Backpacking Lanka


How does one go about backpacking in Sri Lanka?

I’m only asking cos I soon may have about five days off and am contemplating the idea. I suppose what I’ll do is grab a backpack and pack some clothes in. Get my water bottle on. Pack a Swiss army knife and maybe some cooking accessories. And get a tent.

A tent is essential if high travel costs are to be avoided. And if you’re camping out you may as well try the outdoor food thing anyway. But there is one other cheap travel option that one can try and that is sleeping in mosques and temples etc. I know for a fact that places of worship aren’t too particular about offering a nights rest to a tired traveler or two.

But I’m thinking of its possible to safely camp on beaches and hillsides etc. It’ll be all the more fun. but i suppose one will have to be aware of robbers, irate villagers (Sri Lankans sometimes tend to get easily agitated when confronted with unusual things), the po-lice etc. I suppose I’ll have to ask around first and see if it’s ok. I’m sure getting permission to camp out in someone’s garden won’t be that hard. Sri Lankans are usually hospitable like that.

Ok so where to go? There are several routes one can take i suppose. I’ll have to rely on public transport most of the way; hitchhiking is usually easier in rural areas but only for short distances.

I’m thinking start off by heading down south and working my way up the East Coast through Arugam Bay by Day 2. After that i could head inland and end up somewhere in the hills of Badulla by day 3 or 4. Then head back to the city. Very short I know. But unfortunately five days aint nothing much.

Any tips?

  1. Dee said:

    super! if you want a med-cheap nice place in Ella let me know 🙂

  2. maf said:

    be happy to offer you a spot to pitch a tent or stay if you want on the east coast in a village about 30 kms north of argum bay..e-mail me if this tickles your fancy, however if you are heading to AB you would probably want to be heading either inland towards Badulla or N’Eliya by then..also think about your route and the terrain you would like to see..

    sounds like an awesome journey and i hope you capture it in both words and pics to be of luck

  3. Chavie said:

    wow man this whole idea sounds pretty awesome! a good person to ask about camping would be Kirigalpothta, he once camped on the beach in Arugam Bay 😀

    also it would be good to have a rough idea of the route you’re going to take, but the details obviously might change during the course of the trip…

    anyways, good luck with the trip and take plenty of photos for us! 😉

  4. Oooh sounds fun! I’d say have a list of places and contact numbers for resthouses, family/friends, temples/mosques etc. in each town that you plan on going through…in case the weather gets bad, or you’re stranded, or you fall ill or something…you need to be able to contact someone in the vicinity.

    Also, have plenty of ‘plan b’s. You might just miss the bus, or get held up in traffic etc.

    Roughing it out in temples/mosques will probably be safer than on the beach/hillside…and you’re pretty sure to find at least one in each town.

    As uncool as it sounds, take a first aid kit :-). Nothing fancy, just some plasters, panadol, balm…

    Take one warm-ish top…a night in Badulla will feel very different to a night down south.

    Take photos! Although if you’re worried about getting robbed, I suppose that’s not an option 😦

    OK I think I’ve run out of tips 😀 HAVE FUN!!!

  5. Very interesting! This is something lots of people do in US and Europe, yet (unfortunately) very few in Sri Lanka who does backpacking.

    Suggest not to do this alone! Good to have at least one person to accompany you.

    I have slept in temples and mosques a few times during my hikes. So that option is always there.
    But you should take a tent. Let me know if you want one.

    If you are taking public transport inquire about the time tables before the trip. Also verify the same when you reach any destination with the locals.

    Never select a place too close to river or any water body. This is applicable even for sea shores. Main reason is that water levels can go up suddenly at night. The other reason is that you will find more wild animals/snakes closer to water than other areas

    More on camping by the beaches mentioned here.

    If you plan walk in the jungle or lonely paths, some path finding tips are given here.

    Happy backpacking and tell us your stories when you return ..

    BTW I’ll hopefully be in Yala next weekend 🙂

  6. Whacko said:

    Argh! thanks for all the advice and kind offers for help people but it looks like i may not immediately have those five days after all :S Soon soon hopefully 😀 i’ll keep u informed!

  7. Unsilent said:

    Machan, splendid idea. Mind if I join? When are you planning on going?

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