"Winging It" in Sri Lanka

Old Sep 5th, 2012, 10:31 AM
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"Winging It" in Sri Lanka

Hi there!

I'm traveling to Sri Lanka from mid-September to mid-December. For the first 1 1/2 months I will be staying near Uda Walawe National Park. That is taken care of.

For the next 1 1/2 months, I want to travel to the major cities and sites such as Kandy, Sinharaja Rainforest, Ratnapura, Adam's Peak, possibly Jaffna and elsewhere in the north, and more. I have not made any reservations at hotels and have not contacted any drivers for this portion of my stay, because I don't want to need to be at such and such a place at such and such a time. I want to be able to linger and launch, depending on the opportunity that presents itself.

Since from November to mid-December is pretty much the least touristy time of the year (correct me if I'm wrong), I figure that I will not need advance bookings. I plan on finding hotels and guesthouses as I go. Is this an accurate statement, and possible?

Also, as far as getting around, I know that there is public transportation such as buses to places like Kandy, but what about the smaller locales and sites? Again, I am hesitant to book beforehand because I want to be as little restricted as I can -- also, I am trying to keep costs down, so I definitely am not keen on going with a tour group. Is it possible to find REPUTABLE drivers as I go, from hotels, for instance, rather than getting them beforehand?

Thank you!
JosephBr is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2012, 10:50 AM
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Yup, you are wrong. November to mid-December is part of high season. It's not as crowded as the second half of December, but there will be plenty of other visitors.

You certainly don't need to go with a tour group, but you will want to do at least some pre-booking of accommodations. I'm sure your hotels can refer you to reputable drivers.

Hopefully Mohammed will see your question and respond. he lives in Colombo so can give you more info.
Kathie is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2012, 12:58 PM
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i'm also thinking that during your first period you will receive tons of info from people you meet as to where to stay and how to get there..
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2012, 11:09 PM
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We were in SL for a month in Feb 2011, which, i suppose, is considered high season. However, we were affected by the floods for a week or two of our time there and had to move hotels a couple of times and it was very difficult to find any where even using a tour company. Anywhere near Yala was completely impossible.

We would normally travel completely independently, making it up as we go along but for SL we did engage a tour operator for approx half the time as it was both easier and not much more expensive than DIY.
With 1 1/2 months there at the start, I am sure you will be able to source a decent driver who can both get you around and help with arranging accomodation.

As for public transport, I always try to use it wherever I can around the world but in SL I made and exception based on the state of many of the buses, the driving standards of the bus drivers and, the number of buses I saw crashed or broken down (& believe me, I am not a nervous traveller by any means!).

Most hotels and guset house have separate accomodation for drivers ans it is often included in the daily rate you would pay. Hiring a driver is not as expensive as you would imagine and, get a good one and he will improve your trip immensely. Two weeks into our trip and we ot our driver to drop us off at Goyambokka on the south coast where we got tuk tuks from town to town until we got to Galle when we got a car to take us back to Negombo.

Another way to go would be to use the train system as much as you can as some of the rides are amongst the most spectacular anywhere in the world. Tickets are dirt cheap, particualrly for second class. It is easy to get around parts of the country by train, particualarly the tea country, Kandy etc. The availability of taxis can be a bit hit and miss at the stations as I recall. Glad to see you have included Adam's Peak - a truly magical place!
crellston is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2012, 03:18 AM
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To answer you simply yes transport can always be found at short notice, most towns have vans for hire usually located at some central spot. Just don't expect 5 star quality vehicles, but they will take you from "A - Z".

In Colombo one can call a cab on +94 11 2 588 588
or +94 11 2 688 688
or +94 11 2 556 556

these are three separate independent cab companies and they also have van hire options available.
Mohammed is offline  
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