Hill Country Itinerary Help
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Oct 19, 2012 10:59 PM Last Post By: LuoLong
Oct 13, 2012 4:55 PM
Hill Country Itinerary HelpGood day all,
long story short; I will have about 5 days and 4 night in Hill Country and would like to do the following:
trek of World's end OR Adams Peak
I will be leaving from Matara on day 1 and need to be in Colombo (well near the airport) by the end of day 5
I have the guide book and a map and have been studying both like crazy but I can't seem to be able to formulate a sensible route.
The goal is to minimize traveling and maximize activity time. Any recommendations?
For example could I hit up Uda, then World's End, then Ella, then to Columbo? or is that pushing it?
Follow-up Q: we'll be there late Feb and like to stay in mid-range places. Should we book in advance? I like to be flexible but don;t like spending too much time wondering from hotel to hotel trying to find a room.
Thanks in advance!
Edited by: ngremion
Edited by: ngremion - added a Q
Oct 14, 2012 5:58 AM
My wife and I came back yesterday from an 11 days journey with personal driver. I prebooked the hotels all in advance. Arranged the driver at Colombo airport which took, half an hour (at 06AM!!!) for 55USD/day.
It is very tricky to plan in advance a tour through the highlands. I can fully understand you as I had the same problems while planning our tour. That's why I hope I could be a little bit usefull here...
This would be my recommendation (if you have a personal driver)
1 Matara - Uda Walawe (2 nights)
2 Uda safari
3 Uda - Ella(e) - train to NanuOya station near_Nuwara Eliya_ (2 nights)
4 Worlds End (Horton Plains)
5 Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
Before Wellawaya ( where the mountain roads start) count 50km/hour, after highlands to Kandy (25km/hour), check distances with google map. Do not underestimate the slow roads in Sri Lanka. It takes so much time to get around due to the trafic (except Sundays!!!) and especially if you like to stop every minute to enjoy your travel. I have travelled a lot in China and though those bus drivers are fast, but the drivers in Sri Lanka hit the record by far.
Have not been in Uda Walawe National park as this would have taken another 2 nights. I leave it for next time.
Ella(e)'s mountain area is amazing but you won't have much time to enjoy it, you can do this on the train ride to Nuweriya, check the train shedule (http://www.railway.gov.lk/index.php?lang=en)
Road from Nuwara Eliya to Adams Peak is under construction and one way takes 3 hours now thats why did not go for this trip. Will do it next time.
Book in advance as this will save you time and money. You only have a couple of days and the best top/midrange hotels are booked out very fast (even in the low season when we went). If you do so, don't forget to add VAT, Gov.tax and service charge, total average 20%).
Let me know if you have more questions,
Oct 14, 2012 6:39 AM
I am from Sri Lanka and working in the tourism industry. As far as my experience is concern, it is just 1.5 - 2 hours journey to Udawalawe from Matara. Via beliatta,road is very good. there are several routes to get there but this is the best route to save time.
If you leave matara bit early (5 AM), it will be possible to do early morning safari at udawalawe and reach Ella for late lunch.
From Udawalwe to ella, it must not take more than 2.5 hours. Again road is good and not much traffic. Make over night stay in Ella and do what ever the activities in the following day.
After excursion in Ella you can leave for Nuwara Eliya 2 hours journey from Ella, again road is very good and not a busy road. In the afternoon or the next day morning visit the horton plains nature reserve .
On the last day from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo 4-5 hours journey.
You have very easy program and can be done in 5 days.
Oct 14, 2012 6:49 AM
Oct 14, 2012 10:52 AM
4hey guys, thanks for the great replies!
@ Laurent: I live in Costa Rica and it's a pretty similar scene; short distances take for ever to cover which certainly concerns me. I appreciate your recommendations about booking in advance. I think I will as much as possible. What did you think of Nuwara Eliya? From what I read it isn't that great; more of a convenient basecamp for a few things which is why I was hoping to stay in Ella instead of there.
@ Padmal; thanks for the the great advice. You're onto something here! Just to confirm, you mean get to Ella for late dinner? Think we could grab a driver in Matara to do that: Matara > safari in Uda > get to Ella in 1 day? I don't mind getting up early and getting to Ella late.
You guys are great. Thanks again!
Oct 14, 2012 12:11 PM
We stayed 3 nights in Nureliya (Nuwara Eliya) as I prefered to book the good hotels in adance and I had to make somehow a decision. Futher on I prefered to stay more nights at the same place instead of check in/out in Kandy, Nureliya and Ella. You don't go to Nureliya nor Ella for visiting the village itself but the surroundings.
It is very convenient to make trips from Nureliya. We only spent 2 hours in Ella (Yes) before catching the train. I loved the nature, definitly good for hicking. May be people who stayed already in Ella have more info for you ...
As your goal is to minimize travelling I would not recommed to do Matara - Ella in one day. Sri Lanka is to beautifull just to drive through as we did sometimes. I would at least spent one night there.
(You live in Costa Rica so may be your eyes see things different as mine here in Luxembourg and you have more déjà-vu's)
Every time I asked our experienced driver how long it would take from A to B, it was very hard for him to give me an correct answer. Now I know why. Better calculate with the max. time instead of arriving after 06H00PM (when it is getting dark) at your next destination.
Hope it helps,
Oct 15, 2012 11:43 PM
Oct 16, 2012 12:35 AM
I too have some questions about your driver.
What does the $55 include exactly?
Do you have to book an extra room for the driver with meals etc for each place you stay?.
How do you know who is the most trustworthy from Columbo airport?
Do you have a company name or information on how to book a driver or from where you do this at the airport?
My partner and I have 7 nights in Sri Lanka and figure having a driver would be the most stress free as we hear its very hard to self navigate if you hire a car.
Also we are considering doing the night trek up to Adams peak and arriving there by morning for sunrise.
Can the driver just sit tight down the bottom for the many hours whilst he waits for our return? I'd feel a little guilty doing that.
Thanks for your help in advance
Oct 16, 2012 10:30 AM
Price 55USD (x0.8 =EURO) included everything as Toyota car, driver, gasoline, driver food and accomodation.
Could have negociate better price but I ony did a committment for 4 days to see if get along together and booked later another 7 days with the same driver.
Actually I wanted first to share a taxi to get to my first "base camp" Dambulla (see taxi prices on the Colombo airport webpage), arranging a tour from there and then continue by public bus to the next destination ... like I did in Cuba. Apparently not a lot of people are doing that (at the hotels we found out that daily trips were much more expensive)
I went to the first counter, discussed my itinerary, met the driver & the car before signing and tha'ts it. It was even not my intention to book a driver for several days (as I haven't done that before) but after I heard the price, saw the driver & car and traffic infront of the airport the decision was taken fast.
Do not drive yourself on that chaotic roads if you don't have similar longterm experiences. You have plenty of nervous bus drivers, tricycles, dogs, cows, people and children etc on the roads and finally you will loose too much time finding the right places especially in the culture triangle where the tourist sides are spread out over a large area.
The driving skills of our driver was very good but not his english skills. My priority is safety driving, the driver should drive and he did very well. Even stopped while using the mobile phone which was already a good sign at the beginning
Our driver arranged his accomadation himself. Some hotels offer sleeping facilities for drivers but somtimes he sleeped in guesthouses. While we were visiting the sights, he was waiting outside (or having breakfeast/lunch meanwhile).
If you are satisfied at the end than you need to express this in big tipps. Our driver was doing good in recommending some tourist attractions. I guess that they will receive a commission (hotel, gouvernement institutions, tea plantation, restaurants), but I understand that, this is quite normal.
Every day, I was discussing with him the detailed route for the next day(s). He was very flexible and everything worked pretty good. I also felt sometimes guilty that he had to wait f.ex. 4 hours for us, but on the other side I took care that he didn't have to drive too long each day and being back before dark at our hotel. I find it a little exagerated if you take advantage of the "service package" and start early at 6 and end up at 7-8 the evening. It should all be in the common sense.
This is how I experienced it (didn't check with other travellers).
Edited by: LuoLong
Oct 19, 2012 10:59 PM
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