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less than 6 weeks to go - help me refine my Sri Lanka itinerary.

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i suddenly realised that our trip to Sri Lanka is coming up fast, and having had a lot of help from people here when we were in the initial booking stage, [major thanks to Kathie and Crelliston] I've come back to ask for more help in making sure that we balance the desire to see what there is to see with having some rest and relaxation.

Here's our basic itinerary:

mon 24/9 - arrive at colombo airport at 1pm. meet driver and drive to Dambulla - Hotel Kandalama. stay three nights.

while we're here, we'd like to see Sigiriya, the elephants at Minneriya, Polonnaruwa, and the Dambulla caves. as i'm struggling with how long each of these will take and the length of drives between them, i'd like some advice on how to group them. i need to take account of the fact that on Thursday 27th, we are moving to Kandy and have to be there by 3 pm for the T20 cricket match -2 tickets bought today for the grand price of $1! [and they weren't the cheapest!] Will we have time to do anything on the morning we leave? or should we go straight to Kandy, and is there anything worthwhile to see on the way?

Thursday 27/9 - drive to Kandy. [doesn't look that far on the map but the impression I'm getting from re-reading trip reports is that even short distances can take longer that you'd think. Cricket match in pm. 2 nights at Theva residency, 2 kms from Kandy. next day around Kandy with the botanical gardens, temple of the tooth ceremony, and ????

Sat 29/9 - drive/train to Nuwarra Eliya - staying Warwick gardens 3 nights. would like to see world's end and tea planation. anything else? anything en route from Kandy? [when should I book train from Kandy to NE? - before we leave or while we're there/]

Tues 2/10 - drive to Chaaya wild. stay 2 nights. I day trip to Yala and/or bird sanctuary.

Thurs 4/10 - Drive to Galle - staying Unawatuna, Thambapanni retreat - 2 nights. explore Galle and area - plus DH would like to fit in a dive if possible.

Sat 6/10 - drive to colombo - staying Galle Face regency - 2 nights.

Sunday 7/10 - morning in colombo and afternoon at T20 finals.

Mon 8/10 - drive to airport, flight at 1 pm [need to arrive at airport by ???]

any thoughts as to activities to include/omit gratefully received.

I'd also welcome some advice on whether it's necessary to take any cash [I know i can't change it into sri lankan currency til i get there] or should we rely on ATMs? we are already committed to taking cash to pay for the cost of the car and driver in U$ on arrival - should i take some more U$ or £sterling, either in cash or those old fashioned things, travellers' cheques? [I read in a quite recently published guide book that they get a better rate of exchange than cash, but this may be out of date]

that's all for now - I'm sure that I'll think of some other things closer to the time.

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