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Wild Sri Lanka

11 days
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£2,279
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Traveller ratings
4.1 / 5 from 14 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
WIYA
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Wildlife Holidays
Group size:
4–16
Min age:
16

Best of Sri Lanka's wildlife from the national parks to the ocean

Sri Lanka is well known for its cultural heritage and picture perfect beaches, but perhaps less known is that it is also one of the best locations in Asia for wildlife. The wide range of altitudes found in this small island results in a variation of climate and diversity normal only found across a whole continent. Blue whales congregate off the southern coast of Sri Lanka, elephant herds gather in Udawalawe and the elusive leopard rules in Yala. As well as game drives in Sri Lanka’s most famous national parks we visit the steamy Sinharaja Rainforest and relax on the south coast, where the warm waters of the Indian Ocean lap the shore and days can easily drift by from the shade of a palm tree.

Highlights

  • Private whale watching from a chartered boat
  • Four game drives within Yala and Udawalawe National Parks
  • Sinharaja Rainforest and tranquil Talalla beach
  • Naturalist guides throughout

Key information

  • 10 days land only / 11 days flight inclusive
  • Travel by private bus, boat and 4WD
  • 9 nights in comfortable hotels and eco lodges
  • All breakfasts and 9 dinners are included
  • Whale watching season: November to April
  • Countries visited: Sri Lanka

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 9 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Those on group flights will leave London today for an overnight flight to Sri Lanka.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Colombo; transfer to Ahangama beach hotel.

    The group flight arrives into Colombo Airport today where our local guide will be waiting to meet us. Land Only clients should be at the airport ready to join the group transfer to Ahangama on the south coast of the island - please refer to the joining instructions for further information. Sri Lanka's road network has improved greatly over the last few years, and the 'deep south' (as it is often known) is now accessible within around 3 hours from Colombo. The coastline's coconut groves and tall palms give way to magnificent views of the sea as we approach Ahangama.

    Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 3

    Morning private whale watching excursion; afternoon visit Galle Fort.

    Shortly after sunrise we depart for the harbour, where we board a small, privately chartered boat for today's whale watching excursion. Accompanied by excellent crew and a naturalist guide, we spend the morning searching the Indian Ocean for whales and other cetaceans. The vessel is fitted with radar and GPS which helps to increase our chance of success. Blue whales, the largest animals that have ever lived, typically frequent these waters between November and April. They are huge, reaching up to 30 metres in length and weighing as much as 160 tonnes. We may also be lucky enough to encounter Sperm whales, Brydes whales and large pods of Spinner or Bottlenose dolphins in the surrounding waters. After spending the morning at sea, we return to the harbour and our hotel in Ahangama. Later this afternoon we have a guided visit to Galle to discover the historical fort, a fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by the Dutch in 1663, the fort is a maze of cobbled streets crammed with cafes, boutique shops and beautifully restored colonial houses.

    Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest; afternoon walk.

    This morning we transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest, the last undisturbed area of rainforest in Sri Lanka. This biodiversity hotspot harbours a number of endemic species. Canopy trees reach heights of up to 45 metres and bird species number 160 and counting. Amongst the insects, amphibians and reptiles are mammals such as Sambar, Barking deer and Wild boar. Purple-faced langurs usually congregate in groups of 10 or more and are fairly common to see amongst the trees. Around 15 leopards are known in this area but sightings are very difficult to come by due to the dense vegetation. This afternoon we take a walk to discover Sinharaja and its many inhabitants, accompanied by our naturalist guide.

    Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Full day to discover Sinharaja Rainforest.

    Wake up to birdsong and get ready for another day in the forest. Sinharaja covers a narrow sliver of land 21km long and 3.7km wide, covering an area of roughly 11,187 hectares. Within this area 43% of all the species recorded in Sri Lanka can be found. Our naturalist guide will take us on a wildlife walk to discover the many trails and abundant diversity here.

    Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    To Udawalawe; afternoon game drive in Udawalawe N.P.

    This morning we leave the rainforest and travel further inland to Udawalawe National Park, which lies on the boundary between Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones. Udawalawe is one of the best parks in Sri Lanka to see elephants with around 600 animals in the park who can be seen roaming in herds of up to 50 - the highest concentration of wild elephants anywhere in Sri Lanka. The Udawalawe Reservoir is at the centre of the park and makes a stunning backdrop amongst the otherwise lightly vegetated area. For this reason wildlife watching in the national park is relatively easy. Aside from elephant families feeding in the grasslands, we may encounter Sambar deer, Spotted deer, Water buffalo, Wild boar, jackal and mongoose on this afternoon's game drive.

    Accommodation: Nil Diya Mankada (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Morning game drive in Udawalawe N.P.; visit Elephant Transit Home at feeding time.

    This morning our 4WD safari vehicles are waiting to take us back into Udawalawe for a second game drive within the park. Game drives typically last for 3 hours, depending on sightings, and are always accompanied by a naturalist guide. In the afternoon we visit Udawalawe's famous Elephant Transit Home (ETH), situated just 5km from the park entrance. The transit home is run by the department of Wildlife Conservation and supported by the Born Free Foundation. It provides a safe environment for orphaned elephants, who are typically looked after at the home until they reach the age of 4, at which point they are old enough to be released back into the wild. Our visit will co-incide with feeding time at ETH, where the juveniles are given bottled milk by a team of park rangers and the noisy specatacle can be witnessed from the viewing platform.

    Accommodation: Nil Diya Mankada (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Tissamaharama; afternoon game drive in Yala N.P.

    After breakfast we depart for Tissamaharama and Yala National Park, a drive of around 3 hours. On arrival in Yala we check into our hotel and then around 3pm head out in 4WD jeeps for our afternoon game drive. Yala is Sri Lanka's most well known national park, famous for having a higher concentration of leopard per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world. Located in Sri Lanka's lowland dry zone in the south eastern corner of the country, Yala National Park is extensive, covering some 97,881 hectares across five 'blocks'. Yala's vegetation primarily consists of dense secondary forest, semi-arid thorny scrub, brackish lagoons and mangroves since the park borders the coastline. With this diverse habitat comes a huge array of wildlife, including elephant, Sloth bear, Spotted deer, Water buffalo, Sambar deer, Wild boar, langur and macaque. Bird counts are also high, with over 215 species recorded, including thousands of migrating waterfowl. Our group will be split evenly between jeeps and will be joined by the tour leader, naturalist and tracker who will each sit in a different vehicle. The drive this afternoon will last around 3 - 4 hours, before we return to the hotel to freshen up and have dinner.




    Accommodation: Kithala Resort (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Morning game drive in Yala N.P.; to Talalla.

    Wildlife tends to be at its most active during the early morning and to take advantage of this we have a morning game drive in Yala, returning to our hotel for a rest and lunch afterwards. Our naturalist guide will focus on Yala's diverse wildlife and birds, with our game drive lasting around 3 hours. 

    After lunch we transfer around 3.5 hours to Talalla, a quiet and remarkably undeveloped beach. Traditional fishing boats rest on the sand in front of a backdrop of palm trees - this is postcard worthy, and in our opinion, one of the most picturesque beaches in Sri Lanka. Accommodation for our two night's here is in a lovely resort with direct access to the beach. Set in tropical grounds with hammocks and a freshwater swimming pool, our open-sided cabanas let you drift off to sleep listening to the waves and wake up to birdsong! We have marked this property as a 'comfortable hotel' but please note the rooms are not air conditioned. Instead our quirky cabanas - with alfresco showers - have sides that are open to the elements, so as well as the overhead fan there is plenty of breeze from the ocean. There is still privacy in the form of retractable blinds and all rooms have a safe to store belongings. This property will no doubt be a highlight of the holiday due to its lovely setting!

    Accommodation: Talalla Retreat (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    Relax by the beach in Talalla; optional whale watching excursion.

    Today is free to enjoy all of the facilities at Talalla Retreat - swim in the sea, walk on the beach, take a dip in the pool, drink a fresh coconut juice, swing in a hammock or join one of the daily yoga lessons (at extra cost). Alternatively if there are enough people interested we can organise a second whale watching excursion to take place this morning. By having the opportunity to go whale watching again we maximise our chances of having the most favourable weather and sea conditions. Please note that this optional excursion will involve transfers to/from Mirissa where all of the whale watching boats depart.

    Accommodation: Talalla Retreat (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    To Colombo; end Colombo.

    This morning we check out and make our way to Colombo airport where our holiday comes to an end. Flight inclusive clients travelling with Sri Lankan airlines will usually leave Sri Lanka in the early afternoon, arriving into London this evening. Flights with Etihad Airlines tend to depart much later in the evening and won't arrive back into London until Day 12 of this itinerary. Land Only clients should check with our customer operations team before booking their own flights to ensure they can be dropped at the airport in time. Alternatively, an additional nights accommodation can be organised near to Colombo Airport if you would like to fly home on Day 12 of the itinerary.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Maldives

If you are keen to end your holiday on a very relaxed note we can arrange a visit to the Maldives for you.

The flight from Colombo is around 1 hour and upon arrival you will be transferred by speedboat (approximately 20mins) to the Paradise Island 4* resort. Paradise Island is a beautiful coral island with a total land area of 178,900 square metres, covered with lush tropical vegetation, numerous palm trees, surrounded by a wide sandy beach and the crystal clear waters of an azure lagoon.

 You can choose to add on as many extra nights to your trip as you wish; your time on the island will be at leisure for you to do as you wish. The accommodation used has a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, room service and all rooms are air‐conditioned and have en suite facilities. As well as the modern amenities of the resort there is also access to scuba diving and snorkelling or for the less active the chance to swim in these wonderful, calm waters. Either way it is a veritable paradise and a memorable end to the trip.

 If you choose to take advantage of this opportunity then we can arrange flights for you to Malé as well as booking the hotel and speedboat transfer to the island.

Essential Info

Visas

Sri Lanka

A visa (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is required if you are British and for most other nationalities. If you do not hold a British passport, please check the visa requirements with your local Sri Lankan Embassy or the ETA website www.eta.gov.lk. Passengers should also be aware of local laws and customs in Sri Lanka (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sri-lanka/local-laws-and-customs). The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is an offence; please note that people have been refused entry to Sri Lanka because of visible tattoos of Buddha.

Vaccinations

Sri Lanka

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 9 dinners are included.

These are provided at the hotels we are staying in and usually consist of a buffet with local and international options. Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the island’s heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to simply as ‘Rice and Curry’; this is the staple dish in most restaurants and usually consists of assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as various pickles, ‘sambols,’ and a handful of tiny poppadum’s – all using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic. The abundance of fresh seafood and fish will ensure that cuisine is a highlight of the trip.

Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Sri Lanka the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat/gluten or dairy-free. Please be prepared for this as you may need to bring such supplies from home. Spicier food can be avoided and lots of the hotels will serve Western options alongside local cuisine.

Weather

Galle

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely) with a Safari Rating of 4.

This is a relatively leisurely itinerary, staying in comfortable accommodation throughout and travelling on air-conditioned buses, private boats and 4WD game vehicles. There are some long drives and early starts, and if you're prone to sea sickness you may wish to take medication for the whale watching excursions. Temperatures are typically hot although the early mornings can be cool.

There are some important things to note about wildlife watching in Sri Lanka:

Yala is Sri Lanka's most popular national park, and in peak season attracts a large number of both international and local visitors. Game drives in Yala are a very different experience to being in Africa; geographically the area is much smaller and wildlife tourism is a relatively new thing, which means that the number of vehicles in parks and communication between vehicles is not being controlled by the authorities at this time. In peak times there can be many vehicles in the park at one time and this can result in 'traffic jams' where a number of vehicles are present at the same sighting. The naturalist guides and drivers that Exodus works with will do their best to avoid such sightings, and although we always try to make sure you see leopard, we ensure this is done in a safe and sensible way away from the crowds as much as possible. Our preferance is to focus on the quieter areas of the park to enhance the quality of the wildlife encounters, as and when they occur, and we believe this is the most responsible way to operate game drives in Yala.

Whale watching is becoming an increasingly popular activity and as yet there are very few regulations on the industry in Sri Lanka. Exodus have chosen a responsible operator and our boat trips will always be accompanied by a naturalist guide, with a focus on education. We are careful to use small, private boats for our groups and will ensure that wildlife is approached at a minimum boat speed and only ever from a sideways angle, as approaching head-on can be threatening for cetaceans. In addition we adhere by responsible tourism guidelines to spend no more than 20 minutes at any sightings.

Enforcing these regulations on ourselves, and educating our clients in best practice, is the most simple way of encouraging responsible behaviour around marine life and we hope to see such behaviour adopted by other boats in Sri Lanka.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and eco lodges

On this holiday we have 9 nights in comfortable hotels and eco lodges, all rooms with en suite facilities. Several hotels have swimming pools. We have a total of four nights at the coast, two at the Insight Resort in Ahangama and two at Talalla Retreat on the south coast. Talalla Retreat will no doubt be a highlight of this holiday - set in tropical grounds with hammocks and a freshwater swimming pool, our open-sided cabanas let you drift off to sleep listening to the waves and wake up to birdsong!

Single accommodation (available on request).

Please  note paying the  single supplement may not mean that you receive a double or twin room for sole use. The room you are allocated may differ from hotel to hotel , and on some nights a  smaller room for ‘one person’ may well be allocated.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

If you're having trouble choosing between a trip lounging on the beach, exploring the wild, or soaking in t

Paul Goldstein is one of very few people that has spent time with all five of the BBC's ‘Dynasty’ luminaries.

  • Reviewed May 2019
    Nancy West

    Wonderful wildlife

    This was a fantastic trip! From the whales and dolphins to the elephants and leopards (yes, we saw one!) every day had an unforgettable highlight. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country of lovely welcoming people and was very well represented by our two wonderful guides. The hotels were very varied in character but of a high standard as was the food. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone looking for a relaxing trip in the beautiful nature of Sri Lanka.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All of the wildlife encounters we had: I couldn’t pick just one. We saw whales and dolphins on our boat trip; leopards in Yala and I would never tire of just sitting and watching the elephants!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent! Our group leader Dilshan was unfailingly friendly, cheerful and helpful. He was a great source of information about his country and managed to strike the perfect balance between talking to us about a range of subjects related to Sri Lanka and giving the group quiet time to relax on the journey. He also managed to identify and address potential issues before they became an issue. Our wildlife guide Dineth was a fountain of knowledge when it came to the wildlife and I am still in awe of his ability to spot even the tiniest bird in the undergrowth from a moving vehicle! He also had a very impressive repertoire of bird calls! They made a great team!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go! A small umbrella can be useful for when it’s hot but also raining!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    ROBERT RAWLINGS

    Sri Lanka - An Experience

    A wonderful country and friendly people who love their home. We got to see a variety of habitats in the south during this trip which makes for an interesting trip with great variety. Our tour manager went out of his way to give us the best "Sri Lankan Experience". We were able to see a wide range of wildlife. For birders the variety seen was good. Mammal life is restricted in what Sri Lanka has but we managed to see many of what there is, exceptions the Sloth Bear and Leopard. The scenery was fantastic in places, loved the tea plantations and trees. Hotels were average, clean and comfortable, what you might expect on a tour to some remote areas, this is not a 5* hotel tour. The weather was good, tropical downpour in the rain forest and hot, dry, dusty days in the parks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to choose one. The scenery and tea plantations, national parks and the animals within including monkey, jackals, wild boar and elephant. The Elephant transit home at feeding time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thushan was full of enthusiasm. Determined to provide us with real Sri Lankan experiences, which he succeeded in. A little more assertiveness in decisions required maybe as he tried to please everyone and found it impossible to please all. We had some issues with a couple of members of the group and he was tested, but handled the issue professionally as far as he was allowed. He gave everyone in the group equal attention and made sure we kept hydrated and safe.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Expect early starts and some long days, only way to see the best on offer over a wide area. Do not be disappointed if you do not see everything, the wildlife is wild, not captive. Take care with the leeches, they can be picked up even in the rainforest lodge grounds, socks are available at the lodge so you need not take your own. Do not forget sun protection.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The driver was great, friendly, enthusiastic and always made sure we had water. Our naturalist, Ashan(?) was very knowledgeable and loved his job. His expertise was more on birdlife however, mammals were less important. Unfortunately there was a clash of personalities within the group which detracted from what would have been an excellent trip. I was disappointed at how Exodus head office dealt with the situation, sending one elderly person home who although did lose his temper did not deserve this. The other person was able to put his side of what happened forward first, and strongly, due to time differences (Australia, Sri Lanka and UK) and made the most of what most thought was a minor incident that could have been sorted with a shake of hands. There were reasons for the ill temper but these were ignored. If there is a policy of sending people home after a confrontation then both parties should have been expelled, not just the one. However this was a minor incident and did not in my opinion warrant expelling. The feelings and thoughts of the rest of the group were not considered, awkward!

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank both Robert and John (review below) for their reviews, although we remain sorry that their trips were impacted on by this unfortunate incident.  It is incredibly unusual that there are any altercations or disagreements between group members, and we appreciate that group members can have different perspectives when an incident like this occurs.  As a tour operator, Exodus has to have a zero tolerance towards any violence on our trips and we have been in touch with both clients about the very different concerns that they raise.

     

    Lucy Crabb - Customer Services Manager

  • Reviewed April 2019
    John O'Connor

    The tour was good, Exodus UK repsonse to critical incident was poor

    i returned from Wild Sri Lanka, the tour was good. If your a birder you will love the trip but you will need to take binoculars. I did not take mine as prior the trip did another trip to the Ancient cities and Jaffna. The accommodation is ok , although the last hotel was really hot and is the one that is not air conditioned. The heat made it quite uncomfortable. The tour guide, driver and assistant were excellent. The naturalist seemed more interested in talking to people with big cameras, chatting to the two young women and at times taking pics for Instagram On the trip you will see a great variety of birds and some mammals. On this trip we saw Blue Whale, Pilot Whale, Spinner Dolphin, Bottle nose Dolphin. Elephant, Mongoose, Purple faced Leaf Monkey, Macaque Giant Squirrel , another type of squirrel, water buffalo, Hare, Wild Pig. Alas no Leopard or Sloth Bear. I think it was the wrong time of year to see Leopard. Unfortunately i was assaulted by another member of the tour group and it took Exodus UK more than 24 hours to remove the person. The guide and country rep have no power to take action. Exodus UK dealt with the issue during UK business hours. It was a very scary 24 hours having to be around the perpetrator for 3 meal and 2 activities. I chose not to do the extra safari and the perpetrator was going on it. After the removal of the person , no contact from Exodus UK about how i was. IT is only on my return to Australia and after complaining in writing and then to my travel agent that a company representative did contact me. I found there response to my concerns not satisfactory, they were really defensive. So if you do go on this tour , i really hope nothing bad happens and you wont get a prompt response.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Perhaps seeing Blue whale

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thushan was excellent and we had many "Sri lanka" experiences. I really liked his style

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Beware if a critical incident occurs, make sure you have a sri lankan sim and email. So you can contact Exodus UK directly and your own travel agent

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Teh company needs to improve its response to critical incidents and have some type of follow up.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank both John and Robert (review above) for their reviews, although we remain sorry that their trips were impacted on by this unfortunate incident.  It is incredibly unusual that there are any altercations or disagreements between group members, and we appreciate that group members can have different perspectives when an incident like this occurs.  As a tour operator, Exodus has to have a zero tolerance towards any violence on our trips and we have been in touch with both clients about the very different concerns that they raise.

     

    Lucy Crabb - Customer Services Manager

  • Reviewed March 2019
    Maureen Pearce

    Wacky Races in the National Parks!

    Our trip specifically aimed at maximum attention on wildlife was somewhat disappointing. The reason for the disappointment was especially the complete lack of control of the amount of safari vehicles allowed in the national parks and the drivers disregard for speed control (25K per hr) we must have been doing at least 35 - 40 mph and overtaking masses of other vehicles all racing to see either the sighting of a sloth bear or latterly the sighting of the leopard in a tree about 300 meters away in a tree. I wouldn't be surprised if all the animals scattered during visiting times of tourist knowing what mayhem was in store! Once in view of the leopard (only seen with binoculars at that distance) passengers then suffered from carbon monoxide fumes whilst drivers went past the area not once, not twice but three times!. It is difficult to know how you can change the culture of such behaviour of the guides/drivers as it seems to be inherent. Walks in the Udawala were along the road track leading to the eco lodge were ok but not astoundingly memorable. The birders in the group were enthused.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspirational moment of the trip was seeing a blue whale right up next to our tourist boat. We shared the morning sightings of our whale with about 12 other loaded boats, but having said that we saw our whale dive several times showing it's fluke and blowing before diving.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dilshan Chathuranga was the most uninspiring Exodus leader I have ever had the chance to come across in all of our trips. He did the basic essential travel connections without any problems but seemed to lack the passion of other group leaders. When asked a question by clients he would often retort "I have told you that, wern't you listening?". His English was OK but sometimes difficult to grasp. I know that he caused offence and anger amongst at least 4 of the clients, reducing one Canadian guest to tears because she complained about the inept guide on their safari vehicle! He took the complaint personally and attacked her verbally insinuating that she was making a fuss. "what is that in the tree?" a monkey - was the response by the safari guide! when they wanted the type of monkey. He also gave incorrect names to birds seen and had little knowledge. It is the first time I have been on an Exodus trip where there had not been a thank you speech and presentation of tips etc. at the last evening meal end of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Contrary to your trip note you do not worry about leech socks as the Eco Lodge provides them. The whale watching trip organisers also provide sea sickness pills.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The early morning safari trips waiting to get into the parks where unpleasant. Hundreds of vehicles all racing to get through the gates first and manoeuvring and jostling to get to the ticket office and pushing and shoving. It spoilt the nature of the whole reason for going into the parks and generally our eagerness to view wildlife. It was remarked by one witty guest that the best thing about the picnic lunches was the paper boxes and bags they came in. Content was very uninspiring - white bread crustless cream cheese or vegetable sandwiches, frankfurters in foil. Even though we were up at 4.30am and in our transport at 5am very few ate the packed breakfasts. It took one hour to drive to the parks on average which seems an excessive distance, even taking into account the drive through the buffer zone skirting the National Parks.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Cheryl Evans

    Wild Sri Lanka

    Wild Sri Lanka - this trip was really disappointing as a location for wildlife. We certainly didn’t see elephant herds in Uawalawe and I was horrified that on one occasion we were part of a group of 6 jeeps surrounding ONE elephant. This is not acceptable wildlife viewing. As a result of such a disappointing day I didn’t go on the morning game drive in Yale NP on Day 8. The transfers between places were far too long. For example: On Day 8 the safari trip started at 4.30am - a one hour drive to NP - 4 hours in a Jeep - one hour drive to return to the accommodation then after lunch a 3 1/2 hour drive to Talalla !! This was a day of nearly 10 hours in a jeep and coach. This is absolutely unacceptable. Finally, I was totally fed up with buffet food. We had just one hotel that offered us a choice in 15 days. The best food was provided by our visit to a local village. Superb!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Whale watching session. Cycling through the local villages with village meal. Visit to the rainforest. Visit to the Elephant Freedom Project.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dilshun was a good leader who dealt with any problems very efficiently.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Potential travellers should ascertain the exact length of the transfer journeys. I shall never book this type of trip again without confirming transfer times.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was interested in the rain forest visit but I would have enjoyed learning about the biodiversity rather than bird watching. This was not advertised as a bird watching trip but we certainly spent a great deal of time trying to spot small brown birds!!!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Susannah Muldoon

    Amazing holiday

    I wasn't sure what to expect but wanted a holiday especially for the wildlife. I was not to be disappointed. We travelled between hotels in a large air conditioned coach. The food was excellent in most of the hotels especially the Hotel Insight and Kithala resort. I loved staying at the Eco Lodge but there was very little selection for vegetarians pasta with cheese or tomato sauce. The standard of hotels were very good although the service level at the Nil Days Mankada was poor. I would have preferred to stay a couple of nights at the Kithala resort instead of going to the Talalla retreat but that is just a personal preference. The whale watching was good and we did see blue whales dolphins a turtle and a ray but felt a bit sorry for the whales being converged on by so many boats. We had our on boat which was a lot nicer. The game drives were fantastic and we saw lots of birds and animals (even a leopard) and great to share the adventure with a lovely group of people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think the early morning drive in Yala as the wildlife was just waking up and it seemed less busy then the other reserve. Also the Eco Lodge and watching the birds all around and waking up to the sounds of the jungle.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Group Leader and guide were fantastic and very proffesional taking such good care of us. Making sure we got the very best out of the holiday. Can't be praised enough.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I bought leech socks which are needed but the eco lodge did have them to lend to you so no need to buy in advance. Take binoculars and a camera.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book now !
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Catherine Stothart

    Wonderful wildlife, great food, friendly people and a lovely group

    We wanted a holiday where there was plenty of opportunity to see wildlife, and this lived up to our expectation. Whale watching (saw blue whales and pilot whales), lots of colourful birds, mammals and reptiles too - the bio-diversity, especially of birds, was staggering. We had a naturalist with us who was really good at spotting and identifying birds - that really made a difference. The hotels we stayed in were all different with their own character, and with one exception, were of a high standard. Loved staying in the rainforest and doing yoga at the beach. Enjoyed Sri Lankan food and especially having tropical fruit every day and fresh fruit juices. The group of people we were with were all great.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Looking across a lake and seeing herons, cormorants, pelicans, storks, crocodiles, water buffalo, kingfishers.......just so much to see, all in one place. Hearing the birds and frogs in the morning. Seeing orphan elephants running to be fed. Doing yoga looking at the sunrise over the sea.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was excellent - knowledgeable, organised, helpful, friendly, sense of humour. He told us bits about Sri Lankan history and society, which were really interesting and took care of all our needs.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take binoculars - it's much easier to appreciate the birds if you can see them properly!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Kim Lester

    Wildlife Sri Lanka

    Thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Sri Lanka, the hotels are all unique, really enjoyed the container accommodation in the rainforest. The people all seemed very friendly. The Whale watching was a little disappointing as we only saw the one Blue Whale and it felt a little as if we were chasing after it when it breached, on the plus side we had the boat to ourselves. The driving is pretty interesting but we had total confidence in our coach driver. The food was very good, but you probably need to like curries! The game parks are good, initially i thought they were going to be really busy with all the jeeps queuing to get their permits, but it was surprising where they all disappeared to within the parks. Downside was when we found a leopard all the drivers communicate this to each other and everybody descends on the spot.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    hard to say which was most inspirational, all very good.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nakala was lovely, very passionate about sharing his country and culture with us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A fantastic trip, although leisurely, 2 days at each hotel, there was enough to keep you entertained from morning til evening.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Vicky Campbell

    Well organised trip

    We booked this trip to make viewing wildlife easy for ourselves. We joined after 16 days of doing our own thing and looked forward to the group tour. The arrangements went according to plan except for the starting hotel which had been changed without our knowledge. On arrival at the correct place, we found it to be a pseudo-Egyptian monstrosity. The rest of the accommodation was much more as expected. The whale watching was tedious and involved 7 hours on a boat with a distant view of the tail of a whale. The boat race which ensued when it appeared that there was a chance to get closer to a whale was not productive and did not feel very considerate. There was a distinct lack of birds in Sinharaja and the attempt to see leopards in Yala was beyond belief with tens of trucks vying for position to see the tail of a leopard which was hidden in a tree. Not all of the hotels had much Sri Lankan food and there was limited vegetarian food at times. The packed lunches were poor.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Making friends with two other couples Udawalawe Park was the most interesting, various birds, elephants and a few other mammals including a jackal. In both Udawalawe and Yala, we had good safari drivers.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was a very considerate person who took time to get to know each of us and to establish what our interests were. His explanations about various aspects of life and history in Sri Lanka were most welcome.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't go with any hopes or expectations as to what wildlife you might see. Do take leech socks for Sinharaja, although these were made available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We booked this trip as "Wild Sri Lanka" with no particular expectations but even with this outlook, we were disappointed. Sinharaja was, to us, a waste of time in terms of wildlife and one of the guides who is based there admitted it was not a good time for birds. Staying in containers was the saving grace here, a real novelty. Now that the trip seems to be called "Whales and Leopards" ( as in our final joining instructions) this would suggest that these creatures are more likely to be seen. This seems grossly misleading.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Emma Dart

    Great way to see the nature of south Sri Lanka

    This was a fantastic trip which gave great opportunities to see the diverse wildlife and landscapes of Sri Lanka. It was hot / humid when we went so the air con on the bus and the majority of the hotels was welcome. It was nice to have a couple of nights in most hotels. The stay in the rainforest lodge was incredible, and the rooms in the Talalla hotel were unusual and enjoyable. The bus journeys between accommodations were not too long, and the scenery was very enjoyable. There is so much birdlife and wildlife to see here.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a blue whale. We also loved seeing the fireflies in the rainforest and at Tallala. There is not much light pollution there so the stars were incredible.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dilshan was fantastic. He was so engaging, knowledgeable and well organised. The naturalist on the trip, Devaka, was enthusiastic and highly skilled.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Many of the plug sockets accommodate do UK plugs. Where they did not, we were glad to have purchased an adaptor as our multi adaptor did not cater for Sri Lanka plug sockets. We did not see many mosquitoes, but were careful with using deet and covering up. The sun is very strong as well. The rainforest lodge provided leech socks, which seemed to work very well. There were only a couple of times where we encountered small leeches and the guide removed them easily.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food is fantastic, a lot of choice in the buffets.

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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