The tour starts in the city of Negombo for the first night’s briefing and moves on the next day to a superb wilderness experience across Wilpattu national park – the land of the leopard. Alongside this, the ancient towns of Sigiriya and Anuradhapura full of Sri Lanka’s culture will not disappoint. The highlight of this tour however is being hands-on with a team of experienced scientists and field experts as they observe and conduct various surveys to address the human-elephant conflict for the conservation of the endangered Sri Lankan elephant. Spend 4 nights in a fieldhouse helping to make a difference before continuing with your Sri Lankan adventure through beautiful Kandy, the last Royal Capital of Sri Lanka which treasures the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Finish in the cool climes of Nuwara Eliya carried by steam train through the heart of lush tea estates.
On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will get your first taste of the warmth of Sri Lankan hospitality. You will meet your local Footloose guide and from here you’ll drive a short distance to your hotel in Negombo, a major city located in the west. The city is known for its busy fish markets, sandy beaches, hotels and restaurants. Due to the fantastic bounty of seafood, the town restaurants are a gourmet’s delight. There are also local handicrafts, batiks and jewellery boutiques on the beaches and shops in the city.
Check in to the hotel and meet your guide in the evening for a short briefing about the days to come.
After breakfast drive towards what is known as the Dry Zone – to Anuradhapura through rice paddy field with natural, man-made reservoirs that support the agricultural industry of the village folk. You can stop for lunch on the way or refresh yourself with a King Coconut.
Explore the ancient city of Anuradhapura. Known to be the first capital and undoubtedly the grandest city of ancient Sri Lanka. It is the home of two World Heritage sites. Sri Maha Bodhi (the Sacred Bo-Tree) was brought as a sapling of the tree under which Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment. Over 2,200 years old it is the oldest historically documented tree in the world. Explore the Brazen Palace (2nd century B.C) and see all that is left of a magnificent multi-storied residence for monks.
After indulging all that the 2 world heritage sites have to offer, head to your hotel in Anuradhapura to relax for the evening.
Early in the morning, enjoy a half-day game drive in Wilpattu National Park with a packed breakfast. Wilpattu Park is situated between the North Western and North Central provinces of Sri Lanka. It is one of the biggest and first parks to be opened to the public. It is one of the best national parks in the world for leopard breeding. Due to 16 years of civil war the park suffered and was closed to the public. However, the density of the forest has increased. It was reopened recently and visitors are allowed to explore just a quarter of the total area. The best time to visit the park is February & October.
Return to your hotel and spend the rest of your day at leisure.
Today is spent in Sigiriya. As your journey begins, catch glimpses of Coconut plantations and vast areas of Paddy Fields in the outskirts of the city, as well as natural & man made reservoirs that support the agricultural industry of the area. As your journey deepens into the northern part of the island you will witness beautiful exotic birds, Monitor Lizards, grey Buffalos and Monkeys.
Drive further and join your guide on foot to visit a village in Sigiriya. You also have the option to take bikes and cycle across the village, the choice is yours. End the day with a local family and sample the local cuisine.
This morning, enjoy a climb to the Sigiriya rock fortress. The ideal time to start the climb is at 0700 hours, to avoid the crowds. It is a fortress complex of a ruined palace and a UNESCO world heritage site. Undoubtedly the most treasured historical monument in Sri Lanka, every step from the entrance to the top is a marvel on its own. Return afterwards to your hotel for overnight.
Today after breakfast, you will head off to Matale and your fantastic wildlife experience. En-route, stop off at the Dambulla cave temple. The Dambulla Rock Temple houses some of the most unique drawings in magnificently constructed cave temples flanking the golden temple of Dambulla. Observe how exquisitely cave paintings are done along walls that shelter 150 statues of Lord Buddha. As you enter the retreat look straight up to the gigantic Buddha statue glittering in gold. From here, continue on to the Fieldhouse at Matale and sit with the scientists at dinner who will brief you about the next few days.
The next 4 days will immerse you in the valuable work at the Volunteer Fieldhouse in Matale where you will be led by a team of scientists and field experts. Most of the research takes place in the forest reserves and villages surrounding the Wasgamuwa National Park. You will engage in various activities such as conducting direct and indirect field observations to gathering important information on elephants by visit villages that have been attacked by elephants to learn more about human-elephant conflict and how it can be avoided. You may also have the opportunity to help collect data on leopards and other carnivores, monitor an alternative land use program, participate in an ongoing bird survey and assist in other environmental education programs. This is a unique opportunity for Footloose guests to get first-hand experience of this vital work and to help towards making a positive difference to the country’s wildlife.
Today brings a complete change once again as you move on to the city of Kandy, the popular charming hill capital of Sri Lanka surrounded by hills, valleys, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. It is the cultural centre of the island and a UNESCO world heritage site. You will drive to the upper lake observation point of the city and enjoy an exploration of the lake on foot.
In the afternoon after checking in at your next hotel. You’ll visit the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha enshrined at the Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Tooth. There will be a traditional dance performance after this before you return to your hotel to relax after a very busy day.
Today, leave the hotel early with a packed breakfast and board a local train from Kandy and enjoy a scenic journey through some stunning Sri Lankan countryside made up of mountains, waterfalls and tea estates. Once you arrive in Nanu Oya Railway station, you will be met by a local guide and head to Nuwara Eliya, a city in the central province of Sri Lanka and one of the most important locations for tea cultivation due to its cool climate. It’s a pretty area with many buildings having preserved features from the colonial period. Many private homes have also maintained their old English-style lawns and gardens. You’ll spend some time at a tea estate before heading back to your hotel.
The town wakes up in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New year making this a particularly good time to visit.
Early this morning, join your guide on a trek to Horton Plains with a packed breakfast. Experience the micro climatic zone of highlands at World’s End which is a high windy plateau at an elevation of 2100m above sea level. The area is made up of beautiful grassland and cloud forests. Horton Plains National Park in Ohiya is a protected area covered by montane grassland and forest and rich in biodiversity with many species found here endemic to the region.
You will end your tour of Sri Lanka in Colombo, the bustling commercial hub of the country Today is yours to spend at leisure. Colombo is a combination of modern high-rise buildings amidst old colonial ones making it a picturesque place. You might choose to visit the National Museum or the Zoological Gardens in Dehiwala which are both worth a visit.
You have the option to take an evening stroll in the city, go shopping or dine at a chic-restaurant. The choice is yours.
Today, depending on your international flight departure time, you’ll leave your hotel and drive to the airport which is approximately 1 hour away.