TikaWeeks #40/2017: Sri Lanka update
Posted by John on 8th October 2017
With the collapse of Monarch Airlines earlier this week, an established company of over 30 years’ repute, ensuring that your holiday is financially protected becomes of great importance. How an airline is able not to be ATOL licensed since December 2016 and continue to operate until now should be looked at in detail, but please be assured that Tikalanka protects your money for both flight-inclusive and non-flight-inclusive holidays.
All flight-inclusive holidays shown on our website are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority of the UK. Our ATOL number is ATOL 6425.
In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992" all passengers booking with Tikalanka are fully protected by International Passenger Protection for all monies paid to us arising from cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Tikalanka. This insurance is only valid for packages booked that DO NOT include flights.
ATOL protection or IPP cover does not apply to our holidays if you live and fly from cities outside of the UK.
What customers say about our guides
“Anura was very good – a lovely, friendly helpful man with an excellent knowledge of birdlife and Sri Lanka culture and history. Always on time and happy to go/do what we asked. Brilliant with children and a great sense of humour.” – Brimacombe family, July/August 2017
“Chathura was a really excellent chauffeur guide. From the moment he picked us up at the airport until he dropped us off, he was professional, courteous, informative, thoughtful, proactive and generally a pleasure to be with. We cannot fault him.” – Jenny & John, March/April 2017
“Kapila: quite simply – brilliant! Excellent all-round knowledge of Sri Lanka, a great sense of humour, unfailing good humour and really good English.” – Hilary & Steph, June 2017
“Nihal helped to make our holiday such a success. He was great company and a mine of information about the island, Buddhism and most of all the birdlife. Nihal went well beyond what would have been expected – we cannot recommend him highly enough.” – Ali, Martin & Ollie, April 2017
“Niroshan was an excellent guide, very knowledgeable, pleasant company, patient and obliging with wheelchair, and a safe driver.” – Tom & Alice, July 2017
“Our guide Oscar couldn’t have been better, he was courteous, informative, reliable, punctual and made our itinerary run smoothly.” – Carol & John, March 2017
“Ravi was a delight. He guided us on what to do and where we could go and what we should see. Ravi adapted the itinerary to suit. Ravi made our trip to Sri Lanka!” – Kohnhorst/Randhawa family, July/August 2017
“Saman was very impressive with his knowledge on almost anything about Sri Lanka, including history and interesting legends/stories. Very professional, and his sense of honour in what he is doing, representing his country to us, came across and it was inspiring.” Anamaria, Hideki & Marinela, January/February 2017
“We really enjoyed Sena, and he was a central part of the holiday. He was so kind and conscientious. We loved being able to discuss what we were seeing with him, and felt that it gave us insights that we would not have gained as visitors on our own.” – Dow/Jones family, August 2017
From the archive – Camping at Yala – John & Pathi, October 2014
Since the government embargo on running safari camps within national parks in October 2012, most of the camping at Yala has moved into the so-called ‘buffer zone’ on the margins of Yala West National Park, which is a strictly controlled area allocated to accredited camps and agriculture only. Although the buffer zone is closer to townships and the land is shared with farmers, the actual habitat is similar to Yala West NP itself and the camping experience comparable. The flora and fauna know no boundaries so animals including elephants find their way across the border into the buffer zone, which means that the principal difference between then and now is that campsites are located outside of the electrified fence rather than delimited within it.
We visited camps run by Kulu Safaris and Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris, which are both situated close to the Kataragamuwa entrance to Yala West NP, the less frequented gateway to the park (Palatupana is the main, very busy entrance).
Manjula, our gracious host at Kulu Safaris and expert naturalist who has just finished an extensive wildlife filming project with the BBC in Yala West NP and Wilpattu NP, took us to the campsite by 4x4 jeep along rutted, tree-tangled tracks. The campsite is situated in typical rough scrubland of the dry zone ‘jungle’ and immersed within the thorny bushes and desiccated riverbeds away from civilisation.
The South-African designed and manufactured tents with mosquito nets are raised above ground level on a permanent wooden deck, which also acts as a balcony with easy chairs. The inside living space is separated into the bedroom, which includes comfortable beds dressed in linen and blankets, side tables, electric lighting and fan, and camping closet, and the bathroom, with hot water shower, sink and Western-style toilet with cesspit. This is certainly not rough camping! There are various locations around the campsite where you may take your (mostly) Sri Lankan meals and enjoy a drink or two (beer, wine and liquor are available), and, after dark, paths are lit with kerosene lamps. Solar panels provide the electricity for the campsite, which is used for lighting and to power the pumps that draw water from the onsite well. The campsite is enclosed within an electrified fence to deter wandering animals, which is also patrolled regularly by security guards throughout the day and night.
Kulu Safaris has definitely found a suitable area outside of Yala West NP to position a safari campsite, which will offer you the feel of being away from it all and close to nature. However, there are reports of distant music being heard at the camp when the wind blows from a certain direction, but on our visit nothing was heard except bird song. You certainly do not hear vehicles on roads or voices from nearby houses as there aren’t any! If you are seeking time away from iPads, TVs and the like and prefer a period of quietude and communing with nature, then the Kulu Safaris camp may be just for you!
Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris camp has a different set up to the Kulu Safaris camp and it is also located in an area closer to other campsites and guesthouses, which is a definite disadvantage. Nonetheless, the campsite feels open and spacious with a couple of simulated waterholes adding to the natural surroundings, although the made up paths and walkways detract somewhat from this impression. The tents are pitched on the ground (some elevated tents are under construction) and include comfortable beds and essential camping furniture, chemical commode toilet, and basic, suspended reservoir shower. The camping basin is outside of the tent under an awning with a couple of easy chairs and a table. More rudimentary than the Kulu Safaris’ camp, the tent and facilities at Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris offer you a more back-to-basics and ‘real’ camping experience! The Sri Lankan food on offer is of a high standard and meals may be served at various locations around the campsite, weather permitting. Again, power is supplied by eco-friendly solar panels and water is sourced from an onsite well, and the campsite is encircled by an electrified fence and patrolled day and night.
There is a definite plus for Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris in the camp lounge area provided. Comfy chairs, large beanbags and padded stools are arranged around coffee tables in an open-sided mini marquee with robust carpeted flooring. A corner bar serves beer, wine and liquor from chilled camping fridges, there are magazines and books to read and large-scale maps to pore over, and a wildlife viewing log to contribute to or look at enviously!
Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris is a different creature to Kulu Safaris, which may appeal to visitors seeking a safari camp with a simpler camping ethos as well as less of an impact on its surroundings.
Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort is a luxury resort and spa spread over a rocky outcrop along a secluded stretch of the island’s quieter southern coastline. Set amidst a coconut plantation and golden crescent shores with glorious Indian Ocean views, the resort offers a naturally exclusive hideaway for exotic beach life in a tranquil world of your own!
Mango House is a refreshing alternative to the traditional colonial Dutch aesthetic prominent within Galle Fort. White-washed walls, bold colour combinations, poster art and ingenious use of space contrive to produce a novel and enticing style all of its own, enhanced by waving fronded palms, long-stemmed ceiling fans and cooling clay-tiled floors.