Chugging through Sri Lanka on a tuk-tuk, watching the rice paddies, temples, emerald mountains and rugged coast unfold around you: could there be a better way to explore Sri Lanka? Possibly. Imagine you are the one driving the rickshaw, with only a map and the help of locals to direct you on a 1,000km trip around this diverse country.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll have been hooked on the latest Race Across the World series. Now, thanks to Large Minority, you have the chance to try a similar race yourself, as you could win two places on the southern route of the Lanka Challenge for you and a friend, including tuk-tuk hire and stays in high quality, locally-owned hotels and campsites. Here’s what to expect from this rickshaw road trip...
The key thing to remember is that this is not a race, but a challenge that people of all ages take part in. With all that spectacular scenery hiding a wealth of travel experiences, you won’t want to rush. That’s why the Lanka Challenge is designed to ensure you see as much of Sri Lanka as possible.
Throughout the ten-day trip, you will earn points by completing challenges. For example, you may be tasked with snapping a picture of an elephant crossing the road or a crocodile lazing by a river. You may have to chat to a local to see if they will invite you in for lunch or be asked to cook a meal for a local family. You could be stopping at a school to help children plant trees or be sent on a hunt for a well-hidden temple. Whatever challenges you’re set, you can be sure they have been designed to enrich your travel experience and will help you discover a different side to Sri Lanka. As if that wasn’t enough, the team with the most points at the end will win return flights with Sri Lankan Airlines to use within a year, so you can explore even more of this incredible country.
The adventure begins as soon as you get off the plane near the town of Negombo where you will have training and driving lessons before setting off on your ten-day round-trip past some of the island’s cultural and natural highlights and then around the south coast, before returning to Colombo.
Your first stop is Kandy, where the white-washed Tooth Temple awaits exploration: step inside to squint your eyes at the interior, almost every inch of which is smothered in gold. The three-temple loop will take you to three devales (sacred shrines) where caves hide gold Buddhas.
Next, you will drive through the heart of the Hill Country, where everything is cloaked in green, from the misty emerald mountain tops to the rows of tea plantations glistening under the sun. See waterfalls splash and wild elephants stomp through this verdant landscape.
You’ll have another chance to see elephants as you chug further east to Gal Oya Valley National Park, where the gentle giants swim in the Senanayake Samudraya Lake, Sri Lanka’s largest body of inland water. The park is also home to leopards, wild boar and water buffalo, along with 150 species of bird.
After spending the previous night camping near the national park, you will be spending the next two nights in a luxury hotel at Arugam Bay, where you can enjoy a rest day by burying your toes in the white sand – backed by palm trees and rustic fishing boats – while watching the surfers on the waves. Be sure to visit the nearby village of Urani and the numerous historical, cultural and wildlife-filled sites.
175km south is Yala, almost 1,000 sq km of national park that has the highest leopard density on the planet. Seek out these elusive spotted cats, while also keeping an eye out for elephants, sloth bears, crocodiles and many endemic bird species.
Even further south is Mirissa, a small coastal town famous for its blue whales. Spend your last day cruising up the picturesque south west coast, before heading back to Colombo to celebrate your completion of this challenge and for a last look at Sri Lanka before flying home.
Large Minority offers adventure experiences in three continents, helping travellers to get under the skin of a destination and are designed to benefit the countries they visit. Large Minority takes responsible travel very seriously, supporting the communities they visit, donating 10% of every booking to their flagship charity and tree planting projects and doing their utmost to reduce their impact on the environment. So when you travel with Large Minority, you can be sure that you are giving something back.
Large Minority is offering entry for a team of two on its southern route September 2021 Lanka Challenge. Includes return flights from London to Colombo, accommodation and tuk-tuk hire. For a chance to win, just answer this question:
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