Pilgrimage to Sri Lanka

with Andrew Olendzki & Tricycle

January 4–15, 2024

One of the world’s oldest and deepest Buddhist traditions can be found on the island of Sri Lanka, a country of ancient archeological sites and breathtaking beauty.

Immerse yourself in the cultural and spiritual heritage of the “Island of Gems” next January on this 12-day pilgrimage. Joined by Buddhist scholar and teacher Andrew Olendzki, we’ll explore historic Buddhist temples and ruins, soak up the beauty of the region’s rich forests and national parks, and integrate Buddhist study.

Join us in early 2024 for a comprehensive, triple-carbon offset, small group tour of Sri Lanka!


This trip is sold out! Please do join the waitlist below in case a spot opens. You’ll also get early access to the next Sri Lanka pilgrimage!

Journey Highlights

  • January 4-15, 2024
  • Daily sessions with Buddhist scholar Andrew Olendzki
  • Accompanied by Phil Ryan, executive editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
  • Guided by Sri Lankan expert, Chandima Wanasinghe
  • Escorted by RetreaTours owners, BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon
  • Explore the ancient Buddhist sites of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle: Anuradhapura, Poḷonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla & Kandy
  • Explore the iconic Sigiriya Rock Fortress at sunrise
  • Discover the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
  • Spot wild Asian elephants during an afternoon jeep safari
  • Immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s wild natural beauty & culture
  • This journey is a fundraiser for The Tricycle Foundation
  • This journey is triple carbon offset from door-to-door
  • Limited to 20 pilgrims
  • $6999 USD per person (based on double occupancy; please see “Price & What is Included” section for private room supplement and all inclusions)

How to Register

  • Complete registration questions by clicking the button in this orange box
  • Lauren will email you with options to pay the deposit

“Our visit to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka will be an integrated study and practice experience. We will be learning about how the classical Buddhist teachings made their way to Sri Lanka from India during the time of King Ashoka in the third century BCE, and how the island welcomed and nurtured the early tradition as the winds of change and innovation swept across north India. Many of the sites we visit are important landmarks in the process of transmission, and we will refer to the ancient chronicles of these events as we tour the island.

“We will make an opportunity to sit in meditation each day, in a peaceful natural setting whenever possible, and allow the grace and dignity of a country steeped in Buddhist teachings for more than two millennia to infuse our practice.”

Andrew Olendzki

Andrew Olendzki

“Our visit to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka will be an integrated study and practice experience. We will be learning about how the classical Buddhist teachings made their way to Sri Lanka from India during the time of King Ashoka in the third century BCE, and how the island welcomed and nurtured the early tradition as the winds of change and innovation swept across north India. Many of the sites we visit are important landmarks in the process of transmission, and we will refer to the ancient chronicles of these events as we tour the island.

“We will make an opportunity to sit in meditation each day, in a peaceful natural setting whenever possible, and allow the grace and dignity of a country steeped in Buddhist teachings for more than two millennia to infuse our practice.”

Andrew Olendzki

Andrew Olendzki

Is Sri Lanka Safe?

The safety and well-being of our guests is our top priority, and we have full confidence in the safety of this Sri Lanka pilgrimage.

You may have heard about Sri Lanka’s political trouble in early 2022. Sri Lankan citizens protested the government for mismanaging their economy, leading to sharp inflation and a shortage of essential goods. As a result, the Prime Minister and much of the cabinet resigned or were removed.

In March 2023, Sri Lanka secured a $3 billion USD bailout to aid in their economic recovery. There is no scarcity of fuel, food, or medicine that would affect our guests in any way.

We are happy to be bringing much-needed business back to Sri Lankan locals who have suffered unduly after the global shutdown and political misconduct. We know you’ll find Sri Lankans to be among the kindest people in the world (as Conde Nast Traveller readers voted them in 2022), and it is joy to be welcomed back into their beautiful country.

Itinerary at a Glance

January 4   Welcome to Sri Lanka! Enjoy an oceanfront dinner tonight with your fellow pilgrims (overnight at Suriya Resort in Negombo)

January 5   Today we’ll head towards historic Anuradhapura, stopping on the way at Na Uyana Forest Monastery (overnight at Forest Rock Garden in Anuradhapura)

January 6   We’ll visit the ancient monastery at Kaludiya Pokuna and the sacred site of Mihintale, the cradle of Sri Lankan Buddhism (overnight at Forest Rock Garden in Anuradhapura)

January 7   This morning we’ll visit the ancient site of Anuradhapura and its awe-inspiring stupas, as well as the Jaya Shri Maha Bodhi tree  (overnight at Forest Rock Garden in Anuradhapura)

January 8  Today we’ll explore the local culture and nature, with lunch in a nearby rice paddy and a sunset walk at the Tissa Wewe Reservoir (overnight at Forest Rock Garden in Anuradhapura)

January 9  On the way to Sigiriya, we’ll visit the ruins of Ritigala’s ancient forest monastery. This afternoon we’ll explore rural village life. (overnight in Sigiriya Jungles in Sigiriya)

January 10  This morning we’ll visit Sigiriya’s iconic “Lion Rock” Fortress, with an afternoon exploration of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa  (overnight in Sigiriya Jungles in Sigiriya)

January 11  This afternoon we’ll enjoy a jeep safari around Minneriya to see its beautiful Asian elephant population (overnight in Sigiriya Jungles in Sigiriya)

January 12  We’ll visit the stunning Dambulla Cave temples and explore the Alu Vihare rock monastery before we continue on to Kandy (overnight at Hotel Suisse in Kandy)

January 13  At sunrise we’ll explore the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Dalada Maligawa. After breakfast, we’ll visit the scenic Nilambe Meditation Center. (overnight at Hotel Suisse in Kandy)

January 14  Today we’ll head into Sri Lanka’s world-famous tea plantations to soak up the natural beauty. (overnight at Hotel Suisse in Kandy)

January 15  This morning we’ll pay a visit to the Buddhist Publication Society, then we’ll head to Colombo to depart for home or further adventure in Sri Lanka. We can recommend any trip extensions you may wish to take in this beautiful island country!






Helen Tworkov, Founder of Tricycle, on this Sri Lanka Pilgrimage

“The combination of the uninterrupted Buddhist culture of Sri Lanka, the fantastic group of pilgrims, the breathtaking natural beauty of this island, and the extraordinary archaeological sites, made this one of the best trips I have ever taken. It offered a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in Buddhism to learn the basics, or to deepen or reinvigorate one’s personal practice.”

Click Here to See More Sri Lanka Pilgrimage Testimonials

Thank you so much for putting together such a great time for those of us lucky enough to go. All the support staff and hotel staff were lovely and helpful. I have had dreams about the trip every night since I’ve been back.

I absolutely loved the trip! I loved Sri Lanka, but also the amazing people that were in our group. Life long friendships were made with memories that will last a lifetime!

That trip was awesome. I’ve done a lot of group trips like this and I have to say that this one was the most organized. I can’t say anything negative about it, to be honest, and I had a fabulous time. Thank you for everything!

I wanted to THANK YOU for everything! I believe all the experiences surpassed what I had expected. In one of our group meetings I thanked everyone for being so inviting and helpful—it was such an honor to be with others who have had and believe the experience of Buddhism!

I loved the tour, the group, and the experience. Thanks for putting it together. I would do it again in a flash.

Although the emphasis is definitely Buddhist history and sacred texts, this tour also provides a spectrum of experiences across socio-cultural, nature, crafts, and shopping opportunities as well. A unique strength of this Tricycle–RetreaTours partnership is the incredible group of fellow travelers it attracts. I really appreciated the warmth, kindness, intellectual verve, and flexibility of this group. Chandima is an outstanding leader and guide in every way.

Fantastic trip, Sri Lanka is a paradise. Great mix of Buddhist historical and sacred sites with Sri Lankan culture and nature. Exceptionally well-designed and executed. A joy from start to finish.


Detailed Narrative Itinerary

About our Practice & Schedule

The following itinerary is intended to outline the sites of interest we’ll be visiting along our path. Part of each day will be spent on-site at important historic spots in central Sri Lanka. There will be dedicated time on-site and back at our hotels for group gatherings, discussion, and meditation. 

Throughout our time together, Andrew Olendzki will lead discussions and weave an insightful narrative throughout our experiences. There will be opportunities for group meditation each morning before breakfast and at many of the sites we visit.

You’ll be joined by Tricycle executive editor Phil Ryan, as well as the owners of RetreaTours, BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon. Our expert Sri Lanka guide Chandima Wanasinghe will lead us through his gorgeous country, imparting precious historical knowledge and cultural wisdom. 

We’ll only be staying at four hotels on this journey and taking day trips from each home base. The relaxed pace of this trip allows downtime for synthesizing your experiences, personal practice, relaxation, and for discussion with your fellow pilgrims and Andrew Olendzki. 

You can learn more about our hotels, our drive times, and suggested fitness requirements in the corresponding white boxes below the narrative itinerary. 

January 4

Ayubowan–welcome to Sri Lanka! 

You’ll be picked up at Bandaranaike International Airport and be driven to our hotel in coastal Negombo. Our journey officially starts with dinner tonight; if you wish to arrive early and stay at this seaside hotel, we can help arrange that. We’re using Negombo as a launchpad to explore the so-called “Cultural Triangle” of Sri Lanka, starting with Anuradhapura tomorrow morning. 

Sphinx of Giza in front of the Great Pyramid of Khufu

January 5

This morning we’ll depart for Anuradhapura. Rich with natural beauty and steeped in sacredness, Anuradhapura flourished for an impressive 1,300 years as Sri Lanka’s political and religious capital. Although it was abandoned in 993 CE, Anuradhapura’s sites offer a glimpse into its storied past.

On the way to Anuradhapura, our first stop will be Na Uyana Aranya, the “Ironwood Grove Forest Monastery.” This is one of the oldest Buddhist forest monasteries in Sri Lanka, dating back to the 3rd century BCE. The modern revival of this ancient monastery has transformed it into one of the most prominent meditation centers in the country.

We’ll continue on to our hotel in Anuradhapura, Forest Rock Garden. Handpicked for its natural setting and charm, this will be a peaceful home base for us. This boutique hotel was built in the style of ancient Anuradhapura architecture; this motif even extends to the pool, inspired by the 8th-century “Kuttma Pokuna” ponds. The walkways and most structures were built 20 feet above ground level to allow free movement of the wildlife in the area. Set on almost 50 acres in the Andarawewa Forest Reserve, this area serves as an elephant corridor as they make their way to Wilpattu National Park. Perhaps we will be lucky enough to see one of these beauties on their commute!

Wide angle photo of Hypostyle hall at Karnak temple in Luxor
Wide angle photo of Hypostyle hall at Karnak temple in Luxor

January 6

Today we’ll visit Kaludiya Pokuna (“black pond”), an ancient Buddhist Monastery site established in the 2nd century BCE. Set within a beautiful forest, the well-organized ruins surrounding the pond demonstrate an advanced hydraulic civilization. This is evident in features such as artificial moats, as well as the presence of bathhouses and indoor toilets within the buildings.

Next, we’ll explore Mihintale. Mihintale holds great significance as the cradle of Buddhism in the country. It is believed to be the site where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka by Mahinda Thera, the son of Emperor Ashoka of India, in the 3rd century BCE. Mihintale is home to a complex of ancient monastic structures, including stupas and rock caves.

January 7

This morning we’ll head into the ancient city of Anuradhapura and its awe-inspiring stupas. 

Thuparamaya Stupa is closely linked to Mahinda Thera, the envoy sent by King Ashoka to Sri Lanka. Thuparamaya is Sri Lanka’s first stupa (or dagoba in the Sinhalese language); it is said to enshrine the right collarbone of the Buddha. First built in the 3rd century BCE, the current construction of the dagoba dates to the 1842 restoration.

The Abhayagiri Stupa is one of the largest dagobas in the country and a significant center of Buddhist learning during ancient times. Dating to the 1st century BCE, it served as the central ceremonial point of the Abhayagiri Monastery, which housed around 5000 individuals. Standing over 100 meters high, it was an architectural marvel, ranking among the greatest structures of the ancient world. Its size was rivaled only by the pyramids of Giza and the nearby Jetavanarama Stupa.

While Ruwanweli Maha Seya Stupa is not the largest nor the oldest of the dagobas, it is among the most highly venerated because it is said to house two quarts of the Buddha’s relics, which would be the largest collection of relics in one spot.

No visit to Anuradhapura would be complete without a visit to Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. This sacred Bodhi tree has a rich history dating back over 2,000 years. It is believed to be a direct descendant of the Bodhi tree in BodhGaya, India under which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. It was planted in 288 BCE and currently holds the world record (as in Guinness!) for the oldest-known human-planted tree.

January 8

Today we’ll connect with modern-day rural Sri Lanka and enjoy a village lunch in the rice paddies.  We can also enjoy a sunset stroll at Tissa Wewa, an ancient reservoir from the 3rd century BCE. We’ll enjoy our last night at Forest Rock Garden and its gorgeous grounds before we head to our next home base in Sigiriya tomorrow. 

Wide angle photo of Hypostyle hall at Karnak temple in Luxor
Wide angle photo of Hypostyle hall at Karnak temple in Luxor

January 9

This morning we’ll depart for Sigiriya for our three-night stay at Sigiriya Jungles. On the way, we’ll have the opportunity to explore the enigmatic ruins of the Ritigala ancient forest monastery. Situated in the dense jungle within the rugged hills of the Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve, these weathered stone structures offer a captivating glimpse into the past. Dating back to the 4th century CE, this complex of forest hermitages encompasses natural caves that housed meditating monks.

In the late afternoon, we’ll explore the nearby village to understand better what everyday life looks like in rural Sri Lanka.

January 10

This morning we’ll depart early for the opportunity to climb the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress, “Lion Rock.” Constructed in the 5th century CE, this UNESCO site is one of the best-preserved examples of ancient urban planning, from the ornate gardens and colorful frescoes to the imposing “Lion Rock” itself. Bloomberg calls Sigiriya one of the new seven wonders of the world!

We’ll also explore the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, another stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site. Polonnaruwa was the capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th centuries; during this period, it was a thriving center of political, religious, and cultural activities, showcasing the advanced civilization and architectural achievements of the time. 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. 

January 11

This morning is dedicated to practice and discussion, and this afternoon we’ll enjoy a jeep safari around Minneriya. Although it is home to 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies (whew!), the undisputed crowd favorite is the amazing Asian elephant population. Only around 2,500 to 4,000 of these endangered subspecies of elephants live in Sri Lanka; witnessing these majestic creatures roam freely in their natural habitat is truly a breathtaking, humbling experience. 

A view of the rock fortress at Sigiriya over a reflecting pool
A view of the rock fortress at Sigiriya over a reflecting pool
2 elephants lovingly play in Sri Lanka at sunset

January 12

Today we head to Kandy, our home base for the next 3 nights. Kandy is yet another former capital and the second-largest city in modern Sri Lanka. On our way to Kandy we’ll explore Aluvihare Rock Temple. Aluvihare Rock Temple is the historic location where the Pāli Canon was first written down completely in text on palm leaves. How lucky are we to be with a Pāli Canon scholar?!

The Pāli Canon holds immense significance in Buddhism as the most authoritative and oldest collection of teachings and discourses attributed to Buddha and his disciples. The canon was primarily transmitted orally until the 1st century BCE when it was first committed to writing. This written preservation of the Pāli Canon in Sri Lanka ensured its longevity and facilitated its dissemination to other Buddhist traditions, making it a vital source of Buddhist doctrine and guidance for practitioners worldwide.

We’ll also visit the Dambulla Caves, a cluster of ancient cave temples that originated in the 2nd century BCE; some evidence suggests that these caves were used as shelters in prehistoric times. The colorful caves were originally a sanctuary for Buddhist monks; they were later occupied and then abandoned by kings from Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, who funded renovations and contributed to the collection of artworks. The most recent repainting, done in the 17th century, follows the artistic style of the Kandyan era.

January 13

Early this morning we’ll pay a special sunrise visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Dalada Maligawa. This temple is a venerated place for Buddhists all over the world, as it is said to house the Buddha’s left canine tooth, retrieved from his funeral pyre. It is said that 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.

Later this morning we’ll visit the Nilambe Meditation Center. Located atop a tea estate, surrounded by a pine forest and pristine rainforest, the Nilambe Meditation Centre provides a unique opportunity for individuals to delve deeper into their practice. 

Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel

January 14

Today we’ll take a beautiful and mindful walk in Sri Lanka’s picturesque tea country. This area is renowned for its postcard-perfect landscapes and thriving tea plantations, as the area’s cool climate and fertile soil create ideal conditions for growing tea. Sri Lanka’s tea cultivation dates back to the 19th century when the British introduced tea plants to the island. Under British occupation, the Ceylon tea industry flourished, and Sri Lanka became renowned globally for its high-quality tea production, which continues to be a significant export for the country today.

Tonight we’ll enjoy our farewell dinner and reflect that all Sri Lanka has shown to us, with a giant thanks to our guiding lights, Andrew Olendzki and Chandima Wanasinghe!

January 15  

This morning after breakfast we’ll visit the Buddhist Publication Society (BPS), a charity whose goal is to explain and spread the doctrine of the Buddha. It was founded in Sri Lanka in 1958, and for thirty years, the Buddhist Publication Society in Sri Lanka was the most important publisher of Theravada literature in English. 

Abu Simbel

We’ll bid farewell to Kandy as we head back to Colombo for departure.  You can choose to depart later today or extend your time in Sri Lanka with the assistance of our expert Sri Lankan partners. We can recommend itineraries based your interests, whether you’d to delve deeper on safari, relax on the southern beaches, or spend time getting closer to the culture!

How to Register

  • Complete registration questions by clicking the button in this orange box
  • Lauren will email you with options to pay the deposit

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

Price & What is Included

This journey is $6999 USD per person, based on sharing a room with someone.

  • The non-refundable deposit is $1000 and holds your space
  • The 2nd installment of $3000 is due on August 15, 2023
  • The balance is due on October 1, 2024
  • The private room supplement is $679. (Please note that we cannot guarantee a roommate.)

There is a minimum of 10 pilgrims required for this journey and a maximum of 20. When we have reached our minimum, we will let you know, at which time you can buy airfare and your travel insurance.

Price Includes

  • All meals (starting with dinner on January 4th through breakfast on January 15th)
  • All non-alcoholic beverages at mealtimes
  • All accommodations
  • Airport pick-up
  • All site fees
  • All tips to guide
  • All tips to drivers, hotel staff, and restaurant staff
  • Funding to the Tricycle Foundation

Price does not include

      Payment Details & Schedule

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

      The non-refundable $1000 deposit guarantees your space. The 2nd installment is due on August 15, 2023 and the balance on October 1, 2023. The private room supplement ($679) will be added to the final balance.

      For our American guests, we accept payments via check, credit, or debit card (via PayPal), Zelle, or Venmo. Lauren will send you these details after receiving your registration form.

      For our guests outside the U.S., Lauren will connect with you about the best ways to transfer money.

      Cancellation Policy

      We do everything in our power to do right by our guests. We are proud to say that in the wake of our COVID-related trip cancellations through 2020 and 2021, we were able to offer each of our guests the choice of a 100% credit, if not a full refund.

      We’ve re-examined each trip and done our best to reduce the deposit amounts as much as possible. Upon your registration, your deposit immediately goes toward reserving your space for flights, hotels, and excursions that must be booked months in advance and are often non-refundable.

      Cancellation by our guests

      The cancellation charges are as follows unless otherwise indicated on the detailed itinerary for each trip. All cancellations must be received via e-mail or US mail.

      • Cancellations prior to 120 days to departure, money will be refunded minus the non-refundable deposit. Please note that deposits for any pre-trip or post-trip extensions are not transferable to another portion of the trip should you decide to cancel that module of the journey.
      • Cancellations received 61 to 119 days prior to departure are subject to a penalty of 50% of the total cost of the trip.
      • Cancellations received 60 days or less prior to trip departure will forfeit the entire cost of the trip.

      If a trip is cancelled by RetreaTours

      When a tour is cancelled in the case of force majeure, the Tour Participant will receive a refund minus any funds that we are unable to recover from any supplier.

      You can see the full cancellation policy in our contract here. 

      Our Carbon Offset Commitment

      RetreaTours is Climate Positive!

      We purchase triple carbon offsets for your travels with us—that’s from your home, through the entire tour, and back to your home again, times three

      RetreaTours is officially a Carbonfree® Partner with Carbonfund.org, as well as a partner with Cool Effect.

      You may have heard the term “carbon neutral,” which means that a company offsets as much carbon as it produces. With this 300% offset, RetreaTours is actually offsetting more carbon than we produce each year, making us “carbon negative” (or “climate positive,” which has a nicer ring to it!)

      Since 2012 we’ve focused on making travel safe and easy for our guests; with our triple carbon offset tours, we’re pleased to make our trips as sustainable as they are memorable.

      Please see more at RetreaTours.com/CarbonNegative

      Suggested Fitness Requirements

      We recommend feeling comfortable walking up to 2 miles at a time at a moderate pace, as well as the ability to climb several flights of stairs at a time.

      Dambulla Caves and Ritigala ruins will require walking up moderate inclines and some stairs.

      Walking to the top of Sigiriya Rock Fortress (via staircases and terraces) is optional and there are several spots where one can stop and descend.

      We encourage you to email us with any questions you may have about your fitness level and this journey!

      Travel Insurance

      Required Coverage

      RetreaTours requires that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. Please send Lauren your policy information as soon as you have it.

      Suggested Coverage

      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.

      Please familiarize yourself with RetreaTours’ guest cancellation policy in your journey’s contract. Please read this article to understand a bit more about trip cancellation insurance and what it may or may not cover. “Cancel For Any Reason” policies do exist, as well, although do check to see what percentage of the trip cost they actually reimburse.

      When to purchase your policy

      Please purchase this insurance as soon as we tell you the trip has reached its minimum. Please do not wait until the last minute, should you need to use your (optional) cancellation coverage before then.

      Where to search for policies

      Below you will find some options to start your search for trip insurance. 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.

      Squaremouth.com and InsureMyTrip.com are two sites where you can see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like. Squaremouth’s interface is very easy and intuitive to use, and you can easily opt out of trip cancellation coverage.

      World Nomads provides policies for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation options. Use the link above and pop in your info to get an immediate quote.

      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.

      Passport & Visa Requirements

      Your passport must have at least 2 blank pages and be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of the trip (that is July 15, 2024).

      You will obtain a Sri Lanka visa online before the start of the trip, and we will provide you with all of the information you need to do that. A Sri Lanka visa currently costs $50 USD. 

      Vaccines & Staying Healthy on Tour


      RetreaTours requires proof of a COVID-19 vaccine and booster for this journey.

      No vaccines 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 the CDC’s recommendations here and the Scottish NHS recommendations here.

      It is good general practice to be up to date on your flu shot and tetanus shot; please discuss with your physician if this is right for you.


      Sri Lanka was certified by the World Health Organization as a malaria-free country in 2016. You may still wish to bring mosquito repellent for our times when we are out and dawn or dusk or within the jungle.

      Staying Healthy on Tour

      Please visit our comprehensive article, “How to Stay Healthy While Traveling…Naturally,” which addresses all of the most common travel ailments.

      Expected Temperatures & Suggested Packing List

      Weather Notes

      The average temperature in your travels around Sri Lanka will be between 72 and 88°F (22 and 32°C) with a high level of humidity.

      In Kandy, it will be a bit cooler due to altitude (1500 feet/465 meters) so the averages are 65° to 82°F (18° to 27°C).

      Hopefully for most of you, this will be a reprieve from some harsh winter weather!

      Although this is not the rainy season, rain can still occur, so you’ll want to bring some protection from the sprinkles. We highly recommend a small travel umbrella for both rain and sun protection.


      Suggested Packing List

      We will provide you with a comprehensive packing list several months before our journey together.

      About Our Hotels
      We have chosen our hotels on this journey carefully, based on their comfort and location. They each have wifi (*sometimes it is only available in the common areas), hot water, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms with Western-style toilets.

      Here are the names of the hotels we will be using and their websites:


      About our Drive Times

      Sri Lanka is a small country and we will be using comfortable vehicles to make our way around the island. Here are the expected drive times for this journey, listed by day.


      • January 5: Negombo to Na Uyana Forest Monastery, 90 minutes; Na Uyana Forest Monastery to Forest Rock Garden Hotel,  ~3 hours
      • January 6: Forest Rock Garden to Mihintale, 40 minutes each way
      • January 7: Forest Rock Garden to ancient Anuradhapura, 25 minutes each way
      • January 8: Village visit within 30 minutes drive each way
      • January 9: Forest Rock Garden to Ritigala, 2 hours; Ritigala to Sigiriya Jungles Hotel, 45 minutes
      • January 10: Sigiriya Jungles Hotel to Lion Rock, 25 minutes; Lion Rock to Polonnaruwa, 1 hour, Polonnaruwa back to hotel, 1 hour
      • January 11: Sigiriya Jungles Hotel to begin safari, 20 minutes each way; then we’ll be in a jeep for safari for a few hours
      • January 12: Sigiriya Jungles Hotel to Dambulla Caves, 30 minutes; Dambulla to Aluvihare Cave, 1 hour; Aluvihare to Suisse Hotel in Kandy, 1 hour. 
      • January 13: Suisse Hotel to Temple of the Tooth, 10-minute drive or 20-minute walk; Suisse Hotel to Nilambe Meditation Center, 90 minutes each way (in beautiful tea country scenery)
      • January 14: Short drive to begin our walk through the tea plantations
      • January 15: It is a 3-hour drive back to the airport in Colombo or 3.5 hours back to the city of Colombo.
      Wifi Availability & Electricity


      The internet is accessible throughout this journey, although it may only available in the common areas at Forest Rock Garden. We recommend staying connected with your loved ones via WhatsApp (which we will also use on the tour to communicate the schedule and updates). You may also wish to activate an international plan on your phone service.

      Electrical Outlets and Adaptors

      You’ll need an electrical adaptor for Sri Lanka.  We highly recommend a Universal Adaptor such as this (for its Type G adaptor), which also has USB and USB-C outlets so you can charge multiple devices at once. You’ll also want to obtain a Type-D adaptor.

      About your Arrival and Departure

      Early Arrival

      This journey will officially begin at dinner on January 4th. 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 January 4th (~2 to 5 AM, not an uncommon landing time), you’ll still need a place to rest your weary head, necessitating a room the night of January 3rd/morning of January 4th. Otherwise, you may have to wait until 2 PM on January 4th to check in.

      No fear if you can’t arrive until later on January 4th; if your flight arrives after dinner on January 4th, we’ll make sure you are caught up to speed and know when to meet the group for departure on the 5th and you can meet everyone at breakfast!


      Your transportation from Kandy to the airport is included on the afternoon of the 15th. If you wish to extend your time in Sri Lanka, we can work with you to arrange that with our local partners.

      Contact RetreaTours

      Please send an email to Lauren if you have any questions not addressed on this site. 

      About Tricycle

      Established in 1990 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization, The Tricycle Foundation is dedicated to making Buddhist teachings and practices broadly available. In 1991 the Foundation launched Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, the first magazine intended to present Buddhist perspectives to a Western readership. Tricycle soon became the leading independent journal of Buddhism in the West, where it continues to be the most inclusive and widely read vehicle for the dissemination of Buddhist views and values.

      Our readership includes longtime practitioners, those who are curious about Buddhism or meditation, and those who do not identify as Buddhist but value the teachings of wisdom and compassion that Buddhism has to offer. By remaining unaffiliated with any particular teacher, sect or lineage, Tricycle provides a unique and independent public forum for exploring Buddhism, establishing a dialogue between Buddhism and the broader culture, and introducing Buddhist thinking to Western disciplines. This approach has enabled Tricycle to successfully attract readers from all walks of life, many of whom desire to enrich their lives through a deeper knowledge of Buddhist traditions.

      Tricycle has been recognized with the prestigious Folio Award for Best Spiritual Magazine three times, and has twice garnered the Utne Media Award, most recently in 2013. As part of our commitment to our readers who are seeking to implement or sustain Buddhist values and practices, Tricycle accepts advertising only from teachers, programs, centers, and businesses whose offerings we believe will support those aims. Because of this selective policy, we depend on donations to support ever-rising printing and production costs, content updates to our website, and life-enriching programs. The Foundation also hosts occasional pilgrimages that provide opportunities for new and experienced practitioners to explore sites of importance to Buddhist history and practice.

      Mission Statement

      The mission of The Tricycle Foundation is to create forums for exploring contemporary and historic Buddhist activity, examine the impact of its new context in the democratic traditions of the West, and introduce fresh views and attainable methods for enlightened living to the culture at large. At the core of the Foundation’s mission is the alleviation of suffering that Buddhist teachings are meant bring about. Tricycle is an independent foundation unaffiliated with any one lineage or sect.

      Why “Tricycle?”

      A three-wheeled vehicle aptly evokes the fundamental components of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism itself is often referred to as the “vehicle to enlightenment,” and the tricycle’s three wheels allude to the three treasures: The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, or the enlightened teacher, the teachings, and the community. The wheels also relate to the turning of the wheel of dharma, or skillfully using the teachings of the Buddha to face the challenges that the circle of life presents.

      About Andrew Olendzki

      Andrew Olendzki

      Andrew Olendzki is a professor at Lesley University in Cambridge MA, and the director of its graduate program in Mindfulness Studies. He is a scholar of early Buddhist thought and practice with a special interest in Buddhist psychology and its relevance to the modern world.

      Prior to joining Lesley he worked for more than 25 years in Barre, MA, first as the original executive director of the Insight Meditation Society and then as executive director and senior scholar at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, where his focus was upon the integration of academic study with the practice of meditation.

      He has taught at many New England colleges, was a senior scholar at the Mind & Life Institute, and is on the board of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. He writes regularly for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, has contributed chapters to a dozen books, and is the author ofᅠUnlimiting Mind: The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhismᅠ(Wisdom 2010) andᅠUntangling Self: A Buddhist Investigation of Who We Really Areᅠ(Wisdom 2016).

      About Phil Ryan

      Philip Ryan is executive editor at Tricycle. He began work at Tricycle in 1996 but has lived many lives between then and now, designing websites and reporting on financial technology. He is a desultory meditator, mainly in the Zen tradition.

      About Chandima Wanasinghe

      You’ll be accompanied on this tour by our fantastic Sri Lankan guide Chandima. Like every Buddhist child in Sri Lanka, Chan went to Sunday Dhamma school from age 5 until 18. Chan went on to complete a ‘Dharmacharya’ exam to be qualified as a teacher and volunteered for three years at the village Dhamma School. He completed a One Year Diploma at the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka.

      Chan’s experience in Qualitative Marketing Research and the Hospitality Industry laid a firm foundation for his next move: pursuing a lifelong passion for travel and adventure. Upon qualifying as a National Tourist Guide Lecturer from Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management, he commenced a career as a freelance tour leader, designer, and a tour consultant. Chan brings a wealth of knowledge to the table, expertise that has been acquired through facilitating and exchanging of ideas with travelers across the globe who come from numerous backgrounds, cultures, and interest levels.

      During his free time, Chan loves to pack a tent, jump on his scooter and visit places far off the beaten track in search of unique getaways. A runner, cyclist and an outdoorsman in the truest the sense of the word, Chan dreams of completing the Ironman Triathlon at least once in his lifetime.

      About RetreaTours (BJ & Lauren)

      You’ll be joined on this journey by Lauren & BJ, owners of RetreaTours (that’s us with Chandima!)

      Husband-and-wife team BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon left the U.S. and have traveled the globe year-round since January 2013, researching, designing, and leading impactful journeys.

      We are committed not only to our guests but to our host destinations and the planet at large. We engage with local businesses and guides to keep money within the community, and we triple-carbon offset each of our tours.

      We invite you to visit our Testimonials page to see what other people have to say about us!  You can head to our About Us page to learn more about our story.

      Want to see our other Pilgrimages with Tricycle?

      We love traveling with Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and we know that you will enjoy these transformative journeys, too. Please click here to see all of our current Tricycle Pilgrimages at a glance.

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