Wonders of Sri Lanka

January 15-27, 2019 • 13 Days • $4790** – 5 SPOTS!

**Pricing with New Traveler Discount: $4490

2 DEPARTURES: We are offering 2 Departures of Sri Lanka in January and March of 2019. Check out the Sri Lanka – March 2019 Departure.

Sri Lanka is an island nation off the southern coast of India, blessed with an abundance of wildlife and home to an ancient civilization famous for its diversity.

**Traveler Rewards Program 2019: New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the Sri Lanka tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.

Taj Mahal, Pearl of India Optional Extension

January 27-February 2, 2019 • 7 Days • $2390

A short optional extension into colorful and fascinating northern India is available!

View Daily Itinerary

The name “Ceylon” is one from our childhood that brings up romantic images of tea plantations, herds of Asian elephants, verdant jungle vegetation, and pristine Indian Ocean beaches. It turns out there’s a lot more! Situated off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka is often called the “tear drop of India”, and the historic, cultural, and religious links to the subcontinent of India are everywhere apparent. Yet Sri Lanka’s identity is distinct and colorful, a fascinating mosaic of overlapping forces.

Here are a few of the many highlights:

  • Anuradhapura – an ancient sacred city dating back to the 3rd century BC, first abandoned, then reclaimed by the forest, and finally rediscovered during the age of Portuguese and British colonialism
  • Sigiriya – an archeological fortress dating back to the 3rd century BC, this ancient city is isolated high on Lion’s Rock and considered by many to be the #1 “don’t miss” site in Sri Lanka
  • Kandy – capital during much of the colonial era and gateway to the central highlands with their rubber and tea plantations.
  • Nuwara Eliya – home of traditional tea plantations in the central highlands
  • Yala National Park – where a game drive gives us a chance to see the elusive leopard (Sri Lanka has the highest concentration in the world), and some of the more than 200 bird species
  • Galle – with its impressive 17th century fort designed by Dutch colonists, today it’s known for its artist colony and Sri Lanka’s oldest lighthouse.

Taj Mahal, Pearl of India Optional Extension

We are excited about the opportunity to return to India! This is a culture that engages the senses in a powerful way, yet goes beyond the physical to challenge the mind and tug at the heart. India is a land that defies typical travel superlatives. Over 122 native languages are spoken throughout India. A host of ancient religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, trace their origins here. Poverty in the cities can be mind-numbing, yet the Indian middle class is one of the fastest growing in the world. This is a powerful place of dramatic diversity and fascinating contradictions — since we are so close to India when in Sri Lanka, we decided to offer a short optional Adventure into northern India.

Sri Lanka

Including:

  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first day
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • All land travel as outlined
  • 26 meals: All breakfasts, 6 lunches, 2 box lunches, and 6 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • All listed walks
  • Fees for walking credit (if IVV approved)
  • Cultural & historical expertise of national guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • All tipping for guides and coach drivers
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy; single rooms are available for an additional supplement of $790

Activities/Visits to:

  • Anuradhapura Ancient Capital
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Polonnaruwa Ancient Capital
  • Coconut Demonstration
  • Royal Botanical Gardens
  • Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
  • Horton Plains National Park
  • Pedro Tea Factory tour
  • Yala National Park with jeep safaris
  • Cinnamon Island boat ride
  • Colombo Museum
  • Old Colombo guided city walk

Optional Excursions:

  • Negombo Intro to Sri Lanka Walk – Day 1
  • 2nd jeep safari in Yala National Park – Day 10
  • Blue Whale & Dolphin Watching Cruise – Day 11

Taj Mahal Extension

Including:

  • Hotel to airport group transfer in Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Flight from Colombo to Delhi, India
  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • All land travel as outlined
  • 16 meals: All breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 6 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • All listed walks
  • Fees for walking credit (if IVV approved)
  • Cultural & historical expertise of national guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • All tipping for guides and coach drivers
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy; single rooms are available for an additional supplement of $290

Activities/Visits to:

  • Agra Fort
  • Taj Mahal in Agra
  • Jantar Mantar astronomical park in Jaipur
  • Special dinner with noble family in Jaipur
  • Boat ride on Pichola Lake in Udaipur
  • More cultural wows than we can list!

SRI LANKA MAP

iNDIA EXTENSION MAP

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Superior Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

Breakfasts included with a selection of lunches and dinners as denoted (BLD).

Airfare

Not Included. Official start and finish point is Colombo. Travelers continuing on the India Extension will finish in Udaipur.

Transportation

Included. We use full-size motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 45+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Walking Adventures Guide Dan FriesenDan Friesen has been guiding tours for over 20 years on all 7 continents. He has hiked the Great Wall of China, hobnobbed with penguins in Antarctica, felt the spray of Iguazu Falls in Brazil, yodeled from the heights of the Swiss Alps, and walked the ruins of majestic Machu Picchu. Dan will be supported by a national guide who will share cultural and historical insights, as well as a Walking Adventures assistant on this tour. He looks forward to exploring the Wonders of Sri Lanka with you!

Itinerary

Click on each day for more details.

Sri Lanka

Day 1-Jan 15: Arrive Negombo, Sri Lanka (D)

Negombo Intro to Sri Lanka Walk – 5 km, rated 1B (optional)

Travelers arrive today in Sri Lanka, teardrop of India, at the start of a 13-day exploration of this blessed island nation. As much as anyplace we’ve been, Sri Lanka exemplifies a rich and multi-textured blend of powerful history with a cornucopia of cultures and an eye-popping kaleidoscope of natural wonders.

Travelers who arrive a day early are invited to join us on a guided stimulating and colorful stroll through the historic center of Negombo, a fishing village known to colonial Western powers for its abundant and high quality cinnamon and for the lagoon that provided shelter for the booming east-west sea trade. Estimated price: $30 per person.

Our first group activity is a Welcome Orientation this evening followed by dinner together at our seaside hotel.

Day 2-Jan 16: Negombo – Anuradhapura (BL)

Anuradhapura Ancient City Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

We drive north this morning, winding through busy coastal towns and villages displaying the odd juxtaposition of religious architecture that will become familiar on our travels through Sri Lanka: Hindu shrines, Buddhist temples, Muslim mosques, and Catholic churches. We arrive in the ancient city of Anuradhapura in time for lunch, then strike out from our hotel to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to the development of irrigation and the resulting prolific rice culture, Anuradhapura was one of the most stable ancient political entities of South Asia. It was capital of the Sinhalese kingdom for over 1000 years, starting in the 4th century BC, and the heart of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. Our walk passes evocative temple ruins sitting side by side with stunningly renovated stupas like Thuparama, said to house the collar bone of the Buddha. Our favorite part of the walk is probably the Elephant Pond. Hidden away in an isolated part of the forest where few visitors venture, this massive water tank the size of six Olympic swimming pools provided water to a congregation of 5,000 Buddhist monks.

Day 3-Jan 17: Anuradhapura – Giratale (BL)

Sigiriya Lion Rock Walk – 3.5 km, rated 3C

We continue south this morning towards Sigiriya. En route, we go way off the beaten track, arriving in wagons pulled by landmasters (local tractors) at a local farm on the edge of the jungle. Lunch on the farm is a delicious spread cooked by our hosts, mostly with products grown on their prolific little farm. Elephants and peacocks are major pests to Sri Lankan farmers, and the farmer will show us government-issued firecrackers developed to scare off these rather odd Sri Lankan bedfellows. The afternoon highlight is an unforgettable hike to the top of Sigiriya, the Lion Rock. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built as a fortress palace by King Kasyapa in the 5th century, and is justly famous for its wall frescoes, water gardens, terraced gardens, and stupendous location!

Day 4-Jan 18: Activities from Giratale (BD)

Medieval Polonnaruwa Walk – 5 km, rated 1A
Coconut Canal Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

Today we visit Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura’s successor as the second great kingdom of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is blessed with several rivers, but no natural lakes. Sinhalese Buddhist kings of Polonnaruwa increased the focus on hydraulic engineering, and their irrigation system, with its massive tanks (reservoirs), was superior to that of Anuradhapura; many tanks are still in use today. The morning walk links together highlights of the medieval capital city of Polonnaruwa, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a break at our lovely hotel during the heat of the day, the afternoon walk begins with a cultural experience at a local home where Sri Lanka’s coconut culture is demonstrated for us. The walk continues through bucolic, rural countryside along a series of canals rich in birdlife.

Day 5-Jan 19: Giratale – Kandy (BL)

Sri Lankan Shangri-la Walk – 5 km, rated 3D

We press deeper into the island today, using mini-buses to navigate primitive roads into The Knuckles mountain range. The valley chosen for today’s walk is home to 200 families who have retained much of their traditional way of life. Trade is conducted mainly on a barter system, but rice is produced in abundance and sold on the “outside” for cash. It truly feels like a forgotten place, a place where time stands still, a Sri Lankan version of “Shangri-la”. Near the end of our walk, we lunch with a local family, enjoying once again local fair prepared from local produce. Leaving The Knuckles, we rendezvous with our full-size coach and continue to the mountain town of Kandy, where our gracious colonial-era hotel for the next two nights sits directly across from Kandy Lake.

Day 6-Jan 20: Activities in Kandy (BD)

Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens Walk – 4 km, rated 1A
Kandy Lake Walk – 3 km, rated 1A

After several full days exploring Sri Lanka’s intriguing and mythical past, and enjoying the verdant landscapes of its tropical climate, today’s pace is slower, and gives travelers opportunity to control their schedule. The morning activity is a relaxing walk through lovely Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden on the edge of town. En route back to the hotel an optional stop at a gem factory offers the chance to see how one of Sri Lanka’s most famous exports is mined and crafted. The afternoon is free to rest or explore the busy market area around our hotel. The Kandy Lake Walk, which begins and ends at our hotel, can easily be done at your leisure at any time today. This evening, following dinner, join us for a stroll to visit the nearby Temple of the Sacred Tooth, a busy place of worship venerated as the resting place of the sacred relic of the tooth of the Buddha.

Day 7-Jan 21: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya area (BLD)

Tea Fields of Ceylon Walk – 5 km, rated 2B

Our coach takes us south this morning into Sri Lanka’s highest mountains where 19th century British entrepreneurs started Ceylon’s (Sri Lanka’s) world famous tea plantations. Mile upon mile of rolling rows of tea plants offer some of the journey’s most picturesque panoramas. Our hotel for the next two nights is amongst these farms, and after lunch we strike out to explore the plantations on foot. Chances are good that we’ll encounter Tamil women tea pluckers, hardworking women who perform a function no machine can yet replicate. At the bidding of British planters, Tamil families emigrated from southern India, and the occupation of tea plucking has been the exclusive domain of these women and their descendents ever since.

Day 8-Jan 22: Activities in Nuwara Eliya area (BL)

World’s End Walk – 9 km, rated 3C

The central highlands of Sri Lanka are considered a biodiversity hotspot. The Knuckles area we visited a couple days ago has been combined with Horton Plains National Park in a protected area recognized by UNESCO for its biodiversity. Today’s nature walk winds through Horton Plains, headwaters for three major Sri Lankan rivers, and features the World’s End viewpoint and lovely Baker’s Falls. Following lunch back at the hotel, join us to visit a tea factory where we learn more about the many varied ways to process the tea plant, and the multitude of global tea markets adhering to a dizzying array of preferences. Later this afternoon, we have free time to explore the former British enclave of Nuwara Eliya. Stroll through Victoria Park, wander the colorful markets, or consider tea at one of the area’s elegant hotels.

Day 9-Jan 23: Nuwara Eliya – Kataragama (BL)

Our route through wild and dramatic mountain scenery descends into coastal lowland areas in southern Sri Lanka by early afternoon. Lunch and a rest at our hotel in Kataragama is the prelude to a late afternoon game drive in Yala National Park. Sri Lanka’s most famous national park is a good place to see elephants, crocodiles, spotted deer, a host of colorful birdlife, and possibly leopards! Yala is home to Panthera pardus kotiya, a majestic leopard endemic to Sri Lanka, and claims to have the highest concentration of leopards in the world. Leopards are among the shiest of the big cats, however, and sightings of wild life can never be guaranteed.

Day 10-Jan 24: Kataragama – Galle (BLD)

Sri Lanka Cinnamon Island Walk – 4 km, rated 1A

Wake up calls come early for travelers who wish to take advantage of a second opportunity to explore Yala on a morning game drive. Estimated price: $40 per person.

After a late breakfast back at the hotel, we follow the coastline towards the southernmost regions of the island. Another of Sri Lanka’s famous products is cinnamon, and southern Sri Lanka claims to produce the best cinnamon in the world. We board small boats at Lake Koggala, a freshwater lake now brackish due to damage from the monstrous 2004 tsunami, and stop to visit a family living on a small island in the lake. Here, the family demonstrates how cinnamon is transformed from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree to the fragrant powder that sits on supermarket shelves. From the island, our boats carry us to the far side of the lake where we disembark for an easy walk through mangrove forests and small farms along the lake. Features of this trail include a wide variety of flora and fauna along with tea farms, cinnamon trees, rice paddies, and just about any other tropical produce imaginable. Our home for the next two evenings is a lovely new hotel sitting amongst a stand of palm trees directly on the shores of the Indian Ocean!

Day 11-Jan 25: Activities in Galle (BD)

Historic Galle Walk – 5 km, rated 1B

Travelers have options this morning. Our walk in Galle winds through busy fruit and fish markets and into the Dutch-era fort that gives the town its colonial character. Founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century, expanded by the Dutch in the 18th century, and controlled by the British until the mid-20th century, Galle, as much as anyplace in Sri Lanka, is a visual, tangible reminder of European colonization. Though haunted by woes of colonialism’s past, charming cobblestone pedestrian lanes and picturesque seaward-facing fortress walls offer a pleasant present-day meander in which to contemplate the story of Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, travelers with a yen to connect with Blue whales, the biggest mammal on the planet, will find no better place to do so. Deep ocean trenches off the coast of Sri Lanka are frequented by Blue whales and chances of seeing one are good. The optional whale and dolphin watching cruise departs early this morning. Whale watchers will have the option of stopping to see Galle on the return bus trip or coming directly back to the hotel by early afternoon. Estimated price: $100 per person.

Later this evening, we rendezvous back at our hotel for a Farewell Dinner, sharing favorite moments and memories of our Adventure on this fabled tropical isle.

Day 12-Jan 26: Galle – Colombo (BL)

Colombo is Sri Lanka’s capital, and our last stop before departure. Upon arrival we visit the National Museum, a wonderfully arrayed collection that pulls together threads of Sri Lanka’s past, present, and future encountered on our journey. Following lunch at our hotel overlooking the sea, one final walking tour with a renowned local guide introduces us to primary themes of Colombo’s past. We finish in style amongst the faded glory of the Grand Oriental Hotel. The evening is free to relax and prepare for tomorrow’s departure for home, on the other side of the planet, or on to India for the optional Taj Mahal extension.

Day 13-Jan 27: Return home from Colombo (B)

No activities are scheduled for today. Your guides will help arrange for shared taxis (not included) according to departures schedules. Thank you for joining us on this inaugural adventure to explore Sri Lanka’s multi-textured history, intriguing cultural mosaic, and rich biodiversity in nature!

Taj Mahal Extension

Day 1-Jan 27: Colombo – Greater Noida, India (BD)

We fly today from Sri Lanka to Delhi, India for the start of Taj Mahal – Pearl of India. Our guide and driver for the program meet us at the Delhi airport and take us south in the direction of Agra. On the outskirts of Delhi, we spend the night in a lovely hotel in preparation for tomorrow’s journey to see the Taj Mahal!

Day 2-Jan 28: Greater Noida – Agra (BLD)

Taj Mahal – 5 km, rated 1A

This morning’s drive to Agra provides a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of transportation on every imaginable wheeled conveyance and beast of burden. Agra was capital of the Mughal Empire and remains home to what is arguably the most admired piece of architecture on the planet –the Taj Mahal. The grounds are extensive and our walk here offers many dazzling perspectives of this 17th century mausoleum for the favorite wife of Emperor Shah Jahan. We also visit Agra’s other highly regarded monument – Agra Fort – from the same era, sited dramatically on the banks of the Yamuna River.

Day 3-Jan 29: Agra – Jaipur (BD)

Jaipur Pink City Walk – 2 km, rated 1B (unsanctioned)

We continue west this morning into the colorful state of Rajasthan to Jaipur, the Pink City. The city’s conspicuous pink hue dates back to 1876, when many of the avenues were painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales, later crowned Edward VII. The afternoon visit takes us to 18th century Jantar Mantar, a series of massive, intriguing, stone astronomical instruments designed by astrologer king Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur. From Jantar Mantar, we explore the colorful core of the old part of city on foot, passing through photogenic local markets and down narrow by-lanes to reach Chandpole Bazaar and the marble statue market. Nearby is our hotel for the next two nights, offering a relaxing evening and dinner.

Day 4-Jan 30: Activities from Jaipur (BLD)

Jaipur Countryside Walk – 8 km, rated 1B

One of Jaipur’s many wonders is picturesque Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal), renowned for its 953 multifaceted windows and niches, allowing ladies of royalty to see and not be seen. Leaving Jaipur, a fleet of jeeps take us past dramatically sited Amber Fort, then out into the nearby countryside to begin our walk. Today’s trail starts at the ancient Delhi Gate and takes us through tiny farming communities, past fields of wheat and mustard seed, stopping to see a medieval step well and for a brief visit to a rescue center for tigers. The last section of the walk crosses an elephant polo field where we arrive for lunch at a hidden rural resort. Tonight’s special dinner experience is hosted by a local noble family who were feudal lords up until independence in 1948, collecting rents from tenants and supporting the King of Jaipur.

Day 5-Jan 31: Jaipur – Deogarh (BD)

Deogarh Cultural Walk – 3 km, rated 1B (unsanctioned)

Another memorable drive takes us deeper into the colorful state of Rajasthan. Upon arrival in Deogarh, we reach our hotel by walking through fascinating market lanes too narrow for our coach. Our hotel, Deogarh Mahal, is a converted 17th century palace owned by the local feudal lord. Following time to rest at our castle hotel, the afternoon stroll takes us through mesmerizing scenes of villagers performing day to day activities. Watch women around a community well fetching water buckets, washing clothes and carrying water in beautiful matkas (clay pot) on their heads. Wander along market lanes past cobblers, seamstresses, potters, jewelers, and other craftsmen displaying labor intensive skills long lost in the West.

Day 6-Feb 1: Activities from Deogarh (BD)

Rajasthan Villages Walk – 8 km, rated 1B

Following breakfast, we drive to a nearby village for a walk between farming communities where the sands of time have had negligible impact on the way of life. We never know what we’ll encounter – a potter at work, preparation for a wedding ceremony, but always a joyfully curious and uninhibited group of children eager to interact with the unexpected spectacle of foreigners. Our afternoon is unscheduled, and could involve a visit to the home of the maharaja or simply free time to explore charming Deogarh from our centrally located palace hotel. This is a magical place that tugs at the heart!

Day 7-Feb 2: Deogarh – Udaipur – Depart for Home (BL)

Udaipur was one of few kingdoms in northern India to remain independent of the Mughals and resist annexation by the British. Depending upon departure flight schedules from Udaipur airport, our plans here include a relaxing cruise on lovely Lake Pichola, the City Palace extending majestically along its eastern banks. Following lunch this afternoon, travelers fly from Udaipur back to Delhi (flights not included) to catch flights home to North America. India is truly a land of 1000 dimensions, a place that defies description, and we are grateful for the opportunity to experience it together!

More Details

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

To save yourself a spot on this Adventure, contact us to register with a $500 deposit as soon as possible! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted.

Already Early Birded?

If you are among the travelers who submitted a $50 Early Bird deposit, you have until Tuesday, February 27 to secure your spot with an additional $450 (total of $500) registration. After February 27, your spot on the tour will be released, and your Early Bird deposit available for refund or transfer to the tour of your choice.

Traveler Rewards Program 2019 – NEW!

New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the Sri Lanka tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Note: The New Traveler and Alumni Traveler Discounts apply only to the main tour price. The Taj Mahal Extension is not eligible for these discounts.

General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

Notes on Sri Lanka

The name “Ceylon” is one from our childhood that brings up romantic images of tea plantations, herds of Asian elephants, verdant jungle vegetation, and pristine Indian Ocean beaches. It turns out there’s a lot more! Situated off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka is often called the “tear drop of India”, and the historic, cultural, and religious links to the subcontinent of India are everywhere apparent. Yet Sri Lanka’s identity is distinct and colorful, a fascinating mosaic of overlapping forces.

Hinduism was the default faith of Indian colonizers in the misty dawn of settlement in the centuries before Christ. Buddhism was introduced by royal missionaries from India and accepted by the Sinhalese monarchy in the 3rd century BC. Islam was spread by Arab traders who often married into local families beginning in the 7th and 8th centuries. And Christianity was imported first by Portuguese colonizers in the 16th century, with later Protestant influences from Dutch and English colonists.

This resulting kaleidoscope of colorful cultures developed on a tropical island blessed also with a rich natural heritage. Set in the Indian Ocean just a few hundred miles north of the equator, Sri Lanka has the highest biodiversity in Asia. A remarkably high percentage of its flora and fauna are endemic—27% of flowering plants and 22% of its mammals. And though tropical in climate, mountains approaching 8,000 feet in elevation in the central regions of the country provide additional layers of climate and biological diversity.

Having returned from a scouting trip in October 2017 with several thousand photos and a backpack full of memorable experiences, the hard work of deciding what NOT to include in the final itinerary began. That process is now complete and the results are available in our NEW Sri Lanka itinerary!

Taj Mahal, Pearl of India Optional Extension

We are excited about the opportunity to return to India! This is a culture that engages the senses in a powerful way, yet goes beyond the physical to challenge the mind and tug at the heart. India is a land that defies typical travel superlatives. Over 122 native languages are spoken throughout India. A host of ancient religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, trace their origins here. Poverty in the cities can be mind-numbing, yet the Indian middle class is one of the fastest growing in the world. This is a powerful place of dramatic diversity and fascinating contradictions — since we are so close to India when in Sri Lanka, we decided to offer a short optional Adventure into northern India.

The Taj Mahal is the big name, bucket list item on this trip, but the neighboring state of Rajasthan is widely, and with good cause, considered the most colorful region of India. Our program in India is a subset of our longer walking Adventure here offered last in 2012. In addition to visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, we’ll be walking and sightseeing in Jaipur, the Pink City, spending two nights in a lovely old maharajah palace in the charming small town of Deogarh where we’re likely to make our most memorable cultural connections, then flying back from the royal city of Udaipur to connect home with flights out of Delhi.

How is airfare arranged?

The official start point for this Adventure is the Colombo International Airport in Sri Lanka. You’ll be met here by a representative of WAI and transferred to our hotel on the seashore in nearby Negombo. We finish the Wonders of Sri Lanka tour back in Colombo, and travelers depart from the same airport. Those continuing on for the optional Taj Mahal Pearl of India Extension will fly together on a group flight to Delhi, India that is included in the extension tour price. At the end of the India Extension, you will fly home from Udaipur on flights you have booked on your own. We recommend that you contact Debbi Custer, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, mailed to you after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!

Cultural Challenges

India is notorious for its colorful and challenging culture, including hygiene issues and mind-boggling traffic scenes where we share the road with virtually anything that moves. Sri Lanka has much of the color, but fewer of the challenges. Hygiene and intestinal issues are few and far between. The traffic situation in both countries is entertaining, to say the least. Roads are good, for the most part, but the practice of road-sharing, and more specifically, lane-sharing, means that we will witness some of the most phenomenal defensive driving on the planet, along with the sometimes jerky ride that results. Have your camera ready, and bring along your Dramamine if you suffer from motion sickness.

Altitude Issues

The great majority of this trip takes place at low elevations. One of the fascinating realities of the small island nation of Sri Lanka, however, is its varied topography. The tea plantations are most prolific in the highest parts of the island, and we’ll be spending two nights at the 6,000 feet above sea level area around Nuwara Eliya. From there, we go a bit higher to Horton Plains for the World’s End Walk at about 7,500 feet above sea level. That is by far the highest part of the Adventure, and quite possibly a high point in your Sri Lanka experience as well! It is important to pursue any concerns you have about altitude with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities.

Immunizations

We are not aware of any immunizations required for entry to Sri Lanka or India. However, we are not qualified to give medical advice and we suggest that you consult a medical professional for advice on immunizations recommended for travel in these countries.

In general, travel health clinics are more reliable sources of information in this matter than general practitioners or the Center for Disease Control. You can locate travel health clinics located in your area online.

Remember to take your Adventure brochure with you so you can show the medical staff where we are traveling.

Immunizations normally recommended for travel in developing countries like Sri Lanka and India include the following:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles/mumps/rubella (MMR)
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus & Diphtheria

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email [email protected] -OR- call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the squaremouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz – (866) 884-3556
  • Betins – (866) 552-8834
  • Travel Guard – (800) 826-4919
  • Travel Insured International – (800) 243-3174

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

Visas

Sri Lanka requires visitors to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) through an online source before arrival. The process is simple and fast and costs about $30. India requires a more formal visa. WAI will send out a memo advising travelers on the best way to approach the visa process after they register for the tour.

Other Planning Considerations

More information to help you plan will be included in the much longer Tips & Tidbits factsheet that is mailed out about four months before the trip.

What about the walks?

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. The Adventure Advice flyer will be sent soon after, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. Final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary. Imagine exploring remnants of ancient civilizations, enjoying a colorful palette of birdlife and natural wonders, and puzzling over the fascinating riddle that is Sri Lanka’s history and culture. In the end, I think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Give us a call and talk to one of our Adventure Consultants about how to join us for this unforgettable Walking Adventure program amongst the Wonders of Sri Lanka and the Taj Mahal, Pearl of India.