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“Adventure with a ‘wow’ at every turn…” Trip of the week: Pure Sri Lanka

women farming tea leaves in Sri Lanka

Next time you hear ‘Please rise for the Sri Lanka national anthem’ (as everyone does), you’ll be scrambling to get out of your seat. After 11 days spent with Contiki in this brilliant country you’ll be singing loud and praising it to everyone you know!

If you like energetic city breaks, if you like beaches and tropical climates, if you like elephants and sea turtles, then Pure Sri Lanka is the holiday for you. If you like street food tours, if you like discovering unique cultures, if you like temples ornamented in gold, then Pure Sri Lanka is the holiday for you. Get the picture?

Specially curated for those with a deep sense of adventure and a wish to cultivate the world around them, this trip is a gorgeous 11 day experience of all the best things Sri Lanka has to offer and so much more. Here’s Jasmine, one of our Trip Managers, to tell you everything you need to know before booking that flight. 

Hey Jasmine, can you give me 3 reasons why I’ll love this trip?

Diverse sights. Natural beauty. Cinnamon.

“Sri Lanka is such a diverse place and on the trip we’ll travel from beaches to national parks, as well as visiting lots of ancient structures like fortresses and temples. It’s a lot to see, and we have all the time in the world to see everything, but it’s amazing just how much variety you get on this trip. And you get to witness all the natural beauty Sri Lanka has to offer this way, as well.

“I said cinnamon, and that’s because cinnamon is a super common ingredient here, but especially in curries. It’s a local specialty and maybe some people will find it odd, but honestly don’t knock it until you try it – it’s gorgeous!”

This trip is for me if…

You want an adventure.

“Between all the different kinds of landscapes we’ll be seeing, especially the jungles and the National Parks, and all the various wildlife and animal sanctuaries, this trip is a full on adventure with a ‘wow’ around every corner!”

beach at sunset in Sri Lanka

Image source:Contiki

What’s the most spellbinding view?

Mountains of Ella.

“Normally I would say the view of the Mountains of Ella from the most scenic and famous train ride is the best, and it is pretty fantastic, but there’s just something about swinging from a palm tree over the ocean that takes the cake.

“It’s a toss up between the two really, but how often are you swinging above deep blue glassy waters in a place close to paradise?”

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Speaking of the train ride from Kandy to Nanuoya, how long is it, and what will I get to see along the way?

“The train ride is 3 and a half hours which may seem long but honestly with all the beauty you’ll glimpse out of your window you won’t mind at all! 

We ride past these lush tea fields (which we can stop at to learn more about how tea is grown and plucked), beautiful misty mountains that are covered in nearby jungles, lots and lots of waterfalls, as well as small villages. It’s a ride that feels like you’re travelling to a completely different universe and it gives you all those sweet tropical vibes.”

Train ride in Sri Lanka

Image source:Contiki

What’s the tastiest food experience?

Everything we eat during the Unawatuna cooking class.

“I love this trip because we have the opportunity to take a cooking class in Unawatuna and taste lots of local flavours and try unique dishes that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. One of them is a cinnamon pumpkin curry which is delicious, and anyone who is a fan of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes will be a fan of this dish!

“The prawn mango curry on Weligama Beach is also absolutely divine, and it especially hits the spot after a hefty surf lesson.”

The sweetest stay?

Glamping in Udawalawe.

“On the 7th day of the trip we rested for the night at the Athgira River Camping side (or similar) which is a very cute glamping spot. It’s fitted out with some cosy lodges and a pool, so the stay itself is beautiful.

“But what makes it the sweetest stay is its proximity to Udawalawe National Park and earlier in the day we visit the Elephant Transit Home which is a rehabilitation centre for orphaned elephants. It’s basically a whole day and night where we’re surrounded by nature and that makes this so magical.”

three women in Sri Lanka on holiday

Image source:Contiki

How about the best spot for culture vultures?

The day in Kandy.

“The day in Kandy is one of our busiest and most informative as you really get a taste of Sri Lanka living. We take a tour of the city via TukTuk – a fun and unique mode of transport – and you get to discover all the street food and have lots of nibbles along the way. 

“The best part though is at night when we get to watch an evening ceremony at the Temple of the Tooth – this stunning and pristine temple which is a point of interest for many Buddhists around the country. The reason it’s called the Temple of the Tooth is because it holds a holy relic of Buddah’s tooth – quite a literal name then, but wow!”

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What’s the most jaw-dropping included experience?

The elephant sanctuary.

“There’s no competition really, the most amazing included experience is hands down our visit to the Elephant Rehabilitation centre in Udawalawe. It’s a centre dedicated to taking care of orphaned elephants and preparing them for life again, and the whole experience just gives me faith in the world and in our kindness. I’ve carried out this trip many times now and it still never gets old.”

elephants in a sanctuary in Sri Lanka

Image source:Contiki

Which Free Time Add-On will give my friends the most FOMO?

The sunset surfing experience.

“On Weligama Beach we’re treated to a surfing class at sunset which just makes the whole experience truly out of this world. The waves shine under the golden sun, it’s so pretty and a great photo opportunity as well (we get many group photos here).

I’m not a great surfer personally, but the place that we go has some gentle currents and the team that takes care of us are great with first lessons and beginners so really everyone is welcome! Generally everyone who participates has an absolute ball.”

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What will surprise me about the trip?

“Honestly you just get so much of Sri Lanka on the trip. Like I said earlier, the diversity will astound you and we really do get to experience so many aspects of it in just 11 days! From the highest peaks to beautiful beaches, remote national parks, to bustling cities. Every day feels different from the last.”

If this trip was a song it’d be:

“‘Freedom’ by Kygo and Zak Able.

If this trip was a drink it’d be:

“A tropical Ceylon Iced tea with fresh fruit.”

Describe the trip in 3 words:

Stunning. Nature. Foodie. (I’m hungry just thinking about it.)

girls surfboarding in Sri Lanka

Image source:Contiki

What’s the funniest story you’ve heard/seen happen on this trip?

“Trying to get off the swings at the beaches on the trip is always quite funny. It’s not the most practical to be honest and it can be quite awkward to manoeuvre. If you get too eager you can often end up going for an unintentional swim…”

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Which part of this trip makes you love your job?

“I genuinely love to see everyone’s face when we arrive at each new destination and they still have that look of awe painted on their smiles. Sri Lanka’s wow factor never fades. I also love asking people at the end of the trip what their favourite place was and watching them struggle to justify picking just one because there are so many.”

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about this trip that you think I should know?

“Just that the Trip Manager, Driver, and local guide are with you every day so it’s such a close knit team of support which will enable you to learn all about the culture and experience everything with maximum safety and fun!”

temple in Sri Lanka

Image source:Contiki

Here’s what our travellers have to say:

“This is such an amazing trip! I’ve been on many Contikis but this trip was extra special as it was my first trip post Covid. Sri Lanka is a gorgeous country and the people are so lovely. Our Trip Manager was outstanding and the local guide was an absolute dream.”

“The trip was perfectly planned with a mixture of culture, nature, and relaxation. The included experiences were great and there was a good selection of add-ons to suit everybody! Our Trip Manager was amazing and constantly made sure everyone was okay and having a great time.”

“One of the best trips that I’ve been on! Everything about this trip was amazing and it had a great mix of tourist places and culture. The cooking class is an absolute must! Sri Lanka should definitely be on your bucket list.”

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