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Travel in Sri Lanka - Dengue Fever

(16 Posts)
Emmjo Fri 27-Apr-18 13:35:14

We are in the initial planning stages of a 16 day trip to Sri Lanka with our two girls, aged 9 and 12, for next Easter - April 2019. When we went to Costa Rica last year we booked everything independently and this worked out cheaper and allowed us to pick every hotel and travel from the east to the west coast in our own time.

However from what we have read so far driving in Sri Lanka is not for the faint hearted and it looks like it might be easier to book with a tour? We have found a company called JetWings which looks great and the tours they offer tick all of our boxes, we have been able to tweak hotels, incorporate the train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella and add extra days at Yala National Park for the safari.

Has anyone had any experience with this company? We have travelled with Kuoni before but we weren't impressed with the hotels they were offering. It would be really nice to hear of any recommendations or experience with this particular company! TIA.

OP’s posts: |
Emmjo Fri 27-Apr-18 13:38:32

Sorry also, we were very concerned about the Dengue fever situation last year, we understand Dengue Fever is more prevalent in all tropical locations now but in Sri Lanka in 2017, the Ministry of Health saw 186,101 cases, about 3 1/2 times the number of cases reported in 2016. Is there anyone who went during last years rainy season, we'd really like to know what the situation was like on the ground. Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
Xbex7 Fri 27-Apr-18 20:32:12

Hi I don't have any advice but joining as we are in initial planning to go to Sri Lanka next Year April or October with 13 and 15 yr olds.

Girlgoneglobal Sun 29-Apr-18 14:32:19

Do not drive! It is appalling and stressful. I did because I lived there and we had a car but we hired drivers (lots). Cars drive like lunatics but it's the busses that are lethal.

None of your itinerary is that far away from each other as the crow flies but the infrastructure means it takes hours to travel anywhere.

Jetwing is fine. Their hotels are high-end for Sri Lanka. It's probably the highest end local tour company you can have and therefore you will pay. It may not quite meet expectations or feel VFM but it will be your best bet there.

Yes, dengue is a problem. All you can do is take the normal precautions to try not to get to bitten.

PM me if you have any questions.

Emmjo Mon 30-Apr-18 11:43:32

Thank you!
So far our plan is to stay near Dambulla to see the Cave Temple, bike around Polonnaruwa and safari at Minneriya.
Then we are moving onto Kandy to see the Sigiriiya Rock, Temple of the Tooth and Gadaladeniya Temple.
Then onto Jetwing St Andrews and visits to Macwoods Tea Factory, Horton Plains and Worlds End.
We then plan to take the train to Ella which we have been told takes about 3 hours.
Then the last 6 days at Jetwing Surf (to relax) and Jetwing Yala for safari. Girlgoneglobal does this sound sensible!? we will be there for 15 days.
TIA! Emma.

OP’s posts: |
Girlgoneglobal Mon 30-Apr-18 13:43:00

It's basically Sri Lanka!

It's pushing it with two adults but
A LOT of travel with children that ages. And travel is long and slow in Sri Lanka. You can lose days to it.

Additionally your spokes mean that something like Polonnaruwa is about 90 minutes to two hours from Dambulla (there and back) depending on traffic, so that's potentially three to four hours travel for one site. Sigiriya is much closer to Dambulla than Kandy and the drive from St Andrews to Horton Plains is easily pushing an hour. Yala is a long drive from pretty much anywhere. Yala up to Colombo Airport is a good six/seven hours (at absolute best).

In all honesty I think you are being a bit over ambitious.

If I were you I would broadly do this Colombo - base yourself in Dambulla for a few days and visit Sigiriya and Minneriya from there - Kandy (although I think it's dreary and overrated but other people love it) - Pottuvil for Jetwing Surf and then down to Yala. Coming back stopping in Galle or Tangalle.

I'd be brutal, and for the sake of family harmony cut Polonnaruwa, Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains. Ella can be stunning but there is not a lot there and accommodation is cheap and backpackey or horrendously expensive. Macwoods is really not that exciting, although the hill country can be stunning (when the sun shines).

Check the weather on the East Coast for Jetwing Surf. April is the hottest month on the West Coast which means the other side of the island is not so great. And there is NOTHING in Pottuvil. It's a teeny tiny village.

If you want a safari I'd go with Daya Jeep Safaris which don't look like much but are far the best local operation and actually care about the Park, unlike most of them which career around.

Girlgoneglobal Mon 30-Apr-18 13:47:01

@Xbex7 whatever you do please don't go in October! We were there for four years and October was terrible every single year.

We left one Saturday in October to do a week long road trip round the island and were back in Colombo by Weds it was so awful. And that weather was repeated for the next three years. And when it rains it really rains and Sri Lanka doesn't do wet weather options! April is a much better bet for the West Coast and dry region.

Annebronte Sun 06-May-18 08:33:47

Are you limited to Jetwing hotels if you use that company? We stayed at Cinammon Lodge in the cultural triangle, an easy distance from Siguriya, Minneriya and Polunnaruwa. Visited Dambulla caves on way to Kandy. Then train to Ella, few days st Yala, then beach near Tangalle and a day in Galle on way back to Colombo. I wished we’d had time for 2 nights each in Galle and Colombo too. Compare Jetwings price to similar route with Selective Asia, who might give you more variety of hotels. They are very good and helpful in suggesting alternatives to suit budgets (whether up or down).

Xbex7 Sun 06-May-18 11:52:32

Thanks for the advice about weather in October. We are now thinking of going over xmas and new year. Any suggestions or tips would be great?
Thanks

Annebronte Mon 07-May-18 07:46:33

Xbex, what kind of suggestions are you after. We went over Christmas and it was fantastic!

Tinlegs Mon 07-May-18 07:53:00

We did it independently and just hired a car with a driver (standard there). We also went in October but the afternoon rain is only on the West coast, the climate changes as you go East.

Try Red Dot Tours.

Xbex7 Mon 07-May-18 11:02:23

Annebronte, any suggestions welcome, where to stay, places to visit, where to eat,
My youngest has additional needs so need to plan, research and prepare as much as possible.
Any recommendations or ideas much appreciated.
Thanks

Emmjo Mon 07-May-18 21:54:27

Thank you for all of your advice! We are currently shifting things about to see what we can fit in. Our problem is we travelled across Costa Rica last year - from the atlantic coast to the volcanos to the rainforest and onto the pacific coast - and all loved moving about, seeing different places etc. The girls were great with the travelling and we thought we could do the same here. The difference is we booked everything independently and were hoping to do the same in Sri Lanka, but it seems much more tricky to arrange things and driving seems to be a bad idea.

We will have a look at Selective Asia, we liked Jetwing because they were very clear with their itinerary and the hotels looked nice and central! Thank you, I'm sure we will be writing back soon. X

OP’s posts: |
SJane45S Tue 08-May-18 13:24:08

Just booked flights over the weekend to go to Sri Lanka (and funnily enough, did Costa Rica 2 years ago!). We've got a 2 centre holiday planned - staying in Tandy (and doing day trips to Sigiriya and Dambulla and potentially Nuwara from there) and then Tangalle (and day tripped to one of the national wildlife reserves). Haven't booked it yet but have costed private transfers between Colombo/Kandy/Tangalle/Colombo. While I'm sure a tour company would be less of a pain and easier, the cost just seems a heck of a lot more! We'll have our 11 year old DD with us - it's probably not seeing the most or best of the place but there's only so much time away from a swimming pool that she (and the DH!) will tolerate. And yes, Dengue is concerning but will take the same precautions as in Costa Rica - deet, plug ins and spray for the clothes. My DD didn't get a single bite in CR, last year in Sicily though she was a itchy bitten kid!

SJane45S Tue 08-May-18 13:28:58

ps - not sure if this helps and I'm sure you've already looked but the flights I've booked for the 3 of us for April 2-019 came in at £1373 return on Kuwait Airlines from Gatwick. While they look ok from research, the transfer time in Kuwait on the way out is tight so hoping not to be spending a day in Kuwait! Emirates might be a better option and release flights next month for April but went on impulse as the Kuwait Air flights price was extremely reasonable!

Annebronte Wed 09-May-18 19:11:38

We moved around quite a bit - mostly in car with driver but one fab train trip - Kandy to Ella. Highlights were Sigiriya Rock, Polunnarawa and Minneriya for huge herds of elephants. Cinammon Lodge is a great base for visiting those places and rest of Cultural Triangle. It has decent rooms, beautiful grounds, a lovely pool and great food. In Kandy, the Cinammon is also good, so is Secret Kandy. The Temple if the Toorhnus a must-see. In Ella we liked 98 Acres; it’s in a beautiful spot surrounded by tea, with lovely walking trails nearby. Great for birding. You can cook dinner with the chef, who is great with kids. Yala Reserve is worth it unless you've been on an African safari. Loads of great places on the coast - we loved Buckingham Place, which is one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It is remote though, so if you want a lively setting and whale watching, you’d be better in or near Mirissa.

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