Sri Lanka highlights vacation

“A two week, tailor made vacation of Sri Lanka, with national parks, wildlife, railways, great archaoleogical sites and amazing food. And, of course, beaches. ”

Highlights

Negombo | Sigiriya | Polonnaruwa | Dambulla| Kandy | Nurwara Eliya | Ella | Yala National Park | Overnight stay in safari tents | Unawatuna beach | Galle | Colombo | Private chauffeur guide

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Departure information

Everything is tweak-able, giving you the freedom to build a unique and personal trip for your chosen date. Upgrade your accommodation for all - or just part - of your trip, slow down the pace with few extra nights here and there or add a few more active adventures along the way.
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sri Lanka highlights vacation

Environment

When you embark on this itinerary you get several chances to spot wild animals, including elephants. We support the protection of the Sri Lankan environment by only visiting national parks which are responsible, and are in fact protecting the Sri Lankan wildlife. This includes the Minneriya National Park, Kaudulla National Park and Yala National Park. When in the Yala National Park you stay in tented accommodation which has little impact to the local environment. At the beginning of this itinerary when met by our local partner, our clients are also briefed on protection of flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.

Our local partner in Sri Lanka also shares the same values as us in terms of using as little energy in the office and also recycling. We both use minimal paper in our offices and have all paper used recycled. They also have strict times at which they use the air-conditioning in their office.

Community

During this itinerary you will be staying in a mix of authentic small-scale accommodation including a family-run hotel in Kandy. By using this type of accommodation we support local families and local people who are employed by these hotels.

Throughout the trip you will be traveling around with your private driver. Our drivers are trained by our local partner and then given a permanent contract offering reliable work which earns them a wage higher than the national average.

Our local partner also runs a lot of charity projects in Sri Lanka and supports many local communities. In 2008, they provided emergency lights and installed lights at a girls home in Nugegoda. In 2013 our local partner bought 40 new mattresses for an retirement home near Colombo. Other projects that they have funded include providing food and rations to local charities, helping restore the homes of some of Sri Lanka's most needy, and paying for cancer drugs for patients at some local hospitals.

9 Reviews of Sri Lanka highlights vacation

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 01 Oct 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Everything! Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with beautiful people who welcome you so easily. It was less chaotic and cleaner than India and the traffic wasn't bad either.
My driver Dilan made this trip so smooth with his years of experience and every time we stopped for a comfort break he always knew where the clean toilets
were; I am very particular about this.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Respect the local custom and the people and they will make your journey wonderful!
Also, if you cover your head for any reason be prepared to uncover your head if you wish to enter the temples.
I was refused entry at many of the temples as I could not remove my headscarf (but did not have this issue in Thailand whilst visiting the temples there).
So before you buy a ticket, check!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Definitely.
We stopped at many of the government-sponsored cafeterias providing employment for the local village women, and the local food and drinks were delicious and prepared hygienically. Good prices too.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent and I am already planning a return trip! Thank you Uneasy no settle!

Reviewed on 08 Mar 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The best part of Sri Lanka for me was the abundance of wildlife. We saw elephants, 2 leopards, crocodiles, beautiful birds and lizards, amongst other things. The safari in Yala and Minneriya were amazing. The people are very friendly and helpful, food good too! There is so mush diversity and lovely scenery.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Do your research as there is a lot to see, and enough to suit most needs. There can be quite a lot of trekking too, so research into that is a good idea.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The vacation did benefit local people and Sri Lanka is trying to keep cleaner by reducing plastic etc. I felt the safaris were good, but so many diesal trucks cannot be good for the environment so I feel that needs to be addressed very soon. Also, I felt the whale watching was bordering on unethical as when we went there were so many boats, and although our boat was ethical and did not chase the whales, some did, and although it was amazing to see 2 blue whales, it really needs re thinking. They need to cap the amount of boats allowed in one area at one time.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


The vacation was fantastic! Our driver, Adi, was especially brilliant. He was helpful, funny and kind, and made the traveling easier. Maybe one night in Sinharaja would have been enough, one night in Mirissa for us would have been enough and a night in Galle fort would have been good, but it was a fantastic experience and the organisation was perfect.

Reviewed on 03 Jan 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Very hard to single out one memorable moment, but we all loved the homestay, visiting the local market, the bakery, the cookery lesson and the temple. The train journey, despite being very crowded and having to stand for an hour was also a wonderful experience. We got to squeeze up with locals who offered to share their seats. Every day offered up something different and varied from the day before.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't be afraid to say no to your driver's suggestions. Some we accepted, some we didn't. He was a master at fenagling the best parking spots, time things really well and tell us where we were heading next but we didn't always want to go to the tourist lunch stop or go with his suggestion. He asked for a lump sum at the beginning to cover all the entrance fees and lunches but we decided to pay him on an item by item basis. This worked much better.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. I was pleasantly surprised by seeing only two towels in the hotel rooms rather than the huge number that you sometimes get. At Tallala there was a 6am beach clean and filtered water available. I was conscious we bought a large box of bottled water (in small bottles) at the beginning of the trip, which wasn't very eco at all. It would be nice if more filtered water was available. Tourism is obviously a huge part of Sri Lankan economy. It's a delicate balance between employment and safeguarding the environment. Some parts of the safari trip in Yala felt like Sainsbury's car park on Christmas Eve.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We loved it. We are a family with three teenage and older sons and no-one balked at the early starts or the scheduling. A thoroughly engaging vacation full of variety which left us feeling we really got to know the country from many angles with a perfectly timed two days on the beach at the end.

Reviewed on 07 Feb 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing elephants close up was incredible, although we were a bit concerned about how close the jeeps got to wild elephants. Seeing the 'Temple of the Tooth' in Kandy was also an amazing experience, as was the breathtaking views at the top of 'Worlds End' in Horton Plains. It was great getting to know our driver, who was able to give us lots of insights into the country. I was very impressed with the work the Elephant Transit Home was doing to rehabilitate elephants, and also really enjoyed Sigiriya Rock.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Allow rest time during your travels - we got very tired! And bring extra cash to get into all the national parks etc. - we thought most of this was included but it turned out there was quite a bit extra to pay. Also, check the map you are provided, we ended up doing a bit of a roundabout route towards the end of our trip, which meant many more hours in the car than was actually needed to see all the sights we visited.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We supported the local economy through staying at hotels, spending money etc. I don't think we reduced environmental impacts - we were being driven all over the island and got through a lot of bottled water etc. I guess we supported conservation in that we paid entrance to lots of national parks, but sometimes I felt tourists were able to get to close to rare wildlife (elephants and whales in particular). At Yala, when there was a sighting of a Leopard, all the jeeps for miles around made a beeline for the area it was sighted in, causing a lot of noise and air pollution - no wonder the leopard made a swift retreat.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very good, lovely friendly driver and got to see all sorts of amazing things. A great mix of cultural, historic and wildlife based experiences. Definitely needed a couple of days on the beach at the end to recover!

Reviewed on 01 Feb 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The Botanic Gardens in Kandy was the most memorable. Strangely this was excluded from the itinerary but added by request from myself. Whale watching and safari was good.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Carefully review the itinerary before traveling. One day was completely spoilt by being much too cluttered. Unnecessarily early start (0530) for Horton Plains, ridiculous 1 hour wait for entrance tickets in freezing conditions, not enough time to complete the round trip walk, Rushed to railway station then had to wait over 1 hour. 'Scenic' train utterly packed and we were unable to get on so missed 'highlight' of vacation. Information about upgrading train tickets was incorrect. In future all tickets for this train must be pre-booked to avoid our disappointment.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Interesting to see attempts to reduce plastics usage in National Parks: shame that Sri Lanka had not tackled this issue elsewhere.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very Good. However I did not think that our tour operator had done a good job with the itinerary. The information that we wanted to go to the Botanic
gardens had not been relayed to our driver so we had to make changes on route. Other aspects of itinerary had to be changed / abandoned. We are both in our
60's but reasonably fit: we did struggle with one of the walks (a climb of Lions Rock) and we had no pre-warning that in hot humid conditions this could be a
challenge.

Reviewed on 09 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Safari in Willapatu and seeing elephants, leopard and a sloth bear.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


To take plenty of insect repellent and take extra money for tips.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes our travels defiantly helped support local people by seeing and doing activities along our trip and buying things along the way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We had an excellent honeymoon from start to finish. Great country full of lovely friendly people and awesome wildlife everywhere. We would definitly go back in the future.

Reviewed on 16 Aug 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Going to visit Trincomalee and all the places my parents lived many years ago. The Temple of Sacred Tooth, the Perahara Festival, The elephant Safari - all amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Give yourself some relaxation time at Trincomalee beach or another beach depending on time of year. Remember the road journeys will take time / far more than you realise.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I felt that by having a local guide we benefitted enormously as we learnt so much about the history, culture and local customs. We also stopped off at additional places, at our request. It was good to support the monuments and World Heritage sites and I have no issues with paying for that from a conservation perspective. As someone who has travelled extensively and lived abroad I am not keen on being taken to wood carving places and getting the sales patter. I felt uncomfortable; I appreciate some may like it but personally I liked going to local shops in smaller villages to spend my money. The visit to the spice farm was good and I did not feel the hard sale there. Loved going for the farmers lunches - great idea but could not do the food justice as was still full up from breakfast. There were so many safari trucks at the game reserve; is it controlled ? Not sure seeing all the younger tourists on hired motor bikes reduces environmental impact ? It is a real dilemma to be honest - going to Ella took me back to Thailand in the early 80's - you see all the development for tourists but there is a concern about what it does to prices for the local population. So many of the food places cater for Western /European food tastes. There is no doubt the hospitality industry provides employment - but there is a concern about the large hotel groups taking over and I am interested in how well they pay staff. It is clear wages are very low for many in Sri Lanka - the benefit of having a driver with extensive knowledge meant we had the chance to stop off at different places that were less touristy as well. To be honest it is a difficult dilemma - as one who contributed to the Tsunami fund I am concerned about how much money gets to local people that need it - it is clear that some monies is filtered off and there are corruption issues. The mixture of hotels is good.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fabulous !!

Reviewed on 30 Jul 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


On our second day we climbed Lion Rock (Sigiriya) which we'd read about - but it's nothing compared to when you get there. The view from afar is amazing,
the climb is tough, but broken up enough that you never felt completely exhausted and the views at the top are breathe taking.

When you pair that with the history and stories behind the fortress, it is mind blowing and an incredible place.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Make sure you head to the right places depending on the time of year you go. Our advisor was brilliant, and we booked our beach stay on the East coast, as it
was raining down South - but in other months this can be reversed. So always check if you're looking for the sunshine!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Our tour guide was local, and we definitely felt like using his company was of real benefit to him, and he also took us to restaurants and places he felt were
responsible and helped the local economy.


4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Amazing - beautiful country, brilliant tour guide. A bit of everything, from beach and cultural sites, to trekking and stunning mountain views.

Reviewed on 17 Feb 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Difficult to choose one - probably the visit to Sigiriya rock - unlike anything I have seen anywhere else. Probably followed by seeing the local fishermen
working on the beach at Negombo.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Make the most of any opportunities to look around, take part in things, talk to the local guide to tell them what you are interested in. (For instance we talked
about food, and ended up spending an evening at a cookery demonstration, which was very interesting). Also be aware that entrance charges, (including
national parks) are not cheap, and tipping adds up.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It seemed that most of our spending etc. was going to support the local economy, so benefiting local people, the time in the national parks helped with
conservation. Don't think flying out, then driving round helped reduce environmental impact.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We had a great time, having a dedicated guide meant that we could relax and let him do the organisation.

Read the operator's response here:

Hello Christine,

I am so glad you had a great time in Sri Lanka and that you mostly enjoyed visiting the famous Sigiriya Rock and also watching the fishermen working in Negombo. The cooking demonstration that you did sounds amazing, I would love to do that myself.

Thank you so much for your good review, it was lovely helping you organise your trip and great news you had a wonderful time.

With Kind regards,

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