Sri Lanka and Southern India holiday

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Date
Price
Basis
09 Oct 2017
£ 2579
including UK flights
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04 Dec 2017
£ 2599
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08 Jan 2018
£ 2679
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05 Feb 2018
£ 2679
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19 Mar 2018
£ 2829
including UK flights
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09 Apr 2018
£ 2669
including UK flights
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Click here to enquire about or book the 09 Apr 2018 departure
08 Oct 2018
£ 2699
including UK flights
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Click here to enquire about or book the 08 Oct 2018 departure
05 Nov 2018
£ 2699
including UK flights
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Click here to enquire about or book the 05 Nov 2018 departure
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sri Lanka and Southern India holiday

Environment

Local Economy & Culture
We are keen to encourage guests to engage with the culture of Southern India and Sri Lanka and to purchase local crafts and services where possible. Your local guides will be able to recommend the best of the area’s colourful and vibrant markets and small businesses and through our commerce, tourist wealth is more evenly distributed. The trip runs through remote areas of Kerala in South India, and also Sri Lanka, where most of the communities depend upon tea, coffee and spice plantations. Tourists are one of the major sources of income when they buy these items.For example, Cochin and Periyar are famous for the spice shops & antique items, and Munnar for different kinds of tea and coffee. There are locally crafted gifts and souvenirs available by most of the landmarks we visit. At the Gem Museum in Kandy, we can learn about the traditional methods of gem extraction and purchasing here is a great way to keep this information centre open. Madurai in South India is famous for silk and tailor made cloths. Your guides will be able to advise you on which to buy and which to avoid. For example, some bangles and other decorative items on sale may claim to be made of ivory - we are against the popularisation of this kind of product and make a point of including a warning in the briefing.

Accommodation & Meals
This trip sees you spend most nights in hotels and one night on a houseboat. You will notice that our hotels employ locally and use local produce from markets in the area wherever possible. The hotels are waste and energy conscious and have their own policies like asking guests to turn off the power when leaving a room in order to save electricity. Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. There will even be instances where clients can see the food being made themselves e.g. fresh seafood dishes in Cochin where people bring their own fish. There is also a cooking demonstration in Madurai.

Charity
The Corbett Foundation, India
For years we have been involved in campaigning for tiger conservation in Bandhavgarh. In late summer 2014 we teamed up with The Corbett Foundation, an Indian charity dedicated to conservation-oriented research. They have proved instrumental in enabling us to get the funds to where they are needed. Through this we have now completed the building of a community hall at Tala Village, solar pumps in the park for wildlife and staff in the dry season, bio gas plants and smart stoves for villagers and provided the salary for 2 full time teachers at the government school. Our work in India continues to be of great significance and most recently we have been able to purchase a 4 wheel drive medical vehicle and pay for outreach medical support.

Yala Leopard Project, Sri Lanka
The dense population of leopards in Yala has pushed young leopards outside the park's boundaries to look for new territories. As the Chena cultivations and cattle farmers live adjacent to the park's buffer zones, the predators often come into contact with villagers and their livestock with casualties on both sides. Leopards prey on young cattle corralled in flimsy wooden pens for overnight protection. There are instances where a single leopard can cause multiple kills on young calves which leads to revenge attacks by farmers. This conflict is estimated to claim up to 20 leopards around the periphery of Yala Park annually, to say nothing of the financial loss to the farmers. We have pledged to raise enough funds to supply the cattle farmers with steel pens that will safeguard their cattle through the night.

Elephants
We have a policy of not including Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka on any of our trips and we strongly advise you to also avoid visiting on your trip. We have worked closely with the charity Born Free who have strong evidence citing cause for concern regarding the animal welfare of the orphanage due to the process of ‘breaking’ that the elephants need to go through in order to be displayed as tourist attractions. It is also the case that elephants are being bred at the orphanage as a result of the focus on profit rather than the best interests of the animals.
As early as 2012 we began to seriously investigate the issue of elephant riding on our global adventures. We worked in close collaboration with responsibletravel.com to properly research elephant riding across the whole industry, not just our own holidays. As a result of our research we consequently decided to cease offering elephant rides on our adventures (rides stopped as of January 2015). We found many of our travellers approved of the decision, appreciated the considered approach we took and our ‘zero tolerance’ approach to animal cruelty in all of our operations.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people.

UK office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.


Community

Community:
Our local operators were the first to launch whale watching in Trincomalee, which is on the East coast of Sri Lanka, in collaboration with the local community for a sustainable business model. The boats used to carry out the whale watching excursions are community owned and, in return for their expertise and equipment, the boat owners are supplied with an additional income. This has proved to be a great financial support system for local people and their families. Guests will be using these boats and will also be able to meet the local boatman or coxswain during the tour.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on responsible tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit. Particularly with wildlife tours, proper employment conditionals are a great way to motivate locals to be part of sustainable, ethical activity rather than illegal alternatives, like poaching.

Charity:
After the devastating Tsunami of December 2004, we helped set up a project to rebuild some of the areas that our clients had been visiting for years. This included rehousing some of the families who had lost their homes in the Tsunami. The project has now been completed and we are looking forward to giving continued assistance to community projects in the area.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 12 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

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