11 independent reviews for Wildlife vacation in Sri Lanka, private departure

Reviews for Wildlife vacation in Sri Lanka, private departure

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review 2 Apr 2018

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

There were lots of memorable moments, here's the top few in terms of wildlife: Kaudulla National Park Safari (~200 elephants on grasslands by lake). Mirissa Whale & Dolphin Sea Safari (7 Blue Whales & a pod of ~100 Spinner Dolphins). Mahamodara River Boat Safari (2 Sea Eagles swooping down & catching some breakfast). Udawalawe Elephant Orphanage (~30 young elephant orphans being fed). Other highlights were: Horton Plains circular walk, including World's End. Sigiriya Rock Walk up to the Fortress. Scenic Train Journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. Several Ella Walks (Ella's Rock, Little Adam's Peak & Nine Arches Bridge). Kandy Temple of the Tooth.

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

Use this as a starter & tailor it to exactly what you want.

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

Definitely benefited local people, less obvious on reducing environmental impacts & supporting conservation.

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

Brilliant. Great Variety: Not just wildlife but also great scenery and interesting culture & history. Great Hotels. Good Food & Drink. Good Value. Lovely People.

review 28 Feb 2018

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

When an elephant came alongside our jeep and visiting the Elephant Transit Home where we saw young elephants being fed.

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

There are a lot of stairs to climb to see, for example, the Rock Fortress at Sigiriya, the Dambulla cave temples and the rock temple of Mulkirigala Raja Maha Viharaya, so you need to be reasonably fit and not scared of heights! The sea tends to be quite rough, so better for surfing than swimming. It can be difficult to wander around on your own, as the roads tend to be rather chaotic and shared by dogs, cattle, people, tuk tuks, bikes, cars and vans.

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

I saw posters reminding people to protect the environment by not leaving litter around. Jeeps entering the Uda Walawe National Park had to check in with the authorities first, presumably to avoid any rogue vehicles entering. Natural materials were used in the construction of beach cabanas and most of our accommodation was unobtrusive and blended in with the environment. All of the places we stayed, as well as tourist attractions, appeared to employ local people.

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

Sri Lanka is very diverse with spectacular scenery and beaches, as well as lovely people.

review 6 Feb 2018

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

So many memories! it's impossible to choose just one! Almost being charged by three unhappy elephants at Use Walawe was one - I still have video of them trumpeting and growling, the beauty and tranquillity of the upper hill country especially at sunrise, getting so close to birdlife at the national parks that we could almost reach out and touch and walking around Galle Fort in the evening after the day trippers had left.

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

Try the local food - we found hygiene was carefully observed and enjoyed some wonderful meals at even small places. With hindsight, we would have added in a couple of extra days at 98 Acres just to unwind as we had several very early starts in a row while we were still feeling the effects of the flight and the accommodation and location was just wonderful.

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

Sinharaja Rest was family-owned and our guided walk was with a passionate advocate of the rainforest. Whilst tourism may have its downsides, it does support the work the National Parks do and guarantees their future. Employing a car and driver may not have been the most environmentally friendly option but allowed us to cover the distances comfortably and, as public transport is subsidised for the benefit of the locals, meant we were not benefiting from a subsidy we did not need.

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

We loved it all - the scenery, the people, the food and the wildlife. The coastal resorts were our least favourite and perhaps not our cup of tea - although it allowed us to see blue whales.

review 24 Oct 2017

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

The wildlife and the food

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

Go to the Kandy House.

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

I believe the providers used supported conservation.

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

Very good

review 20 May 2017

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

We are used to spending time with elephants on the African savanna and were wonderfully surprised how great the elephant viewing was in UdaWalawe and Yala NPs. Seeing wild elephants against a background of lush forest and wild flowers was a photographic wonder.

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

Read up on what you want to see and then take advice from your tour operator. We went with TikaLanka who were honest and helpful which resulted in a great and memorable two week trip. We plan to go back soon with the same company.

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

Tourism is a double edged sword. We felt our tour operator advised us well on local accommodation and provided a great guide whose knowledge of wildlife was superb. There are some real conservation problems we observed with so many jeeps chasing leopards in Yala and too many boats chasing whales in Mirissa. This is where the tourism is out of control. These things are out of the control of a single tour operator, and generally we were impressed with a strong responsible ethic of our tour operator.

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

Fantastic

review 14 Apr 2017

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

Seeing so much great wildlife and landscapes. Spectacular.

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

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

Yes, locals benefitted, made sure to tip as per the guidance sent before out vacation, this made sure locals benefitted - guides, rangers etc.

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

Superb.

review 12 Feb 2017

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

Seeing Blue Whales

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

Don't pack too much as there are many lovely things that you may wish to buy to bring home, plus laundry is swift and cheap. Take good binoculars for wildlife spotting.

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

It benefited local people because we purchased goods from them. We were aware of not using Air Con between 5 -8pm to conserve electricity in some places. We supported conservation by visiting the Elephant orphanage and the Turtle Hatchery and leaving a donation.

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

Brilliantly organised with lots of variation in hotels and places to see. Safe and friendly driver/guide.

review 7 Feb 2017

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

Most exciting part is always arriving in a new country and taking in the different culture, weather, sounds etc. Other exciting moments were seeing whales in Mirissa, releasing turtles on a beach whilst the most memorable moments were the peace and tranquility staying at Sinharaja Rest and the sheer beauty of the Maldives.

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

Dont take too many clothes! When it says its hot, it means it! In discussion with our driver we changed the turtle experience as it was going to mean a very long drive at night and because of the weather forecast it was likely we would not see turtles. Instead we went to a turtle clinic closer to Mirissa where we had close contact with the turtles. We found Yala a horrific experience in respect of how the drivers behaved. I would never recommend anyone to go there. In retrospect we would have liked to have done more cultural activities rather than concentrating on wildlife but we had limited time and chose to go the Maldives for our final days. While we dont regret that at all, we should have taken a longer vacation to try and fit a little more in eg tea plantation.

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

Its always hard to tell and I have very mixed feelings about this. Tourism is clearly a major industry for Sri Lanka and supports many people however I always feel guilty about the amount we spend in areas where people have very little. To be honest I dont know enough about this to answer but would be very interested to hear more about it.

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

Fantastic!

Read the operator's response here:

We are disappointed that your jeep safari experience in Yala was unsatisfactory. We have a very good local jeep safari provider which only employs responsible drivers sensitive to the needs of the animals. Unfortunately, due to Yala’s increasing popularity, there are a number of other companies that behave inappropriately towards the wild animals in the park and we have made complaints to the local authorities through our jeep safari provider. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the National Parks authority to police the behaviour of licensed jeep drivers and we have approached our colleagues in Sri Lanka to impress upon the National Parks authority of the urgent need of affirmative action in this regard. As noted, tourism is a major industry in Sri Lanka and supports many people. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, which is the leading authority on travel and tourism worldwide, tourism accounted for 11.1% of Sri Lanka’s total GDP in 2014 and it is forecast to increase by over 6% per annum by 2025. Our vacations directly contribute to Sri Lanka’s economy since we use locally managed and owned guesthouses and hotels, employ local Sri Lanka Tourist Board-licensed chauffeur guides, and run our operation from our own office in Kandy staffed by Sri Lankans. Also, we encourage our customers to visit conservation projects such at the Elephant Transit Home at Uda Walawe, a project supported by the Born Free Foundation, and the Turtle Conservation Project at Rekawa.

review 19 Feb 2016

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

Visiting the wildlife reserves, Udawalawe being the best of them all. Fantastic photographic opportunities especially the birds.

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

Be prepared for some early morning starts, dawn is the best time for wildlife watching.

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

Supported conservation definitely and we believe it benefited local people to a degree.

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

Excellent

review 19 Aug 2015

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

Most memorable aspects of the vacation was enjoying the diferent culture/way of life in Sri Lanka. The people were lovely, very friendly and welcoming. The birdwatching and jeep safaris at Udawalawe were excellent and seeing the Leopard and Sloth Bear at Yala were very memorable. And who can forget our fantasic guide, Anura.

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

If a wildlife based trip, do your reseacrh and buy a book/guide or two. Also if poss book to go at the best time of year. We had to go in the school summer vacations which is not ideal but it was still very good. I recorded over 140 species of birds.

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

Yes, tourism provides jobs via local employment. Many of the hotels had policies re saving water etc.

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

I woudl rate it as very good/excellent.

review 29 Mar 2015

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

Being at Mihintale on a Poya day was a great experience, seeing a historic site still attended and used as part of Sri Lankan culture, vibrant and busy with people celebrating family and practicing their faith. The walk at dawn over Horton Plains to the beautiful World's End. And you can't beat the Elephants.

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

Do your research and discuss what you want out of your vacation with John. He is very knowledgeable and helpful.

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

I think pretty much everywhere we stayed, ate or shopped was locally owned/run so hopefully we benefited the locals. We were less environmentally friendly as we had a car and driver to ourselves but it was really the only practical way to get around for us. We visited the born-free supported Elephant Transit home rather than Pinnewala and hopefully, by spending a considerable time visiting several of the national parks showed support for the conservation of these areas for wildlife.

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

Amazing - exceeded our expectations.

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