Trip to wonderful Sri Lanka with disappointing travel company - Dec 21 - Jan 6, 2020

Traveler: Steve H. - Local specialist: Sandun Jayasundara

We had a 23 day stay in Sri Lanka including 17 day tour with Experiential Travel under Kim Kim as a group of 4 with my son and partner.
This was an expensive comprehensive tour including 3 national parks, Sigiriya, Kandy Ella with a train trip between the last 2 destinations booked as a highlight.
We were all very much looking forward to seeing Sri Lanka and it is a wonderful country.
Unfortunately I really cannot recommend the travel company. Organisation and communication was very poor. Right from the beginning the usual guide called off sick and another chauffeur/guide was appointed. Several days later we found out that he had never worked for the company and really took the view that he was only doing a favour for his friend. He spoke very halting English and gave very little commentary for the whole trip. He did not know the itinerary and really did seem to want to provide the bare minimum that the program allowed for. His van was rather old and unreliable and at one stage we wasted time in Kandy waiting for it to be fixed.
Worst of all the travel company had not bothered to buy tickets for the Kandy to Ella train which is a major highlight of any trip to Sri Lanka. This was known by the travel company and the driver and they tried to gloss over the problem and just take is in the van. Only after a lot of stressful negotiation, the driver managed to get 3rd class tickets for a portion of the journey only. The wrong hotel was listed in the itinerary for Kandy and we wasted hours trying to sort this out.
Accommodation and food in the jungle camp In Willpatu was poor, and out of step with the rest of the tour. Better accommodation and food is available but we were never given any options.
We did get a small compensation in the form of a free lunch and accommodation was improved in subsequent camps but only after a lot of pleading and negotiation and very reluctantly.
Right throughout there was a lack of honesty and transparency.
Sri Lanka is a wonderful country and we really enjoyed 6 days on our own at the end in Colombo I would highly recommend visiting but not with Experiential Travel, and I will not be using Kim Kim again.