The Perfect Time to Visit Sri Lanka
By Exodus’ Katherine Tory, who recently travelled on our Discover Sri Lanka holiday.
Sri Lanka has suffered with numerous problems for many years, however it is now free of these issues and the kind and smiling people of this diverse country are welcoming travellers back with open arms.
The trip took us to all the popular and well-known spots of Sri Lanka but also included some hidden gems that many people don't get the chance to experience; and I got to do all of this with a great bunch of fellow travellers.
The group certainly appreciated seeing all the cultural aspects of Sri Lanka, including Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Kandy, as well as learning so much about the country's history from our hugely experienced leader, Roshan Fernando (see Roshan's story below). However, I know the additional element of so many activities en-route really made the trip for them. Amongst other things we rode elephants, cycled through villages and around lakes, walked in the jungle and up on the Horton Plains, rafted some grade III rapids and took a game drive in Yala National Park, where we successfully spotted a leopard! Ten forms of transportation were used in all, from rafts to tuk tuks, letting us see the country from every angle, literally!
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The itinerary was ideal and suited everyone, as it's so flexible, although the vast majority of activities are included, you don't have to do anything you don't want to and people made it as leisurely or challenging as they wished it to be.
Travellers are now returning to Sri Lanka so if you fancy seeing this great country, before it gets too busy, I suggest now is the time to book!
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My experience as an Exodus tour leader
By veteran Exodus leader, Roshan Fernando
I joined Exodus in 1997 and have lead 148 trips to date. I will be leading my 150th trip on the 5th of December 2010. Working as an Exodus leader has been great and I have learned so much from Exodus and their clients.
Exodus clients understand the different cultures and are keen to know about all aspects of the countries they visit which makes my job very interesting. I have had great pleasure in taking people around and showing my beautiful country. I have been privileged to hear the good comments the clients have made and as a result, learned to admire my country more than I ever did.
Exodus as a company has been very easy to work with - the Trip Notes and the pre-departure literature is very accurate and the clients know what to expect on a trip. There is therefore no pressure on me and so I can blend with the group and enjoy the trip as much as the clients do. The training programmes conducted by Exodus have helped me understand the British way of life and culture.
The trips are all different to each other as far as group dynamics are concerned. Therefore every trip is special in its own unique way, which adds variety to my job. The groups are great fun and there is never a dull moment.
Tourism in Sri Lanka had suffered very badly because of the civil war, which went on for over 25 years. Exodus kept running trips at a time when our economy was down and we badly needed tourists. Exodus helped us at difficult times and has been a responsible travel company and I am proud to be a member of this team. We have built houses for tsunami victims and help them get back on their feet again. Exodus has been a true friend of Sri Lanka and offered support when it was needed. Fortunately the war has come to an end and tourism looks very promising. I invite all readers to visit my beautiful country and have the trip of your life.
I have really enjoyed working for Exodus and am hoping to work for them for many more years to come.
The project that was not planned – ‘Back to Life’
The day that the tsunami hit Sri Lanka, I was leading an Exodus trip and it was the second day. After the tsunami the group had the option to go home if they wanted to, but they decided to continue and at the end of the trip they raised over a £1000, which they gave me to help some tsunami victims.
Our beach hotel on the south coast was completely destroyed by the tsunami. The owner of the hotel and some hotel staff members died.
There were three families who lost their breadwinners, who were working in the hotel. These three families also lost their homes and ended up in a refugee camp. I used the money I got to build a house for the family with the most children. The timely visit of Peter Burrell, the Managing Director of Exodus, helped to make a goose that laid golden eggs. Peter allocated £5000 to help the other two displaced families. As a result we built them houses, bought boats, engines and nets to make sure that they would have a steady income.
I took Exodus clients to visit these houses and they kept contributing to the project. As a result, I was able to stretch the project to twelve houses. Had it not been for Exodus and their clients, these families would still be living in refugee camps. Thank you very much for thinking of my country at a time we badly needed your support.