Day 1: Arrive Negombo
The adventure begins in Negombo, located just 10kms from the international airport and known for its long sandy coastline fringed by palm trees, restaurants and bars. An arrival group briefing will be held in the evening where you will learn more about the trip and get acquainted with your Yomads Travel group.
Day 2: Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya
Polonnaruwa, a well preserved city of beautiful parks, ancient dagobas and statues, was once the medieval capital of Sri Lanka and is best explored by bike. Built in the 11th and 12th centuries, the sheer scale of the site bears testament to the incredible work and planning that went into the city. Nowadays, the only inhabitants are playful toque macaque monkeys. In the afternoon, visit Sigiriya rock fortress, Sri Lanka's own 'lost city'. Built 15 centuries ago by King Kashyapa, the fortress lies hidden atop a rock that rises nearly 200m above the ground. Today, the terraced gardens, ponds and frescoes offer a glimpse of the glory of this once mighty city in the sky. The rest of the day is free for you to spend at leisure, with the option to join an evening cooking course.
Day 3: Dambulla and Minneriya National Park
Begin the morning with a hike up Aligala, a historic rock formation shaped like an elephant and carved with ancient stone pillars and ruins. It's then on to Dambulla Rock Temple, a complex carved from a number of caves and adorned with amazing frescoes and statues. Here you will find more than 150 statues of Buddha as well as deities and ancient Sri Lankan kings. In the afternoon, transfer to Minneriya National Park to spot herds of wild elephants gathering in their natural habitat.
Day 4: Kandy
After breakfast we leave for Kandy, visiting spice gardens and lush green rice paddies on the way. Kandy, the last capital of the native kings before British conquered the island, holds a special place in the hearts of Sri Lankans. In the afternoon, you'll have time to take in the old town and bustling bazaar before visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, one of the holiest shrines for Sri Lankan Buddhists. Later, enjoy a cultural show featuring folk and traditional dancing, a ceremonial drum orchestra and fire walking before spending the evening at leisure. An optional trip to the stunning Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, located outside of Kandy, can be arranged after breakfast.
Day 5: Ella
Take the train from Kandy to Ella - a must do while in Sri Lanka. Located in Sri Lanka's hill country, Ella is famous for its panoramic views, ancient caves and the Ella Gap where on a clear day you can see between the green mountain sides and down nearly 1000m to the coastal plains that reach the Indian Ocean. The day is free for you to explore the handful of tea shops, food stalls, restaurants and bars at your own pace.
Day 6: Horton Plains
Today is reserved for hiking through breathtaking Horton Plains National Park where you will experience the rawness of Sri Lanka's natural beauty. The park, located on a windswept saddle over 2100m above sea level, offers varied scenery of misty grassland with scraggy trees and ice cold rivulets. A highlight of the day is trekking to World's End, an escarpment that drops 1200m vertically providing stunning views of the land. There are ample opportunities to spot wildlife throughout the park including samburs, monkeys and lizards, as well as dozens of endemic bird species including Sri Lankan whistling thrush, orange-billed babbler and yellow-eared bulbul.
Day 7: Kitugala
After breakfast, travel to Kitulgala, known for its appearance in the film 'Bridge on the River Kwai'. Here, we will white water raft down the picturesque Kelani River. In the afternoon, transfer to Dalhousie to prepare for Adam's Peak.
Day 8: Adam's Peak and Mirissa
In the early hours of morning we begin our ascent to the summit of Adam's Peak (2250m), arriving at the top in time for sunrise when the mystical shadow of the peak is displayed across the clouds. Joining with pilgrims from across Sri Lanka, this is a truly unique and memorable hike. Descend to the base for a late breakfast and transfer to the beach town of Mirissa for some rest and relaxation.
Day 9: Mirissa
Famous for its beachside location and whale watching, Mirissa is an ideal place to relax after climbing Adam's Peak. The day is free for you to spend at leisure, and an optional whale watching boat trip can be arranged.
Day 10: Galle and Bentota
Leaving Mirissa after breakfast we had for Galle. Visit Galle Fort, the heart of the city and an Old Dutch colonial area, sitting in a walled peninsula jutting out into the ocean. Here you will encounter reminders of Dutch control as you explore the labyrinth of tightly packed alleys and lanes of historic homes and buildings. The fortified sea wall stands guard against the ocean while the gabled facade of the Dutch Reformed Church and the magnificent Meera Mosque add a spiritual element to the once vital port. In the afternoon, begin cycling through rural villages to Bentota, our next coastal overnight.
Day 11: Colombo
Arriving to Colombo in the morning, enjoy a guided tour that takes in iconic spots including the National Museum, Gangaram Temple, Pettah Bazaar, Galle Face Green, Independence Square and Cinnamon Gardens. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore Colombo's atmosphere on your own.
Day 12: Trip ends Colombo
The trip ends today after breakfast, leaving you free to continue the journey on your own. For those with flights today, transfers to the airport can be arranged.