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Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

London, United...
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Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Hi all, I've been reading this forum for a few weeks to get some general ideas about Sri Lanka as my girlfriend and I have booked our flights for the 31st Jan - 16th Feb with Kingfisher airlines (I'll let you know what they are like, the cost was £396 each!).

Getting in to Colombo at 4pm local time and we were planning on heading straight to Kandy to get to a nice hotel/guesthouse for the first few nights to relax and explore the surrounding sights.The plan is to stay just outside of Kandy for a couple of nights and then stay in Kandy for another couple of nights after we've got used to the climate and hustle and bustle of Kandy and Sri Lanka in general.

During these 4 days we'll see Sigiriya, Pinnawela orphanage (and/or Millienium Elephant Foundation) Tooth Temple, Botanical Gardens etc before heading South through the hill country to stay at a tea plantation/seeing some waterfalls and Dambulla over a couple of days before hitting the beaches in the south and south west.

I'd like to know if the journey to Kandy is "do-able" from Colombo with a driver at about 5pm and roughly how much the driver will cost.

We are thinking of staying here for the first couple of nights (it's a bit of luxury for the first few nights)!! Anyone used this place before?? http://www.bouganvillasl.com/

We are both in our mid 30's...

Be prepared for more questions over the next few weeks guys and girls!!

Cheers for any help, it's much appreciated.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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1. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Hi there,

Thanks for being one of our Guinea Pigs for Kingfisher!

Okay,

1) Colombo airport - Kandy at a weekday leaving 5 PM from airport (allow 1 h for luggage etc.): will cost you around 3.5 - 4 hours as opposed to 2.5-3 hours outside of rush hours. So better if you take dinner near the airport already instead of postponing this till Kandy.

2) It depends on whether you keep the driver with you all the time or instead it's just a one-way ride. For a one-way prices are based on about Rs 60/km and the distance is 120 km, which makes Rs 8,000-9,000 with airport surcharge. For roundtrips the day prices are based on about Rs 35-40/km, which translates to daily fees of about Rs 5,000-6,000.

3) Can't comment on this specific boutique villa. The price level is comparable to 4-5 star hotels in Kandy town (with e.g. a pool) so I hope what they offer is worth it...

All the best, and awaiting further questions :-),

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
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2. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Hi there.....

Will be very intersted to know about your flight with Kingfisher Airlines..., seems a really good price.

Ok, your tour, i think thst maybe you would be better off going to Dambulla area first !, rather than Kandy, from Dambulla you can easily visit Sigiriya ect, then move onto Knady for the attractions there, saves going back on yourself !, Dambulla is to north/east of Kandy

Not heard personally about Bouganvillas myself, but maybe others can fill that info for you.

Transfer from airport to Dambulla, assuming you go there first, would be between 3.5 to 4.5 hours depending on traffic although 31st Jan/1st Feb being a Saturday/Sunday it should not be too bad.

Mail me at: davidjstockwell@btinternet.com for deatils of a trusted driver/guide, would be happy to supply contact details for you.

Regards

Dave

London, United...
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3. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Thanks for your speedy replies, I'll send you an email for the drivers name later!!

Looking at the Google map it makes perfect sense to go to Dambulla first and visit the caves and Sigiriya fortress later. Would we be able to do both in the same day and then head off to Kandy? If we can do that then I'll keep the driver with us for the first couple of days and we might be able to get him a bit cheaper...

By the way, I have no intention of climbing the fortress as I'm petrified of heights!!! My girlfriend might do it though, she can take my camera and I pretend I climbed it!!

Cheers <Erik> & [Sandya] and Travellerguy!!! I'll let you know how the flight goes, it's 14 hours including the 1 1/2 hour stopover in Bangalore. The only thing I'm worried about is the legroom (I'm 6 foot 2!!).

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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4. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Hi again,

On the proposal

" Would we be able to do both in the same day and then head off to Kandy?"

Yes easily. Do (have your GF :-) climb the rock starting before 10:30 AM as otherwise it gets too hot; climb up and down and tour takes about 3 hours. Dambulla cave temple visit is a good hour for most people, and Sigiriya to Kandy is alltogether 2.5-3 hours drive. So if you choose a hotel near Sigiriya then it's a good day's worth of travelling and sightseeing.

Have fun,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

London, United...
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5. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Thanks, we are really keen on trying to see and do as much as possible, but at the same time not to miss anything by not spending a decent amount of time exploring the sites!!

We both love history, culture and FOOD (!!!) so we're keen to try and do as much as possible in the Cultural Triangle before heading down to the coast to chill out and relax for the last week whilst gorging ourselves on fish and beer!!

I've seen good reviews for The Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana that's not far from Dambulla and Sigiriya. the only problem with the early start is that we'll be pretty knackered from our flight and drive to Habarana so we might stay there for 2 nights and take the first day easy, maybe catching an elephant ride or something relaxing. My girlfriend can take the long, hot arduous treck up to the top of the fortress while I relax at the bottom with a cool beer!!

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6. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

All righty then:

As it stands we're heading to Habarana for 2 nights. The first full day we'll take it easy, maybe an elephant ride and travel over to Polonnaruwa for the afternoon.

2nd day: Sigiriya; my girlfriend can climb the fortress and I'll wimp out. Then off to Dambulla in the afternoon and head down to Kandy for a night at Kandy Cottage (if they have any room).

3rd day: Kandy: Temple of the tooth, explore kandy. Stay the night at www.Bouganvillas.com (10 kms out of Kandy).

4th day: Explore the Botanical gardens which are very close to the Bouganvillas house and stay the night there again (as it looks really nice on the website!!)

5th day: Head down through Ramboda Falls (leave the hotel early (ish)) to Horton Plains National park for a tour around Worlds End and the Park. Then head to Dalhousie for the night.

6th day: Get up in the middle of the night and hike up to Adam's Peak. Run to the top of Adam's Peak, do 500 push ups and hop back down (all to the tune of the music from Rocky). The rest of the day relax and maybe swim in the river (if it's not too cold!!). Stay in Dalhousie again.

7th day: Head down to Tangalla (Now this looks like it's going to take ages. Can I do this in a day??)

8th day: Relax in Tangalla and for the rest of the holiday slowly head back around towards Colombo stopping at Dikwella, Mirissa, Galle, Hikkaduwa etc...

We're over for about 16 days in total.

Does this sound ok with you guys (and Susie!!)??

I've missed out Anuradhapura... Bugger.

Any help/ideas welcomed as usual!!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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7. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Hi again,

Okay only some minor comments:

* World's End has the best chances for good vistas before 9 AM, due to clouds forming in the hot plains below and becoming fog up there. You're coming from Kandy so would be there at earliest 11-12 AM. Not a disaster, actually from Haputale-Ella often the vistas are more spectacular than from WE and you're passing that area later on, but still. Discovering HP park without World's End (it's 90 mins walk from the entrance and upon arrival you'll already notice whether there will be too much fog or not) is still interesting if you're a nature lover.

* Dalhousie to Tangalle: is quite feasible, I'd give it around 6 hours drive by car.

All the best, and don't forget to give the Adam's Peak bell ONE big whammy during the push-ups as it should only be whammed multiple times by repeat pilgrims like Sandya,

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

London, United...
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8. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Cheers <Erik> & [Sandya], we'll keep that in mind. we'll be interested in a walk around Horton Plains, even if the World's End view is a bit foggy. Will the driver be our guide, or do we just head off into the jungle on our own, Tarzan style??!!!

Cheers for your help, I think that's the first part of our holiday sorted out, now just the Tangalle to Colombo part... Another thread for that one though!!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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9. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Hi there,

Drivers with a Guide license from the SL Tourist Board, not always the cheapest but certainly the safest, can guide you around HP. Even they might need a small map but that's available at the entrance for a fee that's small compared to the entrance price (something like 15 USD per tourist).

All the best again,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

PS Assuming that at Tangalle you won't need the daily driver anymore, you still need to pay his empty return journey to Colombo/airport. At around Rs 35-40 /km or a fixed day rate depending on the price scheme.

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10. Re: Drivers/Guides/Tour itinerary help please.

Habanara is a good choice we loved the Hotel, it's got fantastic grounds and a small tank. The pool area is also great for relaxing after a flight. There is also a short cut to the hiotel from the airport which avoids Colombo

The Hotel is very close to Minneriya National park, you must take an evening safari trip - you can arrange this via the hotel. Big herds of elephants and wonderful bird life - not to be missed. I still have the photo as my PC desktop view!

The hotel even arranges free bird watching tours around the hotel grounds, over 100+ different birds have been seen in the grounds.