Nicola & Susan

Scotland, December 2017/January 2018

What did you like most about Sri Lanka?

Wildlife, landscape diversity, weather, history/culture.

What did you like least about Sri Lanka?

Hygiene levels – we both contracted some kind of poisoning, presumably food source.

Tipping expectations.

What is your opinion of your accommodation in Sri Lanka?

Highly recommended to try homestays. Super friendly and welcoming at all locations.

Anantara Peace Haven [Tangalle] Resort blends luxury with sympathy for nature and the environment.

Not necessary or worthwhile to travel the 6km to [Royal] River Resort (Kitulgala) – would’ve been better on accommodation located on [the main road]. [Tikalanka currently does not offer accommodation on the main road at Kitulgala.]

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

He [Saman] was lovely and very attentive, however we really struggled to understand him as he was naturally quietly spoken. He also developed a cough and claimed it was going to the ‘colder’ hill country – hopefully that’s not a problem for him each time he goes there! We were worried we’d catch it as well as the tummy bug.

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

Flew with SriLankan Airlines but they are nothing special and didn’t like way they made the females dress. [Arranged own flights]

Any other comments?

We did expect Tikalanka to make some effort to speak to our hotel in Nuwara Eliya (Grand Hotel) to explain our illness and seek a refund on our Gala Dinner – we even notified hotel staff. All in all we were too weak for 2-3 days after because not being able to eat/needing to be close to a toilet at all times. Susan returned with symptoms and had to go to the doctor in Tangalle and the UK. To be frank, it ruined 5-6 days at least of our trip as we couldn’t do the walks we wanted to do, or eat the delicious food. [Tikalanka was sympathetic to the problems associated with the customers’ illness and fully appreciated the consequences involved. Our office in Sri Lanka contacted the Grand Hotel before the customers’ arrival to alert the hotel to their illness and requested a full refund for the Gala Dinner due to the extreme circumstances. However, due to the cancellation policy of the hotel, no refund was forthcoming despite our protestations.]

If Tikalanka have visited all the places we stayed then perhaps 4 nights safari camping would have advised against. Fish/pork, upside down bowl of rice, carrots and a bowl of chilli source became a little tedious after 2nd time, let alone the 3rd and 4th times. We could easily have travelled to Yala/Udawalawe in time for the afternoon safari, then stay 1 night, then wake up for morning safari (not sure of the benefit of a 5.30am start compared to say 9am), then head to next campsite and repeat. There wasn’t really anything to do at either camp site to otherwise fill the days. [Tikalanka visits all of the accommodation on our recommended list. However, meal menus are not under our control and we are disappointed that Big Game Camp does not offer a varied menu, particularly for customers staying more than one night. Regarding the visits to Yala West and Uda Walawe National Parks, the customers requested the camp stays and the number of safaris included in their itinerary. All of our itineraries are bespoke and are developed after in-depth discussion with customers, who approve the final itinerary on booking. The morning safari begins at 05.30 as this is the best time to see wildlife before the heat of the day drives the animals into shelter and the sun’s brightness makes it very difficult to spot wildlife in any case.]

As a side, the turtle project has been playing on mind and I can’t help but think that my financial contribution has gone towards Dudley Perera’s fancy new hotel construction rather than the ‘conservation’ of Sri Lanka’s sea turtles (which happens to be opposite the centre and on same side of road as volunteer accommodation). I will of course review that separately but just thought that I’d mention it. [Nicola arranged her own placement at the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project independently of Tikalanka, which does not promote sea turtle hatcheries.]

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