Trip to Sri Lanka - Jun 18 - Jun 30, 2018
Our guide, Denver, was absolutely wonderful. Not only was he incredibly knowledgable, and always willing to answer our million and one questions about Sri Lanka, but also one of the kindest warmest hearted people I've ever had the privilege to meet. I can't recommend him highly enough. Sajith was brilliant in helping me to plan the trip, too - he was so fast in sorting things out and in communicating his suggestions, and kimkim in general took a huge amount of stress out of the process for us. We loved that kimkim works with ethical companies and makes suggestions on those grounds, particularly in regards to the best place we could go to see elephants.
The highlight was definitely the elephant safari at Udawalawe; other favourite things were the views of the mountains in Kandy, climbing Sigiriya and the views over the the lake at Giritale, from Deer Park Hotel. We found the people everywhere we stayed so kind, courteous and helpful, and the countryside astonishingly beautiful!
We do have a couple of pieces of feedback - I hope this helps!
1. The Kandalama Heritance was extraordinary! We only regretted that we didn't get to spend more time there as we arrived after a long day of sightseeing and then had to leave very early the next morning. I felt that if someone expresses a wish to stay at Kandalama, you could maybe build in either two nights there or at least plan the schedule so that guests can arrive in time to enjoy the hotel a little more.
2. The cooking class in Kandy was wonderful! We'd highly recommend that location again for anyone thinking of doing a class like that.
3. The trek planned for us in Kandy was really enjoyable overall and the guide was great. However, this was not something we discussed in correspondence at all - our guides told us that this hike was the 'easy' option, and that it was one that lots of guests are very happy to do, but for us, it was simply not an appropriate skill level to book us in for without letting us know in advance. Neither of us had the correct footwear or clothing, with the result that I felt very unsafe walking on slippery surfaces in high winds and at those heights. Denver told us that he'd assumed we'd be fine with the trek as we are a young couple and appeared healthy - but I feel strongly that you cannot make assumptions about people's health on the grounds of appearance as injuries and/or fears are not visible; and that you should simply discuss the option of adding a trek to an itinerary and make sure people have the option to make an informed decision if they would like to do it.
4. This point is somewhat similar to the above - there were a few other stops which had been planned for us which we would rather not have done. The tea factory visit was genuinely interesting and a wonderful way to get to know this important element of the Sri Lankan economy - but the spice garden, wood factory and gem factory visits were frustrating. We felt no pressure from Denver to buy something, and he always made that very clear, but we did feel a lot of pressure in each of those locations from the staff to buy things we didn't want. We simply didn't appreciate the lack of choice in whether we went to these places or not. I understand that guides possibly receive commissions to take guests to these factories, but I just wanted to let you know that this element of the trip was not ideal for us.
I hope that this is all taken as suggestions to what is already an incredible company providing an amazing service! We adored our trip and have many wonderful memories of a beautiful culture to carry with us :)