50 independent reviews for Sri Lanka holidays, tailor made

Reviews for Sri Lanka holidays, tailor made

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review 20 Feb 2017

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

Seeing Blue Whales live, they are so big! Learning about the Tea industry and how best Tea is made at Amba Estate. Beautiful private waterfalls in the Hillside Country. Sigiriya Fortress / Rock and Dambulla Cave Temples. Beautiful beaches in Tangalle and Bentota. Too many!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Avoid Kandy.... it has a historical significance and there is a famous temple there (Tooth of the Buddha) and that easily lures you in, but there isn't much to do there... very few facilities that tailor to foreign tourists, you cannot walk on the streets without inhaling exhaust from trucks and cars left to right, too many people everywhere you go. Major highlights are only Botanical Gardens, a 60min Cultural Dance Show (they try...) and the Temple (maybe the only one worth stopping quickly to see but a lot less impressive than Dambulla Cave Temples). The city with the mountains around it is picturesque, but recommend stopping for no more than 1 night and half day.

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

We stayed at local venues all the time and dealt with hard working local people, so in that sense, yes. The venues generally speaking had "local sustainability" as a theme also which was nice.

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

Excellent, recommend it!!

review 24 Apr 2017

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

Combination of nature and culture. Having a competent guide with us for all our activities as a family.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The main attractions in Sri Lanka can get very crowded with tourists - be sure to include some not so well known activities

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

Yes

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

Excellent

review 7 Apr 2017

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

The variety of eco-systems, climates, views and experiences. And the Rice & Curry! Yum!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Unless you're really into Sri Lanka history, visiting Polonnaruwa or Anurhadapura (not both) will give you a feel for the ancient cultures.

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

Benefited local people by providing jobs. Would've liked to see more of the hotels/guest houses filtering water rather than providing it in single-use plastic bottles.

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

We thoroughly enjoyed our two weeks in Sri Lanka.

review 7 Apr 2017

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

The visit to Sigirya. The climb up the rock is exhilarating and the views from the top are amazing!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

It's a really varied holiday which is great. Do some reading before you go so that you can make the most of your time there. If it's a sunny day take a pair of socks with you when you visit the temples because the sand and the stones are very hot.

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

It benefitted local people.

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

It was a really excellent holiday. John is very helpful and flexible when making the arrangements for your schedule. We stayed in varied and interesting hotels and guesthouse. Our driver/guide Chathura was always very professional; he was punctual, reliable, knowledgable (about Sri Lanka and specifically about the birds as we had requested) and proactive. I would definitely recommend this holiday.

review 21 Feb 2017

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

It was a great holiday, a fascinating and varied journey with many experiences. We saw some amazing sights, starting with ancient Buddhist temples, then climbing up Sigiriya, walking in lovely countryside, tasting tea in the plantations at 2000m high, seeing lots of animals and then relaxing for a few days by an exquisite tropical beach. In Europe beaches with no one on them do not exist! Galle too had a lot of charm.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Ask if you can have Nihal, the excellent guide. We would not recommend Yala as it is too crowded with vehicles. Better to change to a quieter reserve.

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

We feel that we contributed to the local economy by visiting and buying some of the goods produced there. We hope that we supported conservation by visiting the national Parks, but could have possibly visited more..

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

Wonderful

review 17 Aug 2016

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

Wilpattu Safari, Pigeon Island snorkelling, pre breakfast swims on deserted Nilaveli beach, train to Nuwara Eliya, climbing Sigirya, Dambulla caves, tuk tuk riding around Colombo, chilling at Havelock Place Bungalow.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Leave time to relax between excursions when planning your itinerary and take the advice of the holiday provider as they are the experts!

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

Yes - Sri Lanka has a tipping culture and we tried to tip generously particularly to our driver. The tour operater gave us a guide for fair tipping. I didn't feel there was much consideration of environment in Sri Lanka - particularly concerning is the high amount of water bottles it's impossible to avoid using. Despite staying for a couple of nights in an 'Eco Resort' - I'm not sure what was meant by that.

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

We had a fantastic time. We organised our own flights and had a short time doing our own thing at the beach and then Colombo. The parts organised for us (the tour/ excursions/ driver/ hotels etc) went really smoothly and was very good value. The system for planning the itinerary at pre booking stage is very satisfactory and you are provided with a lot of information by very knowledgeable people who clearly love the country.

review 25 Mar 2016

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

The kindness of the people in a stunning country. So well looked after by Oscar our driver and all the staff at the bungalows where we stayed. Took me back to my childhood.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Stick to the small bejou hotels/ bungalows away from the crowds whenever possible. Having your own driver and car makes for comfortable travel . Another time I would probably not move every two days waits quite exhausting.

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

Yes we would like to think so.

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

I'd go back tomorrow ! Loved it.

review 11 Feb 2016

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

By far the best part of the trip was having our whole family together for a week in Sri Lanka. My wife, my sons - one with his fiancé, and our close friends will make this a trip to remember forever.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Since the Sri Lanka portion of the trip was only 8 days we wanted to focus on the Buddhist sites and on wildlife. The holiday provider put together a wonderful itinerary that fufilled these aims. The guide was very knowledgeable on Buddhist areas and did a great job of helping and guiding us through out the week.

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

We certainly supported local folks though I doubt we helped reduce impacts - the only real way to do that is not to go.

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

Great trip, great guide and solid tour company - the holiday provider was top notch and I would not hesitate to use them again.

review 28 Aug 2016

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

Seeing the huge variety of wildlife was a real highlight for us. We saw lizards, elephants, leopards, Eagles, owls, deer, a jackal, crocodiles, monkeys, a wide array of birds, flying foxes, a giant squirrel...and much more! We also loved staying at the Madulkelle Eco Resort overlooking the Knuckles mountain range. It was a fantastic place to stay and do some hiking in the local area.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Seeing all the historic sits and Buddhist temples with a guide is interesting, but can be very lengthy and extremely hot! If walking, there are leeches but no where near as scary as advised on other sites...just wear long thick socks sprayed in deet and leather walking boots...they got other people in trainers, but not us in walking boots. We went in August and mosquitos were few and far between. Tip everyone...guides, chauffeurs, waiters...even if it says include in bill..., bag carriers, hotel staff etc.

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

Yes, all the guides were local and very knowledgable. We found that some of the safaris have hundreds of jeeps..however the company that the holiday provider booked for us seemed to be a bit more respectful of the animals...not getting so close, but still great safaris.

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

Fantastic! Really great country with hospitable people who are excited to show you around. The places we went to were really varied...Sri Lanka has everything...coasts, wildlife, mountains, culture, food....and so much more. The holiday provider were extremely organised and helped us tailor our holiday to exactly what we wanted. The accommodation they recommended were all excellent..really varied, clean, great food, considered environmental impacts.

review 9 Apr 2016

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

Unexpectedly coming across a leopard on Horton Plains. Even the jeep driver and our guide were surprised! Aside from the wonderful wildlife that we saw with the help of our driver/guide, we'll have good memories of the friendliness and warmth of the Sri Lankans we met. We were impressed by their quiet devotion at the temples, and touched that we were welcomed there.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Give yourselves time. Have at least two, and preferably three, nights in each place. Stay in small guesthouses or small hotels. There's a better chance the owner/staff will be local and have time to chat with you, and a better chance your money will go straight into the local economy. Sit down, look, and wait for life to happen around you. We should have done more of that.

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

We're pretty sure it benefited local people. We hope, but have no way of knowing, that our entry fees to the national parks helped local conservation.

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

Very good, a happy and memorable experience. We'd recommend our tour company and Responsible Travel! to others.

review 29 Mar 2016

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

Probably seeing the Turtles late on a hot humid evening digging their holes laying eggs then shuffling back to the sea.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Trying to pace yourself to include everything you can because there is so much to see in this fabulous place .

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

Yes,by staying in small guest houses where the local people were employed.

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

Excellent. Brilliant driver, friendly and knowledgeable. We would happily recommend this holiday with this operator as one of the best holidays we have ever had.

review 12 Mar 2016

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

The marvelous countryside of hills, beaches and vibrant cities. The opportunity to see so much wild-life in their natural habitat. This includes loads of wild elephants, wild buffalo, peacocks, so many monkeys, a leopard and blue whales. For those interested in bird watching, Sri Lanka could not be surpassed. The diversity of religious temples and artifacts. Incredible food.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

We stayed in a wide variety of accommodation avoiding large hotels. we found the smaller places offered better and more tailor made services, and gave us the opportunity to experience local cuisine.

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

As far as the accommodation etc was concerned, this did seem to benefit local people. However, on one of the safaris (Minnerya) we felt rather concerned about the amount of jeeps involved and the general pursuance of the elephants. This safari compared unfavourably to the one in Yala, which was much better organised.

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

Very highly. The organisation was first rate, and the guide and chauffeur were excellent. The accommodation chosen were for the most part superlative and the train trips were really the high-lights of the trip

review 26 Jan 2016

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

Everything was memorable! Sri Lanka is truly amazing and we're so glad we went. We did such a wide variety of things - trips to temples and historical sites, jeep safari (seeing the wild elephants was definitely memorable!), visiting the mountains and tea plantations, beaches and whale watching, our list goes on and on. Our guide was excellent and really gave added value to the trip. Everything was well organised and went without a hitch, from take-off to landing back in the UK.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Tell your guide what you want and they will shape your trip around that. Sri Lanka has so much to offer so incorporate a variety of activities - definitely some culture, definitely some wildlife and definitely some beach and sea element - the south coast is just glorious. Be prepared to learn how to tip!

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

We interacted with local people in most of the places we went. Many Sri Lankan people are employed in the tourist industry so obviously they benefit but we also tried as often as we could to buy things in local shops and use local traders when we were out and about. Our guide helped us with this, for example we expressed an interest in buying some batik products as gifts, he took us to a batik factory which he knew offered good quality products and we were happy to pay a fair price for the products we bought. They were not cheap but they were beautiful hand-made products and we came away knowing that what we spent would benefit that local village and the ladies and young girls who produced them.

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

Superb. We are happy to recommend our guides for offering great service. We had never visited Asia before but we were well looked after.

review 2 Jan 2016

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

The most unexpected event was stumbling upon the full moon ceremony at the Temple of the tooth in Kandy. At least 6 temple elephants dressed in all their finery with dozens of dancers and drummers. We loved the Safari's but in fact the diversity of things to do in Sri Lanka was amazing. Cultural sites, hiking, safari's and beaches.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Try and spend some time at guest houses to get to meet the locals. Also recognize that the tourist infrastructure is good, but not as robust as in other developing countries. There is lots of driving around from site to site on windy, 2 lane roads. Although distances may look short as the crow flies, the travel times can be very long.

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

We took cooking lessons from locals and tried to eat in small, out of the way restaurants that were not run by the hotels.

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

We very much enjoyed the trip. The hotels and sites/activities we experienced were memorable. Our travel company did an excellent job and was flexible when we decided to make last minute changes in our itinerary. Our children, who had never traveled in the developing world felt safe and found the entire experience invigorating.

review 5 Apr 2015

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

The whole tour was superb. From meeting our guide at the airport to our day of departure we enjoyed every new experience. Wildlife was wonderful, Upul our guide had a good knowledge of the Birds of Sri Lanka, our chief interest, every hotel was unique and special, the country is lush, vibrant, beautiful and the Sri Lanken people were just wonderful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Research everything before you go. Hotels, culture, history and wildlife. Travel as light as you can and leave everything else to your guide. Unless you have a real love of hot spicy food, be prepared to have to settle for what you can get by way of food in hotels. We never went hungry, but main courses especially were difficult due to their love of Chilie.

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

Yes. All three in the main. We really got to see the local view of life traveling in our own, very modern, vehicle and used local cafes services and attractions when possible. Safaris fund conservation. Some concerns over number of trucks converging on main wildlife attractions, but as birders we took less travelled tracks most of the time and got far more out of the experience.

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

Hard work at times. Wish we could afford to go back business class as the flight for us was pretty horrific due to limited space and length of flight 12 hrs 40 on return. But overall the best and most exciting holiday we could have wished for. Great wildlife experiences. Superb and or different hotel experiences and we were helped every step of the way by Upul, our excellent Guide.

review 16 Feb 2015

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

The original driver had to be changed because the driver we were first booked with was ill, (recovering from the Dengue Fever we were told.) Anira was the brother of our scheduled driver. He was friendly and knowledgeable, and a safe driver. (or as safe as any driver can be on the seamlessly lawless and ruleless roads) We gave him the fun name Big Daddy as he was forever pulling out his wallet to give us smaller change for tips and washroom money. We liked him very much and had some good laughs with him. He must of thought these two girls were crazy as most of our luggage consisted of 8 bottles of wine dragged along from the Duty Free;-) He did a very nice job of managing our needs and the time we needed to be alone to explore.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Yala Park Safari: We were booked for an early morning safari at 6am ( finishing at 10) and also for an evening safari that started at approximately 4pm till sunset. I thought we would have been shown two separate areas of the park but this wasn't the case. We ended up returning to the same location in the evening. The plus side of having a morning and an evening safari is there is a better chance to see those elusive animals such as the leopard and the bear. The down side is that it wasn't as exciting to see the same place twice. With that being said, we were fortunate to see the leopard on both safaris. The morning view of the leopard was spectacular! The evening one was much farther away and at an angle that you could only see his head.

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

I had a visit to the local school and village and was impressed with what this place is trying to accomplish.

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

First and foremost, it has to be said that Sri Lanka did not disappoint us in any way! We were always greeted with warmth waves and smiles! It has to be one of the friendliest countries I've visited and it was for the most part very clean.

review 23 Feb 2014

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

The holiday overall was amazing, there were so many memorable experiences it is difficult to name only one thing. If we had to choose it would have to be turtle watching on Rekawa beach.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Allow plenty of time to fully appreciate all that Sri Lanka has to offer. Check the sea conditions before going on a whale watching trip, unless you are unaffected by rough seas.

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

Yes. We chose a tour through Responsible Travel because of their ethical approach to tourism. All the hotels, guest houses and restaurants where we stayed or eat were owned or run by local people. All the services we used were the same, and our chauffeur/guide was senegalese.

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

Excellent, a very memorable and enjoyable holiday, very well organised and executed by the operator. I would recommend them to anyone, and have already done so!

review 29 Jan 2014

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

Sri Lankean nature and food were just amazing. The chefs are real professionals!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you have any problems during the stay, i.e. health wise, report those to the hotel you are staying. Don't try to manage on your own.

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

Yes, there was direct exposure to the local enterpreueners.

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

Great!

review 24 Mar 2013

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

The elephant safari, or swimming in the Indian Ocean at sunset.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do the sight seeing part first, then you can relax properly.

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

Yes.

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

Excellent holiday with a few minor issues.

review 26 Feb 2013

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

Seeing a leopard basking in the morning sunshine in Yala National Park. Standing on the platform at Hatton railway station and watching the diverse sights.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Journeys by road are interesting but distances can be long, be prepared for this.

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

Yes

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

A brilliant introduction to the east for children. Local people are peaceful and welcoming. The diversity of this small island is amazing.

review 3 Feb 2013

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

A two day stay at a safari camp in Yala National Park with KuluSafaris. We saw a multitude of birds and wildlife and were lucky enough to see leopard and elephant walk down the track and pass close by the side of the jeep. Other highlights were climbing the rock fortress of Sigirya, watching a green turtle lay her eggs on Rekawa beach, spotting a huge variety of exotic birds, and enjoying the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of Sri Lanka.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be very relaxed and flexible about everything - especially time keeping.

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

Definitely benefited local people and supported conservation.

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

Excellent - exceeded expectations.

review 8 Jan 2013

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

Baby elephants at the orphanage and wild at the national park

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't be surprised by the extra shower in the bath room at Sigiriya Rock, when it rains you get a natural shower whether you want one or not!

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

As far as we are aware we used local owned hotels, the driver was certainly local. I don't know if the company supports any local projects financially/time wise).

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

We enjoyed our short time there and crammed as much in as physically possible. There were a few communication errors (misunderstandings) between us and the driver but his English was far better than our Sri Lankan!!

review 28 Dec 2012

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

Meeting many friendly local people, although the highlight there was the homestay that we arranged through friends in the UK before departure. Other highlights were local food, the varied historic heritage and the great range of scenery and wildlife.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Good, simple hotels are few. Most hotels are either inflexible in their offer, so precluding a good local experience, or luxury hotels oriented around a narrow perception of what tourists want - local health spa treatments, elephant rides, formal dining, excessive room servicing, etc. So, book early to get those few small, friendly establishments, and insist on those. The driving is terrible, so be prepared to be quite shaken after even an hour or two on busy roads. Atheists may find the pervasive fundamentalist Buddhist attitudes and behaviours annoying. One does get tired of "respecting" others' beliefs in a place where one's own lack of belief seems incredible to the locals.

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

Yes, but to the extent that chaffeur guides, visiting historic sites and safaris to national parks are necessarily regulated, the benefit was probably little different there than it would be through a less responsible agent. The main benefit might be from choice of accommodation, and it would be good to be assured that all hotels were fully locally owned. We are happy that a donation has been made to a local charity.

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

Excellent. We had good advice, both in planning the trip and from our guide. Most ordinary people were helpful and friendly and there was remarkably little hassle.

review 7 Dec 2012

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

We loved seeing elephants on safari - so many of them all together. We also loved that we saw so much of Sri Lanka by travelling around with our own personal guide.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do your research to make sure you go where you want. We wanted to change the itinerary slightly because of recommendations from friends and the operator sorted everything for us.

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

Yes. We went to a few small businesses to see how they worked and we went off the usual tourist route to get a real understanding of the country and it's people.

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

We loved our holiday. We had a great time and Yapa our guide was fantastic showing us his country with such pride and love. This added a really personal feel to our travels. Sri Lanka is an amazing country with such different climates, landscapes and a great variety of things to see and experience. A very busy holiday but a great one.

review 11 Apr 2011

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

The warmth of the local people, the delicious food, and the wide range of activities that John had arranged for us. Our guide/driver, Sena, was excellent. He was very knowledgeable and took great care of us throughout our trip. We loved the homestay at Hanthana House, where we had such fun getting to know Pathi and his family and learning how to cook local dishes.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Shun the western buffets, even when they seem to be the only option. Everywhere we stayed, once they knew we preferred to eat local food, they provided fantastic local meals and seemed delighted to do it. Just delicious.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, the accommodation that the operator selected was all locally owned and staffed.

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

Excellent, can't wait to go back and see more of Sri Lanka. Will definitely use this operator again, we found John to be the perfect mix of advice and listening. We really got a tailor-made trip.

review 28 Mar 2011

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

We had an amazing holiday - we loved the royal river resort nestled in the hills of Kitulgala - it's a tiny boutique place (only about 4 rooms and we were the only guests at the time). The rooms are lovely with four poster beds. The pool is built into the rock of the river and is very relaxing. We went for early morning walks alone up the paths in the tea plantation around which was very romantic. We had lots of privacy and excellent food cooked to our wishes by the charming young chef. Our favourite activities were the safari when we saw lots of elephants and climbing the Sigyria rock fortress. We went early in the morning and so had the magical experience of being the only people there. It was spectacular and very atmospheric. We loved alankuda beach and only wished we had longer- it might be worth requesting the beach front bungalow although our rosa bungalow was also lovely. Staying in Kandy with Mr Pati was very memorable as we got to meet his lovely family and ate spectacular food. Our guide was very sweet-even driving off to get me tonic water when I was sick! The Sri Lankan people were so nice to us!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't overdo site-seeing in the heat (we saw 3 temples in one day and then I got sunstroke). Sri Lankan airlines are pretty uncomfortable - it might be worth checking at check in how full it is and asking for 3 or 4 seats between 2 if its not busy. Also the inflight entertainment was not good so bring books!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes.

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

Wonderful.

review 29 Aug 2011

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

The holiday was full of memorable experiences from our first day when we met our fantastic driver/guide, Kapila. He seemed to really enjoy sharing his knowledge of the history, culture, flora and fauna of Sri Lanka. He was also really good fun and so caring about our enjoyment and welfare - he became a real friend and we will keep in touch. Our first 3 days "homestay" with Pathi and his delightful family were a great start, giving us a sense of real Sri Lanka. Suba's cooking was wonderful and the children, Manesh and Dihini were delightful. Other highlights-Sigirya, Dambulla, elephant back ride, our 9km walk on Horton Plains, viewing Bakers Falls and World's End, the variety of scenery which we encountered as we were driven through the southern part of the country, the seaplane trip from Koggala to Colombo and without doubt, the friendliness of the people. As we have done some African safaris, Yala National park was a must. We stayed at Kulu safari camp in the middle of the park in comfortable but fairly basic tents, which was great. The guides were fantastic and really knew the animal behaviour. As a result we saw leopards on 7 occasions! Having our table set for breakfast and lunch in the river with a water buffalo looking on was another highlight. Pathi and Kapila were great at advising us about things to do but were also very flexible meaning that we didn't have to stick strictly to our itinerary.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Have lots of conversations with John whilst planning your trip. We found that every suggestion he made was spot on. He and Pathi clearly work very closely to ensure a real tailor-made experience. Discuss what you want to do with Pathi and your driver and don't be afraid to say if you want to do more or less in a day. Take your driver's advice on tipping-not always straight forward eg at safari camp. Be prepared for some of your road journeys to be not particularly relaxing because of the style of driving and nature of the roads. Take a seaplane trip if you can. Expect to need insect repellent especially in the extreme south.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. We were with local people all the time. All the hotels used were staffed by local people and we were taken by our driver to local producers and small shops. Obviously travelling large distances by roads has an environmental impact but that's unavoidable with this sort of holiday.

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

We felt that the tour operator did a fantastic professional job of putting together and delivering exactly the experience we had asked for. We can't rate the company highly enough. We had requested a couple of less straight forward additions to itinerary eg the train ride and the seaplane trip, but we were made to feel that it was no trouble at all to arrange. Sri Lanka is a fascinating country with so much variety and definitely to be recommended. Finally, this is the second time we have booked a holiday through Responsible travel and both have been brilliant.

review 21 Aug 2011

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

There were so many wonderful experiences on this holiday that it is difficult to choose just one, but if pushed, I would say our stay at the Yala National Park was the highlight. The dawn and dusk safaris were really exhilarating, led by very experienced rangers and offering a huge range of flora and fauna. The campsite itself consisted of just 6 luxury tents housing 13 guests with 8 staff who cooked and catered to our every need. Breakfast in the river, with baby crocodiles not far off, was a real treat. The wave memorial commemorating the 2004 tsunami was also very moving.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't try to do everything and don't underestimate the time it takes to travel across the island. We were very lucky to combine some of the cultural and religious highlights of the 'triangle' (Sigiriya, Dambulla and the Kandy Perhera), with visits to tea plantations and Horton Plains; to Minneriya and Yala National Parks; to 3 wonderful days at the beach and days in Galle and Colombo.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

We certainly felt that local people were happy that tourism in Sri Lanka is improving. Everywhere we stayed appeared to have very strong environmental policies.

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

I would highly recommend this holiday to anybody as the island has something to offer everyone. Our teenaged daughters loved it too and we would all rate this holiday in our top 3 all time family holidays.

review 19 Aug 2011

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

It's so hard to choose one single moment but probably going to Ella in Sri Lanka, the beautiful scenic train journey through the mountains and then climbing Ella rock. It was hard going in some parts and we would've got lost without a local guide but the view was breath-taking from the top. And climbing down and standing under the waterfall after walking down again was so refreshing.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

When I was booking this holiday I requested a 'back to nature' trip. It was so beautiful, some of the lodges we stayed in were so lovely, especially in Habarana where we stayed in what I think is a 5+ star rated 'treehouse' with cute frogs that lived in the bathroom and stunning views from the treetops. I would definitely advise people to do an eco-friendly trip where you can really experience nature on such a close level. Also be careful of places that say that they're being kind to nature when they're not- I was recommended by a friend to go to an elephant orphanage but after talking to our agent, he said that the WWF have had some bad reviews so although seeming a cute place to visit, you should not support businesses that are reported to be cruel to animals.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I felt our holiday definitely benefitted local people as we stayed in rural independently owned (no big corporations) hostels, hotels and sometimes in homestays, where we got a really good idea of the amazing Sri Lankan food, culture, and everyday life. The eco-lodges we stayed at were beautiful and blended in to the landscape so well. We only went to the nature reserves with good reviews from the WWF and we would not support anything that had a bad review. Our tour operator was great in recommending the places to go to and also to avoid because of this.

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

It was a great experience where we really got a good feel for Sri Lanka, seeing all the highlights of the country in such a limited amount of time was excellent and well guided.

review 20 Jan 2011

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

There were many highlights: climbing Adam's Peak, white water rafting and staying in the inspiring Eco house, the views across hills, waterfalls and tea plantations from our train journey, the welcome and friendliness from all whom we met and the professionalism and friendliness of our driver.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Explain your needs and hopes to John at the tour company and let him work it out for you.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Everywhere we stayed was owned and staffed by Sri Lankans and to that extent, yes. However we drove everywhere.

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

All that we hoped it to be.

review 19 Jul 2010

Just to say that we all really enjoyed the holiday, it was fantastic throughout in every aspect. The guide Sena was really good, really knowledgable of the country and a really nice person as well who thought highly of "Dr John". Please convey our respects to him. I would have no hesitation in recommending Sri Lanka and this operator to anyone. We would all give it five stars.

review 26 Apr 2010

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

This IS difficult - there were so many.......................... I have to say that seeing elephants in the wild was simply WONDERFUL.......as was the beauty of the mountain area. I also enjoyed the friendliness of the people but NOT those that hassled the tourists mercilessly.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

DO NOT encurage the street traders (see above) as they really can ruin your enjoyment. For me, I would prefer the day after arrival in Sri Lanka (as the flight was an overnight one) to be a "orientation" period - or, recovery!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I certainly hope so. We did often eat in local restauraunts and went on local tours. We also bought from people in markets or small shops rather than from the hotels.

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

Excellent!!!! I would LOVE to do it all over again - and again - and again.................................................. However, commitments and finances conspire to not allow that to happen.

review 12 Oct 2010

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

Loads and loads of memorable parts, but it was pretty amazing to see wild elephants in the National Park

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Definitely have some beach / relaxing time in the end as exploring Sri Lanka can be quite exhausting due to the quality of some of the roads and the time you are spending in the car. But the variety in Sri Lanka is amazing.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

All the hotels we stayed in were very environmental friendly and built in a way to have a minimal impact with the local flora and fauna and animals around. Our driver was also well looked after and hotels which did not provide accommodation for the driver, the company provided a room somewhere else.

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

It was an amazing experience. At times we were a little unlucky with the weather, but that's out of everyone's hands. I would definitely recommend this trip with the same tour company. They provided an amazing service and were very responsive to all our questions and requests.

review 22 Apr 2010

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

I don't think I could choose any one part! I really enjoyed all of it as did our children!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Sit back and enjoy! Ask for Mr Yapa as a driver - he was excellent.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Difficult to comment - as we were driven around in our own car and didn't use public transport. Most of the hotels weren't small local businesses although they were probably Sri Lankan.

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

Very good!

review 5 Sep 2008

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

Wonderful people, great food and amazing scenery.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Visit the hill country and get off the beaten track - also stay up in one of the tea plantations. We stayed in Warwick Estate Bungalow which was just magical. Be prepared however for the rain!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes although we were concerned about the number of plastic water bottles that seemed to be discarded and wondered whether some sort of recycling scheme in the country was in place.

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

Excellent - our driver was also fantastic and provided us with peace of mind.

Read the operator's response here:

Water safe to drink is mostly available in sealed plastic bottles around Sri Lanka, although many larger hotels provide clean drinking water on tap. Like many countries around the world, plastic bottles are becoming a real environmental problem on the island and to date Sri Lanka does not routinely recycle plastic bottles. However, we encourage our customers to purchase large-volume water bottles to reduce the amount of plastic needlessly discarded and to refill bottles with clean water at hotels where water safe for drinking is available on tap.

review 1 Sep 2008

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

The Perahela in Kandy was breathtaking. A huge parade of elephants, fire juggling, dancers and drummers. The atmosphere was nothing like I have experienced before and I’m not sure I ever will. A truly memorable evening. A very close encounter with a bull elephant in Minereya National Park also got the pulse racing, as it charged towards the open topped safari jeep I was in. I wanted an up close and personal elephant experience, which is why I chose Sri Lanka, but this one was pretty terrifying!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The dodgy roads making getting anywhere hard work, so allow enough down time between activities, as just getting to some sites can be exhausting! Set out very early in the day if you are attempting to climb anything or do any physical activities, as the heat can really make things much harder. Travel light, laundry services were really cheap and fast. Take anti-bacterial hand treatment, there are rarely washbasins, and if they are provided you are unlikely to get any cleaner using them! ALWAYS carry a loo roll!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I feel local people certainly benefitted from our holiday and us being there, they needed the tourist numbers to rise dramatically to pre - tsunami / Tamil tiger trouble days. We also donated cash to a few charities as we struggled with some of the issue they faced and had no support with. As for the environment I had mixed feelings. We travelled by mini van non stop for 2 weeks. The air pollution was so bad my husband, who has asthma couldn’t breath and has only just recovered, and we felt we just added to the problem. Some hotels still changed the towels and bed linen daily, even if we asked them not to and often in a bid to offer excellent service needlessly wasted resources. For example in one hotel they changed our napkins twice during the meal when we went up to the buffet! Minor things but when tourist numbers increase they would struggle to keep such things from damaging the environment and getting into bad habits.

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

Top notch. A wonderful experience. We had high expectations as we had spent a large amount of cash for us and waited a long time for this trip, and it exceeded our expectations. We had concerns that we were not seasoned travellers, neither of us has been anywhere remotely unusual or had a gap year etc, and we felt totally secure, confident and taken care of throughout our trip. Its will be a long time until we can repeat this type of trip and we have some wonderful memories and experiences to keep us going!

Read the operator's response here:

A tour of Sri Lanka will inevitably mean travelling around by road and we try to keep the distance travelled to a minimum wherever possible. The vehicles used by our chauffeur guides are regularly serviced and well maintained in an effort to reduce unnecessary air pollution. Unfortunately, there appear to be no regulations limiting vehicle emissions in Sri Lanka and so other vehicles are polluting. Many hotels pride themselves in providing clean linen and towels on a regular basis, however we do promote water conservation to our accommodation providers in an attempt to reduce unnecessary water usage and environmental pollution, and we also feedback comments from our customers to them.

review 12 Jun 2008

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

Elephant ride.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't always take the drivers advice and read around each area before you decide to go there.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Not overly. We were in top hotels and whilst they employed local people there was a great divide visible within the country.

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

Excellent, the accommodation was amazing and we had an excellent time.

Read the operator's response here:

Staying in better quality accommodation away from everyday life may accentuate a country’s inherent economic and social divides without showing how your stay benefits the local community. All of the accommodation we offer employs local people, and most is Sri Lankan owned and run. We actively encourage responsible and sustainable travel by only employing Sri Lankan guides, promoting small family-run guesthouses, eating at local restaurants, supporting community-led projects, and ensuring travellers are aware of their impact on the environment and people of Sri Lanka. We are sensitive to our customers’ experiences and appreciate any comments received. Immediate and appropriate action is taken when holidays drop below our very high standards.

review 6 Apr 2008

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

The beauty of the country and friendliness of the Sri Lankan people. Watching wild elephants together with our very thoughtful and learned guide Kapila.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Have plenty of smaller denomination notes with you on your outings if you want to give tips to helpful locals. And when you don't want the help offered just say a firm but friendly "No thank you".

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

It will have benefited local people a great deal. Apart from the necessary journeys, the impact on the environment will have been very small.

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

It has been a great and very memorable experience.

review 1 Apr 2008

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

Very difficult to decide - there were so many amazing experiences on this holiday - from the rock temples of Dambulla to the architecture of Geoffrey Bowa plus all the nature in between. Finally, I suppose, it was a safari around Uda Walawe where apart from the herds of elephants we saw, our guide was able to point out more than 30 different varieties of birds. Truly memorable.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Book through this operator. They are excellent and really flexible. Read "when memory dies" by A. Sivanandan during your holiday. A fantastic insight into the last 80 years of Sri Lankan history and its many trials and tribulations. It certainly gives an insight into the unrest that exists there today.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. Our guide tried to ensure that places we visited were not tourist hot spots but places frequented by locals. Many of the places we stayed were owned by Sri Lankan people not huge resort hotels.

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

A fabulous 2 weeks. A wonderful mix of relaxation, cultural experiences and some physical activity. It was good to see the extent to which Sri Lanka has recovered since the tsunami.

review 6 Feb 2008

We had a great holiday with this tour operator. Apart from missing visits to two national parks because of insurgent activity, the holiday was exactly as described. Pathy, our dedicated chauffeur/guide made everything easy, and saw to it that our personally chosen itinerary went smoothly. Both my wife and I are fairly experienced travellers and I, when on business, have experienced some top class luxury hotels. None surpassed those we stayed at in Sri Lanka. We had our chosen mixture of culture, beautiful scenery and relaxing beaches.

review 5 Jan 2008

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

The most exciting part of the holiday was probably river rafting and the most memorable bits were many: watching a turtle laying 100 eggs on a moonlit beach at midnight, letting baby turtles have freedom in the sea, visiting Buddhist temples, seeing large groups of elephants, walking down a perfect and deserted beach with my 12 year old.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go. Allow yourself a bit more time at places. We went to too many and the roads are such that they require a lot of time spent travelling on them.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I felt guilty about being only 2 people in a large passenger van. We could have done the trip in a car or with others in the van. Yes I felt that it benefitted locals but I would have been happier off the beaten track a bit more rather than going to the touristy restaurants, shops.

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

Excellent. Just what I wanted and more.

review 4 Jan 2008

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

We differed in our views - for me, it was difficult to choose between the rock fortress of Sigiriya which was starkly spectacular with amazing views and the remains of the ancient capital at Poloonawura. For one of my friends, it was wild elephants while another chose the delightful Kandy House which was a thoroughly charming and delightful place to spend a couple of nights.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Heritance Kandalama is a truly amazing place to stay but it is a large luxury hotel and the new year's eve dinner, although superbly well done, was a bit too reminiscent of a formal dinner dance for our tastes, so I guess my tip would be to avoid the Kandalama at New Year if you're not a big fan of such events.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Our guide, Pathi, was very good in terms of advising about what was and was not acceptable in terms of local customs and what was appropriate in terms of tipping. We did draw significantly on local businesses and were strongly encouraged to be culturally sensitive. Activities involving wildlife did place an emphasis on minimizing any adverse impacts, again courtesy of our guide. The hotel at Kandalama is famous for its environmental concerns, but these did seem to be rather underplayed by the hotel itself and the Jacuzzi's in the rooms did seem somewhat extravagant in that context (though I must admit that they were rather nice!).

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

A great trip - thoroughly enjoyable and seemed longer than it actually was. This was my first visit to Sri Lanka and it did not disappoint - either in terms of the sights or the places that we stayed. The Royal River Resort was a wonderful, slightly quirky, 4 room hotel miles from anywhere in a delightful setting by a waterfall. The Kandy House was just delightful and possibly one of the nicest places any of us have stayed. Scenery was spectacular, people were friendly and there was very little hassle. Culturally, the cave temples at Dambulla, the ruins at Poloonawura and the fortress at Sigiriya were well worth the visit. I felt Kandy was perhaps a bit over hyped (but maybe that's more of a problem with respect to my expectations rather than the place itself).We spent comparatively little time in the tea growing areas but what time was spent at a tea plantation was very enjoyable. Finally, although we covered a lot of distance and did a lot during the week, we also managed to get a significant amount of time for R&R - which was much appreciated.

review 22 Dec 2007

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

Meeting the Veddha people of Sri Lanka.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take mosquito repellent with Deet in it, and rainwear.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes - don't know about the environment as we drove around in a car much of the time.

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

It was pretty much exactly as I expected it would be, so it met my requirements and was very enjoyable.

review 9 Oct 2007

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

Many different parts. Seeing the elephants enjoying their natural habitat, the amazing temples, great curries and the warmth and friendliness of the people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

None.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, we feel it benefited local people - it was great to meet them.

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

Fabulous! Many thanks.

review 19 Jul 2007

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

The whole country was amazing, but I guess the Sri Lankan people really made it. That, and seeing baby elephants in the wild...

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

There's lots to do in Sri Lanka - full of wildlife, culture, beaches, lovely magical small hotels, great curries, hills and lakes. If you go try and see some of the country rather than just stay in one place.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, to a point. Occasionally you felt you were only being shown what Sri Lanka though tourists wanted to see: though I think it was a genuine attempt to present the best of their country rather than a false impression

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

Excellent. Unless you are a package king or queen, I cannot recommend Sri Lanka highly enough.

review 1 Nov 2006

Take a look at Peter & Sheila Brill's photos from this trip.
(click photos to enlarge)
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We went to Sri Lanka for 8 days courtesy of this operator. The trip was meant to be a special treat for a special Birthday but they made it the trip of a lifetime. From the moment we arrived in this magical country to the time we sadly had to depart, we experienced every aspect of this island of contrasts. Despite our concerns only days before we travelled because of Tamil and army activity, John in London and Pathi in Sri Lanka did everything they could to make our trip safe, hassle-free and enjoyable. We stayed in some of the finest hotels we've ever experienced - particularly Kandelama and Kandy House - and with Pathi as our guide we were able to get an honest and true feel for the country and its people. Although we saw the tourist sites, with Pathi's guidance we were able to make small contributions to an economy suffering because of tourist's fears of danger from the conflict (totally unfounded in our experience). We also had the chance to experience non-tourist aspects of the country which was rare and wonderful. All in all, a 5 star rating. There is no question that we will use Responsible Travel recommended agencies again and this operator in particular.

review 27 Nov 2006

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

Visiting Sigirya Rock first thing in the morning before any other people were around. We were able to explore the ruined fortress alone, imagining what it must have been like when people used to live there up among the clouds with the amazing view over the surrounding countryside. We're used to having to share such sights with hundreds of other visitors and so to have it to ourselves was wonderful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for the roads and the expectation to tip everyone you have even the slightest encounter with. The roads are quite an experience and it took me a while to relax enough to be able to happily look out the window and enjoy the scenery without worrying that we were going to be involved in an accident. As it was we didn't even see any accidents in the whole time we were in Sri Lanka let alone be involved in one. As an English person tipping is not something I felt comfortable with on the regular basis required for the trip. The amounts you are expected to give are only very small and so its not an issue from a financial perspective more just making sure you always had lots of small notes on you that you could hand out when necessary. I believe that tipping should be something you do if someone provides you with a good level of service but we found in Sri Lanka that some people expected tips regardless of whether they had provided a service you required or not. This is probably a result of the lack of tourists in Sri Lanka at the moment though - there's not a lot of money around and so people are keen to get any support they can from the tourists that are there.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I hope so. We often ate in local restaurants (in fact we had the best meals of the holiday in these small restaurants) and we tried to make sure that we thanked the local people who took care of us both verbally and with tips. During our trip we made offerings to a monk friend of our driver to help support him during his studies.

4. Any other comments?

We weren't sure what to expect from Sri Lanka and we were nervous about going with the current troubles. However we needn't have worried - we never felt in any danger from being involved in the dispute being played out in the North and East of the country. I can't recall any other country I have visited where there are so many amazing sights to see. We were able to design our own holiday through this operator to ensure that we saw all the sights we wanted to see with the benefit of our own local guide who knew the best times to visit and who could tell us the history of the places we were visiting as well as telling us more about his country in current times. We were invited to take tea at our guides house with his family which was very special and meant the trip was more than just a holiday but a once in a life time experience.

review 11 Sep 2006

Our honeymoon trip was organised through this operator and was due to be 2 weeks of culture, nature and beaches. It was the first time we had used a tour organizer, but with the stresses of the wedding we thought it the best approach to take any further hassles away. John at the operator was fantastic throughout, nothing seemed too much trouble and he was also full of advice about the island. So we set off for Ceylon, after a wonderful wedding, with a great deal of anticipation and excitement for what lay ahead. As part of the package you get your own personal driver/guide for the whole trip. Our driver was called Patti and he was at the airport to meet us. Patti was a bit of a legend. A native Sri Lankan, about 5ft tall with a cheeky grin. He was very professional and highly informative whilst working, but also great company and very funny. I don’t think we would have seen half of what we did without him and he certainly kept us entertained throughout. One of the best nights of the trip was meeting Patti’s family in Kandy and we always thoroughly enjoyed chatting to Patti over a glass of arrack at the end of the day. The organised tours were designed to give us a taster of Sri Lankan history, culture and way of life. The trips were all different and included such diverse locations as temples, ruins, spice gardens and massage centres. The highlight for me was the jeep safari through Minneriya National Park. We were fortunate in that it was the end of the dry season and the herds had gathered around the depleting water supplies, in this case a lake. There were two hundred or so elephants visible from our jeep some of them as close as 10metres! The Sigiriya Rock Fortress is also a fascinating trip, but be prepared to get up early to beat the midday sun. In fact all of the trips were thoroughly enjoyable and interesting in their own way. After so much sight seeing the beach break at Tangalle was welcome. Despite the occasional rain storm we had a very relaxing time in the beach front cabanas. Suffice to say the accommodation and hospitality were all first class, particularly so at Tangalle. The food was great. All curry...curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner and if you fancy a snack there’s always curry. Fortunately, the curries were made up of a variety of different dishes, usually about 7 or 8, of all sorts of curried vegetables, meat and fish. The dishes and flavourings were also different in each region so we were never bored of curry and I always looked forward to meal times. I'd definitely recommend a trip to Sri Lanka, especially post-tsunami as the tourist dollar/pound is more important than ever. A visit really can contribute to saving lives. The director of this operator is heavily involved in the reconstruction of the island so I am confident that a proportion of the cost of our trip is being put back into the island. Also, don't let the civil strife put you off. Most of the fighting is taking place in the north and east of the island a long way from the tourist areas and we didn't see any hint of the troubles.

review 22 Feb 2006

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

We had a superb trip to Sri Lanka with this operator. Our guide, Pathi, was excellent at knowing the best times to visit places in order to get the most out of the experience. The most memorable part was being at Anuradhapura in the early evening for the full moon festival. We felt very honoured to be allowed to take part in this very significant religious festival.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Wandering around the market in Kandy is to be recommended - the sights, sounds and smells are amazing - but if you're a vegetarian (or just a bit squeamish) stay away from the meat stalls! Anyone planning to travel around Sri Lanka should take into account the poor condition of the roads, it takes much longer to get anywhere than the distance would suggest.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Having a local guide meant that we learnt a lot about the country, its people and their religion. We were encouraged to buy local produce from local people. The hotels we stayed in were all environment conscious in terms of conserving water and disposing of rubbish responsibly. This operator sponsors the Forgotten Village Sri Lanka, a project offering long-term support to communities affected by the tsunami. GB £30 per person is contributed to this project for all holidays booked directly.

4. Any other comments?

I'd definitely recommend this holiday - so that's 4 stars.

review 16 Jan 2006

This operator was terrific. They had one month's notice, over the New Year period, and booked us flights and wonderful hotels exactly where we wanted to be. I definitely felt the holiday benefitted local people and I think it is important to actually visit Sri Lanka and see for one's self how they are coping post Tsunami. A couple of tips. Always check how long it takes to drive from a to b before booking hotels and arranging to look at sites. The distances seem small but the roads and the driving is so bad that you spend hours driving a very short distance. For example it took us 7 hours to drive about 180 kilometres. If you are based anywhere for a few days a great way to get around locally is to hire a tuk tuk by the day. You can do this for about GB £8 and your driver will be at your disposal all day. We had a lovely guy who took us to all sorts of places we would never have found on our own and I think he was thrilled with the money. And it seemed very cheap to us. We asked our driver to stop at local places en route for lunch. They were brilliant and incredibly cheap. We always ate the curries and never an adverse reaction! All in all a very enjoyable **** holiday. All found by accident through Responsible Travel on the web.

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