OtherWhut

September in Sri Lanka with Experientially

Apparently TripAdvisor doesn’t yet allow reviews of tour operators—which is a real shame, because if you were to book a holiday to somewhere like Sri Lanka you could really benefit from the expertise of someone who knows their way around. Hotels are pretty easy to find and book, of course, but while you could technically use any one stop to arrange for transport to the next, why not let someone else take care of that for you?

That’s exactly what we did for our inaugural visit to the island, with a company called Experientially. Full disclosure: we made our initial contact with the owner through a family connection, but as far as I know no special consideration was given to us.

Experientially laid a one-two punch on our 10-day stay in Sri Lanka that knocked us off our feet… in a good way!

The Brains

Rukman, the owner of the business, came up with a fantastic itinerary that included all the major stops in The Cultural Triangle, the famous train ride through tea plantations and up into the mountains, a safari, the southern beaches plus a shopping day in Colombo before our flight home. There was one snag which was quickly addressed—Yala National Park was unfortunately closed during our visit so we were diverted to Udawalawe and a night at a resort there. No complaints from us!

Point-hoarders be warned: Experientially is not yet set up to take international credit cards; our deposit and payment had to be made through bank wire transfers from Canada. Still worth it.

The Brawn

As soon as we landed our driver, Nayomal, met us at the airport. I can’t stress this enough: having the same driver and vehicle each and every day made our tour so much easier. It certainly helped that the vehicle was a roomy, late-model sedan with ample air conditioning. And our driver? Well, he quickly became our hero.

Not only did Nayomal easily navigate everything from Colombo Tuk-Tuks to random cattle crossings, but he always had a lunch stop at a good restaurant in his back pocket. He was also willing to stop pretty much anywhere for an impromptu visit to a temple or some other photo opp. This was a subtle but important aspect of our trip; our itinerary was a plan rather than gospel, and we felt very much at ease taking our time with the things we wanted to see and do. Though I don’t think English was Nayomal’s first language, we had no trouble communicating—in fact, I’d say we got along great. One of my many lasting memories will be driving through the countryside listening to Sri Lankan music on the car stereo.

Nayomal, if you’re reading this, we miss you! And Rukman, thanks so much for putting together such a memorable trip!

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