Discover + Connect in Sri Lanka

with Jill Ayres

February 16 – 29, 2020

 
Sri Lanka—a charming tropical island where you can explore from the jungles to the beaches, discover ancient Buddhist ruins and European forts, and try your hand at spotting elephants and leopards on safari! Take an iconic train ride through the hills of gorgeous Ceylon tea plantations and climb the impressive rock fortress in Sigiriya. Sri Lanka is the world’s oldest continuously Buddhist culture, and it is said that Sri Lanka served as a backdrop for the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana.
 
What’s even better is that you get to enjoy all of these experiences with like-minded friends, as this is a Travel & Yoga Experience! Yoga (and travel) beginners are totally welcome. Not interested in yoga? Then join us for the fantastic company and adventures that lie ahead! 
 
Sri Lanka—a charming tropical island where you can explore from the jungles to the beaches, discover ancient Buddhist ruins and European forts, and try your hand at spotting elephants and leopards on safari! Take an iconic train ride through the hills of gorgeous Ceylon tea plantations and climb the impressive rock fortress in Sigiriya. Sri Lanka is the world’s oldest continuously Buddhist culture, and it is said that Sri Lanka served as a backdrop for the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana.
 
What’s even better is that you get to enjoy all of these experiences with like-minded friends, as this is a Travel & Yoga Experience! Yoga (and travel) beginners are totally welcome. Not interested in yoga? Then join us for the fantastic company and adventures! 

Journey Highlights

  • February 16-29, 2020  (Yes, the 29th—it’s leap year!)
  • Guided by a local Sri Lankan expert
  • Optional yoga & meditation facilitated by Jill Ayres
  • Experience jeep safaris in 2 different National Parks and spot wild Asian elephants
  • Enjoy the windswept natural coast at Yala
  • Relax on the sandy beaches of Mirissa
  • Enjoy one of the world’s most scenic train rides through Ceylon tea plantations
  • Discover relics of one of the oldest continuously Buddhist cultures on the planet
  • Limited to 14 guests
  • Price varies based on total number of guests (please see “Price & Inclusions” tab for details!)

How to Register

  • Please review this entire web page for trip details
  • Complete Registration Questions and Contract
  • Submit your deposit via TransferWise or bank transfer (details below in the “How to Pay” tab)

Anamaduwa

Kandy

Sigiriya

Colombo

Dambulla

Yala

Mirissa

Bandarawela

Galle Fort

Itinerary at a Glance

  • February 16   Arrive to Sri Lanka & rest at a nearby beachfront hotel (overnight in Negombo)
  • February 17   Continue on to a rustic retreat setting in the jungle (overnight in Anamaduwa)
  • February 18   Relax into the rhythms of the island in the gorgeous natural setting of The Mud House (overnight in Anamaduwa)
  • February 19   Explore the fascinating painted Buddhist caves of Dambulla from the 1st century BC; put your elephant-spotting glasses on for your afternoon jeep safari in Minneriya Park  (overnight in Sigiriya)
  • February 20   Visit a local market and learn how to make Sri Lankan cuisine in a cooking class; discover the ancient city of Polonnaruwa (overnight in Sigiriya)
  • February 21   Leave early in the morning to discover the magic of Sigiriya, the Lion Rock fortress; visit a spice plantation on the way into Kandy. Tonight you can visit the highly revered Buddhist Temple of the Tooth. (overnight in Kandy)
  • February 22   Today you’ll experience one of the most scenic train rides in the world, through the tea plantations of Sri Lanka’s hills (overnight in Bandarawela)
  • February 23   Enjoy a beautiful trek through local tea plantations  (overnight in Bandarawela)
  • February 24   Visit gorgeous Diyaluma Falls on the way to your oceanfront hotel in Yala (overnight in Yala)
  • February 25   Will you see a Sri Lankan leopard on this morning’s jeep safari!? Fingers crossed! (overnight in Yala)
  • February 26   Drive to your beachfront hotel in Mirissa on the southern coast (overnight in Mirissa)
  • February 27   Optional whale-watching experience in the morning & local fishing village tour in the afternoon (overnight in Mirissa)
  • February 28   Explore the Old Dutch Fort in Galle on your way to Colombo. (overnight in Colombo)
  • February 29  After breakfast, depart for home or further adventure in Sri Lanka!

Itinerary at a Glance

  • February 16   Arrive to Sri Lanka & rest at a nearby beachfront hotel (overnight in Negombo)
  • February 17   Continue on to a rustic retreat setting in the jungle (overnight in Anamaduwa)
  • February 18   Relax into the rhythms of the island in the gorgeous natural setting of The Mud House (overnight in Anamaduwa)
  • February 19   Explore the fascinating painted Buddhist caves of Dambulla from the 1st century BC; put your elephant-spotting glasses on for your afternoon jeep safari in Minneriya Park  (overnight in Sigiriya)
  • February 20   Visit a local market and learn how to make Sri Lankan cuisine in a cooking class; discover the ancient city of Polonnaruwa (overnight in Sigiriya)
  • February 21   Leave early in the morning to discover the magic of Sigiriya, the Lion Rock fortress; visit a spice plantation on the way into Kandy. Tonight you can visit the highly revered Buddhist Temple of the Tooth. (overnight in Kandy)
  • February 22   Today you’ll experience one of the most scenic train rides in the world, through the tea plantations of Sri Lanka’s hills (overnight in Bandarawela)
  • February 23   Enjoy a beautiful trek through local tea plantations  (overnight in Bandarawela)
  • February 24   Visit gorgeous Diyaluma Falls on the way to your oceanfront hotel in Yala (overnight in Yala)
  • February 25   Will you see a Sri Lankan leopard on this morning’s jeep safari!? Fingers crossed! (overnight in Yala)
  • February 26   Drive to your beachfront hotel in Mirissa on the southern coast (overnight in Mirissa)
  • February 27   Optional whale-watching experience in the morning & local fishing village tour in the afternoon (overnight in Mirissa)
  • February 28   Explore the Old Dutch Fort in Galle on your way to Colombo. (overnight in Colombo)
  • February 29  After breakfast, depart for home or further adventure in Sri Lanka!

Daily Itinerary

February 16

Ayubowan–welcome to Sri Lanka! 

You’ll be greeted at Bandaranaike International Airport and driven to your first night’s rest at a beachfront hotel (Suriya Resort) just a 30-minute drive away. We wanted you to be able to rest and recuperate from your flight in style before heading off into the jungle tomorrow!

Tonight you’ll meet your fellow travelers and enjoy dinner together. Over the next twelve full days you’ll experience all the best that this tiny island has to offer; did you know that Sri Lanka is just slightly smaller than Tasmania? From the jungle to tea plantations, beaches to safari, you’ll soak up everything Sri Lanka has to offer!

Every day, Jill will make time to offer yoga and/or meditation for those who are interested. This is completely optional, and it is a wonderfully centering, grounding component to traveling abroad. You won’t see the inside of a yoga studio on this journey; the spaces for your practice will be creatively integrated into the natural settings around us. 

The pace of this trip is fairly quick, but all of the activities are optional, should you choose to rest or enjoy the hotel spas (when available). Please go at your OWN pace for this journey.

Tomorrow morning we’ll head on to our first charming and rustic retreat destination, The Mud House. 

February 17 – 18

photo courtesy of The Mud House

This uniquely Sri Lankan hotel, The Mud House, is in Anamaduwa (~2-hour drive). This location provides a unique opportunity to mark the beginning of this special experience, without the distraction of TV & internet and the general sensation of constantly being “plugged in.” Anamaduwa provides a quiet place to discover and connect with each other before the journey. 

If you wish, you can enjoy a guided exploration of the gorgeous natural settings around The Mud House, or you can take your time and discover the nature trails in the area and picturesque lakes around Anamaduwa.

Special attention is paid here to creating fresh, locally grown, seasonal meals, and this will be a fabulous introduction to Sri Lankan cuisine. 

Bird watchers, casual and beyond, are going to adore Sri Lanka, and The Mud House is a great place to start! Over 100 species of birds can be found in and around the environment around the hotel.

February 19

Photo courtesy of Mark Petrick

We’ll say goodbye to our jungle oasis and head onward to Sigiriya and our next hotel, Kaveri Ayurveda Resort. We’ll break up the ~3-hour drive with a stop to visit the stunning Dambulla cave temple, dating back to the 1st century BC. The statues and colorful paintings in this well-preserved Buddhist complex are just breathtaking. Did you know that Sri Lanka is the oldest continuously Buddhist country in the world?

We’ll continue on to the hotel to freshen up before heading out for our afternoon jeep safari in Minneriya National ParkAlthough Minneriya is home to 24 species of mammals and160 species of birds (and 75 species of butterflies!), the undisputed crowd favorite is the amazing Asian elephant population! Witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is truly a breathtaking, humbling experience. With any luck, you’ll be able to witness these beautiful giants roaming Minneriya.

February 20

This morning is your chance to learn how to bring the taste of Sri Lanka back with you. You’ll visit a local market and learn more about Sri Lankan ingredients before your very own cooking class, eating the fruits of your labor for lunch.

This afternoon you can visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Polonnaruwa was the royal capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th centuries, and its monuments are preserved beautifully. From the rock temple at Gal Vihara to the Royal Palace and the circular relic house at Vatadage, Polonnaruwa’s sites are sure to fascinate and inspire. (Not to mention, this is one of the locations where Duran Duran filmed their “Save a Prayer” video in 1982—it’s pretty much a travel ad for Sri Lanka!)   

If you prefer to lounge in the hotel’s infinity pool and take advantage of the spa this afternoon, though, no one could blame you!

February 21  

Today we head to Kandy, but first—Lion Rock! This morning we’ll depart early in the morning for the opportunity to climb the iconic rock fortress at Sigiriya (“Lion Rock”) (~25-minute drive). This ancient complex includes the impressive 660-foot (200-meter) remains of this former capital. Constructed in the 5th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best-preserved examples of ancient urban planning, from the ornate gardens & fountains and colorful frescoes to the imposing “Lion Rock” itself.

After our adventure at Lion Rock, we’ll have the opportunity to see a local spice garden in Matale, featuring both culinary and medicinal spices. We’ll continue on to Kandy (~3 hours total from Lion Rock; we’ll break up the drive with the spice garden in Matale, which is 2 hours from Lion Rock and 1 hour from Kandy). Upon arrival, we’ll settle into our hotel, Thilanka

Kandy is yet another former capital and the second largest city in modern Sri Lanka. Kandy is home to countless temples and we’ll visit the holiest venue, the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa). This temple is a venerated place for the Buddhists all over the world, as it is said to house the Buddha’s left canine tooth, retrieved from his funeral pyre. This important relic was smuggled into Sri Lanka in the 4th century and had been carefully enshrined in many former capitals of Sri Lanka, finally coming to rest in Kandy in the 17th century.

February 22 

image courtesy of Pixabay

We’ll say goodbye to Kandy and start our adventure through the central highlands of Sri Lanka & her iconic tea plantations. We’ll depart to our next destination, Bandarawela, by train. By all accounts, this is one of the most picturesque train rides you can experience! The British brought tea to Sri Lanka (the island they formally called “Ceylon”); in fact, in 1824, a tea plant was smuggled from China to Sri Lanka! Over one million Sri Lankans are employed, directly or indirectly, by the tea industry, and 4% of the entire country is covered in tea plantations.  This train ride is about 7 hours in total, but the scenery before you will make it seem to go by in a flash. 

Upon arrival in Bandarawela and our hotel, Orient Hotel, you can choose to visit a local tea factory to learn a bit more about this wonderful plants and the art & science of cultivation and processing in Sri Lanka. 

February 23

Today will provide an opportunity to hike (~2 hours) around the tea plantations in the early morning light and experience their beauty up close. It’ll feel good to stretch your legs after the long train day yesterday! This will be a relaxing afternoon—perhaps you can enjoy the on-site spa, a game of pool, or the delightful garden.

February 24 

We’ll say goodbye to the highlands and make our way to the coast again at Yala, staying overnight at Jetwing Yala hotel. On the way, though, you’ll take in the epic beauty of Diyaluma Falls (~1.5-hour drive). Maybe you’ll want to take a swim in the 2nd highest waterfall in Sri Lanka—bring your bathers!

After lunch, you’ll continue on to your oceanfront hotel (~2.5-hour drive).

photo courtesy of Jetwing Yala

February 25

This morning you’ll experience your second jeep safari, this time in Yala National Forest. Maybe you’ll see a rare Sri Lankan sloth bear, or a herd of wild Asian elephants—or maybe even the endangered Sri Lankan leopard if you’re lucky!

Enjoy the rest of the day along the coast in Yala! You can choose to take an additional afternoon safari if you didn’t get enough (your guide can help arrange this at your cost) or you can take advantage of the spa, the pool, or the beautiful beach! This gorgeous beach is better for walking and exploring than swimming (but the next beach on our itinerary is great for that! And if you’re in the mood to swim, you can use the swim-up bar at the hotel’s 75-meter swimming pool!) The natural area around the hotel and beach boasts elephants and other wildlife not infrequently—what will you see from the comfort of your ‘home away from home’?

February 26 & 27

Today we head further west along to coast(~3.5-hour drive) to our new beachfront home in Mirissa at Paradise Beach Club. Enjoy two nights here directly on the beach. On February 26, perhaps you’ll consider adding an early morning whale and dolphin watching tour to your journey (~3-6 hours total, depending on the wildlife you encounter; your guide can help you arrange a tour). After that, you can learn about the famous stilt-fishing method of Sri Lanka and enjoy some of the freshest seafood on the island!

February 28

Today we’ll depart towards Colombo & Dwell Hotel (~2.5-hour drive total), but first, we’ll stop in beautiful Galle! You’ll see the Old Dutch Fort, directly on the Bay of Galle, originally built in 1588 by the Portuguese and then fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. The Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers.

We’ll continue up the east coast to Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and a lively city in its own right. Your guide can help you decide what to do with the afternoon—shopping? Exploration? R&R?  Tonight is our final dinner together on this journey around Sri Lanka. Let’s raise a glass to this beautiful island nation and all that we’ve experienced together!

February 29

The trip ends after breakfast, and airport transfer is included in this journey. If you would like to extend your stay in Sri Lanka, we can help recommend places and activities based on your wishes.

Please click the title of the desired tab to open it.

About the Yoga and Meditation

All yoga and meditation opportunities are completely optional on this journey.

You will have the opportunity to enjoy Jill’s all-levels Blissology Vinyasa yoga class that will awaken a deep joy inside of you and build a harmonious relationship with your body-mind, personal relationships, and the beautiful country we will be traveling in.

Jill will also be guiding you in the amazing practice of Yoga Nidra, a meditation practice. This will awaken a deep wisdom inside of you that will enable you to tap into the quietness within and connect with the awe of the beautiful country we will be traveling through.

We’ll take advantage of the beautiful surroundings on this journey and enjoy our practice in innovative spaces, from rooftop terraces, poolsides, and grassy patches, to a lovely dedicated yoga hut at The Mud House. 

Price & Inclusions

Please note that this trip is priced in Australian Dollars (AUD), based on double occupancy. 

The trip’s price is a sliding scale, based on how many guests join, anywhere from $4625 AUD down to $3599 AUD  (that’s $3235 to $2550 USD). As more guests register, we will update the current price in this tab.

  • At our minimum of 6 guests, the trip is $4625 AUD per guest
  • @ 7 guests: $4399 AUD per guest   ($3235 USD)
  • @ 8 guests: $4199 AUD per guest
  • @ 9 guests: $4049 AUD per guest
  • @ 10 guests: $3999 AUD per guest   ($2799 USD)
  • @ 11 guests: $3849 AUD per guest
  • @ 12 guests: $3749 AUD per guest
  • @ 13 guests: $3699 AUD per guest
  • @ 14 guests:  $3599 AUD per guest  ($2550 USD)

We encourage you to tell your friends about this trip–the more the merrier AND a great value!

  • A $1000 AUD deposit holds your space.   (Deposit is $700 USD)
  • The second installment of $1500 AUD is due by September 20, 2019 (150 days before the start of the trip)
  • The balance is due by November 19, 2019 (90 days before the start of the trip).  

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $899 AUD ($650 USD) and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement. A single room MAY not be available the two nights in Anamaduwa (at The Mud House), due to the communal aspect of this rural property. 

Price Includes:

  • Sri Lanka visa fee
  • Private Sri Lankan guide
  • Internal transportation within Sri Lanka, including airport transfers
  • Daily meditation or yoga sessions with Jill Ayres
  • All accommodation
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner (from dinner on February 17th until breakfast on the 28th)
  • All site entrance fees
  • Two jeep safaris
  • Train trip from Kand to Bandarawela 
  • All tips to hotel and restaurant staff

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Optional whale watching tour in Mirissa
  • Souvenirs, laundry fees, alcoholic beverages, snacks and beverages outside meal times

IMPORTANT NOTE: 

  • There is a minimum of 6 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up.  Please do not purchase any airfare until you receive notice from RetreaTours that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.  
  • If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
How to Pay & Payment Plan Schedule

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

Please note that all ALL PRICES ARE IN AUD (Australian Dollars).  If you are using another currency, please email Lauren for payment instructions.

  • A $1000 AUD deposit holds your space
  • The second installment of $1500 AUD is due on September 20, 2019
  • The balance (including single supplement, if applicable) is due November 19, 2019. 

Our Australian guests can pay via TransferWise or bank wire. Using Transferwise will save you a lot of money on currency conversion fees as they always use the day’s actual mid-market exchange rate (as opposed to paying via credit card with PayPal, which charges you 4% for currency conversion). 

Click here to learn more about TransferWise.

Sign up here to get your first $900 AUD transfer for free.

Click here for our bank details to send money via TransferWise.

If you prefer a bank wire, please write Lauren for more information. 

 

About the Hotels

We’ll be staying in a wide variety of hotels on this journey, reflecting the different landscapes we’re experiencing. Here are the websites of the hotels you’ll be staying in: 

Please note that The Mud House does not offer wifi or air-conditioning; in fact, the actual huts have no electricity, although you can charge phones/batteries, etc, at the main house. 

There is no air-conditioning at Orient, but it is at a slightly higher elevation and should be a comfortable temperature.

There is wifi everywhere except The Mud House, although it may not extend all the way to the rooms and will be stronger in the common areas (lobby, restaurant, etc). 

Registration Questions & Contract

Please click here or the green button below to access the registration questions via Google Forms. Your spot is considered reserved when you have completed these questions and submitted your deposit. 

Click here to complete your registration questions
Please click here to download a copy of the contract for your records. 

FAQ

 

PASSPORT/VISA

  • What do I need to know about the visa?    

First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip (that is, August 28, 2020), and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section). 

As a convenience to you, we will be applying for the Sri Lankan visa on your behalf before the trip and the fee is included in your trip price.

FOOD

  • I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?

Vegetarians and vegans will find plenty of delicious curries and dal available along with local rice and other starches. Celiacs and those avoiding gluten will also enjoy the abundance of rice, meat proteins, and vegetable options, as well. Part of your registration includes asking about dietary allergies and special needs, but please feel free to contact us beforehand if you have any specific questions or concerns about Sri Lanka food.

You can read more about the specialties of Sri Lanka cuisine here. 

  • Can I drink the water?

In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it.  Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.

 

HEALTH

  • What vaccines do I need?

None are required to enter Sri Lanka, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read what SmartTraveller.gov.au has to say about visiting Sri Lanka here. You can read the American CDC’s Sri Lanka recommendations here and the Scottish NHS Sri Lanka recommendations here.

  • What about malaria? What about Zika?

As always, we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information about malaria.

The World Health Organization declared Sri Lanka free of malaria in September 2016.  Here is a link to the Scottish NHS Malaria risk map of Sri Lanka.

Please click here to learn more about the CDC’s recommendation about Zika in Southeast Asia (please note that Sri Lanka is not currently listed as a country of concern).

   *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from your licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical health care provider.

  • Do I need travel insurance?

We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense. It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind!  When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for emergency medical expenses, medical evacuation, and repatriation. We also highly recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or other unforeseen circumstances.

Please see RetreaTours.com/Travel-Insurance for more information.

 

MONEY

  • How much money should I bring?

Only what you need for extras (souvenirs, alcohol, massages, whale watching, extra safari, etc) since everything else on this trip is included. We have included all base tips, but we would never take away the opportunity to tip more if you feel moved to do so.

  • How do I get the local currency?

The local currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lanka Rupee (LKR). You can either exchange cash in Sri Lanka or use a local ATM (which we prefer) to get LKR. Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in Sri Lanka, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world. You do NOT need to exchange money before you arrive in Sri Lanka, as exchanging money while still in your home country usually has a very poor exchange rate.

 

COMMUNICATION

  • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?

Before the trip begins we will give you the contact information for our hotels to pass along to your loved ones. If you choose to bring your cell phone or tablet, you can use VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime to connect with your loved ones at home, as well.

We highly recommend that all guests download and set up WhatsApp before leaving home, so that it is an easy way to stay in touch with each other while at the hotels on tour. 

Early Arrival or Departure

Early Arrival

This journey will officially begin at dinner on February 16. If you wish to arrive early, we can help you make arrangements at our starting hotel or elsewhere.

Please remember that if you arrive in the wee hours of February 16 (~2 to 5 AM), you’ll still need a place to rest your weary head, necessitating a room the night of February 15/morning of February 16. Otherwise, you may have to wait until 2 PM to check in.

No fear if you can’t arrive until after dinner on February 16; we’ll make sure you are caught up to speed and know when to meet the group for departure on the 17th and you can meet everyone at breakfast!

Early Departure

You will arrive back in Colombo in the late afternoon of February 28. Dinner and your hotel room that night are included, as well as breakfast on February 29. If your preferred flight leaves late on the night of the 28th or early in the pre-dawn hours of the 29th, you will still have a hotel room to repack and freshen up before your flight.

Suggested Packing List & Temperatures

Weather Notes

The average temperature in your travels around Sri Lanka will be between 22 and 33°C (72 and 91°F) with a relative humidity between 65% and 90%. Although this is not the rainy season, rain can still occur, so you’ll want to bring some protection from the sprinkles (or the sun!)

Here is a suggested packing list, clothing first and accessories second.

Considering the warm weather, you’ll want to opt for lightweight fabrics, like cotton or linen. Although it is not at all necessary for tourists, it is still worth noting that Sri Lankans traditionally wear all white when visiting sacred sites.

For any excursions at dawn or dusk, you’ll want to wear lightweight long sleeves and pants in order to prevent mosquito bites. Although there is no malaria in Sri Lanka, you don’t want to be itchy the whole trip!

We’ll be visiting a few sacred temples along the way and you’ll want to approach your wardrobe with relative modesty, with shorts and skirts below the knee. You must cover your shoulder at sacred sites, so bringing a lightweight cotton scarf for a quick wrap solution is a fantastic idea. If you choose to wear shorts above the knee, you can also use a sarong/scarf to cover up during your time in the temple.

Please use this clothing list as a mere suggestion, and wear what you feel comfortable in! You will have the opportunity to have laundry done at your own expense at the hotels; please confirm with the hotel that the laundry will be down by the time you have to check out in each location.

  • 10+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them in your bathroom
  • 3-5 pair light cotton pants or long skirts.
  • 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or shirts.
  • Comfortable clothes to wear for yoga/meditation.
  • Sleeping attire
  • Comfortable walking shoes. Boots aren’t at all necessary and can be cumbersome when going in & out of and temples (where you’ll have to remove shoes). Sneakers, comfortable slip-ons, or walking sandals (like Tevas, Chacos, or Keens) are great.
  • A pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you wish.  They’ll be convenient for around the hotels, local excursions, and the drives.
  • Scarves/sarongs are super handy for so many reasons (men and women, as outlined above, for cover-ups at temples)
  • A bather/swimsuit or two for your time on the beaches or hotel pools. You may wish to bring a cover-up for lounging.
  • A heavier shawl or light to mid-weight cardigan for your air-conditioned vehicle rides and restaurant meals, if you are easily chilled.

Accessories:

  • A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary. You can also have it readily accessible on your phone (you may want to save it as a photo).
  • Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
  • A yoga mat
  • A hat with a brim is a great idea for your daytime adventures.
  • Sunnies/Sunglasses
  • Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by this! Click here for more of our tips on preventing and dealing with jet lag. Ear plugs are going to be important in the case of overeager roosters or street dogs in the middle of the night. 
  • Good sunscreen.  Lauren prefers mineral-based ones like Devita: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. They might be a little pricier initially, but a little goes a long way.
  • Daypack or camera bag. (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, just email him. We can discuss what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to lug around.)
  • If you do bring your camera, don’t forget extra batteries and/or your charging cord! You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
  • You may wish to consider binoculars for your safaris (especially if you don’t have a zoom camera)
  • Toiletries. Although our hotels will have shampoo and soap, you may wish to bring your own favorites, and don’t forget the hair conditioner!
  • A few packs of travel tissues isn’t a bad idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
  • Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer. Nothing replaces good ol’ hand-washing, but this will work in a pinch.
  • Ladies will want to bring any necessary feminine hygiene products with them.
  • Plug adaptor for electronics: Sri Lanka uses the “Type D” Indian 5 amp BS-546 or the European CEE 7/16 Europlug. Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well.
  • A small travel umbrella; can work for rain (which we’re not expecting) OR as a parasol
  • Small notebook and pen for journaling purposes, if you desire!
  • A small flashlight (or the flashlight on your phone)
  • Mosquito repellent. While there is no malaria in Sri Lanka, there is still dengue and the general nuisance of itchy mosquito bites. Prevention is the best solution!
  • Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs.  We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes
  • An extra pair of prescription eyeglasses and/or sufficient contact lenses.\
  • We will have wifi at all of our hotels except The Mud House, if you want to stay in touch via your smartphone or tablet. Don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype, FaceTime, or another wifi-based calling service before leaving home, and familiarizing your loved ones with it before you leave.

BJ and Lauren live out of their suitcases year round and they swear by packing cubes!  Rolling your clothes (instead of folding) and using packing cubes make packing a dream!

Travel Insurance

We require that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment, and emergency evacuation and repatriation. 

We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly.

Below you will find some options to look into, if this is a new world to you. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

World Nomads provides medical coverage for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation, as well. You can use the box on this page to get a quote and see coverage.

InsureMyTrip.com is a good place to see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like. This website includes options from companies like Allianz, Travel Guard, Trip Assure, April, GeoBlue and more.

It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.

Contact RetreaTours

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions not addressed on this site. Thank you!

About Jill Ayres

Health, fitness and an appreciation of nature have been my life partners and passions ever since I was a little girl riding horses on my grandparent’s farm.

In 1988 I formalised my love of fitness by becoming qualified Level 4 certified Group Fitness and Gym instructor. This enabled me to inspire and share my passion with others, which continues to be a joy today.

My journey into the wondrous practice of yoga was a slow one, with lots of research and lots of occasions where I would dip my toes into different types. Through this I arrived at “Vinyasa Flow” – I participated in a class and it was at that time where I experienced my biggest and most profound “ah ha” moment. I suddenly came to the realisation that this was for me – I loved the challenge of its poses, the way it made by body dance and the way it spoke to my emotional and spiritual being. This was the connection my whole being had been craving.

I continued my yoga journey by practicing classes in my home town and participating in Melbourne classes when I could. At one such Melbourne experience, I came across an international yoga teacher by the name of Eoin Finn. Eoin teaches a style of Vinyasa yoga called Blissology. Blissology yoga appealed to my sense of physicality, spiritual values, belonging to community, love and fun. From this experience I wanted to take my practice further, traveling to Bali (Ubud) in May 2013, completing my 200-hour Blissology teacher training.

Having taught group fitness classes since 1988 (gulp) I now embraced the practice of teaching yoga classes, which continue to challenge, nourish, surprise and guide me daily in my life. I have gone on to do further training by people that have inspired me: advanced Level 3 Yin Yoga Teacher; 60 hr training with Lisa Petersen around Somatic Movement and Embodied Anatomy, advanced Yoga Nidra & meditation teacher. Just like everything in life, I believe, one size does not fit all. My practice evolves daily with my mind/body requirements and I recognise that everyone that comes to the mat is on their own journey.

I hope to see you on mat soon….hugs, Jill.   

About RetreaTours

Although BJ & Lauren will not be with you on tour, you’re in good hands with our Sri Lankan partners (and we’ll be with you in spirit!)  We have designed a fun itinerary and are handling all of the details—your only job is to have a drink for us on the beach & tell the elephants hello! (That is us below in Minneriya National Park in 2017, on safari with a herd of elephants in the distance.)

Husband and wife team BJ Graf & Lauren Rathvon created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding. In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable and transformative retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours!)

BJ & Lauren craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime. The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

Photo Album

Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album. All Sri Lanka photos have been taken by BJ and Lauren during their time in this beautiful country. 


 

 

 

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