Sri Lanka is a gem like no other. Off the coast of India, mainland influences filter through the island’s Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu people. With a Civil War ending in 2009, the world is buzzing about this new travel hotspot. On our gay group tour you'll go deep into jungles, high up to tea country, and headfirst into the culture. You'll also slumber in the most sublime hotel suites, and savour lavish dinners every night of the tour. If you're an architecture or design fiend, this tour also features 3 stops celebrating famed gay Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa, Master of Jungle Modernism.
Situated in the Indian Ocean just off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka is a treasure trove of tea, cinnamon, cardamom and other fabulous spices. It also has deep harbors and a key geographic location that made it a desirable target for maritime invaders. The island nation was colonized at various times by the Dutch, Portuguese and English over the centuries, contributing to the diverse cultural melting pot that it remains to this day.
Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon to the British, is also a treasure trove of ancient natural wonders, architectural monuments, diverse wildlife and exotic plant life. Many think of Sri Lanka as a paradise on earth, easily earning its affectionate nickname as "the Pearl of the Indian Ocean."
• Marvel at Yapahuwa - one of medieval Sri Lanka’s fleeting capitals
• Ascend Sigiriya, the monolithic ancient fortress
• Try your hand at tea plucking, and see how the leaves are dried
• Cycle through lush and gorgeous countryside
• Rise and shine for an 8km hike to World’s End (it’s worth it)
• Immerse yourself in elephants, boars, and possibly leopards on safari
• Marvel at the monkeys…pretty much everywhere
• Walk the walls UNESCO world heritage site Galle Fort
• Arrival transfer to accommodation booked through OUT Adventures
• Group leader from beginning to end of tour
• 10 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 10 dinners
• 4-star or higher accommodation (10 nights)
• Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in itinerary
• Safari at Minneriya National Park
• Spice garden tour
• Sunset and sunrise safaris in Yala National Park
• Guided tour of Galle Fort
• Colombo city tour
• International Airfare
• Departure Transfer
• Meals & Activities not mentioned in itinerary
• Gratuities for Tour Leader ($50-$100 USD)
• Gratuities for drivers, hotel staff, porters ($30-$50 USD)
• Travel insurance package covering medical, trip interruption & baggage loss
Please note, this tour includes a few days driving long and windy roads. Plan ahead if you get carsick.
Halo! Welcome to Sri Lanka.
After transfer to our swanky hotel, take time to unwind by the massive pool...we’ve got a busy few days ahead. The tour kicks off with a Group Meeting at 6PM, followed by dinner overlooking the lagoon. Enjoy the rest of the evening as you see fit: an early night, get to know fellow travellers, or check out Negombo’s *small* gay bar.
After breakfast and check-out, we visit the granite ruins of Yapahuwa, a medieval Buddhist Heritage Site. We’ll then continue to The Royal Temple, a series of caves where Sri Lankan kings once sought refuge. The 5 caves are filled with an astounding 150 statues of Buddha.
After a long day on the road, our home for the next two nights is a hotel designed by architect Geoffrey Bawa. Built into a mountain and embraced by the jungle, monkeys could well await you on your balcony. Tonight we will enjoy a mouth-watering dinner at the Katakatha restaurant on the roof top.
This morning we’re off to Sigiriya. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a massive rock fortress built by King Kasapaya in the 5th century. We’ll zig-zag the sheer face via potentially vertigo-inducing staircases, with stops along the way to admire famous frescoes. From the top we’ll savour unmatched views of a countryside like no other.
After lunch we’re off to Minneriya. Elephants congregate at this national park, and we’ll get as close as we can on safari. Following our day in the wild, civilized food awaits at the hotel!
This morning we’ll visit Matale Spice Garden, where healing plants are cultivated for Ayurvedic medicine. You’ll also see how Earth’s most popular spices grow, before our group wraps our visit up with lunch.
Then we’re off to sweetly named Kandy. This city was the island’s last capital of native kings before British conquer. Our afternoon includes a drive around the lake, a bustle through the bazaar, and the jewel of Kandy’s crown: Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, where one of Buddha’s actual teeth resides.
We'll wrap up the day with a special dinner at Kandyan Art restaurant.
We'll rise early today to prepare for a scenic cycle from Ulapane to the Mahaweli Valleys. Don't worry if fitness isn't your thing as the ride is not challenging. The path is well paved, shady and relatively flat. Highlights will include small villages and forest patches as well as the Mahaweli river. The ride culminates in a 2km uphill route to a can't-be-missed lookout point. A well-earned snack will be served at the lookout point.
Afterwards we'll transfer to Nuwara Eliya via Ramboda with a mid-day tea plantation visit.
The day ends in the quaint British-inspired town of Nuwara Eliya.
After rising bright and early, we have a long drive to Horton Plains National Park, where an 8km walk to 'World’s End’ is totally worth the view 880m/2,900ft below. The mist that often pours over the cliffs makes this experience magical.
Back at the hotel, after a well-earned hot shower, there may be time to try tea picking, or at least see tea-making in action. After an incredible dinner back at the hotel, you'll have the evening to yourself.
Chilly mountain air becomes heavy and humid as we return to the jungle today. Yala National Park is one of the most densely populated leopard habitats in the world, but they’re still elusive on safari. However, much other wildlife awaits, from elephants to boars to a slew of birds.
Tonight’s “glamping” accommodations are jungle tents with built-in bathrooms, where dinner will be cooked over flame and served by a bonfire.
This morning we’ll rise early for another safari in hopes we see leopards heading back to their dens. Back at the camp, a hearty breakfast will be whipped up just for us.
This afternoon we drive to Galle, and may stop for a kayaking break en route.
Once at our outstanding hotel, you’ll definitely want to wallow in the massive walk-in shower or soaker tub to refresh after last night’s funky jungle adventure.
Tonight’s dinner is served on the resort lawn, overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Today is yours to discover Galle or spend time leisurely tanning on the beach.
You have the option of visiting Ahangama to witness the famous stilt fishermen who perch themselves on the cross bar of a single pole buried deep into the seabed. These fishermen spend hours with their lines cast out to catch even the smallest of fish.
In the evening we will take a guided tour of Galle fort, followed by a cooking class at the Tamarind Hills Hotel.
After a leisurely breakfast to begin our final day, we head for the bustling capital of Colombo.
A stop en route brings us to the former home of Geoffrey Bawa’s brother (the architect of our second hotel), where beautiful gardens are still maintained by the same caretaker.
Once in town, we’ll tour some of the city's most iconic attractions either by foot, tuk tuk, or bus. Sites include the Pettah bazaar, prime neighbourhoods like Cinnamon Gardens, and the National Museum.
Don’t tell the paparazzi, but tonight we’ll stay at the Sri Lanka’s most famous hotel. Kick back by the pool and have a cocktail. We bid farewell with dinner at an alluring restaurant in the former offices of aforementioned architect.
With no activities planned today, you are free to depart at your leisure. Safe travels!
How We Travel
OUT Adventures is all about good times with likeminded guys. Whatever's on the itinerary - from fireside camping to five-star decadence - our goal is to make the experience magical. We're also committed to supporting the communities we visit by hiring local guides, staying at locally-owned accommodations when possible, and celebrating local cuisine. It's the greatest way to immerse yourself in both the experience and culture.
Visas are required for most tourists visiting Sri Lanka, and can be made online at Sri Lanka ETA (please note there may be exceptions, and all visas are the responsibility of the traveller).
When travelling to Sri Lanka, you'll see both good and bad. Poverty is widespread, but the friendly locals make up for it, even if they don't speak much English. Most meals will be at hotels and tourist-style restaurants, so rest assured proper hygiene is practiced. And finally, please respect the local customs when visiting sacred sites. In turn, we'll help make the most of your visit to this unbelievably beautiful island.
Local LGBT Scene
Sri Lanka generally condemns homosexuality. For this reason, it's wise to avoid public displays of affection, for the safety and security of both yourself and your fellow travellers. The island's little gay life is limited to Colombo, and select resort regions like Negombo.
Sri Lanka is often hot and sticky, but the weather can be extremely unpredictable. Daytime on the coast and lowlands hovers around 27C/80F. Things get more reasonable higher up, with temperatures around 18C/65F. Rain is always possible, and the humidity can be oppressive. For this reason, bring waterproof outerwear and well-wicking layers.
Based on entry requirements, no vaccinations are needed for entry unless your home country, or a country you are travelling to before or after this tour, has restrictions in place. To determine if you should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness, consult with your doctor or a travel medical clinic. OUT Adventures cannot provide vaccination recommendations.
You will need an international travel plug/adapter for type D/G sockets.
All of our hotels will have Wi-Fi access, so feel free to tweet, pin, post, and generally be the envy of your friends and family back home.
For everybody's peace of mind, all OUT Adventures include comprehensive travel insurance. That's up to $200 you won't have to fret about adding to your budget, unless you want to insure the value of your trip for cancellation. Here's what's covered:
• Unlimited Trip Interruption
• Up to $50,000 Emergency Medical plus up to $300,000 for ambulance transportation, up to $5,000,000 CAD with valid GHIP coverage.
• Baggage Loss or Damage up to $1,500
• Baggage Delay up to $500
• Flight Accident up to $100,000
• Travel Accident up to $50,000
All OUT Adventures are led by a gay (or gay-welcoming) guide. Whenever possible, we hire destination locals. And we can also connect you with the right people if you'd like to delve deeper into the local culture. If you're pleased with their services, we recommend a tip of $5-10 US, per person, per day...they'll definitely appreciate the gesture.
OUT Adventures are a great way to meet people from around the world and all walks of life. Bear in mind that everybody's on the tour for a good time, so mutual respect will go a long way. Please be on time for any meet-ups, empathetic to the needs of others, and ready to roll with whatever the adventure brings.
Although we can't tell you who your fellow travellers are for privacy reasons, we can assure you many great friendships began on an OUT Adventure. And just because we're gay doesn't mean we're exclusive: friends and family are always welcome to join the fun.
If you've never travelled on your own, it's an amazing way to learn about yourself while making friends along the way. We can set you up to share a room with someone around your age, or you can pay a supplement if you'd rather some space and privacy. If there's an odd number of solos, we'll rotate single rooms on a random basis.
The itinerary is correct at time of publishing. If anything, it will only improve with feedback from travellers and our own experience, so it's best to reference your final trip documents (rather than our website) to confirm if any changes have affected your departure.
Minimum 4 and maximum of 16 guests.
Every OUT Adventure offers optional excursions that are not included in the trip price. Please see the daily itinerary in your final pre-trip packet to see what's available.
To keep things simple, most meals are included in this trip's price, with the exception of lunches. Although we typically dine together so everybody can get a taste of everything, feel free to explore on your own. Or guide will always have worthwhile restaurant recommendations.
Tipping If you are happy with services throughout your trip, a tip is recommended. Tipping details will be provided in your final trip documentation, but $150 USD is a wise budget.
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, with USD widely accepted given the tourism. While credit cards are accepted at most upscale restaurants and hotels, we recommend carrying local currency or small USD bills for little purchases. We also recommend carrying about $400 USD, only to be used in an emergency, or if your credit/ATM cards are placed on hold.
What to Bring
Most OUT Adventures entail carrying your own luggage on occasion. While you'll never schlep far, things can quickly get heavier than a celebrity breakup if you don't pack light: keep your baggage under 20kg/44lb, or you may have to leave something behind on domestic flights (exact luggage restrictions will be covered in your pre-trip packet). You should also bring a small bag for day trips to carry water, your camera, and any souvenirs you buy.
Starting Point - Heritance Negombo Hotel, Negombo
Get the celebrity treatment with world-class service at Heritance Negombo. The hotel is just 100 m from Negombo Beach Park while Bandaranaike International Airport is 20- minute drive away. Offering views of the Indian Ocean, every room includes a flat-screen cable TV. A hairdryer and bathrobes are provided in the en suite bathroom.
Finishing Point - The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo
Bejeweled as one of the finest five-star Colombo hotels located in-between Galle Face Green, the World Trade Centre and the Dutch Hospital Precinct. Boasting spectacular views of the Colombo Harbor and the Galle Face Green, The Kingsbury Colombo is a 5-star hotel that offers elegant accommodation in the heart of Colombo. Guests can leisurely soak in the outdoor pool overlooking the ocean, and make use of the 24-hour butler service. Elegantly designed yet spacious rooms offer oversized windows with breathtaking views.