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The miracle that is Lanka

After much deliberation over taking a toddler for a trip overseas, we finally decided to take the plunge. To mark our 5th wedding Anniversary, we decided to visit our friendly neighbourhood- Sri Lanka. With the husband being pretty tied up with work, the entire task of the concept, scheduling, planning and execution fell squarely on my shoulders. I plunged into action a good two months in advance, taking some planning tips from Aparna who had recently planned and executed a marvellous trip to New Zealand. I did an initial cursory survey of the must-visit places with kids on Trip Advisor and checked out itineraries with the popular tour operators like SOTC and Cox & Kings. It took me a while to get acquainted with the Srilankan city names and with it the associated sights they offered. Google and the map of Sri Lanka remained my best buddies during this period.

A country that is a size of our Tamil Nadu has a huge lot to offer as a tourist destination. From culturally rich places of historical significance like Polonnaruwa, Anuradharapura, Kandy with Sigiriya in the centre (also known as the cultural Triangle), to Hill resorts like Nuwara Eliya that abounds with breathtaking natural beauty, to various Wildlife parks that houses Elephants, leopards, jackals, bears, deer and a myriad of bird species, to the pristine and clear beaches along the southern coast leading up to the capital city of Colombo. Most sites suggest at least 10-14 days stay to get a taste of the variety. However, with a tour span of 7 days that we could afford with respect to time at disposal and the pocket, we tried to do as much justice as was possible. Keeping R's nature and interest in mind, I felt that a package that covered more of wildlife and nature would be ideal.

As the next step, I scoured the net for the best tour deals and a customized itinerary. The popular ones seemed a little rigid with customizing option and also a little steep on the wallet. Going by the showcased Ads, one was inclined to assume that most preferred the more popular locales of Singapore and Malaysia over Sri Lanka. A little further digging led me to this site- Miracle Sri Lanka, a tour operator based out of Sri Lanka that specialized in customized budget and luxury packages. We decided that if we had to cover more places in a short span, we would have to adjust with budget hotels. I was a little apprehensive about going with a lesser known operator. But, it proved to be a risk that paid off well in the end. I looked for the guest reviews for this operator, scanned their website and Facebook profile to my satisfaction and then contacted them for the deal and picked out one that suited my requirements. After some back and forth of emails with the operator guys, we decided on a itinerary that covered Pinnewale en route Kandy, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Yala (pronounced as Yaal-a), Unawatuna, Galle and Colombo. We were to cover the entire distance by road. They were to provide an English speaking chauffeur and an A/c vehicle as a part of the package deal.

A not-so-popular destination and an off-beat route of hiring a local tour operator- a road less taken you'd say? My stomach had butterflies even as I sealed the deal, made the flight bookings and the Visa application online. This was my first trip on foreign shores and hell, I was making all the calls!

Comments

  1. I assume there is a part (2?3?) coming along in some time...:) The pics were great! Would love to know more details. SL has been on our list for the longest time. We actually booked the entire trip once and didn't go because I became pregnant! Which was the beachy place - Galle? Is Bentota too touristy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. more details coming up, Aparna.
      The beach was at Unawatuna, Galle. Didn't go to Bentota. I presume it is a popular beach location.
      We were planning this trip since three years now..something would go wrong each time..two years ago we had planned the whole trip but later realized that the hubby's passport was nearing expiry date! :-)

      Delete
  2. Errr...we need a part 2 babes!!

    and hats off and falling at feet...I cant believe you had the guts to travel with R all the way to Lanka...I think you both are great


    @Aparna: RM falls at your feet..big time..all the way to NZ!! baap rey!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Parts 2,3, etc will be coming soon :-)
      Hmm..your R is older to mine re..it should be a lot smoother I'd say..give it a try..although am not saying managing our R was a cake walk..;-)

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  3. let me first commend you for all the research and planning. I think that is the biggest thing that needs to be done properly, only after which one can truly enjoy the vacations... esp. with a todd! *APPLAUSE*

    and yeah, what to say about ur trip... it makes me wanna go there!! so yes, let me just put Lanka on the list now. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aww..thanks, Purnima. I am not at all a "at-the-moment" person. So planning was necessary although I was prepared for some unseen changes in the itinerary..
      Sure, you must go!

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  4. Wow, Uma! Sri Lanka has been our dream destination too! Please do some pics, must sees, must do's etc too! A must eat would also be nice, I think their food is pretty similar to us or not? Welcome back too:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Vibha..will post all details with pics in parts. Details for day 1 is already up.
      Thanks :-)

      Delete
  5. Uma, loved your approach of choosing a local operator.. waiting to catch up on the rest :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Aparna..it was a risk in a way but glad that it paid off well.

      Delete

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