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Naturally gorgeous, culturally captivating and steeped in mysticism, Sri Lanka makes for a wonderful introduction to both travel and the Indian subcontinent for children and adults alike. Embark on a 12-day family tour and discover temples carved from cliffs, fortresses built on boulders and wildlife-rich parks. Expose your family to different ways of life while cycling through peaceful villages and touring working tea plantations. Wonder at wildlife when you go safari in search of wild elephants, deer and crocodiles. Chill out by the beach in Mirissa while the kids are playing with other young travellers on the tour. Educational, active and leisurely paced, this trip is everything you could want in a family getaway.
Day 1: Negombo
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. There are no activities planned today until your group welcome meeting at 6 pm. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these with you. If arriving in Negombo earlier, spend some time poolside at the hotel, or head out to explore the neighbourhood.
Day 2: Dambulla
Begin the adventure by heading out to Dambulla, located at the end of a moderate 4-hour drive from Negombo. This town plays home to some of the world’s most spectacularly decorated cave-temples and serves as a great starting point to trek into nearby natural wonders and historic sights. Upon arrival, you‘ll have the option to visit the Dambulla vegetable wholesale market. This huge labyrinth of shops and stalls sitting south of the centre of town offers a fascinating look at the vast range of produce grown in Sri Lanka. Items you see being carted about with manic energy will be sold in Colombo tomorrow.
Day 3: Dambulla
Today’s adventure takes you from Dambulla to Sigiriya, a colossal stone monument hosting a ruined fortress at its peak. Let the kids burn off some energy with a climb to the top of enormous Sigiriya rock and its ancient fortress. If you’re lucky, you should be able to take in sweeping views of the thick forests below before descending once more. Once you return to Dambulla, take the family for a pleasant bike ride around the town. The numerous temple complexes and religious monuments are well worth a visit if you get the chance.
Day 4: Kandy
Say farewell to Dambulla in the morning and take a 3-hour drive towards beautiful Kandy, often recognised as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. The verdant hills surrounding the city along with the tranquil lake in the centre creates the perfect scenery for family photo opportunities, and the old shops and restaurants will keep you busy for hours. Spend the afternoon basking amongst rows of flowers and towering palm trees in the Royal Botanical Gardens. The garden plays home to more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and various trees. It’s a leisurely walk, full of colour.
Day 5: Kandy
This morning you’ll visit Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Tooth), which houses the country's most sacred relic: a tooth said to be the Buddha's. Pilgrims have been coming to pay homage at this site since the 16th century. Visit the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens with its immense fig tree and impressive orchid collection. Considered among the finest botanical gardens in all of Asia, this is a great spot for the kids to run around in. Next up, visit a local family for dinner and learn the steps to traditional Kandayan dancing during some lessons from local performers.
Day 6: Bandarawella
Tuck into breakfast before hitting the road once more, travelling via private vehicle into the evergreen hills of Nuwara Eliya. After 3 hours on the road, take a quick visit of this old British Hill station and get a feel for the colonial charm of this mecca of Sri Lanka’s tea growing industry. The 19th century architecture reflects what you’d come to expect from an English country village, so it may come as no surprise that it was once referred to as ‘Little England’ by its former British hosts. Try to spot roaming water buffalo, brick Victorian-era buildings, tea plantations or the odd golf course.
Day 7: Bandarawella
After a few days on the road, today runs at a bit of a slower pace. Bandarawela is an unhurried, unpretentious hill-country town that exists to supply the needs of the tea plantation workers and their families. The people of Bandarawela enjoy a simple way of life, where school children and grandparents work together harvesting their crops and tending their livestock. Another distinctive feature of Bandarawela is the colonial flavour still preserved in the many old buildings, including the Bandarawela Hotel and the old Cargill’s Supermarket. Enjoy a leisurely morning walk through the countryside, past tea pickers plucking the tips of the plants and throwing them into the baskets on their backs. The afternoon is free for your enjoyment – you could always get the family together and challenge some of the locals to a friendly game of cricket.
Day 8: Udawalawe
After a hearty breakfast and 9am checkout, drive to Uda Walawe National Park (approximately 3 hours). This park has an amazing array of animal and birdlife, with more herds of wild elephant than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Following lunch, discover how this majestic creature has been part of Sri Lankan culture for centuries during a visit to the nearby Elephant Transit Home. Run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, ETH provides shelter for orphaned or abandoned baby elephants with the aim of releasing them into the wild. Arriving at a viewing platform at feeding time ensures you'll get to see the elephants only metres away! Once feeding is over, hop in a jeep for a safari inside the park. Wildlife regularly spotted here includes macaques and larger monkeys, spotted deer, crocodiles and sometimes even leopards. This is a real safari experience, nothing like a zoo or safari park – truly an adventure for all ages!
Day 9: Mirissa
After starting the day with a hearty meal, hit the bird trail in the nearby the park. Take the road and head towards the Elephant Transit Home. Supported by the Born Free Foundation, this home helps support and rehabilitate elephants before resettling them within the national park. Watch these gentle giants as they feed with their carers, then take a jeep safari into the park itself to hopefully spot other elephants in their natural environment. Afterwards, travel onward to the chilled-out beach town of Mirissa and settle in for the night.
Day 10: Mirissa
Take a change of pace this morning with a bit of free time. Relax around Mirissa’s lovely waterfront or take in some of the local sights. The waters are clear and inviting if you’d like to go for a splash in the Laccadive Sea, or you could follow the fresh fish coming in from shore and perhaps grab a bite to share with the family. Consider gathering the family and heading (by tuk-tuk or bicycle) to nearby Weligama, where colourful fishing boats bring fresh fish to sell along the shore. The local cottage industry of lace products is also well worth a look. In the evening, visit the Dutch Fort in Galle for a spot of kite flying. If the colours of the kites don’t get you excited, the kaleidoscopic hues of the sunset surely will.
Day 11: Colombo
Check out of the hotel and head towards Colombo. Once you arrive, take a bit of time to wander through the bazaar, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the bustling market. Afterwards, enjoy a bit of free time. You’re in the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, so there’s more than enough things to do to while away the day. The waterfront is full of life, sights and stalls which makes for an excellent starting point. Regroup in the afternoon and head to Galle Face Green – 5 hectares of ocean-side park bliss. The kids can play a spot of cricket or fly kites while you sit back on the grass before getting together for a final farewell dinner afterwards.
Day 12: Colombo
Your Sri Lankan family holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. Additional accommodation is available through your booking agent at the time of booking your trip.
- Dambulla - Cave Temples
- Sigiriya - Bike ride
- Sigiriya - Lion Rock
- Kandy - Botanical Gardens
- Kandy - Temple of the Tooth with pooja ceremony
- Bandarawela - Country side trek
- Bandarawela - Tea Plucking Experience
- Udewalawe National Park - Wildlife safari
- Mirissa - Kite Flying
11 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Lunch(es) Included
2 Dinner(s) Included
Health and Safety Protocols for Intrepid Tours
Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced protocols in hygiene and sanitation. We will put in place additional measures, in line with government health advice and with global health authorities (including the WHO and CDC) to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.
Handwashing is one of the most important safety measures to prevent the spread of disease. Intrepid will actively reinforce its importance by:
- Implementing a handwashing policy that dictates when, how often and for how long all staff, leaders and crew must wash their hands on-trip.
- Promote the importance of hand hygiene to customers through signage and online customer material.
- Contract suppliers that have hand hygiene protocols in place
- Contract suppliers that provide hand sanitizer in public places (where applicable)
- Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of hand hygiene via training.
Practicing good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of disease by reducing the number of droplets in the air when you sneeze or cough. Intrepid will:
- Actively reinforce its importance to customers through signage and online customer material.
- Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of respiratory hygiene via training.
- Contract suppliers who have respiratory hygiene protocols in place.
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them. Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that masks should only be used as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy and that the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene must also form part of the strategy.
On our trips, regardless of destination, the following people must wear medical/surgical masks:
- Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of whether or not they have been tested yet.
- People caring for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases (outside of hospitals/clinics).
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them.
- People over 60
- People with underlying health conditions
- Provide medical/surgical masks as part of the First Aid Kits carried by leaders.
- Educate leaders, crew, staff and customers on the correct method to wear, handle and dispose of a mask.
- Require all customers, leaders and staff to comply with any local regulations or requirements that require the use of a mask in public or in certain places
Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it is not necessary for the public to wear fabric masks generally.
However in certain circumstances, in places where community transmission of COVID-19 is high and/or physical distancing is not possible (e.g. on public transport, in shops or in other confined environments) then a fabric mask can be a useful barrier to prevent the spread of virus.
Fabric masks be purchased commercially or handmade, and are generally not standardised like medical masks. Fabric masks should:
- Cover the nose, mouth, and chin
- Be secured with elastic loops or ties
- Include multiple layers
- Be washable and reusable.
Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced sanitation processes. Intrepid will take the following measures:
- Require all suppliers to detail their cleaning and sanitation protocols
- Audit/monitor all suppliers on their cleanliness and sanitation.
- All cleaning and disinfecting products must be approved by health authorities (e.g. WHO).
- All rooms must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer should be available in public areas.
- There must be a process in place for customers to escalate any concerns regarding hygiene or sanitation.
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- All tents must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between use.
- If staying at a campground, ensure all bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels. If the area is remote, with limited facilities and/or minimal staffing, then customers should be informed to bring their own hygiene equipment.
- All mini buses, transfers, charters, overland trucks must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer should be made available
- Close top bins with bin liners should be available on board and disposed of at every stop
- Must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day
- Tables and chairs must be disinfected after each guest use
- Avoid buffets where possible. If buffets are used, prevent customers from handling food and operating machines (e.g. self-serve coffee stations)
- Either disinfect shared use objects (e.g. table salt) between guest use. Where possible, Intrepid will try to source safe alternatives to single serve packaging.
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- Preferred: Provide hand sanitizer to guests at the door before entry
- All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guest us
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
Limiting the number of surfaces touched by large numbers of people helps prevent the spread of disease. Therefore, it is important to proactively move towards contactless or low touch solutions for travel. Intrepid will:
- Prioritise contactless/low touch as a key feature when sourcing new tech or solutions.
- Remove any paperwork required on the ground (e.g. signing forms, feedback cards)
- If details must be entered using a shared device (e.g. insurance details), then it must be disinfected between each customer. Preference is to move entirely to digital solutions.
- Accommodation should provide online check in (no paperwork)
- Contactless keys (e.g. QR codes)
- Contactless tech (e.g. lights)
- Online ticketing for attractions and transport
- Online payment
Physical distancing is important in the preventing the spread of COVID-19 as it can be transmitted via droplets sprayed when coughing, sneezing, singing, yelling etc…
Intrepid will take the following measures:
- Require all suppliers to detail their physical distancing protocols
- Follow local regulation and advice on the need for physical distancing.
We will continue to offer this as an option. Single supplements are available for single travellers who do not wish to share a room. We will work closely with accommodation suppliers to ensure increased availability of single rooms.
- Consider whether it is appropriate to offer single tents for solo travellers as customers will be much closer together then in a traditional room.
- Consider whether staggering meal times may reduce the number of people sharing a dining tent.
Intrepid will consider the following factors when designing or amending transport options on trips.
- Local laws or requirements regarding physical distancing on transport
- Hygiene protocols of the transport provider
- Level of active community transmission in the destination
- Using designated seating on transport. Customers have assigned seats throughout the trip.
- If trip is longer than 15 minutes and air conditioning is available, it must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip.
- Designing or amending itineraries to reduce the duration of travel.
- Increasing the size of the vehicle, using multiple vehicles.
- Educate all leaders, crew, staff and customers to maintain a 1.5m distance wherever practical in public (e.g. queueing at a museum).
- Proactively design product to avoid crowds by visiting attractions at off-peak times.
- Proactively design product to avoid crowds on public transport or at airports where practical.
- Follow local regulations on table spacing and guest seating in restaurants. Wherever possible, try to ensure groups are sitting at their own table without strangers in restaurants.
- Proactively design product that focuses on experiences that assist with physical distancing (e.g. picnics over crowded marketplaces) if relevant for that destination.
Screening for COVID-19 helps isolate anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and stops the spread of disease. It is likely to become more common for future travellers.
Pre-Departure (Brand Material)
Customers should be informed as part of ‘Essential Trip Information (ETIs) or other similar trip notes if their trip is likely to include any of the following:
- Testing for COVID-19 before being able to pass through immigration and/or board planes.
- Negative test results to be uploaded for visa purposes.
- Thermal temperature checks in airports, train or bus stations, major hotels or attractions.
Pre-departure, all customers are required to fill out an online questionnaire (“self- declaration/assessment” form) to identify any high-risk customers before travel.
Extra qualifiers will be included to address customers with symptoms that can be contributed to pre-existing conditions (e.g. breathlessness to asthma).
Customers answering YES to any question should be removed from the departure and appropriate arrangements made.
Intrepid will not require a negative COVID-19 test as proof of health from customers or leaders at this stage unless it is required by local law or regulations.
This is partially due to the lack of availability of testing for people with no symptoms in many parts of the world and may change in due course.
- Ask customers, leaders, crew and staff to monitor their own health
- Display appropriate signage on COVID-19 symptoms
- Educate leaders, crew and staff on how to identify COVID-19 symptoms
- Describe COVID-19 symptoms in group meetings
If customers, leaders or crew show symptoms of COVID-19 and are either unable to or unwilling to be tested, Intrepid reserves the right to remove them from our trips to prevent any risk to others.
Flexible Booking Conditions
Customers will be supported by flexible booking conditions to stay home if unwell or displaying symptoms
Flexible Work Conditions
Intrepid will support leaders and crew to stay home rather than lead a trip if they are unwell or displaying symptoms. Schedules will need to be created with back up availability of leaders/crew.
Data Collection & Health Tracking
Intrepid will assist government health departments in tracking and tracing any customers, staff, leaders, crew or suppliers at risk of contracting COVID-19 via exposure to a known case and/or outbreak by providing relevant details in line with privacy laws and regulations.
COVID Tracking apps
Intrepid strongly recommends that customers and staff download COVID tracking apps (e.g. COVIDSafe in Australia, StayHomeSafe in Hong Kong) to assist in reducing the spread of disease within their communities.
Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?
Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
Unfortunately the tour guide we had was not as expected. His condescending attitude and the way he spoke to some guests (myself included) was completely unacceptable. When we spoke to him about this he became very defensive and was unable to reflect and adjust his practices. Towards the end of the trip he was not responding appropriately when asked a question, he would not look at the person asking the question and would face others to tell them the answer (usually with his back to the original questioner). He did not speak one word to the 7 of us who were on an 8 hr whale watching trip!!!! Although the tour itself was ok, his attitude and actions make me hesitant to book another tour with Intrepid again.
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