Kevin, Susan, Myles & Jackie

Scotland, March/April 2019

What did you like most about Sri Lanka?

The food, culture, landscapes, the lovely people and the weather.

What did you like least about Sri Lanka?


What is your opinion of your accommodation in Sri Lanka?

The [Taru Villas] Lake Lodge hotel was really lovely, in a great location at the heart of the Colombo but quiet and set back from the busy roads. The staff were friendly and helpful. The Taru villa quality was evident but it is a comfortable place to stay.

The Jetwing Jaffna is a great hotel - you were right to recommend it. Perfect location with a good restaurant and a lovely bar on the roof. Lovely, friendly staff.

Hanthana House [Kandy] is a great place to stay and it was lovely to be able meet Pathi and Suba again. The home cooking is great and the early morning views stay with you.

The hotel 98 Acres [Resort, Ella] was amazing and we totally loved the views from the rooms which are fantastic and spacious (Olympic sized bed). It is a great place to stay and we could have stayed another night. We walked up Little Adam's Peak and Jackie and Susan had a spa treatment. The views for breakfast and lunch were fantastic. We were blown away. The staff were friendly and helpful.

We had a relaxing time at [Taru Villas] Kurumba Villa [Tangalle]. We had experienced the quality of service last year at Mawella Villa and were not disappointed. The staff, especially Rupa who looked after the villa and our every need, were exceptional. The food was great and we received a complimentary curry and rice dinner on our final night.  It is really special place.

It was all excellent. Design, comfort and friendliness of the staff made each place unique.

98 Acres Resort [Ella] and Taru Villas at Mawella Beach [Tangalle] were particularly special.

What is your opinion of your chauffeur guide in Sri Lanka?

Anura was lovely and kind, making sure that we had tasty Sri Lankan snacks when they were most needed. He even brought us coconut roti and sambal made by his sister-in-law for the train journey to Jaffna. He was a real credit to the Tikalanka team.

Anura was a wonderful driver. Very friendly and super attentive. We loved his little side trips to get us coconut roti and sambal and he always had a smile for us.

What is your opinion of your flights to and from Sri Lanka?

All went to plan, no delays and our luggage made it with us there and back and we would recommend  travelling with Qatar again.

Qatar Airways flights from Edinburgh were great.

[Economy Class]

Any other comments?

We have put together some feedback from our most recent visit to Sri Lanka.  Overall we had a really great time and loved the places we visited – old and new.  We have pulled together some feedback on the various aspects of the visit but especially around the Jaffna part of our trip as we think this is the area that our feedback may be most useful.


The Tuk Tuk Safari was great fun and we would really recommend it.  A great way to see Colombo.


The afternoon city tour was... not great. Firstly take a driver who has next to no English so any discussion, at all, was not possible. This meant that although we saw several sites, in some instances, we had no idea what we were seeing. In one case, somewhere down a Jaffna backstreet, we stopped at a pond, we asked what this was... silence. Alex our driver either did not know or didn't have the English to explain. Perhaps it was Sri Lanka's biggest black water malaria threat or perhaps an archaeological site. We then went to the Nallur Kandaswamy temple but it was closed. We talked to some worshippers who told us when would reopen, we asked the driver to bring us back at the end of the afternoons tour. We then went to the public library, it was closed, it was a Monday, it does not open on a Monday. The archaeological museum is basic and looking a bit unloved at the moment. Worth visiting though and the curator was an enthusiastic guide. The Dutch Fort is a must see and we had a pleasant wander around with the driver stopping the bus and pointing the way to the entrance. So although we got to see Jaffna we didn't really get the stories behind the sites and weren't able to ask the driver/guide any questions.

Back at the hotel we asked what time we were setting off tomorrow for the boat trip to Delft and Nainativu. He initially asked us what time we wanted to go and then after some thought said 7am. Kevin then called Pathi as the driver seemed unsure of the arrangements and then we agreed with Pathi that as hotel didn't start serving breakfast until 7.30 that we would set off at 8.30. We texted Alex to confirm the change in time. So we set off at 8.30am the next day. A lovely drive which took around an hour to the boat, a fairly basic craft, with benches that meant you could take the weight off our legs, but not sit down. It then took just over an hour to reach Delft and the waiting jeep. There really isn't that much to see in Delft, what there is requires a driver/ guide with English and some knowledge of the island and its history. We did bring our guide book this time. Without that a misshapen rock sat by the roadside that you have got down from the back of your jeep to see, is a misshapen rock. The driver of the jeep could only tell us that it was ' seventy five years old', on reading the guide book we established it was the growing rock. It was at this point that we began to suspect and there may be a hidden camera and this was all some kind of set up... we drove on, next stop, described as, 'animal farm'. We walked along by some coral walls and after a few dozen meters we stopped abruptly at a weed choked indentation in the bedrock path. Our driver pointed at the ground, 'monster footprint', he said. Susan looked at me, Jackie looked at Myles with a awkward grin, I looked around for the hidden camera. We went back to the jeep. We visited the wild horses but there was no explanation about why they were there. Then there was the Queen's tower, what was it? We asked some questions, a lighthouse. No one could answer and so we googled it. We had been on the minibus for a hour, the boat for an hour and the jeep for an hour and so needed some cold drinks and the toilet. Is didn't seem to have been built into the plan and so we asked the driver to stop at a roadside stall for a drink. We then remembered that there was a hotel on the island and so suggested we stop there before we got back on the boat.

We then headed for Nainativu island and Alex asked whether we wanted to visit the Buddhist or Hindu temple. We chose the Hindu temple and wandered around. It is a great site and we really enjoyed wandering around and it also opened while we were there so we could see inside.  We didn't go to the Buddhist temple, we were not given the option, but headed back to the boat and back to Jaffna.

We got back to the hotel around 4pm and so we were glad we had made sure we had breakfast before leaving. We were pretty hungry and thirsty by the time we got back. Alex was very polite and pleasant, he just didn't have the language and/or knowledge that we expected. On reflection, we would recommend leaving out Delft and spending more time seeing both temples on Nainativu island as the boat journey was shorter and there was something to see on the island. In Jaffna we could have done the tour with a bit more research ourselves and a couple of tuk tuks. We were keen to visit Jaffna and glad that we went and so this feedback is to maybe manage people's expectations in contrast to the Tikalanka driver guides.

[We apologise to Kevin, Susan, Myles and Jackie for the poor quality of guides made available in Jaffna. We have had better service from this same local company in the past but, unfortunately, this time they let our customers and us down. In the future, we will be looking at using a different local operator in the Jaffna area which hopefully will deliver the high standards of guiding shown by our own guides.


We had a great relaxing day wandering around Kandy. Having been there a few times we didn't visit the Temple of the Tooth again but would have been interested in a bit more shopping. We found a great batik shop in the central market but the Kandyan Arts and Crafts Centre was really disappointing with very little on display/available and so advice on where to seek out interesting arts, crafts and curios is something we would be interested in in the future.


The train journey was really amazing with incredible views. The observation carriage is quite an experience! Unfortunately the train was 2 hours late and so the section between the station for Nuwara Eliya and Ella was in the dark, which was a shame but we recognised there was nothing that anyone could do anything about this (and the same happens in the U.K.). If we were to go back again we would still like to do that section of the journey in the daylight.


The whale watching trip was fun and we saw two blue whales and hundreds of spinner dolphin. The boat trip was great with a simple breakfast, water and fruit and fruit juice when we were heading back to the harbour.  Again great experience, even with the early start. We took a Tuk tuk trip into Tangalle and had a wander round and had lunch which was a great short trip from the villa as we were keen not to spend too much time travelling when we were at the beach.


The train to Jaffna and back to Anuradhapura was good and a great way to see the countryside.

We delighted that Kevin was not hospitalised again...

So in summary, another fantastic Sri Lankan experience and we hope that the feedback about Jaffna is helpful for future clients. Thank you Tikalanka we would love to come again – the east coast is still somewhere we haven't made it to yet...

We had another fantastic two weeks in Sri Lanka and will definitely return to explore more.

Jaffna was interesting and fun but I’m not sure the boat trip to Delft is really worth the time and effort – there really isn’t much to see there.

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