate, but some warmer layers may be required in the hills of central Sri Lanka as it can get cool, especially at night. You will also need to bring a light waterproof with you as it can rain all year round.
It’s important to pack some modest clothes that cover your shoulders and knees for when you visit Sri Lanka’s magnificent temples. Large colorful scarves and sarongs are popular for temple visits and they can easily be bought locally.
What you pack is personal to you and our list is certainly not exhaustive. If you have any questions about what to pack for your trip to Sri Lanka, please get in touch with one of our friendly Trip Experts.
- Large backpack or suitcase – it’s up to you whether you bring a backpack or a suitcase, but either way, a soft-sided bag is best for packing into transfer vehicles.
- Day bag – this will need to be big enough to fit your daily essentials, such as water and your camera.
- Lightweight tops – t-shirts are great for day-to-day wear, but we also recommend bringing lightweight long-sleeved tops to keep insects off of your skin.
- Activewear – breathable and lightweight materials will be perfect for the more energetic activities on this adventure.
- Sunhat/sunglasses – the sun is likely to be very strong during the day, so protecting yourself with sunglasses and a sunhat is vital.
- Light waterproof jacket/poncho – it can rain at any time of the year in the highlands of Sri Lanka, so a poncho is recommended.
- Jumper/sweater – you may want a light jumper/sweater for any cooler evenings and for rooms with strong air-conditioning.
- Modest clothes – you’ll need to make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered during temple visits. Long trousers, long skirts and sarongs all work well. You may also be required to take your shoes off, so you might want to have a pair of socks in your bag to avoid bare feet.
- Linen trousers – always handy for keeping the sun off of your legs and for covering your legs during temple visits.
- Swimwear – you’ll have plenty of chances to go for a swim in hotel pools and the sea.
- Evening outfit – what you wear in the evenings is up to you, but you may want some nicer clothes for meals and drinks.
- Hiking shoes/trainers – you’ll need comfortable, worn-in hiking shoes suitable for climbing up Pidurangala rock.
- Day shoes – for walking around cities, we recommend closed and comfortable shoes.
- Sandals/flip-flops – it’s a good idea to bring a comfortable pair of shoes for relaxing in at hotels.
- Evening shoes – you might want some shoes to wear out in the cities in the evenings.
- Electricals and accessories – phone, camera, chargers, etc
- Plug socket adapter – plugs in Sri Lanka usually either have three round prongs (type D) or three square prongs (type G). Bringing an extension cable will allow you to charge multiple devices with one adapter.
- Book or music – for transfers and any relaxed evenings, you might want to bring a book or some music.
- Eye mask and earplugs – if you’re a light sleeper, you may feel more comfortable bringing these as a precaution.
- Pool towel – hotels will provide bath towels, but you might want to bring a towel for going swimming. Travel towels work well and pack down very small to save space.
- Hand fan – it can get very hot and humid, so a fan can be a handy addition to your bag.
- Any personal medication you require
- Personal toiletries – toothbrush, deodorant, razors, hairbrush, etc
- Shampoo and conditioner – most hotels will provide these, but we recommend bringing your own because small plastic bottles are not environmentally friendly.
- Anti-bacterial gel
- Insect repellant
- Lip balm with SPF
- High SPF factor suncream
- What are the drive times like?
This is a trip for travellers that enjoy a road trip. The total drive time is around 25 hours and some of the mountain roads are winding, so we don’t advise joining if you suffer badly with motion sickness or any other ailment that extensive travel can make worse. We use a comfortable vehicle, complete with Bluetooth through which you can connect your Flash Pack Spotify playlist, but there are some long drives, like from from Mandaram Nuwara to Yala, for example. We do break up the drives by stopping off at points of interest or to have authentic experiences, such as visiting a local craft village.
What Flashpackers say
"Flash Pack as a whole have changed and enriched my life for the better by taking me to amazing places, where I made friends from all over the world, with memories to last a lifetime."
"I had an unforgettable trip to Sri Lanka with Flash Pack. Met a great group of co-travelers and had the time of my life."
"The tour itinerary was great, so many bucket list items fit into 11 days, but what takes this tour from great to phenomenal is the local guide, and staff who are with you everyday."
"The hotels were great and most importantly the group was amazing! Very like-minded people and we all bonded instantly."
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