SHORTLIST

Sri Lanka Real Food Adventure

Hungry for adventure? This food-focused journey through Sri Lanka hits the spot. Explore the fish market in Negombo, take part in a Sinhalese cooking class in a local home in Kandy, tuck into a Tamil family lunch in Haputale and enjoy a cooking demonstration with a fisherman’s family in Mirissa. Lie back on the coast, cool down in the highlands and weave through the streets of the buzzing capital. When you’re not busy eating, you’ll explore the rich culture of Sri Lanka: elaborate temples, ancient fortresses and wildlife-filled countryside. So, what are you waiting for? Dig in!

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. While we endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements, some meals and food activities are set in advance and may be difficult to adjust. Please advise us of any dietary requirements at the time of booking so that we can ensure you’ll enjoy this trip.
3. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking for train tickets. Fees may apply for adding or amending details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing new tickets.

Tour details
Tour Provider Intrepid Travel
Price From
$3,239
Number of Days
12
Start Location
Negombo, Sri Lanka
End Location
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Age Range
Avg. 30+
Group Size
1 to 12
Tour Style
Standard
Tour Themes
Food
Physical Rating
Easy to Moderate
Itinerary Open all
Day 1: Negombo
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Living up to its nickname of the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, this country delights with its palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and ancient sites. It’s also a food lover’s paradise – with Indian, Portuguese, Malay, English, Arab and Dutch, food in Sri Lanka is like nowhere else on earth. Your adventure begins in the seaside city of Negombo where you’ll meet your local leader and fellow travellers for a 6pm welcome meeting. Spend your first night enjoying the coastline, getting to know your fellow travellers and watching the fishing boats float by. You may like to go out for a meal together for your first taste of Sri Lankan cuisine.
Day 2: Dambulla
Wake early this morning to catch the action at the Negombo fish market. Situated at the northern end of a lagoon, the market is renowned for lobsters, crabs and prawns. Weave through stalls piled high with seafood as the sellers call out their wares, and get a great insight into local commerce. Continue on to a coconut plantation to discover why this super food is so central to life in Sri Lanka. Learn how all parts of the tree play an important role in daily life, sip the water of a king coconut, watch ‘toddy tappers’ extract the palm wine from the coconut sap and taste the results. Enjoy a Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch before heading inland to Dambulla, home to ornately decorated cave temples and surrounded by natural wonders and historic sites. Your evening is free to explore. You may like to join your leader on an optional street food crawl for an introduction to some staple Sri Lankan 'short eats' (snack food), including famous hoppers (bowl-shaped savoury pancakes).
Day 3: Dambulla
After breakfast, make the short drive to Sigiriya. Here you’ll have the opportunity to climb to the top of Lion Rock and visit its ancient fortress complex (approximately 2.5 hours round-trip on foot, including stairs). The 200 metre high ancient remains of a defensive capital built by a fearful king, Lion Rock houses fifth-century frescos, terraced gardens and splashing fountains. Next, observe age-old traditions at a nearby chena cultivation area, one of the oldest forms of agriculture known to humans. It’s particularly popular in the dry zone of the country where it rains for only a few months of the year, and principal crops are tropical vegetables, cereals, grains, yams and corn. Then, feast on tropical vegetables, curry made with tapioca, and fried fish caught in the nearby lake for lunch. In the late afternoon, return to Dambulla to explore the wholesale market. Boasting an incredible array of fresh food, much of which is transported to Colombo for sale, this is the perfect place to get a sense of Sri Lanka's agricultural diversity. The rest of the evening is free for your own food adventures. Use the free evening to poke around the town or sit back with a drink. There are plenty of restaurants surrounding the markets, and your leader will have tips on where to find the best roti in town.
Day 4: Kandy
Located high on a cliff face are the impressive Dambulla Cave Temples. You’ll have time to explore these this morning and admire the many Buddha images, frescs and paintings. On the way to the physical and spiritual heart of the country and the former home of the last Sri Lankan king, stop for lunch at a spice garden in the renowned spice-growing region of Matale. Sri Lankans are the masters of spice and here you can learn how spices aren’t just used in food, but also cosmetics and ayurvedic medicine. Smell the fragrant cumin, cinnamon and curry leaves before tasting pumpkin curry flavoured with aromatic fenugreek, with a side of dry chilli sambol and the uniquely Sri Lankan coconut roti. Continue on to Kandy and arrive by late afternoon. A pleasant city surrounded by lush green countryside, Kandy is home to a picturesque lake, old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants. This evening observe locals worshipping in Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), one of Sri Lanka’s most sacred shrines that houses a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. With your free evening, perhaps follow the sound of rhythmic chopping to watch a chef transform a ball of dough into a huge sheet of wafer-thin roti, skilfully slice, griddle, mix with vegetables and spices and create kottu roti.
Day 5: Kandy
Kick off the day with a guided walk around Kandy's busy city centre, including a tour of the Central Market and samples of local fresh fruits. You will visit a tea factory on the way. The rest of the day is free for you to explore. Kandy is home to a National Museum and several monasteries, and there are many scenic walks around town. The botanical gardens here are among the best in Asia. In the early evening, join a Sinhalese family to get your sugar fix with a Kandyan sweet-filled Sri Lankan dinner and cooking class. Try your hand at crafting string hoppers, pressing a smooth rice dough into noodle-thin strands to form perfect discs (this is an art that takes some practice to master!), try a chicken curry made with spice-infused coconut milk, closer to a Thai curry than a North Indian one. Then fill up on specialty sweets inspired by Dutch and Portuguese dessert traditions.
Day 6: Bandarawela
Have your camera at the ready and take a scenic journey into the highlands to Bandarawela. Journey past waterfalls, villages and up through the mountains on the way to this town in the cool highlands, once popular with British plantation managers. Look down over a sweeping vista filled with bright green tea bushes and vegetable gardens. Tonight, take a look behind closed doors and experience a slice of local life when you’re invited into a local home for a cooking demonstration followed by a traditional dinner.
Day 7: Bandarawela
Rise early and head to the verdant surrounds of the region's tea plantations. Take a hike through the tea fields, learning about the country’s most important export and meet local tea pickers who will show you their craft and let you have a go at picking and weighing tea Afterwards, travel out to the town of Haputale for a home-cooked lunch with a Tamil family. Tear into traditional Tamil cuisine with dosa (a crispy rice pancake) and idli (a savoury steamed rice cake served with curry sauces or chutneys). Return to Bandarawela in the late afternoon and soak up the rural charm of the town and the beautiful surrounding landscapes.
Day 8: Yala/Udawalawe National Park
Drive out to the wilderness of Yala National Park (or Udawalawe National Park in the off season). Encompassing a variety of diverse ecosystems, the park has an impressive array of wildlife, including sloth bears and lots of birds. In the evening take a safari tour and get the binoculars out to search for the elusive leopards that lounge in trees or stalk through the brush, crocodiles that patrol the river or wild elephants that graze across the grasslands. Please note that during times of inclement weather, such as heavy rainfall, it may not be possible to visit the national parks and an alternative activity will be arranged.
Day 9: Mirissa
Start the day by discovering one of Sri Lanka's favourite ingredients. Try buffalo curd, served in bright terracotta pots with thick, golden treacle, often eaten as a snack, as an accompaniment to meals or as a dessert. Sri Lankans are famed for their sweet tooth and this is just about as sweet as it gets! En route to the beautiful beach village of Mirissa, enjoy a delicious lunch of biryani and watalappam (coconut custard pudding). Spend the rest of the day relaxing or exploring the golden sands of Sri Lanka’s southern coastline. The beach is a long curve of sand and has lovely calm clear waters for swimming, not to mention incredible sunsets – this is a paradise you won't want to leave. You may like to take a bicycle ride or tuk-tuk to watch colourful fishing boats bring back their loads of fresh fish to sell along the shore, or perhaps take a boat to spot whales and dolphins. Prefer to chill out? Grab a beer, sit back and watch surfers take on the waves.
Day 10: Mirissa
Gain a unique insight into local life this morning when you meet with a local fisherman and learn about the craft, and how the lives of fisherman have changed since the tsunami. Enjoy the freshest seafood lunch possible with a fisherman's family – a wonderful crab curry is likely to be on the menu. Continue on to the wonderfully preserved colonial township of Galle, with a blend of European architecture and South Asian traditions. In the evening, take a tour of the Royal Dutch Fort, exploring the winding maze of gallery-filled narrow streets and 400 years of rich history. Return to Mirissa for the night.
Day 11: Colombo
Head north for the final stop on your food adventure, travelling to Sri Lanka’s commercial heart, Colombo. The city is a cosmopolitan mix of buzzing street markets, historic buildings, interesting museums, fine restaurants and great shopping opportunities. Snack your way around lanes filled with short eats, street-food and popular local eateries. Enjoy a final Dutch Burgher-influenced meal, and celebrate the end of your food adventure with new friends.
Day 12: Colombo
Your food adventure in Sri Lanka comes to an end this morning. There are no activities planned for this final day and you are free to leave at any time.
Inclusions
  • Meals: 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 3 dinners.
  • Transport: Private vehicle, train, jeep.
  • Accommodation: Hotel (11 nts).
  • Negombo - Fish market.
  • Madampe - Coconut plantation visit.
  • Dambulla - Wholesale Markets tour.
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock Fortress Visit.
  • Sigiriya - Chena Cultivation tour by jeep.
  • Dambulla - Cave Temples.
  • Matale - Spice Garden tour and lunch.
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth.
  • Kandy - Cooking Class in a Sinhalese Home.
  • Kandy - Tea factory visit.
  • Kandy - Market wander & tastings.
  • Bandarawela - Cooking demonstration & local meal.
  • Haputale - Tamil family lunch.
  • Bandarawela - Hike through tea fields.
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari.
  • Tissamaharama - Curd and treacle tasting.
  • Weligama - Home-cooked meal.
  • Mirissa - Fisherman's Cooking Demonstration and Lunch.
  • Galle Dutch Fort.
  • Galle - Walking tour.
  • Colombo - City tour by bus.
  • Colombo - Dutch Burgher Lunch.
Departure dates
Start End Availability Price NZD
23 Apr 2024 04 May 2024 2 $3,580
17 May 2024 28 May 2024 1 $3,715
14 Jun 2024 25 Jun 2024 6 $3,480
09 Jul 2024 20 Jul 2024 5 $3,615
26 Jul 2024 06 Aug 2024 9 $3,540
02 Aug 2024 13 Aug 2024 11 $3,400
09 Aug 2024 20 Aug 2024 6 $3,480
23 Aug 2024 03 Sep 2024 7 $3,445
06 Sep 2024 17 Sep 2024 7 $3,445
13 Sep 2024 24 Sep 2024 12 $3,410
20 Sep 2024 01 Oct 2024 10 $3,240
04 Oct 2024 15 Oct 2024 8 $3,410
18 Oct 2024 29 Oct 2024 10 $3,410
01 Nov 2024 12 Nov 2024 12 $3,540
08 Nov 2024 19 Nov 2024 7 $3,540
22 Nov 2024 03 Dec 2024 6 $3,540
26 Nov 2024 07 Dec 2024 4 $3,615
13 Dec 2024 24 Dec 2024 9 $3,540
20 Dec 2024 31 Dec 2024 12 $3,680
24 Dec 2024 04 Jan 2025 8 $3,680
27 Dec 2024 07 Jan 2025 9 $3,680
03 Jan 2025 14 Jan 2025 10 $3,890
07 Jan 2025 18 Jan 2025 12 $3,890
10 Jan 2025 21 Jan 2025 12 $3,890
17 Jan 2025 28 Jan 2025 12 $3,750
24 Jan 2025 04 Feb 2025 10 $3,750
31 Jan 2025 11 Feb 2025 12 $3,750
14 Feb 2025 25 Feb 2025 12 $3,605
28 Feb 2025 11 Mar 2025 12 $3,605
07 Mar 2025 18 Mar 2025 12 $3,605
14 Mar 2025 25 Mar 2025 12 $3,750
28 Mar 2025 08 Apr 2025 12 $3,750
04 Apr 2025 15 Apr 2025 12 $3,605
11 Apr 2025 22 Apr 2025 12 $3,605
25 Apr 2025 06 May 2025 12 $3,605
16 May 2025 27 May 2025 12 $3,605
13 Jun 2025 24 Jun 2025 12 $3,605
11 Jul 2025 22 Jul 2025 12 $3,605
18 Jul 2025 29 Jul 2025 12 $3,605
25 Jul 2025 05 Aug 2025 12 $3,750
01 Aug 2025 12 Aug 2025 12 $3,750
15 Aug 2025 26 Aug 2025 12 $3,750
22 Aug 2025 02 Sep 2025 12 $3,750
05 Sep 2025 16 Sep 2025 12 $3,750
12 Sep 2025 23 Sep 2025 12 $3,605
26 Sep 2025 07 Oct 2025 12 $3,605
03 Oct 2025 14 Oct 2025 12 $3,605
17 Oct 2025 28 Oct 2025 12 $3,750
24 Oct 2025 04 Nov 2025 12 $3,750
07 Nov 2025 18 Nov 2025 12 $3,890
14 Nov 2025 25 Nov 2025 12 $3,890
28 Nov 2025 09 Dec 2025 12 $3,890
05 Dec 2025 16 Dec 2025 12 $3,890
12 Dec 2025 23 Dec 2025 12 $3,890
19 Dec 2025 30 Dec 2025 12 $3,890
23 Dec 2025 03 Jan 2026 12 $3,890
26 Dec 2025 06 Jan 2026 12 $3,890
30 Dec 2025 10 Jan 2026 12 $3,890