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Experience of the Month: Real Food Adventures

Vietnamese fruit and veg vendor

We had a bad time with food, growing up. Sunday roasts were distinctly Cypriot: half turkey, half grease. Which is why we envy the range of food-themed trips on the market.

But getting them right takes the right ingredients and expert handling. Which is why we have teamed up with Intrepid Travel, specialists in small group adventures, enabling you to focus all your energy on having the experience of a lifetime.

These are real-world experiences with a foodie twist: one part culture, one part adventure. From bite-sized trips to gastronomic odysseys, we’ll get you munching, crunching, sipping and slurping just like the locals.

These trips aren’t called ‘food adventures’ for nothing.

Forget Michelin stars and 20-course degustations – local leaders get you behind the scenes of a local food culture, track down the freshest street food, discover authentic local restaurants and reveal the traditions and techniques that make these destinations so good.

From lining up with locals for fresh tortillas in a Mexican market to a kimchi bonanza in Korea, they’ll show you local food from the perspective of those who eat it every day.

By eating in local restaurants, buying safely from street-side sellers and using local guides, you support local economies.

But that’s just the start of it.

Many of these itineraries incorporate visits to community projects and offer carbon offsetting too.

Above all, Abbotts Travel and Intrepid Travel are committed to a style of travel that is culturally, environmentally and socially responsible.


Real Food Adventures: 8-15 days

These are cross-country food tours designed to fully immerse you in a destination's food scene.

Taste the freshest market produce, meet artisanal producers, find the best street food and learn the subtle changes in regional cuisine.

These trips are packed with flavour: each real food adventure is filled with cultural exploration, historic highlights and plenty of grassroots travel.

Bite-Sized Breaks: 2-3 days

If you’re looking to take a bite from a particular region and don’t have a lot of time to do it, Bite-Sized Breaks are for you.

They’re more focused food itineraries, usually 2-3 days each, which dig down into the heart of a specific area.

Whether it’s Beijing’s street market scene, Lima’s distinct local flavour or the cooking techniques of Northern India.

They make a good add-on to a longer itinerary, delving deeper into what makes a region’s cooking unique. While these food tours may be a little shorter, they pack a punch.


There are several itineraries we recommend, here is a flavour of just one to whet your appetite:

Sample Itinerary: Real Food Adventure, Sri Lanka

From £1255 for 12 days, excluding flights (maximum group size: 12 people)

Leave moderation at home and indulge on this gourmet adventure in Sri Lanka. Lie back on the coast, cool down in the highlands and weave through the streets of the buzzing capital.

Taste melt-in-the mouth desserts, cook seafood straight out of the hands of a fisherman, uncover fiery curries and spend time with locals keen to share their cuisine.

There’s also time to explore the rich culture of Sri Lanka: elaborate temples, ancient fortresses and wildlife-filled countryside. This is truly an adventure for the senses.

  • Witness amazing seafood at the Negombo market

  • Spend time with locals keen to share the mysteries of Sri Lankan cuisine – learn Tamil, Sinhalese, and Bergher cooking in their homes

  • Soak up the scenery while sipping a glass of the local arak

  • Spoil your tastebuds with colourful curries, rainbow spices, vibrant vegetables and delicious desserts


Day 1: Negombo Welcome to Sri Lanka. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and sacred sights steeped in spirituality.

Day 2: Dambulla Weave through stalls piled with shark, squid, barracuda and other sea creatures as the sellers call out their wares, and get a great insight into local commerce. Continue on to visit a coconut plantation to discover why this ‘superfood’ is so central to life in Sri Lanka. Enjoy a rice and curry lunch filled with Chilaw prawns and cashews. Head inland to Dambulla, home to vibrantly decorated cave-temples and a great base to explore the wide array of natural wonders and historic sites.

Day 3: Dambulla Drive to Sigiriya and take a leisurely walk back in time to the top of enormous Sigiriya rock and its elaborate ancient fortress complex. Feast on tropical vegetables, curry made with tapioca and fried fish caught in the nearby lake for lunch. In the late afternoon, return to Dambulla to explore the Wholesale Market and dodge the trucks and people piled high with every type of produce imaginable.

Day 4: Kandy Sri Lankans are the masters of spice and here you can learn how spices aren’t just used in food, but also cosmetics and ayurvedic medicine. Smell the fragrant odours of cumin, cinnamon and curry leaves before tasting pumpkin curry flavoured with aromatic fenugreek, with a side of dry chilli sambol and the uniquely Sri Lankan coconut roti.

Day 5: Kandy Enjoy a guided walk around Kandy's peaceful city centre, including a tour of the Central Market. Join a Sinhalese family for a Kandyan sweet-filled dinner and cooking class. Try your hand at crafting the perfect hopper and then prepare some traditional sweets. Start with tangled nests of rice noodles called string hoppers and then chicken curry made with spice-infused coconut milk, closer to Thai than a classic North Indian curry. Then fill up on specialty sweets inspired by Dutch and Portuguese dessert traditions.

Day 6: Bandarawela Climb past waterfalls, little villages and up through the mountains on the scenic railway to this town in the cool highlands, once popular with British plantation managers. Look down over a sweeping vista filled with bright green tea bushes and vegetable gardens. Tonight you are invited to a local home for a tea-infused meal.

Day 7: Bandarawela Rise early for a trek through the verdant surrounds of the region's tea plantations and a crop to cup experience. Tear into traditional Tamil cuisine with Dosa, a crispy rice pancake, and idli, a savoury steamed rice cake served with curry sauces or chutneys.

Day 8: Yala Try buffalo curd, served in bright terracotta pots with thick, golden treacle, often eaten as a snack, accompaniment or dessert. Test your teeth on a big block of dodol, a toffee-like delicacy made of coconut milk, rice flour, and kithul jaggery (from the sap of the toddy palm), which was introduced by Malays in 17th century. Drive to the wilderness of Yala National Park for a safari tour and get the binoculars out to search for the leopards that lounge in trees or stalk through the brush, crocodiles that patrol the river or wild elephants that graze across the savanna.

Day 9: Mirissa Discover the Muslim influence on Sri Lankan food with dishes like biryani and watalappam at lunch in Hambantota. Spend the rest of the day relaxing or exploring the golden sands of Sri Lanka’s southern coastline.

Day 10: Mirissa Witness the art of stilt fishing, a method unique to Sri Lanka. Meet with a local fisherman and learn about their craft, and how their lives have changed after the tsunami. Eat with the fisherman's family for the freshest seafood lunch possible.

Day 11: Colombo Head north for the final stop on this gastronomic adventure and Sri Lanka’s commercial heart, Colombo. Snack your way around lanes filled with ‘short eats’, street-food possibilities and bustling local eateries. Share a final meal at a Dutch Burgher lunch, a group whose food (specialties such as lamprais rice) brings together the many culinary influences of the nation's table.

Day 12: Colombo No activities are planned for this final day, leaving you at leisure and free to leave as desired.



Meals 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport Safari Vehicle, Train

Accommodation Hotel (11 nights)

Included activities

  • Negombo - Fish Market Tour

  • Dambulla - Wholesale Markets tour

  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock

  • Dambulla - Chena Farm Visit and Lunch

  • Matale - Spice Garden Tour and Lunch

  • Kandy - Temple of Tooth

  • Dambulla - Cave temples

  • Kandy - Cooking Class in a Sinhalese Home

  • Haputale - Tea Factory Visit

  • Yala National Park Jeep safari

  • Mirrissa - Stilt fisherman meeting

  • Colombo - Walking tour

  • Colombo - Dutch Burgher Lunch


For further details on this or other Intrepid food adventure trips, please contact us. Intrepid also offer authentic trips based around interacting with locals through themed tours such as cycling, sailing, walking, trekking, wildlife, overland, expeditions, astronomy and polar.

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