- Traveling with GEEO
- Educator Resources
- About Us
- Traveling with GEEO
- Educator Resources
- About Us
Sri Lanka is a hidden gem that has reemerged as a tropical jewel that captivates travelers with vibrant colors, rich cultures, and palm-fringed landscapes. Begin in the bustling city of Colombo, exploring its vibrant streets before immersing yourself in the Portuguese and Dutch architecture of Negombo. Experience the local way of life as you observe fishermen at work and glide along the Dutch canal. Discover the awe-inspiring Sigiriya rock fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and share a meal with locals in a nearby village. Traverse the scenic central highlands, explore a traditional tea plantation, and take a scenic train ride, all while earning professional development credit with other educators.
GEEO will be partnering with the Center for South Asia at UW-Madison. Accompanying the trip will be a representative of UW-Madison who will provide guidance to teachers during the trip and help with the development of classroom activities and lesson plans that focus on the historical, cultural, social, political, economic, and environmental aspects of Sri Lanka.
Arrive at any time in Colombo, the capital and largest city of Sri Lanka. Due to the potential for flight delays or cancellations, we recommend that you plan to arrive in South Asia at least a day in advance. This will also give you time to adjust to the time difference and overcome any jetlag. We can book extra hotel nights for you in Colombo before the program begins. Please note that check-in at the hotel is usually around 2:00-3:00 p.m. There are no planned activities until an intro meeting around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m., usually in the hotel lobby. Check for a sign or ask at the reception desk about the exact time and location of the group meeting. Please make every effort to arrive in time for this meeting. If you are delayed and will arrive late, please inform us. Your tour leader will then leave you a message at the front desk informing you of where and when to meet up tomorrow. After the meeting, you might choose to get dinner at a nearby restaurant with your traveling companions and your tour leader to further get to know one another.
Enjoy a guided city tour of Colombo, where you will visit the Pettah district and wind your way through a series of open-air bazaars and markets. The area is home to Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, one of the oldest and most visited mosques in Colombo, and also hosts Kayman's Gate, Colombo Town Hall, and the Khan Clock Tower. Later in the day, drive to Negombo where you will have free time in the evening to explore the stunning Portuguese and Dutch architecture. Approximate travel time: 45 minutes by private vehicle
We will begin the day by taking a walking tour of a fishing village. Learn about the life of the locals while you head out to the sea to take in the action. Watch the fishermen bring their boats to shore, clean their nets, dry their catch, and sell the fish to waiting buyers. We will then board a boat and cruise calmly along the Dutch canal, one of many canals in the city that links estuaries and lagoons. Watch as Negombo's residents collect coconuts, and keep an eye out for the multitude of bird species in the area. Afterward, we depart Negombo and drive to the Dambulla province, where we will visit the Golden Cave Temple of Dambulla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Dambulla cave temples are one of the most well-preserved temples and cave sites in Sri Lanka. See the Buddhist mural paintings that line the walls of the seventh-century caves as well as a collection of hundreds of statues of Buddha in different poses. We will then drive to a hotel near Sigiriya where we will spend the next two nights. In the evening, try to catch a beautiful sunset over the Kandalama Reservoir. Approximate travel time: 3 to 4.5 hrs by private vehicle
Wander through a typical Sri Lankan village to learn more about its residents and their way of life. For lunch, enjoy some local cuisine prepared by the families of the town and get a chance to interact with the community. Later, will visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and be mesmerized by the ancient complex built over 1,500 years ago. The fortress grounds captivate every visitor with its well-planned gardens, caves, monasteries, and palaces adorned with beautiful wall motifs. Start at the water gardens and climb more than 1,200 steps to reach the top. Pass boulders and caves with frescoes to find the ruins of a palace on the flat surface of the old volcanic magma rock. The rock rests 1,213 ft above sea level with a shear drop on all sides. In the afternoon, opt to go for a tour of Polonnaruwa, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, where you can cycle through the ruins.
While driving through the scenic Knuckles Mountain Range today, our first stop will be a visit to an herbal center of spices for an interactive session with students of Ayurveda. Learn all about the medicinal uses of various herbs used by the people of Sri Lanka in their massages and treatments. We will arrive in Kandy in the afternoon for an orientation walk of the city and area around Kandy Lake. We will have a delicious traditional Sri Lankan lunch prepared by Sthree Craft Shop and Café. This social enterprise offers opportunities for local women and youth living with disabilities, through handicraft and hospitality training. Enjoy a tour of the Temple of the Tooth, which houses an important relic: a tooth of Lord Buddha kept in a well-preserved golden casket. Learn about the importance of this site from local guides. In the evening, opt to attend an exciting Kandyan Cultural Dance. Approximate travel time: 3 hrs by private vehicle
Enjoy a free morning in Kandy before traveling to Digana for a nature resort homestay. Upon arrival, we will get a crash course in local life with a village walk. Learn about some of the essential local industries like milk collection and dolomite mining. Meet with a local jeweler who creates handicrafts from copper sheets and precious stones, and then take home personally-crafted incense after a lesson in incense production by a local woman. She employs other women from the community to mix oils and resins in crafting perfectly scented incense. Lend a hand with the farm and learn to cook authentic Sri Lankan dishes. This project supports efforts for alternative income in Digana as well as improved access to food and water. Accommodations at the nature resort homestay are simple and authentic. Rooming will be in twin- and triple-share rooms. You will wake up in tranquility surrounded by palm trees. Approximate travel time: 1-1.5 hrs by private vehicle
Enjoy a free morning of exploration at Gidana before transferring to Nuwara Eliya. The town of Nuwara Eliya produces the finest Orange Pekoe Ceylon tea and is inhabited mainly by tea planters and plantation workers. Pay a visit to one of the factories to learn all about tea production. The town, also known as 'Little England', offers a lot of options for visitors: Explore the nature trails, visit the plantations, or go horseback riding. Approximate travel time: 3 hrs by private vehicle
Spend a free morning strolling local markets or hiking in the Horton Plains Nature Reserve. During the 6-mile trek, walk through the clouds to discover a majestic dropoff that provides amazing views over the plains into the sea. Later, we will hop on the local train and take the scenic route to Ella. There are amazing photo opportunities, but please don't hang out your body outside of the moving train unless you are a trained social media influencer with a significant life insurance policy. You will have some free time to explore Ella in the evening. Approximate travel time: 3 hrs by local train
Enjoy a free day in the charming town of Ella. You can explore the provincial capital by visiting St Mark's Church, the Hindu Kataragame Devale, and Buddhist Muthiyagana Vihara. You can also head out to the iconic Nine Arch Bridge, which is made of stone and cement and is a viaduct connecting Ella and Demodara train stations. Don't look down—this 100-year-old bridge, also referred to as the "Nine Skies Bridge," is almost 3,100 feet above sea level. Train services still operate, so check the train schedule and be sure to catch a glimpse of the bridge in action! Another option is trekking to the picturesque Dunhinda Falls, located just outside the town of Badulla.
This morning you can opt to hike to Little Adam's Peak. This 2-3 hour hike is fairly easy, and the path is marked by signs. In the afternoon, travel to Yala National Park. After settling in, head out on a safari and keep an eye out for leopards, elephants, jackals, sloth bears, sambars, spotted deer, crocodiles, and more than 200 bird species. Learn about the park's history and diverse wildlife. Approximate travel time: 2 hrs by private vehicle
This morning, you will have the option to go on an additional safari ($36 USD per person). Keep an eye out for leopards, elephants, jackals, sloth bears, sambars, spotted deer, crocodiles, and more than 200 bird species. Learn about its diverse wildlife and the history of the park. Later, we will travel south to Mirissa Beach, where we will stay for the next three nights. Approximate travel time: 3 hrs by private vehicle
Today, we take a day trip to Galle and visit the Galle Fort, a 16th-century fort first built by the Portuguese and later occupied by the Dutch. The ramparts are still standing even after being battered by Mother Nature, including the devastating 2004 tsunami. Explore more of the beautiful capital, taking in the Dutch architecture and lively atmosphere. The Dutch Hospital shopping complex is a great place to scoop up some souvenirs. Approximate travel time: 1 hr by private vehicle
You have a full free day in Mirissa to relax on the beach, take a surfing lesson, rent a tuk-tuk, eat fresh seafood, or climb Coconut Tree Hill.
There are no planned activities today, so you may depart Mirissa at any time. If you wish to extend your stay in Mirissa, consider booking post-tour accommodation with us. The Colombo airport can be reached by private taxi or bus from Mirissa; your tour leader can help you arrange a transfer. Please note that it will take about 2.5 hours to get to Colombo from Mirissa. Please note that check-out time from the hotel is usually mid-morning, but luggage storage services are available at the reception desk. Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO programs in the same school year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs per year). If you would like to extend your time abroad but don't see another GEEO program that interests you, let us know. We can work with you to find a trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Their tours are open to the general public and not designed specifically for educators, but we can still offer you and your travel companions a discounted educator price on any additional tours that you book.