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Eric_Bal Apr 24th, 2011 08:32 AM

Family trip to Sri Lanka
Hi I'm planning a family holiday to Sri Lanka this end July/start August. I'll go with my wife and 2 kids, 5 and 3 years old.

1) What do you think of the ff itinerary ? Too much especially with 2 kids or just right ? Am I thinking of doing too much ?

Land in Colombo. Head immediately to Kandy for 2 night stay.
Nuwara Eliya and/or Ella- 3 nights. Do a solo hike to World's End.
Yala Nat'l Park - 2 nights.
South coast beach - Mirissa ? Unawatuna - 2 nights
Galle - 2nights.
Pass by Bentota for turles on the way back to Colombo.

2) Is it necessary to hire a car and driver for the whole trip ? Can we take trains to some places and just take cabs to go around ? Is it alirght to just use a car and driver starting from the time we leave Ellay/Nuwara Elliya ?

3) Any recommendations for drivers ?

4) My kids are keen to see some wildlife. Is the July/August timing for yala and other national parks right to sspot som wildlife ?



Kathie Apr 24th, 2011 09:13 AM

Way too much in too little time. The itinerary you've laid out involves lots of driving - hours and hours each time you change locations. And when you stay each place a mere two nights it means you have one day in a location sandwiched between two days of long, long drives. Some of your drives will be 8 hours or more. This would be a grueling itinerary for two adults. Add in two small children and I can guarantee none of you will be happy.

I'd suggest you decide what is most important for you to see/do/experience on this trip. You currently have 5 stops and I'd say you need three stops maximum. Your stops are also far from each other, and you may want to reconsider your route on the basis of drive times.

Practically speaking, you'll be best off with a car and driver the whole time. It gives you lots of flexibility.

There are a good number of excellent trip reports here on Sri Lanka. Go to the top of the page and choose Sri Lanka from the drop-down menu. It will then list all recent posts about Sri Lanka including three trip reports from Fodorites this year.

LeighTravelClub Apr 24th, 2011 12:24 PM

Very good advice from ever.

For sure, a car and driver for your entire trip is the way to go.

Kandy didn't really do it for us, but others will disagree.

Don't underestimate the traveling time in Sri Lanka, and two inches on the map can be two hours in one area and eight in another.

We used Rammuni as our guide/driver, after reading glowing reports from another Fodorite.

I would use him again, but I would involve him much more in the planning than we did on our recent visit. We could have done it much more efficiently with his input at the planning stage.

But for sure......our visit to Sri Lanka far exceeded our expectations......a wonderful country, and we hope to visit again.

Eric_Bal Apr 25th, 2011 06:09 AM

Thanks very much. Main objective is to visit Yala and see wildlife as my kids are excited about seeing the leopards, go on safari, etc. So , if you recommend 3 stops -- I'd do Galle / the Southern beaches / Yalla environs. So what about the ff :

Day 1 Arrive in Colombo. Either stay overnigght or head immediately to Bentota for the turtles.
Day 2-4. From Bentota, head to Galle for 2 nights.
Day 5-7. 3 nights in the southern beaches. Either in one place or hop around. Mirissa or Unawatuna ?
Day 8-11. 4 nights. Base in tissamarahama or thereabouts. Do day trips to Yala and Bundala ?
Head back to Colombo. Stopping by somewhere on the way to cut the long drive back. Beach again ?

I've read that the train rides are worth trying to enjoy the scenery. is there one in the route I describe or should I just skip that ?



Kathie Apr 25th, 2011 07:22 AM

If your main objective is to visit Yala to see wildlife, why aren't you staying in Yala? The best times to see wildlife are early morning and late afternoon.

I'd suggest you contact an agent to help you figure out a final itinerary including info on drive times. I think you and your kids will be happiest with the fewest number of times packing up, moving and unpacking, so I think the beach hopping is not such a good idea.

crellston Apr 25th, 2011 08:59 AM

I agree with kathie, you should definitely engage the services of a reilable travel company/guide to sort this out for you. Do not underestimate the travelling times involved. as an example it took us 6 hours + to get back from Galle to Negombo prior to our flight home. It was a hot long and uncomfortable trip (the air con broke!) I cannot imagine what it would have neen like with a couple of kids in tow!

We did the beach hopping thing along the south coast and stayed by some great beaches but you do need to choose carefully. One child friendly beach is at Goyambokka near Tangalle - some nice places to stay there. Mirrissa is a small village but again has a great beach suitable for kid (but the surf can get quite high on the south coast).

We also stayed at Weligama, the next town to Mirrissa. It is a great town with loads of local restaurants and some local colour but the beach is marred somewhat by the raw sewage deposited from the town via an open sewer.

From Tangalle to Weligama took us about 2 hours by tuk tuk so I guess Tissi to Mirrisa would be about 4-6 hours.

Be aware that the boat trip to see the whales takes yoiu out to sea for about 10 kms (not great for anyone suffering from seasickness.

We drove through Unawatuna and carried on. Great beach but full of partying backpackers.

The train rides we went on in Sl were a highlight of our time there but as you don't seem to be heading up to the Hill country that is not really an option although the route along teh south coast has now reopened so you may be able to return to Columbo at least part of the way by train (maybe from Weligama) althernatively, if you went back to your original itinerary then you could get the train from Columbo to Kandy.

Eric_Bal Apr 25th, 2011 04:33 PM

Thank you! Yes, I'm also in contact with a local guide and we're discussing that as well, Katie. I wasn't sure you could stay inside Yala itself...I've only seen dorm accomodations so far which wouldn't be suitable for the kids.

Good perspective on the travel distances and the beach options, Crellston! I have also asked the guide but he hasn't answered yet re the travel distances!!!

Kathie Apr 25th, 2011 05:15 PM

Yes, you can stay inside Yala in tented camps. A number of companies offer this. Have you read some of the recent trip reports? Femi spent much of her time in Sri Lanka looking for wildlife. She has an excellent recent report.

I booked with Boutique Sri Lanka when I went a few years ago. They gave me realistic drive time estimates which made planning easier.

Is the person you are in communication with a driver or a guide? Frankly, for where you are going, you need a driver. You will get a guide/spotter at Yala. Also, I appreciated that I booked my driver through a company. If there was a problem they could replace the vehicle or the driver within a day.

Femi Apr 25th, 2011 06:07 PM

I would not recommend a tented safari or camp within Yala for small children. The camps are not fenced and we had a leopard and elephant come roaming through the camp.

Eric_Bal Apr 26th, 2011 07:21 AM

Thanks, Femi! Appreciate your giving that input!!! Will look for your trip reports!

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