A beautiful lush green island with stunning palm fringed golden beaches, amazing wildlife, fascinating culture, lovely people and lots of sunshine and warmth; A leader who was passionate about his country, entertaining, energetic and eager to please his clients; A great variety of hotels from characterful to smart and some amazing locations; Each and everyday full of incredible experiences. A wonderful holiday.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Inspirational moments included climbing Sigiriya Rock and the wonderful views from the top; watching the monkeys in our hotel grounds; the cycle ride at Giritale along the lake and waterways, being able to soak up the tranquillity and beauty of the area and glimpse Sri Lankan life; the walk on Horton Plains; the incredible train ride to Bandarawela, another wonderful glimpse of Sri Lankan life and a sense of freedom and excitement that has now gone from train rides in the UK; the game drive at Yala National Park, seeing elephants in the wild and being surrounded by such beautiful scenery; the palm fringed golden beaches at Ahangama and having time to sit in wonder at the beauty of the Indian Ocean; the lovely city of Galle with its coastal feel, lovely architecture and characterful shops and cafes.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Dilipe, our leader, was wonderful. He had such passion for his country and was full of knowledge on all aspects of life in Sri Lanka which he imparted with enthusiasm and humour. He went the extra mile to keep his clients happy...especially arranging for the bus to stop so that we could take the photographs we wanted to take! He was flexible when we wanted him to be, notably in Galle when he allowed us to wander and have lunch wherever we pleased rather than sticking to the chosen hotel restaurant. He managed the kitty perfectly and made life so easy for us by organising all the tips and making sure we were never short of water. I couldn't fault him as a group leader and wish him well for February when his wife is due to give birth to their first child!
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
I won't repeat the useful advice given in other reviews. It is worth saying that the best shopping for gifts is in Kandy and in Galle. In Kandy there is a fantastic shop close to the Queens Hotel, called Odel Luv SL. Quite expensive by Sri Lankan standards by not by UK standards. A wonderful selection of colourful and good quality gifts. It is also worth visiting the Kandy Market in the city centre, close to the bus station, where I found some beautiful shawls and spices. In Galle just explore the small streets near the sea and you will find plenty of great shops for presents!
Antibacterial handwash always useful to reduce risk of stomach bugs.
The bus journeys on some days are along winding roads. If you are prone to travel sickness it's probably a good idea to bring pills/wrist bands with you and ask if you can sit near the front of the bus.
Make sure you bring a Sri Lanka adaptor so you can charge your camera! You are likely to take a LOT of photos! Bincoculars are useful if you love birds as there are lots in the Giritale area and in Yala NP.
I had been under the impression we would pretty much be in a different hotel every night. In fact, we spent 2 nights in Sigiriya, 3 nights in Kandy and 2 nights in the hotel on the coast. This gave the opportunity to do some washing and for it to dry. A travelling clothes line would probably be useful!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
This trip is a great way to 'Discover Sri Lanka'! We travelled quite a distance and had amazing experiences and adventures everyday. Even getting to each new hotel was exciting! Some hotels really were very smart and luxurious, others were more basic but full of character or in amazing locations. Each one a wonderful experience.
I am more of a nature lover than temple goer and found myself a bit templed out over the first few days....but absolutely loved the opportunity to experience the natural Sri Lanka on the cycle ride, the walk on Horton Plains, the climb up Sigiriya, the safari in Yala NP, and being on the beautiful beaches. Our leader told us that Sri Lanka means 'blessed land'. It truly is a blessed land and one that is very much worth exploring.