Tale of a Tear Shaped Island

In-depth Tour of Sri Lanka

Explore the ancient cities of Anurdhapura and Polonnaruwa and survey vast jungles from the top of the Sigiriya rock fortress on this quest to the far reaches of mythical Shangri-La in Sri Lanka. Journey to the far north of the island to Jaffna to witness the sinking church and discover the remote islands of Delft and Nagadeepa. Meet a local Sri Lankan martial arts master, taste Sri Lankan cuisine in a private spice garden and catch the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, a track which is truly a marvel of engineering.

Stay in traditionally-inspired and heritage-listed hotels, join a local village family for dinner and try seafood on the beach on this tour of Sri Lanka.

17 Days


$6935 AUD*

Departure date: 1 November 2024

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: TICC*from


  • Seek out the ancient cities of Anurdhapura and Polonnaruwa and make the ascent to the top of the Sigiriya rock fortress
  • Watch the auction hype at the fish markets in Jaffna, explore the chilled out town of Ella and learn to cook traditional Sri Lankan cuisine at a private spice garden
  • Catch the scenic (and now famous) train from bustling Kandy to the laid-back town of Nuwara Eliya, marvelling at the construction of the line and bridges the train passes over
  • Stay in traditionally-inspired hotels and eat local cuisine across a varied selection that incorporates some of Sri Lanka’s best restaurants to a scenic picnic

The Basics

Start: Colombo

Finish: Colombo

Trip style: Unique

Max group size: 15

What's this?

Reasons you’ll love this tour

  • You want to visit Sri Lanka, but want to venture further than the standard tour
  • You enjoy learning about local crafts and industry
  • You have an interest in the ancient history of Sri Lanka and enjoy visiting ancient cities
  • You want to mix your trip up with off the beaten path sites, unique food experiences and traditionally inspired accommodation
  • You like to try local transport when travelling
  • You don’t want to be rushed and want some time to stop and smell the roses.
  • Authenticity is important to you when travelling


Upon arrival at Bandarnaike International Airport in Sri Lanka, you will proceed to Passport Control for immigration followed by baggage collection and clearing customs formalities.

After baggage collection, meet our representative who will assist you with your included transfer to the hotel in Negombo.

After checking in at the hotel, you can enjoy the remainder of the day your leisure, taking in the beautiful surroundings and exploring the area.

Tonight a delightful dinner will be arranged on the beach, allowing you to indulge in a memorable first night on your tour of Sri Lanka while enjoying scenic views and getting to know your travel companions and trip leader.

After an early breakfast we start our tour of Sri Lanka by embarking on a journey to Jaffna via Chilaw. The drive will offer scenic views and take us through picturesque landscapes.

Upon reaching Jaffna in the late afternoon, we will check in at the hotel, where we can unwind and settle in.

This evening will be at leisure. Take advantage of the tranquil atmosphere and enjoy a leisurely evening, perhaps exploring the hotel’s amenities or head out into Jaffna for some independent exploring.

Today after a relaxed breakfast, visit the vibrant Jaffna Market, where we can immerse ourselves in the local culture and discover a variety of goods and produce.

We will also have the chance to visit the magnificent Nallur Kovil, a significant Hindu temple known for its architectural beauty and religious significance. Another highlight of the tour is a visit to Point Pedro, a scenic coastal area that offers breathtaking views of the ocean.

During the tour, we will also get to experience the authentic flavors of Jaffna with a Jaffna style lunch prepared by a local family.

Our exploration of Jaffna continues this morning with an immersive experience on two remote islands: Delft and Nagadeepa. These islands offer a unique opportunity to delve
into the local culture and embrace the natural environment. Take in the mesmerizing sights as you visit Delft Island, known for its wild ponies and ancient ruins, and Nagadeepa Island, home to historical Buddhist temples.

If time permits, we will visit St. Anthony’s Church, which holds a captivating allure as its stone, brick, and coral walls slowly sink into the dunes. This sinking church creates a
hauntingly beautiful backdrop, accentuated by the simple cross markers scattered across the sandy terrain and the vast blue expanse of the Indian Ocean beyond.

As the day winds down, take a leisurely evening sunset walk in Jaffna Fort, allowing you to soak in the breathtaking views and reflect on the day’s discoveries on our tour of Sri Lanka.

After breakfast, embark on a scenic drive to Habarana, where we will have the opportunity to explore the rich heritage of this enchanting land of Serendipity.

Enroute to Habarana, we will visit Anuradhapura, a historically significant city that served as the capital for over a millennium. It was ruled by Sinhalese Kings, with occasional South Indian influences, and its grandeur can still be witnessed today.
Anuradhapura, founded in the 4th century BC, is renowned for its majestic temples called Dagabas, ancient reservoirs, and exquisitely landscaped gardens that have left behind captivating ruins.

Later enjoy a lovely meal at a local restaurant.

Continue on your tour of Sri Lanka to Habarana, and check in at the hotel, where you can unwind and relax for the rest of the evening.

Early this morning prepare yourself for an awe-inspiring experience as we embark on a climb to the magnificent Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its dramatic and breathtaking beauty, making it one of the most captivating historical locations in the world. Built in the 5th century AD by King Kasyapa, the fortress-palace of Sigiriya is steeped in mythical tales of feuding dynasties. Often referred to as the “8th wonder of the world,” Sigiriya rivals the grandeur of the Taj Mahal and leaves visitors in awe with its stunning panoramic views, remarkable engineering, and unparalleled design.

After exploring the wonders of Sigiriya, the rest of the day is yours to enjoy at leisure.

After breakfast, embark on a journey to Polonnaruwa, which served as Sri Lanka’s royal medieval capital in 1073. This historical city is a treasure trove of ancient monuments and architectural wonders waiting to be explored. We will have the opportunity to witness the grandeur of the Royal Palace and Audience Halls of King Parakramabahu I and King Nissankamalla. Marvel at the remarkable structures such
as Thuparama, Vata-da-ge, Heta-da-ge, Pabalu Vehera, Siva Devala, Rankot Vehera, Baddhasima-prasada, Lankatilake, and Gal Vihara, which features four magnificent rock-cut Buddha statues. Don’t miss the Tivanka Image House, adorned with beautiful 12th-century murals, and the old Hospital, where ancient surgical instruments were discovered.

Indulge in a truly authentic Sri Lankan dining experience at Priyamali Gedera, a remarkable local restaurant situated in front of a scenic rice paddy.

On the way back to Habarana, we will make a stop at Minneriya, where you will embark on an exciting Jeep Safari in Minneriya National Park. This park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including Sri Lanka’s favorites such as sambar deer, leopards, and elephants. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas as you explore the park.

After breakfast, you will be driven to Kandy, with a stop enroute to visit the renowned Dambulla Caves. Dambulla is famous for its five cave temples situated on a rock. The first three caves are particularly notable, as they are older, larger, and more
impressive. Some of these caves date back to the First Century B.C. Inside, you will find a collection of statues and paintings depicting the life of Gautama Buddha.

Also visit the Spice Garden in Matale, which has a longstanding reputation for its spices. Learn about fragrant spices like clove, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, as well as favorites like chocolate and vanilla.

Later, continuing your journey to Kandy. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel and refresh yourself.

Optional Experience Hot Air Balloon Ride

Tour of Sri Lanka Hot Air Balloon Ride

Rise early at 5 am to embark on a memorable hot air balloon journey. As you arrive at the take-off launch, witness the balloons being inflated while enjoying an open Sri Lankan buffet breakfast. Soar above the picturesque landscapes,
including lakes, tropical jungles, beautiful birds, and the warmhearted
locals. Admire the geographical beauties of Sri Lanka from a unique perspective. Upon landing, celebrate with a traditional glass of Champagne, Juice, Water, and Cake, and
receive your personalized Sri Lanka Balloon Flight Certificate, marking this extraordinary adventure.

** Please note this is an optional experience and is not included in the tour price. This activity must be booked prior to departure. You will have the opportunity to book on check out online or with our staff over the phone.

This morning we will begin our exploration of Kandy with a visit to a traditional Sri Lankan village, where we will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the warmth and vibrancy of the local culture. The Panabokke village tour will take you through lush paddy fields, fragrant spice gardens, and bountiful orchards. As you explore, keep an eye out for the diverse bird species that inhabit the area, including Fishing
Eagles, Golden Orioles, and colorful parrots. Enjoy a delightful picnic at an “Ambalama,” a wayside rest area.

In the late afternoon, we continue our exploration in Kandy on our tour or Sri Lanka. Take a leisurely stroll around the serene lake and wander through the bustling streets, soaking in the wonderful atmosphere that surrounds you. Kandy is not only known for its natural beauty but also serves as the historical bastion of Buddhist power and a hub for arts, crafts, and culture.

At 5:30 PM, visit the Sri Dalada Maligawa, commonly known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Admire the intricate architectural details as you pass the brick wall, known as the water waves wall, adorned with coconut oil lamps. Inside, you
will find significant stone carvings, including elephants, a Makara Torana, and guardian stones, symbolizing the cultural heritage of Kandy.

After breakfast, proceed to Peradeniya railway station, where you will board a train to Nanu Oya. Experience the local way of travel and indulge in a scenic train ride through picturesque landscapes. Upon reaching Nanu Oya railway station, a vehicle will be waiting to continue our tour of Sri Lanka to Nuwara Eliya.

Nuwara Eliya, often referred to as the “Land of Tea-laden Hillsides,” is a charming destination known for its cascading waterfalls, majestic mountains, and pristine hill-country air.

Next visit a tea plantation and a tea factory, where you can indulge in a fascinating “tea to the cup” experience, learning about the tea-making process and savoring the exquisite flavors of Sri Lankan tea.

In the late afternoon, we treat ourselves to a luxurious High Tea experience at the Grand Hotel. This time-honored tradition dates back to the era when Sir Edward Barnes constructed this magnificent mansion. Enjoy an array of delectable snacks, cakes, fondue, and baked delights, accompanied by a perfectly brewed tea of your choice. The Tea Lounge at the Grand Hotel comes alive with the finest assortment of traditional savory treats, sandwiches, and sweets, allowing you to crown your visit to “Little England” with an unforgettable high tea experience.

After breakfast, we will continue our tour of Sri Lanka with a scenic drive to Wellawaya, passing through the charming town of Ella and visiting the famous Demodara bridge along the way.

Demodara is a picturesque town nestled in the Central Highlands and is renowned for its curved 9 arch bridge, an architectural marvel. This bridge, also known as the “Bridge in the Sky,” showcases colonial engineering at its finest.

Return to Ella, a tranquil mountain village with breathtaking views, offering the perfect setting to relax and unwind. Explore the lush tea plantations, visit temples, and admire stunning waterfalls as you immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of Ella.

After exploring Ella, continue your journey to Wellawaya and check in at the hotel, where you can settle in and enjoy a comfortable evening.

Today after breakfast on our tour of Sri Lanka, explore Wellawaya, a junction town located on the outskirts of the historic Uva Province.

Start with a walk through the lush paddy fields. Immerse yourself in the intricacies of paddy cultivation and gain insights into the various traditional rice varieties. Engage with senior farmers who will share their wealth of knowledge about their lesser-known lifestyles, traditional agricultural methods, and the cultural practices that shape their lives. This immersive experience will provide a deep understanding of the local way
of life and their close relationship with the land.

The rest of the day is yours to explore Wellawaya at your leisure.

Today after breakfast, visit some of the most renowned archaeological sites in the area, including Buduruwagala, Yudaganawa, Maligawila, and Biso-Kotuwa. These sites
showcase the rich history and architectural brilliance of ancient civilizations, offering a glimpse into their cultural and artistic heritage. Marvel at the intricate carvings, towering statues, and the remnants of structures that have stood the
test of time.

This morning we will head to Galle, the next stop on our tour of Sri Lanka, after breakfast.

Upon arrival, you will check into your accommodation and have the opportunity to unwind and relax for the rest of the evening. Immerse yourself in the coastal atmosphere and savor the laid-back charm that defines this enchanting region.

Today after breakfast, embark on a culinary adventure and discover the rich flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine. Meet your host at a charming art deco style house within the fort, where your experience will begin with a visit to a local market. Next, head to the kitchen, nestled in a delightful semi-outdoor courtyard, and learn the secrets behind preparing mouthwatering Sri Lankan dishes. Once the cooking class is complete, indulge in a
scrumptious Sri Lankan lunch.

Next proceed for a Galle Fort Walk led by a local resident. This best-selling experience offers a concise representation of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage as you journey through the UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle Fort. Uncover the captivating stories
and history of the fort and treat yourself to a chilled beverage and marvel at the breathtaking sunset.

This morning we will leave Galle and head for Colombo, the last stop on our tour of Sri Lanka.

Enroute visit Weligama to witness the unique tradition of Silt Fishing. Prepare to be amazed as you observe fishermen using stilts to catch fish. This extraordinary method, practiced by around 500 fishing families in Galle, involves the fishermen balancing on stilts about 2 meters above the water, casting their nets during sunset, noon, and sunrise. It is a mesmerizing sight that showcases the ingenuity and skill of the local

Continuing our tour of Sri Lanka, we will head to Colombo, the vibrant commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Upon arrival, we will check in at the hotel and, in the late afternoon, embark on an exploration of the city.

Colombo’s historical Fort area, originally built by the Portuguese in the 17th century and later developed by the Dutch and the British, is now a bustling hub of government offices, banks, luxurious hotels, and the largest wholesale bazaar in the
country. Amidst the modern skyline, the old colonial buildings still stand proudly, offering a glimpse into Colombo’s rich heritage. To top off our remarkable journey, we will experience a thrilling and brief ‘Tuk Tuk’ ride to our farewell dinner location
at Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo. This esteemed hotel was chosen to host the esteemed guests of His Royal Highness Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness Duchess of Cornwall, now His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla, during their
visit to Sri Lanka.

Enjoy this special dinner as a chance to say goodbye to your trip leader and travel companions and to reminisce on your amazing tour of Sri Lanka.

Optional Experience: Whale Watching

Unique tour of Sri Lanka - Whale Watching

At 6:00 am, You will be driven to the charming Mirissa fishing port, where you’ll board a specialized whale-watching vessel for an exhilarating four-hour morning excursion in pursuit of the majestic Blue Whales.

** Please note this is an optional experience and is not included in the tour price. This activity must be booked prior to departure. You will have the opportunity to book on check out online or with our staff over the phone.

Your tour of Sri Lanka comes to an end this morning after breakfast.

Tour of Sri Lanka
Trip Map
Tale of a Tear Shaped Isle


Duration: 17 Days

Trip style: Unique

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: TICC

Cost: $6935.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $1753.00 AUD


  • 16-nights accommodation in heritage and traditionally inspired hotels
  • Airport transfer from Colombo international airport to Negambo hotel on arrival
  • Tickets for the train Kandy to Nanu Oya
  • All applicable entrance fees for sites listed in the itinerary
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / HT = High Tea D = Dinner)
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides
  • All government and hotel taxes

Optional experiences (not included):

  • Hot air balloon ride in Kandy
  • Galle: Whale Watching (from Galle)

* Please note some optional experiences must be booked prior to travel.

Trip price does not include

  • International airfares
  • Airport transfers on departure
  • Visa for Sri Lanka
  • Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the tour
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating – Journey

This is a tour of Sri Lanka, a country that is accustomed to tourists and travellers. We will still be off the beaten path at times, however for most of the trip we shouldn’t be out of our comfort zone too much. This trip does involve a lot of walking during the sightseeing and has some light trekking included. To get the most out of this trip you should be able to walk confidently across uneven surfaces and climb stairs. At times women may be required to wear a floor-length skirt to enter temples and places of worship and you may encounter the odd squat toilet during unscheduled roadside toilet breaks.

Good quality hospitals, pharmacies and other public amenities will be limited to big cities but should never be too far away.

A note about fitness

This tour of Sri Lanka requires a good level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 4km over at times, uneven surfaces during sightseeing, which will sometimes be at an incline. In addition, you should be able to climb up to 200 stairs unassisted and use an eastern style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues).

You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach and on and off the train. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.)

In addition, on this tour of Sri Lanka you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Trip leader description

Accompanying you along your tour of Sri Lanka will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

The itinerary for this tour of Sri Lanka is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 16 years

There is no shared accommodation on this tour of Sri Lanka, and we will be traveling through a relatively well-travelled part of the world, in this instance we would welcome everyone above the age of 16 years. Should you wish to bring younger children, please give us a call.

There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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