Sri Lanka Photography Tour
Wonderful landscapes, rich fauna, vibrant markets and ancient cities make this delightful island a photographer's paradise
Images of Sri Lanka
Our 2-week, Sri Lanka photography tour, fully accompanied by both a highly experienced local guide and a professional travel photographer, takes in the island’s highly varied landscapes from the popular western beaches to the lesser-visited eastern coastline by way of the mountains and plantations of the Hill Country and waterfalls and moors of the Horton Plains. There will also be ample opportunities to photograph the still abundant wildlife in some of the numerous national parks while cultural and historical subjects include the colourful street markets and colonial architecture of Colombo, the fascinating old port of Trincomalee and visits to no less than seven of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO listed destinations.
Cultural sites on the World Heritage list include the 2,000-year-old capital Anuradhapura, the evocative carvings of medieval Polonnaruwa, the cave temples at Dambulla, the walled Dutch and Moorish city of Galle, the mountain town of Kandy and of course dramatic, ancient Sigiriya perched atop its sheer-sided outcrop as well as the serene landscapes of the Central Highlands.
As usual on our All Points East photography tours the emphasis is as much on the contemporary culture – discovering the street-life, local markets and meeting the island’s eclectic population – with photographic advice and instruction focusing on both the techniques and ethics of travel photography.
The tour is suitable for anyone from beginners up to budding professionals. Keen amateurs will receive advice on how to get the most out of their cameras as well as how to interact with the locals for portraits and street photography while for the more experienced – we’ll do our best to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time. Note also that those with only a passing interest – or perhaps a photography-mad partner – will not be neglected!
This highly varied Sri Lanka photography tour provides an exciting introduction to this fascinating country and wonderful photographic destination.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Negombo - arrival
Arrival in Colombo and transfer to a low-key but comfortable, beachside resort in nearby Negombo. Time at leisure before an introductory briefing from our photographer and an introduction to Sri Lankan cuisine with a local-style welcome dinner.
Photo themes: introductory talk, Indian Ocean sunset
Overnight: Negombo Transport: Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Colombo
Early start to catch all the action at the lively, local fish market before a short drive into Colombo for a tour of some of the sites including the bustling Pettah Bazaar and some of the colonial period architecture with an afternoon stroll along the popular Galle Face Green. In the evening a chance to try out some night photography at the town’s bustling night market.
Photo themes: local markets, street-life, architecture, night photography, portraits
Overnight: Negombo Transport: Minibus, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B,
Day 3 - Anuradhapura - the 2,000 year old capital
Our first stop will be the UNESCO site and Anuradhapura – the photogenic early capital with its ancient stupas, pilgrims and troops of monkeys. From here we’ll continue across the island to Trincomalee on the northeast coast and our accommodation on the beach at nearby Nilaveli
Photo themes: historical sites, flora and fauna, street-life, temples
Overnight: Nilaveli Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 4 - Trincomalee - tour of the old port town
The colourful old town of Trincomalee with its largely Tamil population has a very different feel to it and we’ll check out the Hindu temples, market and bustling street-life as well as its old Dutch fortifications.
Photo themes: markets, portraits, architecture, street-life
Overnight: Nilaveli Transport: Walk, Meals: B,
Day 5 - Polonnaruwa and jeep safari in Minneriya
On today’s programme are a morning exploring the evocative carvings and ancient ruins at World Heritage Polonnaruwa and an afternoon jeep safari through Minneriya National Park, renowned for its abundant wildlife and famous elephant gathering.
Photo themes: flora and fauna, architecture, historical sites
Our jeep safari location may vary according to season
Overnight: Sigiriya Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 6 - Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy; photograph 3 UNESCO sites in 1 day
Early morning visit to awe-inspiring Sigiriya, a ruined 5th-century city perched atop a sheer-sided granite outcrop before moving on to nearby Dambulla, noted for both its spectacular cave temples and as the site of the country’s largest fresh market. In the afternoon we continue south to our day’s final destination and 3rd World Heritage site, Kandy.
Photo themes: markets, landscapes, historical sites
Overnight: Kandy Transport: Minibus, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B,
Day 7 - Kandy
Morning tour of some of the sites of Kandy – picturesque, lakeside capital of the Hill Country – including the prestigious Temple of the Tooth as well as taking in some of its fine colonial period architecture. An afternoon at leisure offers the chance of a lakeside stroll or honing your portrait skills in the local market before an optional, evening, traditional dance show.
Photo themes: temples, colonial buildings, street-life, cultural show
Overnight: Kandy Transport: Walk, Meals: B,
Day 8 - Hill Country - local train and tea plantations
Departure by local train into the scenic Hill Country where sites include tea plantations, pine forests and waterfalls. Opportunities for some tasting and a plantation visit before finishing our day in the old British colonial town of Nuwara Eliya.
Photo themes: landscapes, plantations, train ride, colonial architecture
Overnight: Nuwara Eliya Transport: Minibus, Train, Meals: B,
Day 9 - Horton Plains and on to Ella
Early departure for the spectacular Horton Plains to discover the national park’s flora, fauna and dramatic landscapes as the plains end abruptly in a sheer 1,000-metre drop to the lush jungle below. Continue to the cute mountain town of Ella with the afternoon at leisure to explore the tiny town or kick back on a well-placed cafe terrace to practise your street-life shots.
Photo themes: flora and fauna, landscapes, street-life
Overnight: Ella Transport: Train, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B,
Day 10 - Kalametiya - on to the coast
Head to the scenic southern coast for a boat trip through the marshlands and mangrove swamps of Kalametiya Sanctuary. Plenty of landscape as well as flora and fauna opportunities with additional stops at bays and villages to grab some of those white sands and fishing boat images. Overnight in Mirissa with an optional sunset trip to see the iconic and unique stilt fishermen.
Photo themes: flora and fauna, landscapes, fishing boats and fishermen
Overnight: Mirissa Transport: Minibus, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B,
Day 11 - Galle - the UNESCO-listed walled town
Depending upon the weather an alternative sunrise option to see the famous stilt fishermen can be arranged before a departure west along the coast to the old fortified town, now World Heritage, Galle. Walking tour of the picturesque site with its Dutch fortifications and the narrow lanes of the old Moorish Quarter.
Photo themes: fishing boats and fishermen, architecture, historical sites
Overnight: Galle Meals: B,
Day 12 - Galle - return to Negombo
Free morning to explore the charming site at your leisure with an afternoon return drive to Negombo. Debriefing with perhaps some post-production and editing advice from our photographer before a local-style farewell dinner.
Photo themes: landscapes, street life, editing, post-production
Overnight: Negombo Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, D,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
- Hands-on photographic assistance and advice from our experienced, professional travel photographer
- Visit no less than seven of Sri Lanka's stunning UNESCO World Heritage sites
- From the ruined cities of the 'Cultural Triangle through the lush hills and plantations of the Hill Country to the picturesque south coast
- National park visits taking in fabulous landscapes and abundant flora and fauna - on foot, by jeep and by boat
- Discover the historic towns of Kandy, Galle, Nuwara Eliya and rarely-visited Trincomalee
- Comfortable accommodation, experienced local guides and of course plenty of sumptuous local cuisine and the famous Sri Lankan curries!
Air Departures (UK)
- 24 October 20 3,650 GBP
- 28 November 20 3,750 GBP
- 22 January 21 3,750 GBP
- 19 February 21 3,750 GBP
- 20 March 21 3,750 GBP
- 12 April 21 3,750 GBP
- 4 May 21 3,750 GBP
- 8 June 21 3,750 GBP
- 13 July 21 3,750 GBP
- 16 August 21 3,750 GBP
- 20 September 21 3,750 GBP
- 24 October 21 3,750 GBP
- 28 November 21 3,750 GBP
- 25 October 20 2,850 GBP
- 29 November 20 2,950 GBP
- 23 January 21 2,950 GBP
- 20 February 21 2,950 GBP
- 21 March 21 2,950 GBP
- 13 April 21 2,950 GBP
- 5 May 21 2,950 GBP
- 9 June 21 2,950 GBP
- 14 July 21 2,950 GBP
- 17 August 21 2,950 GBP
- 21 September 21 2,950 GBP
- 25 October 21 2,950 GBP
- 29 November 21 2,950 GBP
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Negombo
*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.
We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...
Camelot Beach Hotel Negombo view
- Odd name but top spot to relax in before or after your tour
- Comfortable rooms, great service and Indian Ocean views
- Walking distance of market, fishing port and plenty of cafes
Pigeon Island Resort Nilaveli view
- A cosy and comfortable, low-key beachside resort in Nilaveli
- Situated just north of the old port of Trincomalee
- Options include snorkelling, fishing and whale watching
The Other Corner Habarana view
- Delightful, eco-style nature resort in a forest setting
- Individual wooden, stilt chalets with private balconies
- Well-appointed with pool, air-con, restaurant and bar
Giritale Hotel Polonnaruwa view
- Secluded resort on a forested hillside overlooking a lake
- Well located for Polonnaruwa plus Minneriya NP
- Great spot for sundowners and fine curries
Hotel Suisse Kandy view
- A restored, former British governor’s residence
- Wonderful, central, lake-side location in Kandy
- Pool, garden, spa, bar and restaurant
Oak Ray Ella Gap view
- Convenient, central location in popular Ella Town
- Well-appointed with pool, bar, restaurant and WiFi
- Set amid the spectacular mountain scenery of the Ella Gap
Sayura Beach Resort Galle view
- Comfortable, friendly and low-key beach resort
- A short drive from UNESCO-listed ancient Galle Town
- Well-equipped with in-house restaurant, pool, beach bar
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
Visa Info & Notes
Visas: available on arrival at Colombo International Airport for $40, but to cut down on queuing we recommend that you obtain an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) in advance for $35. 3 days is officially required but processing is usually the same (working) day.
Tipping: we recommend a kitty system for smaller, daily tips such as hotel/restaurant staff and local drivers but which could also include minor expenses such as group tea/coffee breaks etc. Amounts inevitably vary with group size but would generally be in the region of £20-30 or $30-$40 total per person for the 2-week tour. For your driver and guide/tour-leader tips – both of whom will accompany you for the duration of your 2-week tour – we’d recommend approximately $20 per person total for the former and $15 for the latter though of course, this is always discretionary and performance-related. (Local currency or USD are fine.)
Meals: breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Typical traditional meals involve fish or chicken curry with a selection of accompanying vegetable dishes and salads, Dishes are usually only mildly spicy and both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for.
Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned. (Our 1-night camping is en-suite but fans only.) We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination.
Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered can be tailored for various fitness levels or alternatives suggested.
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