Adapted Itinerary from a Tika Tasters Holiday

From a Set Itinerary to a Bespoke Holiday

The Enquiry

The customers contacted Tikalanka by email on 12 September 2014 enquiring about our Wildlife Encounters itinerary, which is one of our Tika Tasters holidays, sample itineraries with outline ideas of what to see and do as well as where to stay in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Initial enquiry about our Wildlife Encounters holiday.

Customer, 12 September 2014

The Conversation

This is the abbreviated email exchange from initial contact to booking.

Standard email reply sent to customers.

Tikalanka, 13 September 2014

I'm planning on a two week holiday to Sri Lanka for myself and my wife (as a surprise 30th birthday present to her) ideally between about the 21st of February and the 7th March 2015. Having seen your wildlife watching tour itinerary it sounds very much the kind of thing I am looking for. We are interested in all kinds of wildlife but particularly birds and mammals and it would be great if we could have a guide who would be able to show us as many of these as possible during our time in Sri Lanka. The only thing that we may want to add into the suggested itinerary on your website would probably be a visit to a tea plantation and looking for turtles laying eggs on a beach but I'm not sure if the timing of our visit would allow for the latter.

We live in Inverness and if possible would like to fly from Inverness airport though we realise this will mean changing somewhere.

We are both fairly active and would probably appreciate more time on foot or at least on safari than driving around the country though I realise there will inevitably be a certain amount of driving involved. I'd appreciate any suggestions you have and a quote if possible but please feel free to ask any questions first or suggest anything else which you think may be suitable for us.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Customer, 14 September 2014

Thanks for getting back to us.
I have looked at your proposed dates and there are well-priced flights from Glasgow to Colombo via Dubai with Emirates. However, I understand that you would prefer to fly from Inverness, if possible. In this case, there are flights from Inverness to Manchester, Birmingham or London Gatwick that would connect with Emirates flights to Colombo via Dubai. If you would prefer this second option then you would need to arrange the flights from Inverness to Manchester, Birmingham or London Gatwick and we could arrange the international flights. Please confirm.
As you are planning to visit in February/March, then I would suggest missing out the visit to Minneriya National Park and Days 2 and 3, which may be affected by the northeast monsoon during this period, and adding the extra days later on in the itinerary, potentially an extra day at Ella for some walking and/or visiting a tea plantation and at the beachside so that you may include turtle watching, as requested. Please confirm.
Once you have confirmed the details above, I will check availability before sending a suggested itinerary and quote.

Tikalanka, 15 September 2014

Many thanks for your swift reply, I really appreciate your experience and input to the itinerary.

It's not too difficult for us to get to Glasgow so would probably prefer to fly from there and keep all our flights as one booking and I'd guess that's probably cheeper than adding in a flight from Inverness as well.

Thank you for your suggestion about the north east monsoon. Sounds as though it would be best to avoid that area hopefully without missing out on too many interesting things there.

But yes I like your suggestion of making up the time with a tea plantation visit and some time looking for turtles so please do go ahead and provide a quote based on these changes.

Customer, 15 September 2014

Itinerary and quote sent.

Tikalanka, 16 September 2014

Many thanks for taking the time to put this together for me, I really appreciate it and love the look of it so far. Just a couple of questions if that's OK.

  1. Firstly, I'm not sure how you go about pairing up the chauffeur guides with the tourists but if it would be at all possible to arrange for us to have one with a decent knowledge of Sri Lankan wildlife it would really make our trip, it looks as though for most of the national parks we will be with park guides but for the rest of our journeys it would make a big difference to us.
  2. Day 6 you have listed several options, at what point would we need to make a decision about what we do then or can that be decided once we are there?
  3. Day 7 and day 13 don't seem to have anything other than travelling listed for them, is this intentional (I understand it may be a good idea to set aside two days for the whale watching in case the weather is not good on the first day). Or is there anything else that you would recommend we do here.
  4. Is it OK to visit the turtle sanctuary (day 12) in the evening but be staying in Mirissa? or would it be better to stay in Tangalle the previous night and do it then instead?

Many thanks for your efforts so far as I said at the beginning I really do like the look of this itinerary and so pleased to have found a company which seems to be able to provide exactly what I am looking for.

Customer, 19 September 2014

I am glad that you like the look of the itinerary!
To answer your questions/queries:

  1. We always include a chauffeur guide with a very good knowledge and great interest in wildlife for our specialist wildlife holidays. Please take a look at the feedback from previous customers.
  2. Ideally, we would confirm your itinerary well in advance of your arrival so that we can arrange all of the logistics with your chauffeur guide. However, we are flexible with our tailor-made holidays and appreciate that you may like to play things by ear so you may decide on extra activities up to the night before, if you prefer!
  3. Day 7 – The transfer between Ella and Uda Walawe is about 3 hours’ drive so there would be an opportunity to take another afternoon’s jeep safari in Uda Walawe NP, if you wish. Otherwise, there is Buduruwagala cave temple on your way or just time to relax at the resort! Day 13 – An extra whale-watching boat safari is an option (I did leave the space in your itinerary for this option just in case you are interested) or you may like time in Galle to wander around the Old Dutch Fort (we can arrange a guided tour, if you prefer).
  4. Rekawa is about an hour’s drive from Mirissa so many of our customers stay here and visit the TCP. However, if you prefer, we can include a night’s stay in Tangalle instead.

A pleasure, and I appreciate your positive feedback!
Please take a look at my comments and get back to us with your choices so that we can finalise your itinerary.

Tikalanka, 22 September 2014

Many thanks for addressing all of my questions that's very helpful. Brilliant to know that the chauffer guide will have a good knowledge & interest in wildlife, that has put my main concern to rest.

Regarding the turtle sanctuary visit it sounds as though the two nights in Mirissa will be fine if its only an hour away that's not a problem.

I've been having a look at other peoples trip reports and at other options on your website and also really like the look of Sinharaja National Park and the Rainforest Eco Lodge. Would it be at all possible to fit a night or two in here at all? I'm sure you know best where this would fit best into the itinerary & I realise that it will be at the sacrifice of other things but as already identified we could possibly loose day 7 and 13 and possibly even day 6 as well.

Customer, 22 September 2014

Sinharaja and The Rainforest Ecolodge are both special places to visit, especially if you are interested in Sri Lankan bird life as other animals are difficult to spot in the dense forest of Sinharaja. Due to the isolated location of Sinharaja, I highly recommend at least two nights there as the roads are poor and the driving difficult. If you would like to include Sinharaja then I suggest going there from Mirissa and returning to Galle. Please confirm and I will update your itinerary and quote.

Tikalanka, 23 September 2014

Thanks very much for your advice and response to this, yes going from Mirissa then onto Galle sound great to me, please go ahead and amend the itinerary & quote accordingly.

Customer, 23 September 2014

Amended itinerary and updated quote sent.

Tikalanka, 24 September 2014

Many thanks for making the amendments, I think that all looks great. I have managed to get another couple of days off so if possible I'd like to actually extend the proposed trip by bringing the start date of the trip forward to Thursday 19th of Feb instead of the 21st. Still finishing and returning on the same date however (7th March).

I'm really happy with the wildlife watching side of the trip proposed so I think it would be great to use the extra couple of days for a slightly more relaxed time ideally visiting some cultural sights.

Having looked at a few of the options I'd really like to go to Sigiriya to visit the rock fortress then possibly visit the temple of the tooth on the way back south. Do you think this would be possible with two extra days? I know you mentioned that the weather may be a problem at this time of year in that region however. If not then the climb up Adam's peak would probably be my next preferred option instead. I'd really welcome your thoughts on this as to what would be possible and then a revised itinerary and quote again to include these amendments.

Customer, 28 September 2014

An extra couple of days sounds good!
To visit Sigiriya rock fortress and the Temple of the Tooth is no problem and there are a couple of options:

  • Stay one night near Sigiriya to climb the rock fortress at dawn, which for me is the best time to visit, then head south to Kandy and stay there for one night to visit the Temple of the Tooth.
  • Stay two nights in Kandy and head up to Sigiriya from there, either very early morning or late afternoon, with the latter possibly being the better option so that you don’t have to start so early.

February is at the end of the northeast monsoon season so there is the possibility of rain and floods in the Cultural Triangle. However, Sigiriya is a highlight for many people, and Kandy is less likely to be affected by the monsoon at this time of year.
Your second choice of climbing Adam’s Peak is a good option as it will be unaffected by the monsoon during February. Feasibly, you could visit Kandy for one night for the Temple of the Tooth, travel to Kitulgala for the two nights, and then stay one night at Dalhousie to climb Adam’s Peak before continuing to Nuwara Eliya. The choice is yours!

Tikalanka, 29 September 2014

Many thanks for your comments that's very helpful. I think my preference would be Sigiriya over Adam's peak (will leave that for another time) the two nights in Kandy sound the preferred option I think and as you suggest probably the late afternoon visit being the better option. 

Customer, 29 September 2014

Customer called our office to book.

Tikalanka, 01 October 2014

The Result

On return from holiday in March 2015, these are unedited comments taken from the customers’ feedback sent to Tikalanka.

  • Our favourite places were The Secret Kandy [Kandy] for the quality of service and accommodation. The Royal River Resort [Kitulgala] for its location and wildlife. The Safari at Tissa [Tissamaharama] for its location and fantastic views from the room and pool. The Rainforest Ecolodge [Sinharaja] was probably our overall favourite just for the whole experience of staying in this wonderful place which has been carefully designed for the sensitive location.
  • Upul was an excellent chauffeur and guide. He was an excellent driver and we always felt safe despite the chaos of Sri Lankan roads. We were very impressed by his knowledge of Sri Lanka as well as the wildlife - particularly the flora, which we would not have known otherwise.
  • Wonderful country, we thoroughly enjoyed our whole holiday.
  • Thank you so much for organising such a wonderful trip for us, we will never forget our time in Sri Lanka and certainly hope to return again one day!

Customer, March 2015