Tour Title: Best of Sri Lanka and Test Cricket
Tour Company: On The Go Tours
Tour Leader: Manoj (Private Tour guide – Jehan)
Cities Visited: Negombo, Anuradhapura, Giritale, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Udawalawe National Park, Colombo, Galle, Hikkaduwa
Countries Visited: Sri Lanka
Dates: 30 July 2016 to 9 August 2016 (Duration 11 days)
Note: I did a four day private tour 27 July to 30 July and two day post tour accommodation for this trip.
This tour we stayed in very comfortable hotels and resorts and had all transport in an air conditioned bus. There was little free time for optional activities until the Test Match ended two days early.
This tour had 18 tour members; Carolyn, Graham, Dale, Jared, Andrew, Roger, Nicholas, Danny, Jolanda, Nicole, Isabel, Sarah, Mark, Sandy, Thomas, Stephen, Stewart and myself. 11 tour members stayed on for the Test Match cricket tour extension all Australians (and males), the other 7 tour members came from Europe and Canada.
- Arrival transfer
- Sigiriya ‘Lion Rock’ Fortress
- Polonnaruwa Ruins
- Dambulla Rock Temple
- Kayanwala village (including canoe trip)
- Herbs and Spices Garden Visit (including free back massage)
- Geragama Tea Factory
- Temple of the Tooth
- Cultural Dance Show (Kandy)
- Scenic Train Trip to Nuwara Eliya
- Udawalawe National Park Safari
- Gangaramaya Temple (Colombo)
- Exploring a working gem mine
- Cricket Test Match Transfer
- Departure Transfer
Private Tour Activities
- Anuradhapura Stupas
- Rock Fortress of Yapahuwa
- Dalada Maligawa Temple
- Kelaniya Temple
- Dehiwala Zoological Gardens
Manoj (Tour Leader) offered the following optional activities that I undertook (prices listed if I recall them):
- Canal Tour (7,000 Rupee)
- Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (1,500 Rupee)
- Whale and Turtle Watching (9,000 Rupee)
- Mangrove Safari (4,000 Rupee)
- Sri Lanka Massage (2,200 Rupee)
- Test Match Ticket (1,500 Rupee)
- Baby Elephant Sanctuary (1,500 Rupee)
Jetwing Sea – Negombo, Sri Lanka
A peaceful hotel along the beach and near the canals. Wifi in room include (reasonable speed). USA & Europe power outlets. Two bottles of water included (restocked each day). A small convenience store next door. Reasonable included breakfast highlight being chef who will make omelettes / scrambled eggs.
Palm Garden Village – Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
A remote hotel meaning you are stuck there during the night. Reasonable dinner options. Wifi only works in dinning & bar area but might as well not exist. Amazing pool area. Rooms are spread out across the property giving a country feel to them including chairs outside to watch the stars. Mini bar is expensive drinks and nuts so if you want a snack buy in in advance.
Deer Park Hotel – Giritale, Sri Lanka
Magnificent lakeside views. Only use Indian / Sri Lanka power points. Remote so all food is at hotels restaurant. Good dinner buffet option, music players walking round. Two free water pools. Good pool. Wifi only at reception. They spray your room around 8 pm to keep bugs away. Courteous staff.
Ozo Hotel – Kandy, Sri Lanka
Situated close to the centre of Kandy near the major lake of the city (although an uphill walk to get there, easier with a tuk tuk or mini bus) Kandy Ozo hotel offers great views of the city. Free wifi (ask for user id and password), two free bottles of water. Mini Bar on request. Takes almost all power adapters and even has a USB power port. Good dinning option at the Hotel. Breakfast included and for no extra cost also includes monkeys trying to take left over food for those sitting in the outside dining area.
Grand Hotel – Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya is also know as ‘Little England’ for good reason and the hotel has an English feel including a billiards room, fireplaces and Victorian settings. No wifi or mini bar options. A lot of onsite restaurants but also very close to city centre (10 minute walk) plus there is an English Pub in the same street as the hotel worth checking out. Two free bottles of water included. Breakfast included, biggest spread and options so far. Power outlets are Sri Lankan only except for shaver outlet.
Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort – Udawalawe, Sri Lanka
A remote resort so dinning is at resort but luckily good range of buffet or ‘a la carte’ for dinner, buffet only for breakfast (which is included). Good swimming pool. Amazing sized rooms with scented flower petals. Wifi included but extremely slow and basically useless. Range of organised activities available from reception. Two free water bottles included. US, Western Europe and Sri Lankan power outlets in room.
Ozo Hotel – Colombo, Sri Lanka
Hotel situated on the coast. ATM nearby as well as a supermarket and Pizza Hut (didn’t use ever of them). Fast free wifi. Stunning views from my room. Pool on roof top of this high rise hotel. Great a la carte dinner menu. Reasonable included buffet range. Two free water bottles included (seems to be standard in Sri Lanka but you need them in the heat and humidity).
Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon – Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
Spacious rooms, situated right on the beach with three pools and a beach volleyball court. Free wifi (password needed), two free bottles of water. Stocked mini bar. Huge breakfast buffet (included). Turn down service offered around 6 pm each night. Onsite three restaurants (expensive) and spa treatment. Hotel is situated near local shops and large array of good restaurants both on the shore and opposite the road. Breakfast pack was provided when I checked out early on the last day.
Manoj is an experienced Tour Leader working for Antiquity Travels the company representing On The Go in Sri Lanka.
Manoj did a lot of little things that made the trip easier in particular bulk purchasing water bottles that were freely available to the entire trip, a couple of times organised coconut water, fruits and nice creams, this really helps in the heat and humidity of Sri Lanka.
Additionally Manoj organised replacement activities when the Sri Lankan v Australia Cricket Test Match ended early and created an additional activity after the tour had ended for Isabel, Sarah and myself (whale and turtle watching) which was surprising and very welcomed.
This was an amazing trip covering a range of activities from landscapes, wildlife, temples, and locals. The real highlight was observing elephants in particular at watching them enjoy themselves at Pinnawala in a river, the baby elephants being hand fed at Udawalawe and roaming in the National Park.
Being a Buddhist nation ancient Temples and Stupas are going to be highlights on any visit to Sri Lanka which I thoroughly enjoyed in particular the Anuradhapura temples. But you will also find that a lot of these temples and stupas are on mountains or hills which offer great views in particular Dambulla Rock Temple and the Sigiriya ‘Lion Rock’ Fortress.
I would strongly recommend this trip, Sri Lankans are a very friendly people and as a tourist you are treated well without too much harassment. The the hotels and resorts used by this company are first rate and the experiences will stay with you long after leaving. You might struggle with the heat and humidity, I did, you might also struggle walking bare footed at the various temples, but in the end a trip to Sri Lanka is a great experience and On The Go did an excellent job.
It can be hot and humid in Sri Lanka so light clothes are necessary. In Sri Lanka if you are planning on visiting Temples you will need to cover your legs, this is strictly enforced even more than any other Asian country I have visited, it’s worth purchasing a sarong. A small towel for helping with the sweat after hikes is also a good idea.