Dr John Poyser & Mrs Jane Lloyd's Trip Report

Trip Report Title: 
Travel Report by Dr John Poyser & Mrs Jane Lloyd 2012
Tour Strat: 
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Tour End: 
Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trip Report Year:

SRI LANKA  12th - 30th November 2012

Dr John Poyser and Mrs Jane Lloyd
Dr John Poyser and Mrs Jane Lloyd

Testimonial

Re : Our Guide Nandana

My partner and I were guided by Nandana for a period of 3 weeks in November 2012.
Our tour cover eight important areas of Sri Lanka with an emphasis on Birdwatching, but also including general elements of the natural world as well as important cultural sites.

Nandana has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the birds of Sri Lanka and an ability to spot different species accurately at some distance.  He is patient with his quests and always takes considerable trouble to ensure that they are able to see and identify whichever bird or animal is in view.  He clearly has a passion for ornithology and a deep desire to see the environment of Sri Lankan cared for and protected.

Throughout our trip he was courteous and discreet.  He was never critical when we showed tiredness or lack of interest, but would always do his utmost to ensure our safety and comfort at all times.  He drove us for many miles, but always with care and consideration for our comfort, we both considered his driving to be safe despite many different road and traffic conditions.  He always knew where he was and which road to take to get us to our destination.

Our experience in Sri Lanka was of the highest quality, largely due to the expert care and attention of our guide, Nandana.

Dr John Poyser
Mrs Jane Lloyd


Tour in Sri Lanka - Dr John Poyser and Mrs Jan Loyed


Notes for travellers from UK

Travel

The roads in Sri Lanka are small, with only one motorway in the entire country.  As a result even short journeys can take several hours.  Additionally the condition of the roads is poor with multiple potholes on all surfaces, many roads being dirt tracks only.  Traffic is slow and haphazard with lorries and buses seeming to travel at dangerously high speeds with little care or regard for other road users.  As a result journeys are longer and more stressful than expected.  The long times spent sitting and the high temperatures can lead to ankle swelling.

Money

It is difficult to obtain Sri Lankan Rupees in the UK and also unnecessary as it is easy to exchange British Pounds in the airport.  There are ATMs available quite widely also.  Sri Lanka is a “tipping economy” and virtually all people who render a service expect a tip.  The usual tip starts at 100 rupees (about 50p) for the bell boy who carries a bag.  Guides who take you into the national parks will expect 700 – 1000 rupees for a day’s guiding.  Also beware too small a tip, leaving 20 rupees is considered an insult, a sort of backhanded comment, and is worse than leaving no tip at all.

Leeches and Mosquitoes

Sri Lanka is not without its dangers from a health point of view, although malaria is not currently a problem.  There is however a viral illness called Dengue Fever which is carried by mosquitoes. It is widespread throughout Asia and appears in Sri Lanka.  Although mostly it manifests itself like Flu it can be serious and even fatal.  Therefore it would seem to be wise to avoid being bitten.  Simple measures like wearing long sleeve shirts and trousers in the hotter and more humid areas would seem to be sensible, although extremely uncomfortable.  Probably less necessary in the High Upland areas and by the coast.  Using a mosquito repellent can radically reduce bites, DEET being the most widely advised.  DEET is an unpleasant smelling spray on liquid and is very greasy, but it is very effective.  It comes in various strengths, but 100% DEET lasts for up to 8 hours, and therefore probably the best.  It is also worth considering insect repellent clothing.  These garments are woven from a yarn which is itself insect repellent, they are widely available and inexpensive.

Land leeches are common in the rainforest areas in Sri Lanka.  They hide under leaves on the ground or on the leaves of bushes and attach themselves on contact.  They seek a meal based upon following carbon dioxide breathed out by animals and by sensing vibration.  Standing still in long grass is very likely lead to leeches being attracted.  Although they carry no disease the bites can be very itchy and may bleed quite profusely for a while.  Uncommonly the may become infected.  Simple measures can effectively reduce bites.  Firstly, insect repellent clothing and DEET also dissuade leeches effectively, secondly, it makes sense to wear leech socks.  These are fine dense material, sock shaped, and worn over the outside of trousers but inside boots.  It is possible to buy these online in the UK but local types are also available in Sri Lanka.  Finally use common sense, walking in open sandals, shorts and short sleeved tee shirts is very likely to lead to leech bites.   In a three week tour, using these methods, our party of two suffered no leech bites and only 7 mosquito bites.

Altitude

The highland areas of Sri Lanka average about 2500 metres and walking vigorously at that altitude may lead to rapid onset of breathlessness in even fit people.  There is unlikely to be altitude problems, but fatigue and breathlessness may occur so just take things very steadily.

Dr John Poyser (2013)

 


Comments on our tour

Mount Lavinia Hotel, Colombo

Mount Lavinia Hotel is an old colonial style building with considerable character and charm. The staff are very welcoming and the rooms are spacious and clean. Access to the beach is possible but difficult and crossing the railway track could be dangerous. The food is excellent, there is a good choice, the sweets being particularly well presented.

Plantation Hotel, Kitulgala

A very welcoming hotel. Our room was excellent, it was very spacious with very good air conditioning. The furniture was of high quality and the veranda was a particular delight. We saw as many interesting bird species from the veranda as we did in the forest ! The bathroom was also very spacious and of high quality. The room was very clean. The food was disappointing however. The menu had little Sri Lankan food and the western food was of only average quality.

Sigirya Lodge Hotel, Sigirya

This is a beautiful hotel, the rooms each being a small bungalow in well kept grounds. The Fireflies were particularly delightful. The food was good but not excellent. Overall the hotel was clean and welcoming and very convenient for Sigirya Rock. In terms of the tour overall, Jane and I would have preferred to stay longer here, to take a tour of the Rock for one day and polonaruwa on a separate day. It was a shame to do both these visits on the same day.

Hotel Suisse, Kandy

Another grand colonial building, very smart and with excellent staff.
The room was spacious and clean, although we didn’t get a lake view room even though one was booked. The restaurant was excellent, the head waiter was particularly good, very caring and keen to help. The food was also very good, with a wide range of items and excellent sweets. We would have liked more time in the botanical gardens and so would have preferred two nights here.

Tour in Sri Lanka - Dr John Poyser and Mrs Jan Loyed enjoying Sri Lankan tea
Tour in Sri Lanka - Dr John Poyser and Mrs Jan Loyed enjoying Sri Lankan tea

Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliyah

Another excellent hotel with a wide range of services. The room was good although only of medium size. The restaurant was particularly good and had excellent entertainment in the evening. There is also a very good bar. The short walk to the Park and the city combined with the very pleasant climate make this a very good destination.

Hibiscus Hotel, Tissamaharama

This is a modern hotel. It is a long way from the road and access is poor. The rooms are all bungalows and quite nicely furnished, but only of average size with a small poorly equipped bathroom. The restaurant was quite good with a good range of foods and with daily specials made to order by the chef. The staff were very willing, but not trained adequately and so the service was below standard. It was particularly irritating to see the manager sitting and watching his staff struggle when they needed help and direction. The reception staff were also poor, I was asked to give them my credit card and then was asked to tell them my PIN. In the light of the fraud against my card, I did feel the staff here needed a lot more training.

Martin’s Lodge, Sinharaja Forest

The stay in Martin’s Lodge was definitely something Jane and I won’t forget. The welcome was friendly and the food very much of a plain home cooked sort. Of all the places we stayed, Nandana was obviously most comfortable there. However Jane and I were not at all comfortable. Our room was below the main dining area in a sort of cellar. The walls and floors were wet as was the bedding. The beds were very uncomfortable and there were leeches everywhere, although not in the room. The lodge is just not of sufficient standard to be used on the sort of tour we were expecting. We only went into the rain forest for half a day and we would have preferred to stay in higher class accommodation and travel to the forest. We saw only a few birds we hadn’t seen at Kitulgala. If there isn’t any better place to stay then I would seriously advise you to describe the accommodation at the lodge to your guests and allow them the choice of whether they included that or not. I suppose the serious birders would probably still go, although I would have paid a lot to you to stay somewhere else.

Unawatuna Beach Hotel, Galle

This modern beach hotel is very good, the accommodation typical of a beach hotel, clean and well serviced if a little small. Beds were comfortable. The restaurant was good with a reasonable range of food, although not the best of the trip. We enjoyed the whale watching although the captain and the crew seemed very inexperienced and not as good at finding whales as others we have experienced elsewhere. The restaurants on the beach were also convenient and interesting as were the short walks to the temple and the village.


Sri Lanka Blue Magpie Sri Lanka Leopard

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie | Sri Lanka Leopard

 

Crested Hawk EagleRhyno horned Lizard

Crested Hawk Eagle | Rhyno horned Lizard

Author/s of the report: 
Dr. John Poyser
Group size: 
2
Members of the group (clients): 
Dr. John Poyser
Mrs. Jane Lloyd