This itinerary was created to give you the chance to discover Sri Lanka during the summertime (from June till September), when the eastern Sri Lanka’s coasts, unlike the southern beaches, show their best climate for a sightseeing.
For too long Sri Lanka, especially the eastern coast, was out of the most popular tourist destinations’s lists. This twelve days’s tour will show you all the treasures, the culture, the pristine nature and the wonderful beaches of this country and they will catch your hearts.
The route includes the visit to ancient ruins, Unesco heritage sites, spices plantations, organic crops and even a safari to admire – if you are very lucky – the magnificent elephants and leopards in the Yala and Gal Oya’s National Park.
In one run, it will be possible to discover the historical, cultural and natural heritage of this wonderful country, which are considered treasures to preserve.
Our chauffeur – which speaks italian – will take you from the airport to the first short stop of this voyage in the Kosgoda’s village, near Hikkaduwa, where you’ll be guests of a small structure by the sea, which organises voluntieer programs for the conservation of sea turtles.
The first stop of the itinerary, on the way to Arugam Bay, will be the city of Kattaragama, where you could watch the religious practices of a pilgrimage town that welcome devotees of differents religions. This has been identified as the sacred place of Buddhism, Hinduism and an aboriginal faith, known as Vedda.
Then, you will visit Yala’s National Park, one of the few parks in the world which boasts a high density of leopards.
Arugam Bay will lead you to a different Sri Lanka. Located at “the end of the road” that is at the end of the east coast of the country, 312 kilometers east of Colombo, it is the perfect place for those who love rural life and the adventurous atmosphere of the jungle. Called “Ullai” by locals, it’s a famous turistic destination for surfing. Besides, there are more other activities to choose from: lagoon’s tours, elephants and birds watching, visiting Kudumbigala’s monastery or ancient sites and archeological ruins. For those who love nature, at the sunrise you could take a beautiful long walk of 10-15 kilometers around the lagoon; in the jungle is easy to find a lot of ruins of the ancient Buddhist culture.
Just outside Pottuvil, behind the dunes, there is a temple of 2000 years old brought to light by excavations, the temple of Modu Maha Vihara. At Aragum Bay, you will have a lunch at Panama’s village offered and prepared by the local community and then you will visit Kudumbigala’s temple. From here you’ll move to the interior of Sri Lanka in one of the most uncontamineted forest of the island, Gal Oya’s National Park, where you will stay in a beautiful eco-resort located into the forest. The National Park is truly one of the secret treasures of Sri Lanka, where you could have boat safari and see elephants while they are swimming. Here you’ll have the rare possibility of meet the one and only Sri Lanka’s indigenous community, the Vedda (Vanniyaletto).
The next destination will be the hill town of Kandy with is famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Here you’ll also have the opportunity of meet locals farmers in Matale, during the visit of cocoa’s and spices’s crops ,to learn the working process they require; at Heeloya’s village to discover the traditionals agricultural practices.
An hole day will be dedicated to the Altromercato Experience, discovering the Fair Trade coperative Selyn, the one and only in Sri Lanka that produces fabrics on manual looms with Fair Trade certification, and we’ll discover the history of a Sri Lanka’s old and traditional activity such as the weaving, reborn today thanks to Selyn’s Fair Trade practises.
The lasts two stops of the itinerary will be Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of the country and the Sigiriya’s fortress, now a symbol of the historical beauties which the country is rich of.
Registration can be requested for group travel or for self-travel. For group travel, registration is not binding. Upon reaching the minimum number of members necessary for the formation of the group, usually 4 or 6 people, you will be asked for confirmation of booking and payment of a deposit.
DAY 1: Colombo – kosgoda
Arrival at Colombo’s airport; meet our operators at the terminal exit and transfer to Kosgoda’s village, on the Sri Lanka’s southern coast. Free day to relax and rest after the travel. In the late afternoon, visit at the sea turtles’s collection with the possibility of releasing baby turtles in the ocean. For dinner, enjoy barbecues on the beach in front of the hotel. After dinner it will be possible to take a walk on the beach to look for some sea turtles laying eggs.
Overnight stay in Kosgoda (B, D)
DAY 2: KOSGODA – KATARAGAMA
After breakfast, visit at Galle’s fort. Since ancient times it was an important commercial stopover already known by Greeks and Romans. The boundary wall has a perimeter of 3 kilometers and it was built in stone by Portuguese in 1620 replacing the original defensive palisade. In 1873, Britains made a new door called “City Gate” in the stretch between the ramparts of the Sun and the Moon. To make an entire round of the walls it takes about an hour. After lunch, departure for the sacred city of Kataragama (about two hours) and visit of the sanctuary. It is said that the God Kataragama came from India, married a girl from the Sri Lanka’s jungle and lived here.
Overnight stay in Kataragama (B,D)
DAY 3: KATARAGAMA
Early in the morning, departure for a jeep safari in the Yala’s National Park (packed breakfast). Yala’s National Park, in the south-east of Sri Lanka, is an huge expanse of forest, prairies and lagoons on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It hosts wild animals such as leopards, elephants and crocodiles, as well as hundreds of species of birds. In the afternoon visit to the sacred sites of the city. Return to the hotel.
Overnight stay in Kataragama (B)
DAY 4: KATARAGAMA – ARUGAM BAY
After breakfast, transfer to Arugam Bay, a stretch of soft sand, well-known as a perfect place to surf. Then we’ll make a short stop at Buttala, where we’ll visit a spice processing factory. After you’ll meet a group of farmers with whom you’ll have lunch at a local farm. Transfer to Arugam Bay and check in at the hotel. You can test yourself on a surfboard or simply relax, take a dip or walk on the beach.
Overnight stay in Arugam Bay (B, L)
DAY 5: ARUGAM BAY
Early in the morning, departure to Panama’s village, short stop at Okanda’s Hindu temple and at Kudumbigala’s Buddhist monastery. Lunch in one of the houses of Panama village. Return to Arugam Bay. Free time.
Overnight stay in Arugam Bay (B,L)
6° DAY: ARUGAM BAY – GALOYA
Early in the morning, canoe ride in the lagoon of Pottuvil. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Transfer to Uraniya’s and Lahagula’s village, where local farmers practice organic farming. Enjoy your lunch in the local community at Uraniya, then visit the ancient temple of Magul Maha Viharaya at Lahugala. Transfer to Mahiyangana and check in at an eco-resort in the Gal Oya’s forest.
Overnight stay in Gal Oya (B,L)
DAY 7: GAL OYA – KANDY
After breakfast, meet the Vedda (Vanniyaletto), the native population of Sri Lanka. “Vedda” (or hunter) is the name given from the Sinhalesi, another ethnic group of the country, while in Tamil language they use the word “Veden”. They define themselves “Vanniyaletto”, that means “people of the forest”. Visit their village and discover their lifestyle and cultural practises. Move to Mahiyangana’s temple, one of the places where Buddha stopped during his first visit on the island and one of the most sacred places of Sri Lanka. In the afternoon transfer to Kandy.
Overnight stay in Kandy (B)
DAY 8: KANDY – HEELOYA – KANDY
After breakfast, transfer to Heeloya’s village and welcoming in the local community. Refreshments and tea with local herbs will be offered. A walk through the village to observe organic gardens and rice fields. The local guide will show you many local spices, vegetables and fruits harvest by the community. Then you’ll reach village’s waterfall. Enjoy the view and the serendipity of this place. On the way back, short stop at a farmer’s house to taste the traditional rice with curry, cooked with organic vegetables. Return to Kandy. Visit the temple of the Sacred Tooth, which guards the relic of the sacred tooth of Buddha. In the evening, a traditional dance performance.
Overnight stay in Kandy (B, L)
DAY 9: KANDY – MATALE – SIGIRYA
After breakfast, transfer to Sigirya. Along the way, short stop at the cocoa’s and spices’s crops of Matale to discover what type of processing they require. Visit an organic vegetable garden of a cocoa’s farmer to discover the cultivation techniques of this particular plant. Traditional lunch with the community. After lunch transfer to Sigirya and, along the way, visit at the golden temple of Dambulla. Check in at the hotel. In the evening visit at Sigirya’s fortress, which dates back at the Mesolithic period and it is more than 5000 years old. Enjoy the climb to that ancient fortress, wanted by king Kashyapa. Known also as Lion Rock, has interesting frescoes and graffiti.
Overnight stay in Sigirya (B, L)
DAY 10: SIGIRYA – ANURADHAPURA
After breakfast, transfer to Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka from the IV century b.C. till the XI century a.C.. The beauty of the city will leave you breathless. You’ll see the Jayasri Maha Bodhi ( the sacred fig), the statue of Samadhi Buddha, the sculpture in stone in the Isurumuniya’s temple, Ruwanweli’s stupa and many others attractions of this great city 2500 years old. Along the way, short stop at the Avukana Buddha’s statue near to Ka-lawewa (big tank) built from king Dathusena. Return to Sigirya.
Overnight stay in Sigirya (B)
DAY 11: SIGIRYA – KURUNEGALA – NEGOMBO
After breakfast, transfer to Negombo. Along the way, we’ll stop in Kurunegala, where we’ll spend the day with Selyn Fair Trade, an artisans organisation that takes part of the Altromercato Experience. You will discover this authentic and interesting Fair Trade reality; a weaving centre, where expert hands “create” wonderful toys, not only with hand looms. The first stop of the visit will be at the printing department, where the production process of textiles starts with the yarn dyeing. Lunch at the centre. Then you’ll move to watch artisans women managing the manual weaving on the loom and, if you would, you could try this beautiful art. Then we’ll visit also Selyn’s kindergarten and the factory where, thanks to the Fair Trade, products are sold. Lastly, you’ll visit Wanduragala’s shop, where you’ll find products and gifts to bring home. Transfer to Negombo.
Overnight stay in Negombo (B)
DAY 12: NEGOMBO – COLOMBO (Airport)
Transfer to Colombo and departure.
All the itinerary has been designed in order to promote direct or indirect benefits for local communities, environment and cultural heritages. When possible we have selected traditional accommodations sensible to social and environmental issues, following general principles and practices of responsible tourism. During your journey, you will have the opportunity to meet the local communities and to discover their initiatives of biological agriculture.
In Heeloya’s village, the community will show you their lifestyle, their biological gardens and the rise fields. The local guide will talk about many local spices, vegetables and fruits to show you their agriculture techniques.
In a farmer’s house you could taste the traditional rise with curry, cooked with biological vegetables. You will have the chance to discover some beautiful villages of the eastern coast and you will be hosted by local people. In Panama’s, Uranyia’s and Lahugala’s village, where biological agriculture is practiced, you could see the daily life of the traditional farmers. In Kunuregala we’ll visit the Altromercato’s partner cooperative, Selyn, founded in 1994 by the sinhalese lawyer Sandra Wanduragala. Selyn’s purpose is to create employement in the rural and marginal areas, because normally great part of the population is forced to leave, looking for a job.
Selyn produces cloth toys, hand made on traditional looms. The toys are made according to the European safety regulations and tested in laboratory. Thanks to these products, Selyn has revitalized the long sinhalese tradition of the hand loom.
Moreover, during the tour, you will visit differents projects that promote the protection of the natural heritage; in the lagoon of Pottuvil in Arugam Bay, you’ll have the possibility of take an eco-tour that have the main purpose of protect the mangrove ecosystem and that involves local fishermen, the Govern and turists. During the canoe tour you’ll enjoy the beauty and the serendipity of this special ecosystem. And last but not least, the conservation project of the sea turtles in Kosgoda, that consists in protecting the neasts from poaching and predators.
During the journey it is advised to follow a conduct which respects local culture to avoid any hassles or unwanted troubles along your journey. In particular, avoid displayx of affection in public places, such as hugging, kissing etc., as this behaviour is not appreciated by local people.
It is alsa important to follow a certain dress code. There are basically two reasons why it is recommended to be careful about what clothes you wear here. The first reason is to avoid hurting local people’s feelings and second is to protect yourself from the unstable weather conditions. Besides, mosquitoes are a huge issue and it is advised to keep your arms and legs covered ( don’t forget to bring mosquito nets and repellents, especially for backwaters cruises).
Sri Lanka’s time zone is +4:30 hours, 3:30 hours with daylight savings time, so you could have some problems with the jet lag. It is advised that you get onto this time zone as soon as you leave home and try to eat and sleep according local time. Also, if you reach India early in the day, try to stay awake – this will help the body’s internal clock to reset.
A conscious approach to travel requires a considerable capacity and willingness to adapt and adjust to the local environment and culture. If you wish to travel with us we request you to be open enough to experience local culture, religious and traditions without bias and pre-conceived ideas you might have before the departure and which belong to our Western cultural way of thinking.
Exploring with fresh eyes, with patience and openness, you will be able to access the real essence of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage through the places and people you meet. With this little effort, you will truly enjoy the beauty of a totally different culture and the wonder of nature.
We selected beautiful and traditional heritages resorts with all the facilities throughout the tour. When possible resorts have been selected carefully according to criteria of social and environmental impacts.
Private vehicles o mini-buses with conditioned air according to the number of participants for all the itinerary in Sri Lanka.
The best period for this journey in Sri Lanka is from June till September, when in the eastern coast of the country the days are sunny. The climate is tropical and very hot during the day.