This expedition offers a variety of experience across Sri Lanka. Visiting the well known cultural sites of Sigiryia and Kandy, observing Asian elephants, trekking in the Knuckles Range and supporting a community project, adds up to a compelling adventure for pupils.
The trip starts with time to relax after the international flight, on golden beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean. Then begins four days working at a community project in a village, where there are options for the group to improve village infrastructure or school facilities. The project aims to enhance the lives of the community, by improving the long-term conditions of the village.
After the project, you will then explore the island's rich cultural and natural diversity. The city of Kandy is steeped in history and tradition,and you will visit the sacred Temple of the Tooth to learn about Buddhist religion. The itinerary also visits two of Sri Lanka’s best national parks: Minneryia and Wilpattu. These give pupils an opportunity to observe the vast array of wildlife found in Sri Lanka, which includes elephants, leopards, sloth bears and an exotic variety of birdlife. There is also a challenge to pupils with a jungle trek through the Knuckles Range, to learn about Sri Lanka’s diverse flora and fauna and make new friends with local communities.
Day1: Depart the UK
Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Colombo.
Day2: Arrive Sri Lanka, transfer to beach
On arrival in the capital, the group will be met and transferred to Negomobo, a pretty fishing village, where there is time to relax, before sampling some traditional dishes over dinner.
Day3: Transfer from Negombo to Belihuloya Village
After breakfast, transfer by road to the project village in Belihuloya and enjoy a traditional village lunch on arrival. After lunch we will take an orientation walk in this rural area, followed by a briefing on the project for the following days. This evening there is an opportunity to participate in a traditional village ceremony, before enjoying dinner and a camp fire.
Day4: Community Project
Today work begins at the chosen project site. For such a village project, tasks may include helping a local family with constructing a house or village communal area. Alternatively, you may join a reforestation project, to provide sustainable planting and forest preservation. For a school project, this would involve painting classrooms, installing new classroom facilities, with pupils assisting with teaching and organising games for the school children.
Day5: Community Project
After breakfast, continue work at the chosen project. In the afternoon, there will be time for the group to organise games or lessons for the local children.
Day6: Community Project
Today is the final day and competition of the project. In the evening, pupils will join with the local community for a farewell dinner and learn traditional dances.
Day7: Transfer to Kandy
After breakfast, bid farewell to our hosts and proceed to Kandy. Well known as one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful cities, Kandy is strategically nestled amidst three mountain ranges and known as the gateway to the hill country. On arrival, there will be an orientation and then free time for pupils to explore the city in small groups, before dinner.
Day8: Visit Temple of the Tooth, transfer to the Knuckles Range
After breakfast, you will visit the famous ‘Temple of the Tooth’, the most important Buddhist Temple in Sri Lanka, dating back to 16th Century. The Temple is home to one of the most important objects in the Buddhist world, the Sacred Relic of the Tooth of Buddha. The relic is kept in a gold casket and stored in the Inner Chamber, and at several times throughout the day, services are held with a large number of worshippers present. You will hear traditional drumming and incense in the air, and be able glimpse the relic within.
After leaving Kandy, drive into the hill country and proceed to The Knuckles Range, check into the guesthouse and then enjoy lunch and an afternoon trek into the hills, with superb views of the range.
Day9: Knuckles Mountain Range
After breakfast, we spend a full day trekking in the range. The Knuckles Mountain Range is a nature reserve that will enthuse nature lovers,home to many species of endemic plant and animal life, some of which are specific to this region only and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Three distinct types of forests can be found here and some of the peaks reach over 900 metres. The Knuckles is perfect for learning about Sri Lanka’s bio-diversity, alongside beautiful mountain scenery.
Day10: Transfer to Polonnaruwa
After breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to the Knuckles and proceed to Polonnaruwa, arriving in time for lunch and an afternoon visit to the ancient temple complex. Polonnaruwa is one of Sri Lanka's ancient capital cities (and part of the famous 'Cultural Triangle'). The most famous symbol of this capital is the impressive Gal Vihara temple complex where the three colossal granite statues of Lord Buddha rest.
Day11: Sigiryia Fort & Minneriya National Park
After breakfast, proceed to Sigiriya. Appropriately named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya is one of the most outstanding of architectural wonders in Sri Lanka. Rising 200 metres above one of Asia’s most well-preserved ancient landscaped gardens, the rock fortress of Sigiriya, a giant granite monolith, is an unforgettable site. The fortress was built in the shape of a lion, hence the name Lion’s Rock. Giant lion’s paws and intricate surrounding brickwork are all that remain of the forbidding entrance to the Upper Palace. Stretching across nearly 1.4 hectares, the palace on the flat plateau summit was home to King Kasyapa for over 20 years.
After visiting Sigiryia, and climbing the rock fortress, you will check into a hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, the group will visit Minneriya National Park, for a 4 x 4 safari around the lake. Minneriya is a important home for large numbers of Sri Lankan elephants, who gather here in numbers between 150-200.
Day12: Wilpattu National Park
After an early start, transfer to Wilpattu National Park where, after lunch, you will join an afternoon wildlife safari. Wilpattu is the largest national park in Sri Lanka, with several diverse forest types. It is one of the best places to see leopard in Sri Lanka, along with a growing population of Sri Lankan sloth bears.
After the safari, transfer to Marawila, where there is time to relax at the hotel, before the last night’s dinner.
Day13: Transfer to Colombo airport, depart
After breakfast, there should be some time to enjoy the beach in the morning and relax before the evening flight departure. En route to the airport, you will have lunch at local restaurant, before checking in for the return flight home.
Day14: Arrive UK
This suggested itinerary is based on personal recommendation and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
In many rural regions of Sri Lanka, schools facilities are basic and in disrepair. By planning and implementing a project, pupils will provide a long lasting benefit to this particular rural community.
An ancient capital home to religious relics and the gateway to exploring central Sri Lanka, Kandy is the cultural and historical heart of Sri Lanka and a location not to be missed.
Bursting with endemic species, secluded cloud forests, and stunning trekking trails, the Knuckles mountains are of great scientific interest and filled with adventure at every turn.
Standing at over 200 metres, the incredible ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya can be seen for miles around and is one of the most prominent landmarks in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle.
Minneriya National Park is home to a variety of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, and is particularly well known for the conservation of its huge herds of Sri Lankan elephants.
Wilpattu’s variety of habitats, from dense jungle to natural lakes, plays host to a variety of mammals and reptiles, and provides a great opportunity to learn about Sri Lanka’s native plant species.