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As it says in the description, this is a wildlife and adventure tour. There will be lots of hiking, there will be a lot of driving from place to place driving in Sri Lanka is part of the Adventure, and yes you will see tons of animals. The tour starts off very calm in a nice beach resort. The first activity is a ride down the Madu River. The Madu River can be fun if you keep your expectation of the actual boat ride low and are open to doing more than just sitting in the boat. The boat driver will give you the option of stopping at Cinnamon Island, stopping to get a fish foot massage, stopping at the Buddhist temple, and stopping to get a coconut to drink from. I recommend doing them all. The second activity will take you into the rain forest. The rain forest is beautiful but keep in mind it is a real rain forest and there are real snakes, leeches, monkeys, insects, and did I mention lots of leeches. You will hike into the rain-forest 2 to 3 hours and it will be great fun, but wear appropriate clothing or at least purchase leech socks. After that you will have two incredible days of being on safari. Lots of elephants, and tons of wildlife to see. Yala is by far one of nicest camping experiences you will ever have. This is luxury camping at its best. Once the safaris are over, get ready to do some serious hiking. In Ella you will hike up little Adams peek and over the nine arch bridge. This is about 4 hours of hiking. The views are well worth it. Ella is by far one of the most spectacular places you will ever see. The next activity will be another 4 hours of hiking difficult terrain in Horton Plains. The last activity that you will do is river rafting. This is a fun activity but extremely short with only a few rapids. Keep your expectations low on the length of the ride and be prepared to swim. Your guide will try to make it as fun as possible and that includes you jumping out of the raft at the end, and floating some mild rapids on your back. The only thing I would change would be skipping Horton Planes and having another night in Yala or Ella.
Our driver and guide was Shalika Fonseka. He went out of his way to make sure we had a great time. He spoke a fair amount of English and was extremely accommodating. Not everything went perfect but Shalika adapted or improvised to make the trip great. He pushed us to do activities that I probably wouldnt normally do. He made suggestions of additional activities when we had the time . Sahalika understood what we were interested in doing, and made it happen.
The tour company is where they lost a star from me. Their communication was poor and they did things that I consider to be bad business practices. The first thing we noticed is that when they confirmed my booking I was sent an itinerary same as in the description on the web site in October. When we arrived two months later...some of the hotels on the itinerary had changed. If they had just communicated this to us, it probably wouldnt have been an issue. It just felt like a bait and switch since some of the hotels were not exactly what I expected and seemed subpar. The second issue I had was managing my arrival. I knew I would have an early flight and arrive at the first hotel early. It was my fault to assume that I could have the hotel hold my luggage, relax on the beach, and use the resort facilities until a room was ready. The tour company had my arrival time two months in advance and choose not to communicate with me until less than 1 day prior to arrival. They said via e-mail that since I would be arriving early 5am. I would need to purchase another night stay at my expense. The problem with that was, my flight with time changes and flight duration from the US to Sri Lanka is a two days travel. I never got the last minute communication even though with 1 day notice that would not have mattered. It would have been nice for them to let me know that the hotel would not allow this and that for an additional fee the tour company would be happy to help me reserve an additional night stay at my expense. When I arrived at the hotel, they did not want us there until check in time and they had no other rooms available for purchase. Thanks to Shalika, we were able to go start our adventures early although very tired and not too happy with this company. The last issue that we had was that they were pushing me to review the trip half way through. It felt like they were pushing for good review before I noticed the switch in hotels. I will give them credit for putting together a very exciting and adventurous tour, and for the hiring a quality driver. In the end I was extremely happy with my vacation and I had a wonderful time. If you are open to adventure, dont mind hiking, love wildlife, and can handle the adventure of Sri Lankas roadsthen this is the tour for you!!!
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