Keith Pigdon's Trip Report

Trip Report Title: 
Trip Report - BIRDING, WILDLIFE & CULTURE TOUR 1 – 16 April, 2013 by Keith Pigdon
Tour Strat: 
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Tour End: 
Monday, April 15, 2013

Trip Report Year:

Keith Pigdon, Nancye Pigdon  and Margaret Wilson, from Melbourne, Australia

Three retired adults were met at the airport on arrival in Sri Lanka and driven to our hotel in the wee small hours of the morning by our careful and very pleasant trip driver Manju. A great way to start a visit to a new country! We had been well prepared for the visit through numerous email contacts with Jith and the detailed information he provided on currency, tipping, food, health, clothing etc.

We met our very knowledgeable and friendly guide Upali on the first day and were each presented with a great little package containing an excellent map of Sri Lanka, a pocket bird book and a tally list to keep records of what we were to see. All of these were of great use to us throughout the trip. Nice touch Jith. Our vehicle was a new A/C comfortable van. Given the problems we had had with a poor quality vehicle on a previous trip to Africa we were well pleased with the van.

Nancye, Manju, Upali and Margaret
Nancye, Manju, Upali and Margaret

We visited the Sea Turtle Conservation Research Project at Benota on our way to Mirissa.  Great work being done here.  The project pays locals a premium rate for the eggs they collect which the locals then use to buy other food. The eggs are buried and every night hatchlings emerge from their burrows and make their way into the water. Some mature turtles there too.

Releasing Turtles at Kosgoda
Releasing Turtles

Jith booked us on a blue whale trip from Mirissa and we were fortunate to view that largest animal that has ever lived on the Earth. A personal goal for us.

Yala National Park is one of the great parks of the world. The birdlife was fantastic, we had close sightings and took some great photos. There is a variety of habitats within the park for many kinds of birds and other animals. We were fortunate to have three leopard sightings, two of which found us first on the scene. That was really exciting.  We stayed at the Chandrika Hotel which was very comfortable.

Sri Lanka Leopard at Yala

Next port of call was the amazing Sinharaja rainforest where many of the nation’s endemic birds are to be found. Martin’s Lodge provides friendly, but basic accommodation and is very close to the action. Into the high country we travelled to Nuwara Eliya and stayed at the Binota Residency. This was a colonial outpost where the Brits could relax in the coolness of the summer. Marvellous market gardens and good birding. In Kandy we stayed at the lovely Suisse Hotel. MPS Village was our resort style accommodation at Dambulla and finally to the Tamarind Tree Hotel for our last night.

Thanks to Jith’s careful and thoughtful organisation, to Upali’s great experience, knowledge and kindness and Manju’s careful driving and good company we had an excellent trouble free experience. We also felt that we learned a great deal about the flora, fauna, farming, culture and life in Sri Lanka. On many previous trips, we found that often our questions remained unanswered. Not so when you walk with Jith.

The cost was also very reasonable given the level of service, the standard of accommodation and food. I’d have liked something more comfortable for the rainforest but that does not seem to be available. A small investment in Martin’s Lodge would lift the standard, but Martin has achieved a great deal in his life and deserves our support. Maybe we had too many buffet dinners for our liking, but that is hard to avoid on this type of tour where almost everything is pre-paid. I highly recommend this company.

 

Photos on Picasa Web; All photos taken by Keith Pigdon during his tour with Walk With Jith in 2013

Author/s of the report: 
Keith Pigdon

Country:

Group size: 
3
Members of the group (clients): 
Keith Pigdon
Nancye Pigdon
Margaret Wilson
Tour Guide: 
Upali