4 independent reviews for Grand tour of Sri Lanka, tailor made

Reviews for Grand tour of Sri Lanka, tailor made

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review 2 Jul 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing elephants in the wild, hearing Buddhist monks chanting as we watched the sun set over the rice paddies, seeing the passion and intensity of the morning offering ceremony at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, visiting the many other temples and ancient cities that speckle the country, being invited by a complete stranger to a traditional Kandyan wedding ceremony by bride's family and watching a matrimonial ceremony very different from our own, and all other interactions with the generous, warm, and unbelievably kind citizens of gorgeous Sri Lanka.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

This is a well-rounded adventure that includes adventure, history, culture, and exposes the visitor to the most important sites within the country. With that said, there is much to see in little time making for fast-paced vacation. Although this is perfect for our travel style, I would advise those who want a slower paced vacation to work carefully with the local agency to ensure that your needs are met. This tour is completely tailor-made so they will be happy to work with you as long as you assert your requirements.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Generally, yes. Hotels were locally owned/operated as were the restaurants. Some of the lunch spots that we visited were nothing more than a few tables at small town family establishments where we had the opportunity to see the business owner making (the most amazing) curry in clay pots over wood fires. The local tour operator was a born-and-raised Sri Lankan earning his livelihood in tourism, as was our driver. I could not find any instance in which our money went into non local hands. Conservation is definitely a priority of the Sri Lankan government as evidenced by the establishment of a multitude of national game parks and laws that protect wildlife. The only instance in which we questioned the ethics of man's interaction with nature was during our whale watching trip. The boats that provide these excursions rapidly approach the whales as an entire fleet and try to get as close to the animals as possible, causing them to flee. Although it was thrilling to see a blue whale next to the boat, we didn't feel that this practice promoted the well-being of the animal and was very different from other whale watching adventures we have been on where boat captain behavior and proximity to wildlife is tightly regulated. This is of course no failure of Responsible Travel or the operator, but instead indicates a lack of legal system regarding the practice.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

This was an AMAZING adventure. I was impressed with every step of the planning process as Rajiv, owner of the operator, was communicative, professional, and patient as we worked together to create the ideal itinerary to meet my husband's and my needs. Every email sent received a reply within several hours. I knew right away that I was in great hands and trusted the local operator thoroughly. Rajiv further showed his dedication to the client by meeting us personally for not only a welcome dinner, but also for a debriefing at the end of the tour. He was eager to hear about our adventure, obtain feedback, and ask for advice on how he could further improve his services. He also let his driver have the evening off while he took us to the airport for our 3am flight home! His professionalism, obvious concern for safety, and dedication to ensuring the delivery of a perfect product could not have been more apparent. Our adventure was made most excellent by our guide, Lalith, who was respectful, pleasant, knowledgeable, and one heck of an amazing driver. His mastery of local flora, fauna, cultural nuances, and local history was impressive, and his willingness to educate and share his culture with two American strangers was greatly appreciated. We felt as though we were allowed to be immersed in the rich culture of Sri Lanka rather than viewing it in a disconnected fashion from a distance. The tour itself is a perfect balance of nature, history, culture, and adventure, providing the traveler a well-rounded and thorough overview of the country's rich and diverse offerings. Sri Lanka, with its amazing people, stunning landscapes, mesmerizing culture, and rich history has so much to offer as a travel destination. Thank you Responsible Travel and the operator for a dreamy trip that will be forever imprinted in our memories.

review 16 Jun 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

A tribe of elephants crossing our path to go swimming on our Minneriya Safari, the surprise gorgeous view at Dambulla Cave Temple, and the warmth of the Bay of Bengal waters at Trincomalee.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Know that you are in good hands by booking with the tour operator. Rajiv is happy to customize the existing tours to work with your interest and time frame. They are willing to work with you to create your dream vacation to this beautiful island. Our driver was professional, knowledgable, and simply a lovely man. We appreciate him very much.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, definitely. I didn't have a chance to check out all the hotels but I did walk the grounds at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana. They have a whole sustainable system for water, sewage, compost, gardening, butterfly habitat and more I'm sure. Our tour operator abides by the guidelines and principles set forth by Responsible Travel and delivers truly a Sri Lankan adventure that is informed, comfortable, safe and thoroughly enjoyable.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We had an extra special experience as we were taking our friend and her daughter back to see family after 16 years apart due to war and finances. Rajiv helped us facilitate this surprise for the family that was imbedded into a vacation like non other. We wanted our friends to see Mom's homeland first as she had never been outside her small village as a young person and her daughter had never met the family or been to Sri Lanka before. We came away from Sri Lanka not only having had an experience of a lifetime but we made new friends! As Canadian's we aren't likely to make that long journey again, but are we ever glad we booked this vacation. We feel very blessed!

review 28 Feb 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There were many monuments and well known attractions that we found interesting to look at but the most memorable trip was to the safari park. We were lucky enough to park within 20 yards of a herd of wild elephants who were just enjoying themselves.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Get more assurances before you commit to a vacation that the Driver /Guide you will be allocated has been fully tested and has proven abilities. Get an assurance that if you find your Driver /Guide unacceptable, that a different driver will be assigned.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I really didn't want to be in the position of having to write a bad review but circumstances have given me no option. The communication with Rajiv who runs the vacations up to the start (and even now) of our vacation was first class. The problems started when we arrived and immediately recognised that the Driver /Guide that we had been allocated was poor at both tasks. On day one we requested a different driver but we were told this was not possible. Our driver never used 5th gear in the 18 days I was in the vehicle. For long periods he would stay in 3rd gear accelerating and braking to make the journey seem endless. He got lost on a number of occasions. He took us to places off our itinerary that we didn't want to go to (that would have involved 1864 steps) without giving us any background information why we were there or the significants of the venue. This driver had not been tested but was hired on the basis of references that I can only believe were false. He spoilt our vacation. I don't think the vacation provider should make a profit based on our misery but as yet there has been no guarantee that the profit element will be given to a children's charity in Sri Lanka. Rajiv told us that this is the first problem he has had of this kind. This could be true, however if he employs drivers based on a reference rather than a practical test, then he has just been lucky. Rajiv has avoided giving a commitment to paying his profit into a charity. He has fired the driver but this cannot bring back our lost opportunities. I hope in future Rajiv does his own testing before hiring a driver but I am not sure this is going to happen. I am afraid I can do no more than suggest you avoid this company.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Phil, Linda, Michael and Hazel I would like to thank all of you sincerely for visiting Sri Lanka and choosing our services. For me it was both rewarding and a pleasure working with you all in planning your vacation. Phil the incident and negative experience you had with your chauffeur is a first for us and we never expect this to happen, every vacation we book is considered personal and we do our utmost to give our clients a vacation of a lifetime. Your vacation unfortunately was disrupted by a series of unforeseen situations which forced us to make a last minute vehicle and chauffeur change. Every single chauffeur we employ has to have a minimum of 8 to 10 years experience in the both driving and guiding, the chauffeur you were allocated had well over the required amount of experience for both driving and guiding plus had worked for many different companies. It goes without saying how sorry we are for the negative experience all of you had with your chauffeur, this kind of a situation has never taken place in any of our vacations but there is a first for everything and unfortunately it had to happen to you. I personally am extremely disappointed with what happened to you and take it as a personal failure, I am hopeful that all of you would extend your understanding of this most unfortunate incident which was never our intention for you, we love Sri Lanka and make it our personal mission to deliver a vacation to remember (Good memories of a lifetime) to each of our clients. We have not forgotten nor are avoiding your request for compensation, on your request a compensation would be paid to a children charity in the near future and a a copy of receipt will be emailed you. Finally, Phil, Linda, Michael and Hazel if you ever decide to visit Sri Lanka as a group or individually and would like to give us a second chance once again please do get in touch, and we assure you that we will offer you a considerable discount. I would like to extend my sincere thank you to all of you for putting up with your chauffeur and allowing us to operate your vacation as planned. Please email me if you need anything from Sri Lanka and during my visit this year to the UK I would be happy to bring it by for you all... Thank you. Rajiv

review 30 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We experienced so many different sights, activities and scenery it's hard to pinpoint one part alone but probably the train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy through the tea plantation - seeing the beautifully manicured clipped and extraordinary undulating green terrain is hard to beat. Also we couldn't fault our driver for his expert knowledge on Sri Lankan culture, history and politics and of course exemplary driving skills.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

We had an extremely busy itinerary as we wanted to see as much of the country as possible and our family are generally quite demanding in terms of content and activities. In fact though a minimum of two nights in any one place would be a beneficial and certainly take time in the Knuckles Mountains which were so beautiful.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It was evident that many of the locals were totally dependent on visitors to support their livelihoods. Whilst we took the opportunity to see wildlife in the national parks, the regulation of these left us with concern especially for the elephants that their reducing habitats are too disturbed by the vast number of jeeps and tourists tracking them. however, when we visited an elephant and a turtle sanctuary we were very encouraged to witness the genuine work being undertaken in parts of SL to support wildlife.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

There was certainly something for everyone from culture, religion and tradition to stunning scenery and wildlife. We left with an enriched knowledge of SL and and a real passion for the country, its inhabitants - especially the elephants and turtles. Rajiv was so accommodating and knowledgable and his advice in compiling our fantastic itinerary was spot on. We would throughly recommend this tour company and their helpful, and reliable expertise.

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