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What People Are Saying About Us

I have come to expect excellence from Odysseys Unlimited and have never been disappointed.

Michael E. Leahy
Oak Lawn, IL

We have been to many, many places all over the world, with many different tour companies.  None of them compare to the Odysseys Unlimited small group experience.

Nancy & William Sondervan
Sherrills Ford, NC

The small group is wonderful and the quality of tour directors is exceptional.

Bill Jones
Vancouver, WA

All that was advertised was delivered. Consider this tour to be a real value as to sites visited, itinerary, hotels, and travel between sites.

Susan & Paul Krupp
Georgetown, TX

Odysseys does everything with style, but without pretension. Beautiful meals and hotels. Excellent guides.

Barbara Schoetzau
New York, NY

Very early in the tour we saw we got much more for our dollar than anything we could have put together ourselves. The value exceeded our expectations.

Tara Malmberg
Quitman, TX

Good value for $ — accommodations, food, guide, itinerary, and [small] size of group. Have traveled with other tour groups ... and like you best.

Jean Hall
Prairie Village, KS

We like the model – small groups, excellent tour directors, solid hotels, good mix of group/independent activities.

Roger Soder
Seattle, WA

The combination of excellent hotels with a small group is the way I like to travel. I would highly recommend Odysseys to everyone I know.

Patricia Joyce
Peoria, AZ

We love the small group experience.

Dave & Alice Wilson
Williamstown, MA

Odysseys is the best company we have traveled with. You have first-rate tours at affordable prices, with great itineraries, excellent guides, and outstanding accommodations.

Jane & Ronald Decker
Chicago, IL

Odysseys tours are just right for us: great value, nice group size, complete trips, sufficient free time.

Laurin & Phyllis LeTart
Shepherdstown, WV

This trip far exceeded our expectations: the small group size, the quality of the tour director (the best we’ve ever had), the ability to have dinners on our own, the lower cost without a significant reduction in the quality of the accommodations.

Barry & Bobbi Rosner
Somerset, NJ

I thought I would not like traveling in a group but I was wrong! [Our tour director] was so good at making the group seem as one that it turned out to be the best part of the trip.

Donna Stevenson
Dublin, OH

It was the best value in travel we’ve ever had. It was a wonderful experience.

Trish Merrill & Mac White
Austin, TX

This was my 7th trip with Odysseys and they keep getting better and better.

Merle Frank
Miami, FL

Love the small group format and the ease of traveling with arrangements made for us.

Ken & Carolyn Helm
Newburgh, IN

Tour exceeded my expectations having never taken a group tour. An excellent experience – can’t wait for my next one!

Ronni Goldberg
New York, NY

Absolutely the best bang for the buck – organization, quality, consistency.

Harvey Wine
Dallas, TX

I like the small size of Odysseys tours. [You] have excellent Tour Directors, great itineraries and spend more time in areas than some of the other tour companies.

Lynn Bafaloukos
Glendale, AZ

Because of the group size and outstanding guides, you make travel easy for us!

Sharon Irwin & John Akamatsu
Kent, OH
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NEW FOR 2019!

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Small Group Tour Highlights
  • Colombo city tour
  • Visit to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
  • Sigiriya rock fortress
  • Wildlife safari in Minneriya NP
  • UNESCO site of Polonnaruwa
  • Dambulla cave complex
  • Traditional dance performance
  • Kandy touring
  • Stay in Nuwara Eliya in central highlands
  • Game drives in Bundala and Yala national parks
  • Fortified city of Galle
  • Sri Lankan cooking class
  • Indian Ocean resort of Bentota
Day-by-Day Itinerary

Days 1 & 2: Depart U.S. for Colombo, Sri Lanka

Day 3: Arrive Colombo We arrive in Sri Lanka’s largest city and commercial capital today and transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary, we have no group activities planned. Tonight, we meet our fellow travelers and Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director at a welcome dinner. D

Day 4: Colombo A cosmopolitan city with a rich colonial heritage thanks to the Portuguese, Dutch, and British who once ruled here, Colombo has one foot in the past – and one very much in the present, as we see on today’s city tour. We start in the historic Fort area, site of the original Portuguese fortress that encircled the city and is now Colombo’s mercantile and financial center. We continue past the colorful Pettah bazaar, Cinnamon Gardens residential neighborhood, Wolfendhal Dutch Church, and Independence Square, among other points of interest. B,D

Day 5: Colombo/Habarana En route to Habanara this morning, we visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a 25-acre refuge for orphaned elephants who can no longer live in the wild. B,L,D

Day 6: Sigiriya/Minneriya National Park This morning we encounter one of Sri Lanka’s most important sights: Sigiriya, the 660-foot-high rock fortress constructed in the 5th century CE. Dramatic and inspiring, Sigiriya features the ruins of a fresco-adorned palace, along with gardens, moats, and ramparts. Following our tour of this UNESCO site, we embark on a wildlife safari in Minneriya National Park, home to 24 species of mammals, including a large population of Sri Lankan elephants (a sub-species of the Asian elephant), two native species of monkey: the purple-face langur and the toque macaque, deer, and leopard, plus 160 species of birds and 75 species of butterflies. B,D

Day 7: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka’s first city, medieval capital, and now a UNESCO site, Polonnaruwa reached its brief golden age from the 10th to 12th centuries before falling to invaders in the ensuing years. But more than traces of its glory and grandeur remain in the ruins of palaces, temples, and monuments that we explore here today. We see the Royal Palace complex; the Quadrangle, with its rich, compact collection of buildings and relics; and the amazing Gal Vihare rock temple with four giant Buddhas carved in relief on a single slab of granite. Then we return to our hotel in time for lunch on our own and an afternoon at leisure. B,D

Day 8: Habarana/Dambulla/Kandy Our first stop today is the Golden Temple of Dambulla, a complex of five caves that has served as a pilgrimage site for more than 2,000 years. Featuring extensive statuary, including 153 of Lord Buddha, as well as detailed murals covering some 23,000 square feet, this UNESCO site boasts some of Sri Lanka’s most important religious art. Then we visit a spice garden, where we have lunch and learn about the exotic spices that have lured traders here for centuries. We continue on to Kandy, the country’s second largest city famed for its sacred Buddhist sites. Tonight, we learn about Sri Lanka’s ancient culture at a show of traditional dances. B,L,D

Day 9: Kandy/Nuwara Eliya On this morning’s city tour, we visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (ca. 4th century CE), a shrine believed to hold one of Lord Buddha’s teeth. We also explore the Royal Botanic Gardens, once reserved for royalty. Now known especially for its orchids and avenue of palms (among some 4,000 species of flora), the gardens served as Lord Mountbatten’s headquarters of the SE Asia Command during World War II. Then we travel on to Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka’s hill country, where tea plantations carpet the mountainsides, cooler temperatures preside, and colonial architecture survives to lend something of a British air. We stop at a tea factory to learn about the production of the world’s second most consumed drink (after water). Late this afternoon, we reach our hotel, where we dine tonight. B,L,D

Day 10: Nuwara Eliya Early today we set out on a nature walk in Horton Plains, a national park in the central highlands, where the headwaters of three rivers meet. As we stroll through the grassland and cloud forest dotted with red-flowered rhododendron, we may spot “bear” monkey and herds of sambar deer, as well as some of the endemic bird and butterfly species here. We see the stunning sheer precipice of World’s End then enjoy breakfast al fresco at Bakers Falls. After this exhilarating morning, we return to our hotel, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. B,D

Day 11: Nuwara Eliya/Ella/Yala We embark on a scenic train journey to the small town of Ella, surrounded by lush tea plantations and mountain scenery, with views of the Indian Ocean in the distance. Upon arrival, we take an easy hike up Little Adams Peak, where we’re rewarded with stunning 360-degree views. Next, we visit Ravana Falls, one of Sri Lanka’s widest waterfalls and source of local legend and lore. Then we coach to our hotel on the outskirts of Yala National Park. B,D

Day 12: Bundala National Park/Yala National Park Early this morning, we set out on a game drive in Bundala National Park, where land, sea, and wetlands meet in a thorny scrub jungle to host migratory water birds, the rare pangolin, sea turtles, and countless more birds and animals. On this afternoon’s game drive in Yala National Park, the country’s most visited, we’re on the lookout for leopards, elephants, sloth bears, sambar and spotted deer, crocodiles, and peacocks, among the park’s wide variety of fauna. B,D

Day 13: Yala/Bentota We travel by motorcoach today to the Indian Ocean resort town of Bentota and our resort hotel, set high on a promontory overlooking the beach. We dine here together tonight. B,D

Day 14: Galle This morning we visit the fortified harbor city Galle, an ancient seaport along the Silk Route, with strong Portuguese and Dutch influences. We take a stroll around the fortress, a UNESCO site; see the country’s oldest Protestant church; and pass by old manors adorned with Dutch-style lattice work. Then we attend a cooking class featuring local spices, followed by lunch. This afternoon we take a boat ride on the Madu River, whose estuary is one of last pristine mangrove forests remaining in Sri Lanka. B,L,D

Day 15: Kosgoda We visit a hatchery in nearby Kosgoda this morning, where we learn about the Sea Turtle Conservation Project to protect turtles from extinction. Then we return to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Tonight, we celebrate our Sri Lankan adventure at a farewell dinner at our hotel. B,D

Day 16: Bentota/Colombo/Depart for U.S. Today is at leisure for independent exploration or to enjoy the amenities of our resort hotel (our rooms are reserved for late check-out). We depart this evening for the Colombo airport and our overnight flight to the U.S. B

Day 17: Arrive U.S. We arrive in the U.S. and connect with our return flights home.

Please note: This trip involves considerable walking on uneven terrain and at sites of ancient ruins. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included

Tour Price Includes
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities
  • 13 nights’ accommodations in Deluxe, Superior First Class, and First Class hotels
  • 30 meals: 13 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 13 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
  • $100 frequent traveler credit towards your next Odysseys Unlimited tour ($200 after 3 tours; $300 after 10 tours)
Tour Dates & Prices

2019/2020 Tour Dates & Prices
including international airfare and all taxes, surcharges, and fees

2019Oct 16
Oct 23
2019Nov 6
Nov 13
2019Dec 4

2020Feb 26
Mar 4
2020Jan 15
Jan 22
Jan 29
Feb 12
Boston, New York$4,297$4,497$4,697$4,997
Chicago, Dallas,
Houston, Los Ang,
San Fran, Seattle,
Washington, DC
$4,497$4,697$4,897$5,197
Atlanta, Baltimore,
Char, Cincinnati,
Cleve, Mia, Minn,
Orl, Phil, Tampa
$4,697$4,897$5,097$5,397
Denver, Detroit,
Phoenix, Port (OR)
$4,797$4,997$5,197$5,497

Please call if your city is not listed or for land only prices. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $802, which are subject to change until final payment has been made.

Single travelers please add $1,695 Jan, Feb; $1,395 all other dates. Your $375 deposit is fully refundable up to 95 days prior to departure. All 2019/2020 tour prices above (excluding airline taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.

Business Class upgrade (subject to availability) on round-trip international flight: $5,995 per person

Depending on flight schedules, guests departing from certain cities my leave the U.S. a day later, arriving in Colombo on Day 3.

A visa is required for this tour. Odysseys Unlimited will provide information about visa requirements upon reservation.

Accommodations
    The Kingsbury, Colombo / Days 3-4 / Deluxe

    Additional information to come.

    Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana / Days 5-7 / Superior First Class

    Additional information to come.

    Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy / Day 8 / First Class

    A short drive from Kandy’s city center, the Cinnamon Citadel is situated on the banks of the Mahaweli River overlooking the tropical rain forest with its exotic birdlife. Blending modern design with décor that reflects this ancient kingdom’s rich heritage, the 119-room hotel includes the following amenities: two restaurants, bar, unheated outdoor pool, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, table tennis, billiards room, and laundry service. Each air-conditioned guest room has a private bath with hairdryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.

    The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya / Days 9-10 / Superior First Class

    Additional information to come.

    Jetwing Yala, Yala / Days 11-12 / Superior First Class

    Additional information to come.

    Taj Bentota Resort & Spa, Bentota / Days 13-15 / Deluxe

    Additional information to come.

Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.
Tour Directors for this Journey
Our Tour Directors

Additional information coming soon.

Destination Insight

Suggested Reading

Nayomi Munaweera
Island of a Thousand Mirrors
2016, PAPER, 256 PAGES
Munaweera’s debut novel explores human struggle through a re-imagining of Sri Lanka’s 1983 revolution. When the brutal conflict erupts in the island paradise, the jasmine-scented air mixes with the smell of gasoline, wealthy families flee for California and youths stay and fight. Amidst all the turmoil and trouble, Munaweera delivers a passionate portrait of place. Winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize for Asia.

John Gimlette
Elephant Complex, Travels in Sri Lanka
2016, PAPER, 432 PAGES
This exuberant travelogue by an award-winning writer takes stock of Sri Lanka, from the capital city of Colombo through the remotest interior. Gimlette mixes his narrative with colonial history and plenty of lucid observations.

Michael Ondaatje
Running in the Family
1993, PAPER, 207 PAGES
This hypnotic short book powerfully evokes grand society in post-colonial Sri Lanka and, especially, Ondaatje’s impressively eccentric grandparents. Written by the author of The English Patient, this book is hard to categorize: it’s as much fiction as family memoir and travelogue — and wonderful.

Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne
Wild Sri Lanka
2014, HARD COVER, 208 PAGES
This in-depth primer to Sri Lanka’s most sought-after wildlife includes stories, descriptions of the parks and reserves by habitat type, a wildlife watching calendar and a handy guide to specific habitats for blue whales, sperm whales, leopards, Asian elephants and sloth bears.

Nelles
Sri Lanka Map
2017, MAP
A detailed, colorful map of the island, at a scale of 1:450,000.

Insight Guides
Insight Guide Explore Sri Lanka
2017, PAPER, 144 PAGES
This handsome guide gives a profusely illustrated overview of the region, focusing on history, politics and culture. It also includes maps and some limited travel information.

Emma Boyle
Culture Smart! Sri Lanka
2019, PAPER, 168 PAGES
A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture with a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice.

Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet Sinhala Phrasebook
2014, PAPER, 232 PAGES
A pocket guide and dictionary to the language of Sri Lankans for travelers.

Patrick Peebles
The History of Sri Lanka
2006, HARD COVER, 216 PAGES
A concise history geared toward students and general readers that focuses on recent events, including ethnic conflict and the 2004 tsunami, and includes an appendix with brief biographies of key figures.

Padma Rao Sundarji
Sri Lanka, The New Country
2016, PAPER, 344 PAGES
Drawing on her experience as a foreign correspondent, Padma Rao Sundarji writes dispassionately about the challenges facing the rapidly developing nation.

Walpola Sri Rahula
What the Buddha Taught
1994, PAPER, 151 PAGES
A classic account of Theravada Buddhism by a respected monk and scholar from Sri Lanka. The venerable Walpola Sri Rahula, who taught at Northwestern, was instrumental in introducing Buddhism as it is practiced in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Sri Lanka to the United States. First published in 1959 (and still widely taught), the book introduces Sanskrit and Pali terms, and provides translations from relevant original texts with explanations for Western readers.

Adele Barker
Not Quite Paradise, An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka
2010, HARD COVER, 320 PAGES
A deft, nuanced account of an American’s year-and-a-half teaching stint. Baker weaves information about the history, traditions and daily life of Sri Lanka with reports on the 30- year war between the government and the Tamils, as well as the devastating 2004 tsunami.

Cherry Briggs
The Teardrop Island, Following Victorian Footsteps Across Sri Lanka
2015, PAPER, 320 PAGES
After discovering the travel writings of Irish nobleman Sir James Emerson Tennent who, incidentally, was a beloved friend of Charles Dickens, a young biology teacher sets out to retrace Tennent’s footsteps. She takes to the roads and footpaths of Sri Lanka (which, in Tennent’s day, was the British colony of Ceylon) to compare the country’s past with its contemporary realities.

Michael Ondaatje
Anil’s Ghost
2001, PAPER, 320 PAGES
Ondaatje’s novel follows the exploits of a forensic anthropologist, born in Sri Lanka but educated in America, who returns to her homeland to help uncover the truth behind a series of organized murders. Ondaatje, a Sri Lanka native and author of The English Patient, is a poet at heart and his book teems with scenes, moments and sensations described by what one can only call intense.

Romesh Gunesekera
Noontide Toll, Stories
2014, HARD COVER, 256 PAGES
Named a master storyteller by the New York Times, Romesh Gunesekera writes affectingly about living in post-civil war Sri Lanka. Narrated by a minibus driver and centered around his passengers, his perceptive stories paint a fine portrait of the ghosts and scars of war and illuminate what Sri Lanka’s future might hold. Gunesekera has been a finalist for the Booker Prize and the Guardian Fiction Prize.

Romesh Gunesekera
Reef
1996, PAPER, 190 PAGES
This slim novel tells the story of modern Sri Lanka through the eyes of a servant and his oblivious master. A haunting book, steeped in place, that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Romesh Gunesekera was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Jonah Blank
Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God
2000, PAPER, 370 PAGES
Blank interweaves history, myth and reporting in this incisive and entertaining portrait of contemporary India and Sri Lanka. He travels partly on the trail of India’s great hero Rama.

John Clifford Holt (Editor)
The Sri Lanka Reader, History, Culture, Politics
2011, PAPER, 816 PAGES
An exhaustive and literate sourcebook of Sri Lanka composed of myriad selections ranging from historical accounts to newspaper articles, essays, poems and modern analysis. Part of the World Readers series, it includes such gems as fifth-century monastic fables of the Buddha visiting Sri Lanka and the thoughts of Leonard Woolf (the husband of Virginia) on British colonial rule. Includes photographs of art and architecture, maps and more than 90 classic and contemporary texts.

Robert Fisher
Buddhist Art and Architecture
1993, PAPER, 216 PAGES
A wide-ranging illustrated survey of Buddhist art, architecture and iconography in the excellent World of Art series. It includes examples from throughout Asia.

John Harrison
A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka
2011, PAPER, 208 PAGES
The fully revised second edition of this compact, comprehensive field guide features 49 stunning color plates by Tim Worfolk covering all 426 species in Sri Lanka. With introductory chapters on the best birding sites and contact information for the traveler.

Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne
Sri Lankan Wildlife, A Visitor’s Guide
2007, PAPER, 144 PAGES
Bradt’s slim photographic overview of Sri Lanka’s wildlife can be read in a few sittings or as a field reference. The British guide- makers profile the island’s incredible biodiversity with maps and charts, key species, identification tips and more.

Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne
Pocket Photo Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka
2017, PAPER, 144 PAGES
Part of Bloomsbury’s Pocket Photo Guide series, this field guide to Sri Lanka depicts 252 of the country’s common birds. Each receives a clear color photograph and a brief, authoritative description. Ideal for those who travel light, the book easily slips in a pocket or daypack.

Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne
Pocket Photo Guide to the Mammals of Sri Lanka
2017, PAPER, 128 PAGES
Part of Bloomsbury’s Pocket Photo Guide series, this field guide to Sri Lanka depicts 40 of the island’s most common and endemic species. Each mammal is illustrated with a clear color photograph and a brief, authoritative description. Ideal for those who travel light, the book easily slips in a pocket or daypack.

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