Cecilie Gianneri review 29 Apr 2019
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
If I were to ask our children, it would either be the train journey from Kandy to Ella - with their feet dangling out of the open doors all the way - screaming and laughing as the train bumbled on or it would be our stay at Amba Estate. The latter, with its generous and kind host Simon, and his cousin who was lovely, as well as all the staff who were brilliant. Daily hikes to rock pools for swimming, early morning hikes to watch the sun rise, fantastic food and breathtaking scenery. Simply gorgeous. We also arranged our own impromptu tuk-tuk and boat safari close to Sigiriya which we all absolutely loved. Experiencing local food and culture. Daily yoga with Lakml at Coco Bay was also amazing.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Embed yourselves into the culture. Venture out of your hotels/guesthouses and eat in local restaurants. Really experience Sri Lanka and the kindness of its people. Ensure you get a seat in the door on the train - it's brilliant fun. Learn to drive a tuk-tuk. :-)
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Not really unfortunately. The one trip we arranged ourselves did as we tipped the local lady generously. We also ate locally as much as possible in order to bring funds to locals. I think more public transport would be good - as well as interesting.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
We loved Sri Lanka and felt very well looked after. It was the first exposure to a more adventurous vacation for our three children ages 13,11 and 9 and they really enjoyed the whole experience.
There are a few items we would not do again. We stayed in a local house outside Kandy where we did a cookery class. The house was in the middle of nowhere, with no real walks or activities and no swimming pool for the children. We felt quite isolated and it felt like two days were a little wasted. The cookery class was interesting however not very inclusive in that we all watched while the lady cooked. Again, with three children there who would have loved to chop and take part in it all, it seemed such a shame. They did get to chop one vegetable however that was it. The family were lovely and I know that he is a Manager of the tour operator - however I would not recommend this as an overnight part of the itinerary. It would have been fun to stay closer to Kandy and the vibrancy there.
On several occasions our driver also decided to drive home (3 or 4 times during the 16 day trip) as it was New Year as well as his sons birthday. We completely understood his desire to be home and the days he was not with us we took tuk-tuk's or walked which was also OK. It just seemed strange that a driver take on a job to then drive home at every opportunity. He was a lovely man though and very good to us.
It would also have been amazing to be offered whale watching by private boat or sea-plane. We didn't realise this was an option until we turned up at the boat yard -and it would have made the trip that much more exciting for the children.
Please take all these comments are constructive. We really loved the trip and would recommend this tour operator to our friends without hesitation.
Read the operator's response here:
We are really pleased that you enjoyed your vacation to Sri Lanka with us and thank you very much for your valuable comments.
You will be pleased to know that your vacation did benefit local people and supported local conservation projects, in fact. Your chauffeur and safari guides
are all Sri Lankan, and all of your accommodation is Sri Lankan owned and/or run, which means your vacation contributed directly to the local economy.
You also visited the Elephant Transit Home at Uda Walawe, which looks after orphaned or injured elephants before returning them to the wild, and took a
boat safari whale watching with Mirissa Water Sports, a pioneer of whale watching in Sri Lanka and a responsible operator championing the welfare of
I note that you thoroughly enjoyed the train ride through the spectacular Hill Country as a family. This particular route is a favourite of ours and customers
alike. We offer train journeys though the Hill Country from Colombo to Badulla via Kandy, Hatton, Nuwara Eliya and Ella, Colombo to Galle and Colombo
to Jaffna via Anuradhapura. Other train routes have poor schedules or are prone to delays. Using the local bus is not something we offer as we have our own
team of valued and quality Sri Lankan Tourist Board-licensed chauffeur guides to take you around, which gets you under the skin of the country and offers
you a different and extra dimension to your travels. Buses are also very packed - where would you put your luggage? - uncomfortable, hot, dusty, poorly
maintained and certainly not for the faint-hearted due to the aggressive driving style of the bus drivers in Sri Lanka.
Hanthana House is located in the attractive Hanthana Hills just outside of Kandy, which is a bonus for most guests as it is away from the hustle and bustle
of the city, and the guesthouse doesn't have a swimming pool. Both of these items were discussed when planning your itinerary,
It is not the habit of our chauffeur guides to disappear during vacations, although you were traveling during Sinhalese and Tamil New Year, as you say, when
everyone tends to be at home with the family. We apologise for the inconvenience caused, but I am pleased that your chauffeur guide looked after you well.