SHORTLIST

Sri Lanka Real Food Adventure

Leave moderation at home and indulge on this gourmet adventure in Sri Lanka. Lie back on the coast, cool down in the highlands and weave through the streets of the buzzing capital. Taste melt-in-the mouth desserts, cook seafood straight out of the hands of a fisherman, uncover fiery curries and spend time with welcoming locals keen to share the mysteries of Sri Lankan cuisine. There’s also time to explore the rich culture of Sri Lanka: elaborate temples, ancient fortresses and wildlife-filled countryside. This is truly an adventure for the senses.

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 (including any middle names listed on your passport) for train tickets. Fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing new tickets.
4. Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming, and with it has come a huge increase in visitors to Yala National Park. In order to reduce our impact on wildlife and the environment we are trialling visiting a less touristed section of Yala. Should we determine that tourist numbers here also make it difficult to visit responsibly, we will change our itinerary to visit Udawalawe National Park.
5. Yala National Park is closed in September and October for infrastructure development and rejuvenation. During these months we visit Udawalawe National Park.

Tour details
Tour Provider Intrepid Travel
Price From
$3,091
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. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and sacred sites steeped in spirituality. With charming people, mysterious ruins and some of the best cuisine in the world, Sri Lanka’s hypnotic essence will remain with you long after you come home. You’ll begin your adventure by getting in the seaside spirit in Negombo, a historical commercial centre surrounded by a fascinating network of canals teeming with rural life. Pull up a deck chair on Negombo’s huge, sweeping beach and enjoy the Indian Ocean before meeting up with your group and leader at a welcome meeting tonight at 6 pm. Spend your first night enjoying the coastline, getting to know your fellow travellers and watching the fishing boats float by. Perhaps go out for a meal together for your first taste of Sri Lankan cuisine.
Day 2: Dambulla
In the morning, wake early and catch the action at the Negombo fish market. The market is situated at the northern end of a lagoon renowned for lobsters, crabs and prawns. Weave through stalls piled with shark, squid, barracuda and unheard of sea creatures as the sellers call out their wares, and get a great insight into local commerce. Continue on to a coconut plantation (approximately 1 hour) to discover why this ‘super food’ is so central to life in Sri Lanka. Learn how all parts of the tree play an important part 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. Head inland to Dambulla (approximately 2 hours), home to vibrantly decorated cave temples and a great base to explore the wide array of natural wonders and historic sites in this fascinating area. Your evening is free to explore. Alternatively join your leader on an optional street food crawl for an introduction to some staple Sri Lankan 'short eats' including hoppers and the famous kotthu roti.
Day 3: Dambulla
After breakfast, drive to Sigiriya (approximately 30 minutes). Here you will have the opportunity to climb to the top of the rock and visit its elaborate 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 dynamic 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. 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 and dodge the trucks and people piled high with every type of produce imaginable. Boasting an incredible array of fresh food, much of which is subsequently 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. Your leader will also have some 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 will 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 odours of 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. As the spice gardens here are popular with tourists, you will find the prices to be higher than outside, but it is the ideal place to learn about the best Sri Lankan spices. Continue on to Kandy and arrive by late afternoon (approximately 2 hours). Kandy is a pleasant city surrounded by lush green countryside, and it’s 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 kotthu roti.
Day 5: Kandy
This morning you’ll enjoy a guided walk around Kandy's busy city centre, including a tour of the Central Market and samples of local fresh fruits, before visiting a nearby working tea factory. Learn about tea harvesting and production while enjoying some samples. The rest of the day is free for you to explore. Kandy is home to a National Museum, 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 spoil your sweet tooth 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 classic North Indian one. Then fill up on specialty sweets inspired by Dutch and Portuguese dessert traditions.
Day 6: Bandarawela
Take a scenic journey into the highlands to Bandarawela (approximately 7 hours). Journey past waterfalls, little 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 you are invited to a local home for a traditional meal.
Day 7: Bandarawela
Rise early and head to the verdant surrounds of the region's tea plantations. Learn about the country’s most important export, meet local tea pickers who will show you their craft and let you have a hands-on go at picking and then weighing tea before it heads off to the factory. Enjoy a cup (or two) at the source! Then travel out to the town of Haputale (approximately 1 hour) 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 approximately 2 hours 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 leopards that lounge in trees or stalk through the brush, crocodiles that patrol the river or wild elephants that graze across the savanna. Please note that during times of inclement weather, such as heavy rainfall, we may not be able to visit the national parks and will arrange an alternate activity in these cases.
Day 9: Mirissa
Start the day sweetly 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 (approximately 3 hours), discover the Muslim influence on Sri Lankan food with dishes like biryani and watalappam at lunch. 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, and the sunsets are great too. This is a paradise that you won't want to leave. Perhaps consider taking a bicycle ride or tuk-tuk to watch colourful fishing boats bring back their loads of fresh fish to sell along the shore. Maybe take a boat to spot whales and dolphins, or wash down all that chilli with a beer, while watching surfers take on the waves.
Day 10: Mirissa
Meet with a local fisherman and learn about their craft, and how their lives have changed after 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 perfectly preserved colonial township of Galle (approximately 1 hour) and its blend of European architecture and South Asian traditions. In the evening take a tour of the Royal Dutch Fort, exploring the winding passageways, 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 this gastronomic adventure and Sri Lanka’s commercial heart, Colombo (approximately 2.5 hours). The city is a cosmopolitan mix of vibrant street markets, colonial buildings, interesting museums, fine restaurants and great shopping opportunities. Snack your way around lanes filled with ‘short eats’, street-food possibilities and bustling local eateries. Enjoy a final Dutch Burgher-influenced meal, and celebrate the end of your food adventure with new friends.
Day 12: Colombo
This trip concludes 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, safari vehicle
  • Accommodation: Hotel (11 nts)
  • Negombo - Fish market
  • Madampe - Coconut plantation visit
  • Dambulla - Wholesale Markets tour
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
  • Dambulla - Cave Temples
  • Matale - Spice Garden tour and lunch
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth with pooja ceremony
  • Kandy - Cooking Class in a Sinhalese Home
  • Kandy - Tea factory visit
  • Kandy - Market wander & tastings
  • Bandarawela - Cooking demonstration & local meal
  • Nuwara Eliya - Pedro Tea Estate visit
  • Haputale - Tamil family lunch
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Curd and treacle tasting
  • 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
03 Jun 2022 14 Jun 2022 7 $3,092
01 Jul 2022 12 Jul 2022 9 $3,440
12 Jul 2022 23 Jul 2022 10 $3,440
05 Aug 2022 16 Aug 2022 1 $3,560
12 Aug 2022 23 Aug 2022 12 $3,305
19 Aug 2022 30 Aug 2022 9 $3,140
02 Sep 2022 13 Sep 2022 9 $3,440
09 Sep 2022 20 Sep 2022 12 $3,440
16 Sep 2022 27 Sep 2022 12 $3,440
23 Sep 2022 04 Oct 2022 11 $3,140
30 Sep 2022 11 Oct 2022 12 $3,305
14 Oct 2022 25 Oct 2022 9 $3,305
21 Oct 2022 01 Nov 2022 12 $3,305
04 Nov 2022 15 Nov 2022 10 $3,440
11 Nov 2022 22 Nov 2022 11 $3,440
18 Nov 2022 29 Nov 2022 9 $3,440
09 Dec 2022 20 Dec 2022 12 $3,570
16 Dec 2022 27 Dec 2022 12 $3,570
20 Dec 2022 31 Dec 2022 12 $3,570
23 Dec 2022 03 Jan 2023 12 $3,570
27 Dec 2022 07 Jan 2023 12 $3,570
30 Dec 2022 10 Jan 2023 10 $3,570
03 Jan 2023 14 Jan 2023 12 $3,570
20 Jan 2023 31 Jan 2023 10 $3,570
27 Jan 2023 07 Feb 2023 12 $3,570
03 Feb 2023 14 Feb 2023 12 $3,570
10 Feb 2023 21 Feb 2023 10 $3,570
17 Feb 2023 28 Feb 2023 12 $3,570
24 Feb 2023 07 Mar 2023 12 $3,570
03 Mar 2023 14 Mar 2023 12 $3,440
10 Mar 2023 21 Mar 2023 12 $3,440
17 Mar 2023 28 Mar 2023 12 $3,440
24 Mar 2023 04 Apr 2023 11 $3,440
31 Mar 2023 11 Apr 2023 12 $3,440
04 Apr 2023 15 Apr 2023 12 $3,440
05 May 2023 16 May 2023 12 $3,440
02 Jun 2023 13 Jun 2023 12 $3,305
16 Jun 2023 27 Jun 2023 12 $3,305
30 Jun 2023 11 Jul 2023 12 $3,305
07 Jul 2023 18 Jul 2023 12 $3,305
11 Jul 2023 22 Jul 2023 12 $3,305
04 Aug 2023 15 Aug 2023 12 $3,305
11 Aug 2023 22 Aug 2023 12 $3,305
18 Aug 2023 29 Aug 2023 12 $3,305
01 Sep 2023 12 Sep 2023 12 $3,305
08 Sep 2023 19 Sep 2023 12 $3,305
15 Sep 2023 26 Sep 2023 12 $3,305
22 Sep 2023 03 Oct 2023 12 $3,305
29 Sep 2023 10 Oct 2023 12 $3,305
13 Oct 2023 24 Oct 2023 12 $3,440
20 Oct 2023 31 Oct 2023 12 $3,440
03 Nov 2023 14 Nov 2023 12 $3,440
10 Nov 2023 21 Nov 2023 12 $3,440
17 Nov 2023 28 Nov 2023 12 $3,440
08 Dec 2023 19 Dec 2023 12 $3,440
15 Dec 2023 26 Dec 2023 12 $3,570
19 Dec 2023 30 Dec 2023 12 $3,570
22 Dec 2023 02 Jan 2024 12 $3,570
26 Dec 2023 06 Jan 2024 12 $3,570
29 Dec 2023 09 Jan 2024 12 $3,570