Sri Lanka-Help with Itinerary

Apr 24th, 2011, 08:24 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 279
Sri Lanka-Help with Itinerary

We are in the planning stages for March 2012. We love wildlife and birding and our recent trips include Tanzania, Uganda, Borneo and we are going to Madagascar in September, 2011. We will have a total of 17 days including travel from the US and want to also spend four nights in the Maldives at the end of our trip. That leaves amount 10 or 11 days in Sri Lanka. We do not want to spend all our time driving and would like to focus on a few areas. Here is what we were thinking, 1 night near airport, 2 nights in Sinharaja, 1 night in Uda, 3 nights in Yala and then either Mirissa for whale watching, maybe seeing the turtles nesting or Bundala for birding and then back to Colombo and overnight close to the airport for a morning flight to the Maldives. Any recommendations for the Maldives, great house reef but we do not need super luxury would be great. In Sri Lanka we would prefer to stay inside the park in the luxury tented accommodations. Any recommendations or thoughts about how hectic this will be including driving times would be appreciated. We have found the tour companies also under estimate the travel times. We have contacting a few companies, including Red dot, In Style and Boutique Sri Lanka. They seem to have had some difficulty incorporating our requests into an itinerary. We had not heard back from Boutique yet and I know that Kathie used and liked them. Help!!
lhgreenacres is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 03:13 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 702
Hi and glad to be of help to a fellow wildlife lover, birder and photographer your most welcome to my beautiful little country.

10 days in Sri Lanka sounds good. You already mentioned Mirissa which is great for a spot of whale watching and has a nice beach too. Other than this will your tour be a strictly wildife/birds only tour or would you like to spend a little time on cultural, historical and other aspects? Also how about Scuba diving? Saw you will be going to the Maldives, and we can never match their coral reefs but we do have some interesting ship wrecks etc. Even though I am an avid wildlife lover and birder I must say that Sri Lanka is far too vibrant and colourful to ignore its other attractions, especially the mountains, tea country, cultural, historical and food aspects etc.

Depending on your flights time of arrival suggest you to try and avoid wasting/staying a night near the airport.

Uda Walawe has a lot of Elephants, sadly they are over populated now. Suggest not staying a night there, instead spend the time between Yala ( where you are also most likely to see Elephants) and Bundala.

I would suggest you try to include driving through the tea country and spending a day in Horton Plains with a half days walking safari there for some unique flora and fauna opportunities and scenery too.

2 night Singharajah
1 Night Nuwaraeliya or Tea Trails with drive/walk through Horton Plains
3 nights Yala
2 Nights Mirissa
1 Night Colombo (there is a nice semi urban birding spot here)

You may still have a night to spare!

As for travel agents, suggest you to use a specialist local agent they are really good. Run of the mill operators will never have the level of knowledge a specialist naturalist operator would have. One smaller specialist who I know is very good is Mr Amila Salgado, have a look at his web site www.birdwingnature.com Amila is a maestro when it comes to birding, nor to mentiuon his knowledg of mangroves, wetlands, buterflies, dragonflies, primates etc! Bigger local operators who specialize in Wildlife and Nature are Jetwing Eco who own the famous lighthouse hotel in Galle, Vil Uyana etc, and Walkers Tours have a section called Nature Oddesey who own the well known Yala Village Hotel. These hotels also usually have in house naturalists, however they do tend to drag you only to their own properties. Far better IMHO to go with an independent operator.

I have travelled extensively in Africa too and can tell you that travelling in Sri Lanka is relatively easy and safe. English is widely spoken, people are friendly.
Mohammed is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 05:14 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,138
I was in Sri Lanka in February and booked with Reddot. I was quite pleased with their services as Ayanthi knew what sort of trip I was looking for and was able to steer things in the right direction. I've also spent a few trips in Africa, so it was fun to compare. The birdlife in Sri Lanka is outstanding, better than anywhere else I've been (including Central America).

I wouldn't call the camping in Yala luxurious, but rather comfortable. I stayed with Leopard Safaris in a mobile campsite, although we spent the entire time in a single location. When they packed up some of the tents there was no sign that they had ever existed in that spot. We had leopard and elephant wandering through the camp.

One of the major highlights of my trip (if not THE highlight) was spending time with the primate research team at Polonnaruwa. I cannot recommend the company of Sunil highly enough.

Mohammed is correct (of course) on several points. If by Uda you mean Uda Walawe, it is not worth spending a night.

My trip to Sri Lanka ranks as one of my best ever.
Femi is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 07:43 AM
  #4  
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Thank you both for the information. We would very much like to see more of the country but we are somewhat limited on the time as it is my mpm's dream to go the Maldives to snorkel so the trip including travel will be 18 days. I really wanted to go to Horton Plains but again was concerned about the driving. How far is it from Sinharaja and then how far would it be to drive to Yala from Horton Plains. I will look at the companies Mohammed has recommended. I have also been corresponding with Red Dot and Ayanthi and she has been helpful. I am a little concerned about some of the complaints about Red Dot.
lhgreenacres is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 07:45 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,788
Another company to consider is Boutique Sri Lanka. We booked our trip with them and had a great experience.
Kathie is online now  
Apr 25th, 2011, 11:00 AM
  #6  
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Thanks Kathie, I sent them an email and asked for a quote as well.
lhgreenacres is offline  

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