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SRI LANKA- Summer

For most travelers, Sri Lanka has been off the map for too long. Well, it's back. Discover the vibrant colors, diverse cultures and swaying palm trees of this tropical jewel on an 8-day trip designed to please. This tour of Sri Lanka's cultural and natural highlights is the perfect introduction to this unique destination. Explore a spice plantation, experience a safari in Udawalawe National Park, and visit a stunning tea plantation. Wrapping up in Unawatuna, this tour is designed to allow you to add on some amazing beach time at the end.


Itinerary

June 24 : Negombo

Arrive at any time. We recommend arriving a day or two early to fully explore this world-renowned city.

June 25 : Negombo/Kandy (B)

Drive to Kandy, visiting a spice plantation en route. Later, visit Temple of the Tooth before enjoying the folk dances of a local cultural group.

June 26 : Kandy (B)

Explore Kandy with a free day.

June 27 : Kandy/Ella (B)

Travel to Ella by private vehicle and local train. Upon arrival, learn about one of the nation's most popular exports with a guided tour of a tea factory.

June 28 : Ella (B)

Spend the morning getting active with a hike to Little Adam's Peak. Enjoy free time in the afternoon. Opt to take a cooking class with a spice garden tour.

June 29 : Ella/Unawatuna (B)

Depart early this morning for Udawalawe National Park and enjoy a wildlife safari through the reserve. Afterwards, head to the beach town of Unawatuna.

June 30 : Unawatuna (B)

In the morning travel to Galle for a tour of the fort and the city. Later, return to Unawatuna for more beach time and a final night with the group in Sri Lanka.

July 1 : Unawatuna (B)

Depart at any time.

Detailed Itinerary

June 24 : Negombo

Arrive at any time.

There are no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting. Check the notice boards or ask at reception for the exact time and location of the group meeting (Typically 6 or 7PM). After the meeting, you might like to take the option of heading out for a meal in a nearby local restaurant to further get to know your tour leader and traveling companions.

Please make every effort to arrive on time for this welcome 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.

Negombo first flourished as the center for cinnamon export, which is native to Sri Lanka. Portuguese and Dutch settlement in the area led to the construction of beautiful churches and several architecturally stunning buildings. There are plenty of fish markets in town and several canals that link estuaries and lagoons around the region together.

Fish is the main export of Sri Lanka and we will go to the seaside and watch the fishermen bring in their boats, clean the nets, dry the fish and trade with the buyers. We then take a serene boat ride through the Dutch canal lining the marshy lands of Negombo. Getting a closer look at the lives of people living here; toddy tapping, cultivations, coconuts being collected by the locals. The area is great for bird watching as many species like to frequent the canal waters.

Please note, our participants have told us that the beach in Negombo is polluted. If you want to arrive early and spend time at the beach, you may want to stay somewhere else.

If you have time to arrive a day early, we recommend taking a day tour to see the Golden Cave Temple of Dambulla and the Sigriya Rock Fortress. Once this trip confirms we may have the ability to add these sights into Day 2 of the tour, so please do not book any additional tours until 60 days before departure.

June 25 : Negombo/Kandy (B)

Today we drive to Kandy, Sri Lanka's second largest city. En route to Kandy we will stop at an herbal center of spices where we have an interactive session with students of Ayurveda. They will explain the medicinal uses of various herbs used by the people of Sri Lanka in their massages and treatments. Please be cautious about purchasing products from the herbal center. Past GEEO participants complained that some of their products could be fake.

We arrive in Kandy in the afternoon. The tour leader will take you for a stroll around Kandy Lake and you'll visit the famed Temple of Tooth Relic which houses a tooth of Lord Buddha in a well-preserved golden casket. The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa) is one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world.

Later, enjoy an entertaining folk dance performance that will provide insight into the local culture in Kandy.

Travel Time: Approximately 3 hours by private vehicle

June 26 : Kandy (B)

Explore Kandy with a free day.

You may want to visit the colorful Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya (10 USD per person). See 300 varieties of orchids of Sri Lanka as well as a range of other plants.

You might also want to visit the Ayurvedic Hospital to learn about the history behind Ayurveda and the role it plays in Sri Lankan society. Gain an understanding of Ayurvedic oil massage treatments and its various benefits.

June 27 : Kandy/Ella (B)

Travel to Ella by private vehicle and local train. Welcome to everyone’s favorite hill-country village. The views through Ella Gap are stunning, and on a clear night you can even spy the subtle glow of the Great Basses lighthouse on Sri Lanka’s south coast.

Upon arrival, learn about one of Sri Lanka’s most exported commodities with a visit to a local tea plantation. Meet a local tea expert who will enlighten you on how the leaves are harvested and processed. Enjoy a taste of pure Sri Lankan tea direct from the factory, and experience a cup of truly fresh tea from one of the world’s most renowned tea regions.

Travel Time: Approximately 3 to 4 hours by private vehicle, 1.5 hours by local train

June 28 : Ella (B)

Spend the morning getting active with a hike to Little Adam's Peak to catch stunning views of the town below. Enjoy free time in the afternoon. Opt to take a cooking class with spice garden tour.

Your afternoon is free. One option is the Spice Garden Cooking Class (2500 LKR per person). Take a tour of the spice garden, then learn some of Sri Lanka's culinary traditions with this authentic cooking class.

June 29 : Ella/Unawatuna (B)

Depart early this morning for Udawalawe National Park and go on a wildlife safari through this massive nature reserve and keep an eye out for the mighty Sri Lankan elephants – they live in abundance here and often wander along the road. Make several stops to observe these beautiful animals.

Afterwards, head to the beach town of Unawatuna. With palm-lined beaches, turquoise waters and a good selection of guesthouses and restaurants, Unawatuna is very popular with travelers. Atmosphere-wise, Unawatuna is lively without being rowdy: think sunset drinks rather than all-night raves.

Travel Time: Approximately 6 hours by private vehicle total

June 30 : Unawatuna (B)

In the morning travel to Galle. 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 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.

Later, return to Unawatuna for more beach time and a final night with the group in Sri Lanka.

Travel Time: Approximately 45 minutes by private vehicle

July 1 : Unawatuna (B)

Depart Unawatuna at any time. The Colombo airport can be reached by taxi or there are train and bus connections from nearby Galle for much less. Your tour leader can help you arrange a transfer.

Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO trips in the same year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs).

If you don’t see a program that interests you that pairs with this trip, but still would like to extend your time abroad, let us know. We will work with you to find a non-teacher trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Even better, if you are an educator we can still offer you a discounted price on the trip you choose!

Stuff You Need to Know

Terms and Conditions

It is very important for you to visit our Terms and Conditions page before signing up for this program.

We want to emphasize the cancellation policy:

All cancellations must be submitted to GEEO in written form by emailing your request for cancellation to jesse@geeo.org. If you do not receive a confirmation that we have received your written cancellation request, please call us at 1-877-600-0105. Verbal cancellation requests will not be honored.

* Cancellation 60 days or more prior to departure = Deposit is kept on file for future use and all other program fee payments are refunded

* Cancellation between 30 and 59 days prior to departure = 50% refund and your deposit is kept on file for future use

* Cancellation within 30 days of departure = No refund, but your deposit is kept on file for future use

Service Level

Standard:

Step out of the normal tourist mind-set and truly experience the world. Most nights will have you staying in a simple yet clean twin-share hotel or lodge rooms with private facilities, complete with running water and electricity. Occasionally you may have a multi-share night at rustic local guesthouses, with communal bathrooms and the sporadic cold shower. Transportation will be a combination of public transport, private buses and some private vehicles.

Physical Grading

2:

Light walking and hiking that is suitable for most fitness levels.

Minimum/Maximum Group Size

This program requires a minimum of 6 participants to run and will have a maximum of 16 participants.

Group Leader Description

All GEEO/G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of G Adventure's group leaders, which they refer to as Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. Our itineraries often have plenty of free time to explore on your own.

While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting- we think it’s the best of both worlds.

Packing List

We suggest that you pack as lightly as possible as you are expected to handle your own luggage. You must be prepared to carry your own bags and be comfortable carrying them between transport and hotels (max. 15-20 mins walking) and up and down stairs. Luggage space is limited so again, smaller is better.

Most travelers carry a large multi-day backpack or rolling suitcase of small to medium size (no XXL ones please!). In general you want a bag that has a capacity of around 40 to 65 liters. If you are asking us for our suggestion, we would recommend a backpack over a rolling suitcase. You will also need a day pack/bag to carry water, cameras and other electronics like smartphones.

Suggested Checklist

•Clothes for temples – long pants or sarongs
•Day pack for daily personal items
•Lock for all bags
•Wet wipes / Moist towelettes
•Alarm clock
•Flashlight
•Sun hat, Sun block, Sunglasses
•Insect Repellent
•Small towel and swim wear
•Toiletries (biodegradable preferred)
•Sturdy walking shoes/Sneakers (closed toe is a good idea)
•Money belt
•Shorts
•Long trousers
•Hiking pants/track pants
•Personal clothing for hot to mild weather (We recommend packing 8 or 9 days of outfits so you only have to do laundry once)
•Umbrella or waterproof jacket.
•Cover for backpack or plastic bags to keep clothes dry.
•First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, bandaids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, insect repellent, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)

Optional Checklist

•Travel pillow
•Dramamine
•Money belt
•Water bottle
•Phone/Tablet for internet (Most hotels have WiFi)
•Chargers for electronics as well converters/adaptors if needed (See FAQ)
•Light fleece top (Just for the flight)
•Packing cubes (These are awesome)
•Flip-flops/Sandals
•Ear Plugs (Hearos Xtreme Protection 33 decibel ear plugs are a life-saver if you have a snoring roommate)
•Snacks (Packing a few granola bars is a good idea. You can buy snacks when you get there too, so don't go crazy here.)
•Ziplock bags for wet clothing
•Reading/writing material
•Cover for backpack or plastic bags to keep clothes dry
•Hand Sanitizer/Baby wipes

Document Checklist

•Passport (with photocopies)
•Travel insurance (with photocopies)
•Airline tickets (with photocopies)
•Credit and/or debit card (see personal spending money)
•G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier
•Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required (Check our FAQ to see if you need them)
•GEEO Classroom action plans for your group (This is sent 10-30 days before departure)

Laundry

Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge or ask your group leader where the nearest laundromat is. There will be times when you may want or have to do your own laundry so we suggest you bring your own non-polluting/biodegradable soap.

Single Travellers

Half of the people that travel with GEEO are traveling by themselves so please don’t worry if you have no one who can join you on your trip. Our pricing is based on double occupancy, in other words, two people to a room. If you do not have someone that you are traveling with that you would like to room with, GEEO will find you a roommate of the same gender. You never have to pay for a single room unless you want one. Most of our trips have a "My Own Room" option, also known as a "Single Supplement" which is an extra fee that will allow you to have a room to yourself. If you want to room alone, please email jesse@geeo.org. To see the price for the "My Own Room" option, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services spreadsheet.

Money

Spending Money

Every traveler is different and therefore spending requirements will vary. Some travelers may drink more than others while other travelers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, and tipping. Please look at our “Costs” tab when planning your trip.

Money Exchange

As currency exchange rates fluctuate we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com. ATMs are also widely available that distribute the local currency and this is what we recommend as your primary source of cash while traveling. Please make sure you bring at least $200 in US cash as emergency money just in case you have trouble with the ATMs or lose your bank card. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops but they may charge a 2-4% transaction fee. Visa and MasterCard are useful for cash advances in an emergency situation. Please note that if carrying US Dollars, they should be in good condition (ie- not torn, wrinkled, or marked on in any way) and printed recently.

Medical Forms

GEEO travel programs bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, at minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travelers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage. While our tour leaders work hard to ensure that all our travelers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day's activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings above for more information.

Optional Activities

Please note: All optional activities are booked and paid for locally in the local currency. You do not have to decide in advance which activities you would like to sign up for. The prices listed are based on the latest information we have received from our participants and G Adventures. They are not guaranteed to be accurate. Please feel free to use them as a guide for budgeting your trip.

Kandy

Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens- about 10 USD
Visit to Ayurvedic Hospital for Oil treatments- (rates depend on hours)

Ella

Spice Garden Cooking Class, 2h-3h, 2500 LKR per person

Unawatuna

Glass bottom Boat ride 1300 Lkr (10 USD)
Whale watching USD 70 per pax

Costs

Please keep in mind this trip is designed to give you the freedom to do whatever interests you. Make sure you look over all of the optional activities and keep in mind these additional costs when deciding whether you can afford this program. Other than daily breakfast, few meals are included on this trip, giving you the opportunity to eat on your own budget. The prices below are in US dollars and are rough estimates so you can budget your trip.

Tour Company Fee

$949 USD

Non-Educator Fee

$100 USD (Educators do not have to pay this fee)

Optional Activities

We suggest you bring along $100 USD for additional sightseeing. See itinerary to create your budget.

International Airfare from USA

Roughly $1200-$1800 USD, See our FAQ for flight advice.

Insurance

$26-$186 USD
Please note it is mandatory for all of our travelers to have Emergency Medical insurance that covers both emergency evacuation and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. We also strongly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance as well.
See our FAQ for advice on Travel Insurance.

Tipping

We recommend $60 USD for your G Adventures tour leader. Another $20 for drivers.

Meals Not Listed in the Itinerary

Allow $145-200 for meals not included.

Laundry, Drinks, Phone Calls, etc.

(Make sure you budget for these types of expenses)

Airport Transfers

$110 will cover your transfers. Less if you use a public transport option at the end of your trip.

Vaccines

$0-$???? USD (Check with your doctor to see what you will need and what is covered by your insurance)

Visa

$30 USD for the Sri Lankan Visa for Americans.

Souvenirs

$0-????

FAQ

What should be my expectations for this GEEO program?

Before you decide on traveling with GEEO it is important that you read all of the information about the program you are considering. To summarize, our programs are quite adventurous.

• The purpose of the accommodation is to provide a safe, well-located place for you to sleep. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised, but do not expect luxury as we are trying to keep these trips as inexpensive as possible.

• You must be able to easily carry or roll your luggage, so do not over-pack. We recommend using a large backpack along with a smaller daypack, which is typically the most comfortable way to carry your possessions.

• We recommend always carrying snacks with you because sometimes meals can be far apart.

• Please make sure you understand the role of your tour leader on this trip as they are not the traditional “guide” you may be expecting. While our trips are educational, they aren’t study/lecture trips. We want you to learn through exploring and much of your experience will be based on how active you choose to be in acquiring knowledge and interacting with locals.

• We try to set up a school visit on each program, but these sometimes fall through due to complications. Please understand they are not a guaranteed part of the program.

Hopefully this is the kind of adventure you are interested in!

Do I need a Passport? Do I need a visa?

All GEEO trips require that the participant have a valid passport. Many countries require that your passport not expire within six months of your arrival in that country. Please take the time to look up the passport validity requirements for the country/countries you are visiting on this trip by clicking here.

If you have a U.S. passport, but it has expired, or will expire within 6 months of trip departure, click here for information on how to get it renewed. If you have never been issued a passport or have lost your passport, please click here. Processing time for US Passports is 4-6 weeks so please start this process immediately.

As with all of our trips, we try to provide the most accurate information we can, but governments sometimes change visa rules. It is your responsibility to double check the information we provide below by searching here.

U.S. citizens visiting Sri Lanka for purposes of tourism require an approval notice from Sri Lanka’s Electronic Travel Authorization System, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. The Electronic Travel Authorization System is available online
here.

The cost for the visa is $30 USD.

Some instructions:

You are going to want to apply for a Tourist ETA as an individual. Please DO NOT apply as a group, third party or for a transit ETA!

Purpose of your visit is: Sightseeing or Holidaying

Your Address in Sri Lanka:
Hotel J Negombo
331 Lewis Pl, Negombo 11500, Sri Lanka

Under the declarations, your answer should be NO to all of those questions.

Is it OK if I am traveling alone? Do I have to have a roommate?

Half of the people that travel with GEEO are traveling by themselves so please don’t worry if you have no one who can join you on your trip. Our pricing is based on double occupancy, in other words, two people to a room. If you do not have someone that you are traveling with that you would like to room with, GEEO will find you a roommate of the same gender. You never have to pay for a single room unless you want one. Most of our trips have a "My Own Room" option, also known as a "Single Supplement" which is an extra fee that will allow you to have a room to yourself. If you want to room alone, please email jesse@geeo.org. To see the price for the "My Own Room" option, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services spreadsheet.

What is group travel like?

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of traveling in a group. Your fellow travelers will probably come from all across the US and beyond and are likely to be of a variety of ages too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travelers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.

Is it possible to get references for GEEO?

Over 2000 educators have traveled with GEEO since we ran our first programs in 2008. We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the quality and value of the life changing experiences that we provide.

To read comments from past travelers, please feel free to visit a website that reviews non-profit organizations called Great Non-profits. Please click here for those reviews.

Please contact us if you would like to communicate with some of our former participants for a reference.

Who travels with GEEO?

GEEO participants are mostly made up of American K-12 teachers. Each group tends to have a good mix of educators in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's. About half of our participants are coming alone and do not know anyone in the group prior to the trip. We group single travelers of the same gender together as roommates, unless a participant prefers to pay an additional fee for their own room. If we have an odd amount of one gender we will rotate the single room for free among the participants.

GEEO trips are open to all Kindergarten to University teachers, school staff, school administrators, and soon-to-be teachers pursuing their teaching certificate. Our programs are also open to retired educators. Non-American educators are welcome on our trips.

Each educator who participates in our programs is permitted to bring along up to three friends or family members who are not teachers. Each participant must be of adequate fitness level for their chosen trip. If you wish to bring a guest under the age of 18 GEEO will consider your request, but typically we only allow participants over the age of 18.

What vaccinations do I need for this trip?

We legally cannot give you any medical advice. It is very important to consult your doctor or a travel clinic about which vaccinations you will need for your trip. GEEO recommends contacting Passport Health, (http://www.passporthealthusa.com/) who have travel clinics throughout the US. Please take this seriously!

Where do I meet the group? What happens when I arrive at the airport?

Our groups meet at the hotel we use for the first night of the trip. We will provide you with the starting hotel information roughly 90 days before departure. Your tour leader will leave a note for you at the hotel's front desk with the introductory meeting time and location.

The airport in Colombo (Bandaranaike International Airport, also known as Colombo International Airport and Katunayake International Airport) is around 32km north of Colombo center and pretty close to Negombo. Taking a cab is the most convenient way to get to your hotel in Negombo. Taxi drivers often overcharge, so we recommend using the prepaid taxi service offered at the airport - you can make the arrangements at designated counters outside the baggage-claim area after passing through several bank counters.

You will be able to change money into the local currency (Sri Lanka Rupee) at exchange counters open 24 hours at the airport. The Airport Taxi service, supervised by the Airport & Aviation Services, operates a counter in the arrival lobby and accepts Sri Lanka Rupees. Please hire the vehicle from this counter & make the full payment. They will provide you an official receipt. Unfortunately scammers have set up similar services, so make sure the counter is operated by The Airport & Aviation Services. Your destination, the time of your arrival and the amount of luggage determine the rate, which you pay in advance at the counter, but should be between SLRS 2000 to 3000 to Negombo. A person will escort you to the designated taxi. If the driver demands more rupees, politely refuse, if they have driven safely you may like to tip him around SLRS 100.

If you have paid in advance for an arrival transfer, a G Adventures representative will be at the airport to meet you. If for any reason you are not met at the airport, please call our local support line. If you are unable to make contact for whatever reason, please make your way to the joining point hotel via taxi.

Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned for that day other then your welcome meeting in the evening, so you can arrive at any time. Similarly the last day is a departure day during which no activities have been planned.

A G Adventures Representative will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.

Where can we get a list of hotels for this trip?

Other than the first hotel our partner G Adventures does not provide hotel lists for any of their trips.

The reason for this is sometimes hotels change at the last minute. G Adventures does not want to give out incorrect information because in an emergency that can only cause more issues. Instead we give you 24-hour emergency phone numbers where you and your family can reach staff in the country that you are travelling to or in Canada at G Adventure's headquarters. This way at any time your loved ones can call the emergency contact who can immediately put them in touch with your tour leader no matter how plans have changed.

Is it OK if I arrive a few days early or stay a few days late?

You may want to arrive a few days early at the start of the trip or stay a few days extra at the end of trip. Please feel free to do so.

We will send out an email to all participants roughly 90 days before departure with information on which hotels we will be using for the start and end of the trip as well how to go about booking them.

When should I purchase my flights?

We often find the best prices for purchasing flights is 60 days before departure, but of course this varies greatly from route to route and year to year. Either way, you must wait until this trip is confirmed with the minimum amount of required participants before you book your flights. Typically, we reach the minimum amount needed at least 90 days before departure. GEEO and G Adventures bear no responsibility for any flights purchased before the trip is confirmed. You can find a list of which trips have been confirmed here.

What cities/airports should I book my flight in and out of?

Please double check our itinerary for the date on which you must arrive in Negombo by, which would usually mean departing the USA one or two days prior. You can arrive at any time you choose.

Your trip ends in Unawatuna and you can depart any time you like on the final day of the program. The Colombo airport can be reached by taxi (2 hour drive, about $80 USD) or there are train and bus connections from nearby Galle for much less. Your tour leader can help you arrange a transfer.

Where can I purchase flights?

We recommend using www.kayak.com or www.google.com/flights/ to see what is out there in terms of flights.

You may also want to take a look at the prices at www.flyforgood.com or call 1-877-359-4466 to speak to a person. They get humanitarian rates from airlines and GEEO is registered with Fly for Good as a non-profit. If you purchase a humanitarian rate flight, you will need a supporting document from GEEO. Please request this from us after you purchase the tickets. Note that humanitarian rates are not available for all flights to GEEO destinations and are sometimes higher than tickets found on Kayak, Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia etc. Often the layovers are long and sometimes impossible to navigate. Look very carefully at the offer before purchasing your ticket.

Where can I purchase travel insurance?

Please note it is mandatory for all of our travelers to have Emergency Medical insurance that covers both emergency medical, emergency evacuation and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. Regular health insurance plans almost never include emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance, so you will almost certainly need to purchase a separate TRAVEL health insurance plan.

You are welcome to use any travel insurance company you like. In order to receive your trip vouchers you must enter your insurance information into our tour operator’s online check-in system, Good To Go. We recommend doing this 60 days before departure.

The least expensive travel health insurance plan that we have found is the International Teacher Identity Card, better known as the ITIC Card. They have a $26 card that includes the amount of travel medical, evacuation and repatriation insurance you need for our trip, plus other trip insurance benefits. The card will also get you discounts and benefits in over 125,000 locations, including many museums and hotels. Another great thing about the ITIC Card is that it covers you for an entire year and can be used for all your travel during that period, including domestic travel.

GEEO has reached an agreement with the makers of this card to pre-approve all GEEO travelers, so you do not need to submit paperwork proving that you are a teacher. Also, non-teachers who are traveling with GEEO can get this same card, which normally is only for teachers.

To sign up for the card please follow this link:

www.myisic.com/orders/GEEO

While not required, we also highly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance! The $186 Explorer ITIC Card comes with $3000 of cancellation insurance, which is also valid for multiple trips (domestic and international) within a one year period. Even if you don't use the cancellation insurance on your GEEO trip, you might end up needing it for travel expenses relating to a conference!

Please note: Residents of Washington, New Hampshire and Massachusetts cannot purchase this card due to some odd state laws. If you are a resident of one of these states, we recommend purchasing an "International Volunteer Card." They have a $42 card (Plus Plan) that includes the amount of travel medical, evacuation and repatriation insurance you need for our trip, plus other trip insurance benefits. DO NOT get the Basic Plan that they offer as it does not have enough coverage for our programs. To sign up for the card you can follow this link: http://www.volunteercard.com/geeo.html/.

The ITIC and IVC cards are for American residents. If you are not American or are an American living abroad, you will have to find another option.

Will I be eating on my own? With the group? Why aren't all meals included?

Eating is a big part of traveling. Traveling with GEEO you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is affordable. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your group leader will be able to suggest favorite restaurants during your trip. Please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.

Is the water safe to drink?

Unless your tour leader tells you differently, only bottled water should be drunk, and this is readily available for purchase. Fruit and vegetables should be peeled, washed in boiled water and in the case of the latter, well cooked. Meat and fish should also be fresh, well-cooked and hot, to avoid possible infection.

What is the weather like?

Sri Lanka is tropical, with distinct dry and wet seasons. The seasons are slightly complicated by having two monsoons. From May to August the Yala monsoon brings rain to the island’s southwestern half. (We will be in the South-Western half of Sri Lanka, as well as the highlands.) Colombo and the low-lying coastal regions have an average temperature of 80°F. At Kandy (altitude 500m), the temperature should be in the 70s°F, while Nuwara Eliya (at 1889m) has a temperatures in the 60s°F.

The weather doesn't follow strict rules, though – it often seems to be raining where it should be sunny, and sunny where it should be raining. Rainfall tends to be emphatic – streets can become flooded in what seems like only minutes. Out-of-season travel has its advantages – not only do the crowds disappear, it also doesn't rain all the time.

Is there Internet access? Should I bring a computer? Mobile phone?

Many of the hotels we use have WiFi (often free, sometime not). There are internet cafes in most of the places we visit and many of the hotels also have computers that can be used. Expect to be able to check your email every two to three days. You can also bring along your mobile phone if you choose. Make sure you check with your phone company before you leave to find out the rates for calling back to the US and if they have any special international plans that are worth taking advantage of. International roaming rates can be extremely high, so you don’t want to be surprised. You can bring a laptop/tablet/smart phone if you wish, but remember, GEEO and G Adventures are not responsible for the damage or theft of your valued items.

Is there clothing that is considered inappropriate that I should not bring?

In Asia the dress standard is more conservative than it is back home. When packing try to pick loose, lightweight, long clothing that will keep you cool in the usually hot and humid climate of Asian summers. In predominately Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim countries we ask that you dress respectfully and avoid very short shorts/skirts and singlets/tank tops when visiting small rural communities or visiting temples or mosques or other holy sites as this may restrict your entry.

As a general guideline shoulders and knees should be covered at all times. The wearing of shorts is not allowed in some religious buildings. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.

Do I need plugs and current converters for my electronic devices?

There are two components to provide external power to your device: adapters and transformers. The adapter is the plug, adapting the prongs on a standard U.S. two to three-pronged power cord to match the prongs required by the local outlets. The transformer changes the local voltage to that required by your device.

Sri Lanka uses 230V, 50 Hz D and G type plugs. The D has three circular prongs. The G has three square prongs. The voltage is 230 Volts. U.S. outlets are 120V. Most new devices (phones and laptops) can handle the different voltage rates, but some devices only work on the U.S. standard of 120V. Check your device to see what voltage range it handles. Most transformer blocks will have an "Input" line that defines its voltage capacity. For example, "Input: 100 - 240V" means that it will work on voltages from 100V to 240V. If your transformer can't handle the different voltage, you'll need to purchase a voltage converter. You can find world regional voltage converters power packs at various vendors.

Why are some activities included in the price of the trip and others are not?

We have found paying locally for activities allows our participants to save money. Not every activity is appealing to everyone and we don't want you to pay for services you might not use. Perhaps you feel sick one day and would prefer to rest. This allows you to decide on the spot what you want to do each day with your free time and at the same time control your budget.

How much money in US cash should I bring? Should I exchange local currency in advance?

This is entirely up to you, but we think it is critical for you to bring along $250 USD in cash for emergencies. This is what GEEO's executive director Jesse does in regards to money while traveling:

"I do not exchange any money before traveling to a country but instead bring somewhere between $200-300 USD in cash. I go to a bank before I leave the US and take out the cash there rather than an ATM. I make sure each bill is in great condition with no rips or tears. I like to have mostly 20's, but in some countries you are better off with 50's and 100's. In some countries, it is also good to have about 20 singles for when you have no small bills in local currency. I divide this money between a money belt, my main backpack, and my daypack.

I also bring an ATM card and a credit card. Before I leave the country I call the bank and credit card companies to let them know I am traveling abroad so they don't think the foreign transactions are fraudulent and cancel my cards when I am most reliant on them. Having a second bank account and bank card is pretty handy so that just in case one card doesn't work at an ATM or is lost, you always have a backup account. It's also important to check with your credit card to see if there is an international transaction fee. Some cards charge up to 4% extra for any transactions made out of the US. My Capital One visa card doesn't have any international transaction fee. I just use this card for traveling so if it gets stolen and I have to cancel it I won't have to worry about recurring automated payments. I like to split up my cards between my money belt, wallet, and one emergency one hidden in my main bag.

When I arrive at the airport I make sure to go to an ATM before leaving the airport and typically take out the equivalent of $150 USD in the local currency. I find that ATMs give the best exchange rate so throughout the trip I will use the ATM card to draw out my spending cash. I will ask our tour leader for an estimate on how much I will need if I am close to leaving a country so this way I do not draw out too much money.

I try not to use the US cash I brought with me so that I can use it in an emergency. Typically I will come back to the US with most of that US cash unspent. On a recent trip, I lost my ATM card and was able to get cash by paying for our group dinners with my credit card and having people pay me their share in local currency. I NEVER take cash advances on my credit card as they charge you an arm and a leg.”

Do you have advice on tipping?

It is customary in Asia to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is expected - though not compulsory - and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. You may do this individually, or your tour leader will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from USD 1-2 per person per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your tour leader for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture.

Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures tour leader did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD 20-30 per person, per week can be used.

What is expected from me from an educational stand point?

Please take a look at the "Sharing your Adventure section of our website by clicking here.

What should I expect in terms of school visits?

GEEO tries to include a school visit on each of our programs; however these visits are never a guaranteed part of our programming. School visits can be very tricky.

• In many of the countries we visit, schools will be closed for vacation over the summer. In that case we try to arrange an informal meeting with local teachers or a visit to a summer school.

• Some of our shorter programs are so packed with activities and places to see that we feel a school visit would mean the group would have to miss out on something important. In that case a school visit may not be scheduled.

• Many times we spend hours setting up a visit only for the school to cancel on us at the last minute.

• Often arranging school visits is easier if done in person with short notice. Your tour leader will try to schedule ad hoc school visits for your group when possible.

• Each school visit is different. We aim for you to get a tour of the school, sit in on a class and have a Q and A session with some of the staff.

• If we do schedule a school visit it is important that the entire group attend.

• Over time we try to establish long term relationships with schools so we can have more predictable, immersive visits that are rewarding for both our guests and the schools themselves.

Is there advice that past participants would like to pass onto you?

Quotes from past participants:

"We had someone to carry our bags every single time and we were only responsible for moving them inside and outside the doorways of our hotel room. I really wish I had known this in advance. I had great anxiety about the luggage and was panicking over it because I really dislike carrying heavy things. If I had known that I wouldn't have packed more, but I wouldn't have been so anxious and made the changes I made."

"I was happy that we had extra time to spend in Anuradhapura and Trinco, I would maybe tell people to invest in an extra week and see these two locales if they like to see more sites and the beach."

"The beach in Negombo is polluted. Had I known this, I would not have arrived in Negombo, three evenings prior to the start of the tour."

"Wear socks at the Buddhist temples as the marble gets very hot."

Is there any safety advice we should know about?

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travelers' checks, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelry at home - you won't need it while travelling.

Always keep an eye on your belongings especially in major cities, bus and train terminals.

Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your tour leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your tour leader will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your tour leader will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is G Adventure's policy not to allow our tour leaders to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.

What happens if it becomes unsafe to travel on this trip?

Your safety is our utmost priority and we will cancel a trip if we do not feel our participants will be safe. If GEEO or G Adventures cancels your trip we will issue a full refund of any payments you have made including the deposit. If YOU decide to cancel your trip you will have to abide by the rules of our terms and conditions.

What are the emergency contact numbers for this trip?

Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call their local office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so that they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible. If you are unable for any reason to contact their local office,

EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS

G Adventures Local Office (Delhi)

G Adventures South Asia Manager, Rishab (Delhi, India)

Emergency number:
>From outside of India: +91 99 7179 5447
>From within Delhi: 99 7179 5447
>From within India, but outside Delhi: 099 7179 5447

G Adventures Office Bangkok, Thailand
During Office hours (Weekdays, 9am-5pm Local Time): +66-02-38155749

If you are unable for any reason to contact their local office they have a toll-free line within North America (or our regular direct line), which will connect you directly with their Toronto office. In the event that you cannot get through, you can reach a member of their Operations department at the mobile number below.

Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100

AIRPORT TRANSFER

If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures please note that:

Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel.

If your call is specifically concerning Airport Transfer complications please call our local G Adventures Transfer providers directly at:

Chaminda Paranavitana
Tel.: (+94)112 308 308 | Ext.: 5917 | Mob.: (+94)77 5222 800

Nirosh Perera
Aitken Spence Travels
Mob.: (+94)777796399

What is the relationship between G Adventures and GEEO? Who is running this trip?

GEEO is an independent non-profit organization that helps teachers travel. GEEO has chosen to work with the tour operator G Adventures. We discount their prices for our participants so they are even more affordable for teachers. GEEO also is able to get our participants humanitarian rate airfare and discounted travel health insurance. GEEO customizes these trips for teachers. GEEO provides educational materials to teachers before and after the trip to help bring the participating teachers' experience into the classroom. GEEO provides each participant with a Professional Development Certificate. For more about GEEO, please see our mission statement.

G Adventures is a tour company that GEEO has partnered with to run our trips. For over 25 years, G Adventures has been sending hundreds of thousands of people abroad and today they are the largest adventure travel company in the world. They design the trips, provide expert tour leaders, ground logistics, and work hard to make sure you have an excellent experience.

How long have we been running this program?

GEEO was founded in 2007 and our inaugural trips were run to Peru and India in the summer of 2008. Our first Sri Lanka program was run in the summer of 2015. G Adventures, who actually handle the logistics of the trip, run this same route often, so you can have faith that your trip will be safe and well run.

Is the itinerary exactly as described on this website?

While it is our intention to adhere to the route described on our website, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The information on our website is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Is there any advice for finding funding for this program?

The first thing we recommend you do is speak to your school's principal and/or professional development coordinator. They may know of grants that your school district or state offers. Often schools reimburse teachers for professional development expenses. You can also try contacting your school's PTA or professional organizations that you belong to.

We also recommend applying for a Fund for Teachers grant, www.fundforteachers.org. These grants can be used on GEEO trips. If you want advice on applying for an FFT grant, please email us and we will send you a document that you will find helpful.

949.00 USD
901.55 USD
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International Airfare not included

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This program requires a minimum of 6 participants to run and will have a maximum of 16 participants.

What's Included

  • Spice plantation visit
    Kandyan cultural dance performance
    Temple of the Tooth visit (Kandy)
    Tea plantation visit (Ella)
    Little Adam's Peak Trek
    Udawalawe NP safari
    Galle City and Fort tour

  • G Adventures Tour Leader throughout

  • 7 breakfasts, (Allow $145-$190 USD for meals not included.)

  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities using train and private vehicle and 4x4

  • Standard hotels/guest houses (7 nts)

What's Not Included

  • International air

  • Incidentals

  • Travel Health Insurance

  • Applicable visas

  • Airport Taxes

  • Tips or gratuities

  • Beverages

  • Meals not mentioned above

  • Optional Tours or optional admissions

  • Airport Transfers, unless otherwise mentioned in inclusions.

  • Cancellation Insurance