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Packed with adventure, these tours offer inspiring destinations and authentic travel experiences at a reasonable price. Using all kinds of transport and accommodation, we’ll take you off the beaten track to discover the true heart of the people and places you visit.
Travelling in small groups is more flexible and allows us to be less conspicuous: we travel and eat with the local people, stay in smaller, family-run hotels and visit places inaccessible to larger groups.
These moderately paced tours provide some busy days with plenty of experiences to enjoy, as well as time to relax along the way.
The information below is intended to assist you as you consider your travel options with Explore. In addition to the detailed itinerary each trip has been supported with some useful information to provide you with an overview of your accommodation & meals, all things money, passports, visas, vaccinations, insurance, clothing, personal equipment and much more to help you with your travel preparations.
Each departure date has it's own dedicated trip note, detailing all you need to know about that trip. Whether you've already booked, or weighing up your options, please choose carefully the relevant itinerary for you.
We have the following different versions of the Buddha's Island + Maldive Dhoni Cruise trip available at present.
Please select a date:
Accommodation and Meals Expand
Please refer to the tour notes where the single room option availability is detailed on a night by night basis for this tour, and the price for the available nights is detailed on the dates & prices tab by departure date.
For Self-Guided trips the Single Room supplement offers the option of a single room each and is charged per person. The Single Room supplement also applies to the third person in a party of three that will be accommodated in a single room.
We work with a local operator who owns a number of different Dhonis; all of which are different sizes with different layouts. The boats we are most likely to be using are 9 and 14 berth Dhonis. We will either use one or two 9 berth boats, or the 14 berth boat (depending on the group size and make-up of the group). All Dhonis that we use are fitted with diesel engines, which are used most of the time that we are travelling. Some of the boats still have sails but these are used very infrequently.
All Dhonis are inspected annually in order to retain their license. They carry enough lifejackets for all clients and crew plus buoyancy aids and a dinghy with small outboard engine. All boats have a CB radio, and for most of the voyage the boat is in mobile phone range of the islands. Full fire fighting equipment is also carried on every boat. There will be a minimum of 4 or 5 crew on board including the captain and cook - depending on the number of people on the boat.
Most of the cabins offer couchette accommodation on a twin share basis with all bedding provided. The cabins are small and simple but adequate for sleeping and changing. In most of the cabins there will be bunk beds and so the person on the top will need to be prepared to climb up to their bed. Facilities are shared, and each boat has 3 or 4 toilets and 2 or 3 showers on board. There are plugs available in each cabin with electricty available when the boats generator is running (when the boat is moving or the crew are cooking meals) so it is possible to charge cameras and phones during the tour.
Good quality snorkelling equipment including mask, snorkel and flippers is provided (we will ask for your shoe/flipper size before you travel!). You are free to bring your own equipment should you wish. No scuba diving equipment will be carried on board. All meals are provided on board the Dhonis.
People requiring a gluten free diet may struggle a little in the Maldives. Breakfasts are often mashuni - a tuna and coconut combination which is served with roti style bread or a more western start to the day with eggs and toast. Most lunches and dinners will have a pasta element and during the afternoons the boat crew will often bake a cake. Whilst plenty of fresh veg, meat and fruit is also provided if you do follow a gluten free diet you may wish to take some snacks with you to supplement the diet on board the dhoni.
Budgeting for your trip Expand
You will need some extra money to cover meals and drinks not included in the trip price, any optional sightseeing, souvenirs and items of a personal nature such as laundry.
The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide.Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.
Lunch £: 4.00
Dinner £: 8.00
Lunch £: 7.50
Dinner £: 12.00
The prices for drinks can vary greatly depending upon location and the prices detailed below are an average guide. In general you would expect that drinks purchased in a supermarket or local bar to be less expensive, whilst drinks in an upmarket bar or restaurant may be more expensive.
Bottle of Beer £: 2.00
Water £: 0.50
Area Text: Part of Sri Lanka's irresistible charm lies in the way it interweaves past and present. Whilst being forward-looking and progressive, this remains an island deeply imbued with a sense of pride in its traditions. Commuters and taxi drivers will stop on busy highways and queue at roadside temples to pay respects to their ancestors; businessmen will swap the comfort of their air-conditioned offices for an exhausting pilgrimage to the island's most sacred sites; and the timing of even the simplest events is governed by ritual and religion. It is perhaps not surprising that Sri Lanka's diverse ethnic groups have clung fiercely on to their traditions in the wake of centuries of invasion by foreign powers. The island's early settlers migrated from India, establishing a 2500 year old Buddhist tradition that survives here as a potent symbol of the national identity, despite having long since faded in its native land. Hinduism, too, made its mark, proudly protected by Tamils across the nation. Arab traders brought Islam, while in later years the colonial powers of Europe fought over the island's riches. Their legacy survives in the island's tumble-down forts and creaking railways, tea plantations and passion for cricket. Sri Lanka's superb beaches lie all along its coastline and vary greatly in character, with sandy coves and estuaries and long palm-fringed stretches. However, most of Sri Lanka's most beautiful and interesting sights are away from the coast. By venturing a few hours inland you can explore the island's phenomenal 'Cultural Triangle', which encompasses no fewer than five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At one point of the triangle is Kandy, the island's last Buddhist capital and gateway to the highlands, while to the north are the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Anuradhapura was the capital for 1500 years, its soaring dagobas (domes containing sacred relics) testament to the lofty ambitions of its kings, while an auspicious meeting at nearby Mihintale sealed the island's conversion to Buddhism. Repeated invasions from India forced Anuradhapura's abandonment for the less exposed site of Polonnaruwa, whose city walls today encircle the island's most rewarding archaeological complex; its unmissable highlight is the serene rock-cut recumbent Buddha at the Gal Vihara. But some of the region's most inspiring treasures lie outside the ancient capitals: the astonishing Lion's Rock, atop which lie the remains of a fifth-century playboy's palace, and the impressive paintings at the cave temple of Dambulla.
Bottle of Beer £: 3.5
Water £: 1.50
Area Text: Beginning one degree north of the equator, the Maldives are a chain of twenty-six serene atolls running north-south through the Indian Ocean. A vision of sun-drenched indolence, they boast more than a thousand islands and islets, all steeped in white sand beaches, swaying palms, turquoise lagoons, and endless places to a sling a hammock and soak up the easiness. Situated above a 960km underwater ridge, the atolls are composed of flat reefs and sand-bars, rising no higher than 2.4m above sea-level. Only two hundred of the chain's islands are inhabited, the nation supporting a total population of some 330,000 - the equivalent of a medium-sized city. Since the 1970s, tourism - almost entirely in the form of resorts - has come to dominate a third of the GDP of a country otherwise severely constrained by its limited natural resources. Diving and snorkelling in coral gardens - a kaleidoscopic swirl of brilliantly coloured marine life - remains the big draw for travellers, as do sailing, fishing, surfing, and other aquatic sports. Culturally, the Maldives enjoyed a long history of Buddhism with many islands today concealing archaeological ruins like monasteries, temples, and monuments. The religion flourished for approximately 1400 years from the third century BC before Sunni Islam arrived with Arab tradesmen in the 12th century AD. Today, all other religions apart from Islam are outlawed, fuelling prejudices somewhat. In 2011, Muslim zealots destroyed numerous precious ancient Buddhist and Hindu artefacts. Maldivian society itself has been plagued by episodes of instability since declaring independence from Britain in 1965. Owing to its status as a low-lying island chain, the Maldives have recently voiced concerns about the threat of changing weather patterns - specifically, the effects of rising sea levels, temperatures, and ocean acidification. In 1998, the island nation saw two thirds of its coral reefs destroyed by the El Niño effect, when sea temperatures rose, albeit briefly, as much as five degrees - a disturbing foretaste, some say, of global warming. The Maldives' inherent vulnerability to natural forces was again highlighted by the tsunami of 2004, when six islands were destroyed entirely, dozens more seriously damaged, and the national economy impacted to a tune of 400 million dollars. Anticipating the possible need for a permanent evacuation in the future, the Maldives are now maintaining a sovereign fund garnered from tax revenues, for the purposes of purchasing new land in mainland Asia.
Unawatuna - Boat Excursion to coral reef £5.00. Whale watching boat trip £60.00. Half Day Trips - Including transport, Boat ride to Cinnamon Islands; Glass bottom boat ride; - £9.00.
Major Language: Sinhala, Tamil
ATM Availability: Yes, usually in major towns.
Credit Card Acceptance: Credit cards can usually be used in most large shops and restaurants. Please note that Foreign Office advice warns about the problem of credit card fraud in Sri Lanka so please consider this when deciding if to pay by card while on tour.
Travellers Cheques: Are not easy to change and where they can be changed the exchange rates can be poor.
Local Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee.
Recommended Currency for Exchange: US$ and UK£ are equally good
Where to Exchange: In most major towns.
Major Language: Dhivehi, English
ATM Availability: No Access
Credit Card Acceptance: Not accepted
Travellers Cheques: Not accepted
Local Currency: Rufiyaa.
Recommended Currency for Exchange: It is advisable to carry dollars cash as you will need to pay for drinks on board the boat in dollars. Credit cards or Travellers cheques are not accepted on board. It is unlikely that you will need any local currency (Rufiyaa) but your tour leader will brief you on this on arrival.
Joining your trip Expand
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found on our website at www.explore.co.uk, in the tour specific dates and prices section.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer. For more information please refer to https://www.explore.co.uk/transfers.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer please refer to https://www.explore.co.uk/transfers.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Important Information Expand
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Under 18 immigration guidance
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Sri Lanka: All foreign nationals who intend to visit Sri Lanka for a short stay of up to six months, including transit passengers, must apply for travel authorization online prior to travel to the country.
To obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) you must visit http://www.eta.gov.lk to apply for it prior to travel. It is strongly recommended that you print and bring a copy of the ETA approval notice with you.
The Sri Lankan authorities require that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after departure from Sri Lanka.
All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.
Vaccinations & Protection
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A plus Polio and diptheria. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. We strongly recommend the wearing long sleeved shirts and the liberal application of insect repellents containing DEET as a precautionary measure to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. These precautions should be taken at all times as the mosquitoes are also active during daylight hours. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis & polio. Travellers may wish to immunise themselves against meningitis. PLease consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.
Preparing for your trip Expand
Year round high temperatures in coastal regions: Colombo averages 27°C. It is much cooler in the hills with Kandy averaging 20°C and Nuwara Eliya down to 16°C. Springlike temperatures in the hill country, but chilly evenings. Two monsoon periods: Apr-Sep when rain is confined to the southwest; and Oct-Mar when it falls in the northeast.
Day time temperatures are remarkably consistent throughout the year ranging from 30°C to 32°C dropping to between 25°C and 26°C at night. Although rain is heaviest in June, July and August, heavy rain can fall at any time of year – even in February and March when statistically only 50mm usually falls during those months combined. The south-west monsoon lasts from May to November and not only brings the rains but also stronger winds and storms, although the transitional periods of early May and late November are supposed to be calm with exceptionally clear water.
Maldives: Only lightweight clothing is needed. Local people in Male and in villages on the islands find western styles of dress extremely offensive. Brief shorts, tight fitting clothing etc. should be avoided by both men and women. A sarong and something to cover the head (for women) is recommended. Don't forget swimming gear and clothes to protect you from the sun including a wide brimmed hat. You may consider wearing a Tshirt whilst snorkelling to avoid bad sunburn on the back and shoulders.
General Information Expand
Electric Supply & Plugs
3 Pin Round
3 Pin Flat
Why choose Explore Expand
We’ve been creating award-winning pioneering adventure holidays for over 30 years, earning the trust of thousands of delighted customers, who feel safe in our hands. Our tour leaders have expert local knowledge and our tours are designed to take you off the beaten track to see the most exotic, inspiring and dramatic places in the world.
- With over 30 years' experience, we are passionate about what we do.
- Pioneering small group adventures, self-guided, private journeys & tailormade holidays.
- Award winning tour leaders who you can trust.
- Responsible travel is and always has been one the driving principles of Explore.
Our adventure holidays are full of exciting things to see and do, exploring in small groups travelling by bus, boat, plane, rickshaw, camel, or any number of unusual forms of transport . Often you will stay in family run hotels and village houses and enjoy authentic local cuisine. In this way, it’s easy to discover the true heart of the people and the place you travel to – and make some new friends along the way. Each tour is uniquely different, so please feel free to browse through our tours to see what may whet your appetite.
When you travel with Explore, you are directly contributing to local economies and helping empower the people you meet. We currently support a range of charities and good causes, including: Toilet Twinning (helping to flush away poverty), Lone Buffalo Foundation (a community project based in Laos providing creative skills for young people), Dekamer ( a turtle rescue centre in Turkey) and Kids Saving the Rainforest (a wildlife rescue centre in Costa Rica supported through the LATA foundation). We also care passionately about the world’s wildlife. We are patrons of the Born Free Organisation and Friends of Conservation.
- The Travel Foundation
Explore are active members and supporters of the Travel Foundation which has established a variety of sustainable tourism projects in destinations and works with industry to improve practice. Visit their website www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk
- Tourism Concern
Explore support the work of Tourism Concern who campaign for fairly and ethically traded tourism, and are part of its Ethical Tour Operator Group www.tourismconcern.org.uk
- For further information on responsible travel go to www.explore.co.uk/ResponsibleTourism/
Know before you go
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice follow the link at www.explore.co.uk/travel-safety
Booking your holiday Expand
You can book your Explore holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected. Explore is a fully bonded tour operator licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and by ABTOT.
The air holiday packages (Tours including flights) that we advertise are ATOL protected, since we hold an Air Travel Organiser's LicenceÂ granted by the Civil Aviation Authority.Â Our ATOL number is ATOL 2595. In addition, As a member of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), Explore has provided a bond to meet the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. Please note that packages booked outside the UK are only protected when purchased directly with Explore.
To reserve your place on this tour you will need to check availability on the Explore website or through our dedicated call centre based in the UK where you can. Our tours can fill up quickly so you are advised to book as early as possible. If your chosen date is ‘Available’ or ‘Guaranteed’ we will be able to provisionally hold you a space for up to 48 hours.
For Self-Guided holidays and Private Journeys simply choose your date of travel and let us know so we can confirm all ground services.
The easiest way to confirm your booking is through our website. When you are ready to book, we normally require a 10% non-refundable deposit, but for some holidays this may be more to cover such items as permit fees, internal flights or other non-refundable services. If your travel starts within 60 days of booking, full payment will be required at the time of booking
The price paid for our holidays is no longer subject to change. Once booked and confirmed we will guarantee the price you pay will not increase, whatever the circumstances. You will not be approached to pay fuel surcharges unlike the vast majority of other adventure tour operators. The price guarantee applies to all new bookings departing between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2017.
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Explore Worldwide Ltd is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 01577018. Registered office: Nelson House, 55 Victoria Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7PA