Tim (aged 10)
- Going on safari in Yala and being given a real Sri Lankan cricket bat.
Terry (aged alot more than 10!)
- superb views of blue whales at Trincomalee (slightly unwell for the ones off Mirissa)
- stunning views of a huge variety of wildlife
- kindness and hospitality of the Sri Lankan people.
Sarah (21 obviously)
- The diverse beauty of the landscape
- Getting up close to elephants with their amazing social interactions
- Appreciating the Buddhist culture of the country and the historic palaces we visited.
Our recent trip to Sri Lanka was one we won’t forget. Our itinerary took us north to Kalpitiya where we stayed in a wonderfully relaxed beach side cabana and went out early in the morning to watch sensational displays by a large school of spinner dolphins.
Far from dashing from A to B, our kind and knowledgeable guide, Tyronne was happy to stop and point out to us lots of beautiful birds, the occasional monkey and several reptiles which we watched and photographed until we were ready to move on.
From the west side of the island we travelled across to Trincomalee on the east coast and a beautiful beach chalet at the Chaaya Blu hotel. Early morning boat trips were rewarded with views of blue whales, spinner dolphins and flying fish and a wonderful snorkelling session with Raj from the hotel dive centre.
Heading inland we visited the reserve at Habarana for our first views of wild elephants and explored the temple at Polonnaruwa and the next day some of us (!) climbed the whole way to the top of the magnificent Sigiriya Rock fortress with our guide providing us with detailed and highly illuminating accounts of the history of these ancient sites.
Moving on towards the mountains we visited the Temple of the Tooth at Kandy arriving on one of the full moon public holidays joining thousands of worshippers paying their respects and making offerings of colourful flowers. After a steep ascent through the tea plantations, with vegetable stalls and cricket matches along the roadside we arrived at The Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya. The dining hall reminded us of the film of the Titanic but we had no untoward incidents and after a morning stroll around the immaculate gardens and a spot of cricket coaching from Tyronne we headed off towards Yala National Park.
Having wild boar and water buffalo strolling round the Yala Village hotel grounds and watching birds whilst standing in the swimming pool certainly added to the atmosphere. The bungalow was imaginatively designed and very comfortable but still had the character of a game lodge. Crawling out of bed for early morning game drives was well worth the effort with our excellent guide and jeep driver working tirelessly together to give us the very best experiences they could. We saw a huge variety of wildlife, including wonderful views of leopards, wild elephants, crocodiles and water buffalo and the most stunning array of brilliantly coloured birds.
When our time at Yala came to an end we headed to the south coast for some more whale watching on the bigger boat from Mirissa. There were more European tourists at the hotel at Unawatuna which was quite a surprise after being further north but the staff were kind and friendly. We had marvellous views of blue whales sometimes with 3 around the boat and we were especially impressed by the sympathetic way in which the crew allowed us such good views without pursuing or harssing the whales. Unfortunately, as this was the end of the season and the weather a little unsettled, there was quite a swell on the way out to sea and some of us saw slightly less of the marine life than others!
Leaving Unawatuna we called in for a river safari seeing mangrove swamps and the prawn traps in the lagoon which was fascinating and had great views of water moinitors on land and swimming along by the boat. We called at the Turtle Hatchery at Bentota and were able to learn more about the work to protect these vulnerable creatures.
It was with great reluctance that we headed back to the city and a night in the Ramada in Colombo, and said our goodbyes at the airport next day.
We hope to return to this special paradise next year. As for our guide and driver,Tyronne, he was everything we could have wished for – friendly and welcoming, kind, helpful, very knowledgeable about everything from bats to palaces, always patient with all of us and a great driver. He worked very hard and still found time to give our son some spin bowling tips! We couldn’t fault him and are already looking forward to next year’s trip.
Terry and Sarah Girling