Originally I booked to go to Cuba, unfortunately it was cancelled due to the hurricane. When Thomas Cook notified me I tried to look for another deal on the website but I couldn’t find anything good. Cuba was cancelled 5 weeks before I was due to travel so I only had 5 weeks to find another deal which would be as good as Cuba. I looked at countries in Asia and the Indian Ocean and I found a deal for Sri Lanka on Virgin Holiday’s. It was the same price I paid for Cuba and was also all inclusive so I thought it was a really good deal.
I paid £2263.97 to go to Cuba, I paid direct debit a year in advance. Whenever I shop I always look around so after I was happy with the hotel and flights I looked into whether it would be cheaper to book separately. I found a deal on Travel Republic for flights and hotel all inclusive for 1777. I did change the original date from Saturday to Monday which made it a bit cheaper. Ahaziah had INSECT day on the Monday so the price and dates were perfect for us.
To get to Sri Lanka we had a connecting flight. The whole process was pretty simple. It was a long haul flight but the boys were absolutely amazing. Our inbound flight was a total of 12 hours 30 minutes with a 1 hour connection time. We flew with Qatar Airways and they are absolutely amazing. They can’t do enough to ensure that you are comfortable. The food on the plane was also very good. There is a great range of movies, TV shows and games for everyone.
We flew from London Heathrow into Doha, from Doha we got a connecting flight to Colombo (Bandaranaike International Airport). Changing over couldn’t be easier. On the way back from Doha we flew with British Airways it was no where near the standard of Qatar but it was okay. We were just spoilt with Qatar.
On the way back the flight duration was a total of 14 hours 20 minutes. A bit longer but because it was a night flight we spent a lot of time catching up on sleep.
Hotel Club Dolphin
When we arrived at the hotel the bell man took our suitcases and we sat in the waiting area. We was then given a cool face cloth which was so refreshing after a long flight and they served us papaya juices. The reception staff came and took my documents from me. It was nice not having to wait in a queue to get our room key.
The hotel was amazing!! We stayed in room 203 which had an beautiful sea view. Everything was clean and our “room boy” was very good. The boys were always excited to see what he had made with the towels or how he placed their toys. The food was out of this world. There was something for everyone. Pasta, noodles, rice, chicken, fish, lamb, vegetarian options. Every few days they had a theme along with traditional Sri Lankan dishes. Themes included Chinese, Mexican and Italian. The desserts were to die for!! Lots of cheesecakes, cakes, trifles, ice-cream and a baked hot cake. Breakfast was also really good. I don’t eat pork so it was really nice to have chicken and beef sausage and chicken bacon. They also have a live cooking station making fresh omelettes and scrambled eggs. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner was all included along with alcohol, bottled water and drinks.
At lunch and dinner times waiters would take your orders for drinks. The staff were also very friendly and kind. They always asked how my day was? Do I like Sri Lanka and was also very nice to the boys playing games with them.
The hotel provided lunch and breakfast packs for when we was out on our day tours.
The hotel was located on the beach and had 2 main pool areas. One was a quite pool which apparently children are not allowed to be in but we was in there and no one said anything. And the other main pools are outside the apartments. One thing I worry about is my children being able to play in the water safely. My children can easily spend the whole day in the pool and I can’t. I like pools where the depth is safe for them to both enjoy without me being in the pool with them. Club Hotel Dolphin had a range of pool depths so we was all comfortable and satisfied.
The sunsets were extraordinary. The images I captured on both my phone and camera were astonishing.
The sea was ruff to swim in, not like we swim in the sea to be fair but me and Ahaziah really loved playing in the waves.
Tours and Excursions
So when doing my research a company called ASDA Tours was mentioned a lot on Trip Advisor. I did more research and decided that I would contact them via Facebook. They have a business page and a personal account. I spoke to Thamel who was very helpful and responded straight away. He told me about the different tours he was able to offer. The price he quoted was in GBP and said payment could either be in Sri Lankan Rupee, GBP or card payments. He didn’t ask for any money but asked if I wanted to go ahead with the booking as one of the trips was to Yala and he needed to book the hotel. Thamel said I could pay after the tours which was very reassuring. He also said that they do a pick up service free for there customers. I was very pleased with this company’s service and will definitely recommend them.
When Thamel picked us up the only thing I was worried about was if he would pick us up. If he didn’t I would just take a cab so it wasn’t a major issue. We was 1 hour ahead of schedule but Thamel was there waiting for us. He was so lovely, kind and helpful. On the way he stopped and got us coconut water which was really nice of him.
The elephant orphanage is located in Pinnawala which is about 1 hour and 20 minutes drive from the hotel. Our journey started at 10am and the first stop was a pineapple garden.
Thames told us that they have 18 different types of bananas in Sri Lanka. We saw a pineapple plant which was really interesting. He also told us that pineapple plant last for up to 5 years and they don’t grow bigger than the picture shown. We had fresh pineapple which was so delicious! I hate pineapples in the UK because they leave a funny taste in my mouth but this pineapple was so good and juicy.
The next stop was an elephant shower. We rode an elephant down to the river and it splashed us with its trunk. It was a memorable and breathtaking experience. All I can say is wow! This is something we will never forget.
The next stop was the elephant orphanage where there are 80 rescued elephants. We were lucky enough to be able to bottle feed baby elephants! I mean now that is something we will never forget. This was something that Thamel organised for us. I did read reviews that said that for some companies this was not included in the price.
Ahaziah was very confident as per usual. Micaiah was a bit reluctant but with the help of mummy he did enjoy this experience. We both expected the elephants to be smaller but they were 3 years old.
Lastly we went to a really nice restaurant to watch the elephants have a bath/ shower. It was so amazing to see them loving the water. It was so hot so I can just imagine how much they needed it. They have a bath/shower twice a day for 2 hours.
The cost for this trip was £40 per adult and £20 per child and it was a half a day tour.
Yala National Park
This was a two day full on tour. We was suppose to leave at 5.30am but jet lag was not having it and I woke up late. This meant I had to pick between the waterfall or baby elephants being fed. I opted for Bopath waterfall. The journey to Yala was 6 hours but we stopped off at the waterfall along the way.
It was a nice little waterfall located up a very narrow road. It reminded me of country in Jamaica. The roads were so narrow and tight.
Thamel’s brother Nishal took us on this tour as he prefers long distance drives. He was very good with the boys. He allowed Ahaziah to sit at the front and recline his chair all the way back. The van we drove was very comfortable with AC and WIFI we slept majority of the journey.
Driving up to Yala was so picturesque. We saw many animals along the way including lizards, wild elephants, water buffalos and a snake. It was so nice to look out the window spotting different animals. It felt like we was already at the safari.
We also saw rubber trees. Nishal was constantly stopping so I could take photos and he was very knowledgeable about Sri Lanka. I read that they drive fast in Sri Lanka and the road is very bumpy. I will say this is true, a lot of over taking but for me this was not an issue as this is how I grew up driving in Jamaica, I always felt safe. There was also a cool box filled with drinks in the van incase we got thirsty.
After 6 hours of driving with 2 breaks we reached the hotel. We had our lunch that the hotel provided then the boys jumped in the pool. I didn’t pack swim wear so I was a little annoyed that I could go in the water because it was so hot.
After the pool we got ready to go on our jeep safari. The jeep guys picked us up from the hotel in the jeep and we drove to the safari park.
Ahaziah has never been in a jeep so he was excited. His little face lighting up when we went up and down hills and into muddy puddles. We entered the park and began spotting animals. The park was massive!! It was so lovely to see the animals in their natural habitat.
As we drive up to the park we saw an elephant crossing the road! It came close to us it was so cool. We didn’t see any leopards as that is an animal that Sri Lanka is famous for but we saw peacocks, monkeys, green bee eaters, blue bee eaters, eagles, deers, crocodiles, mangoes, and bulls. The boys really enjoyed it. Micaiah loved the peacock.
The park closed at 6.30pm and we went back to the hotel and had dinner which was also included in the price.
The next day we woke for breakfast which was also included in the price then began our journey back to Colombo.
We stopped off at the turtle hatchery along the way. We were given information about turtles and saw a few handicapped ones. The boys were also able to hold the baby ones.
When we drove up to Yala we drove mainland but we drove along the coast on the way back so we were able to see the stick fishermen.
The beaches along the coast were so gorgeous. Lunch was also included in the package but I decided to skip lunch and head back to the hotel as the boys wanted to get in the pool.
This was a full on tour and we saw and learnt so much. The price was £110 for adults and £55 for children. This included hotel, lunch, dinner and drinks.
Tuk tuk’s are very popular in Sri Lanka and is a form of transport. The boys really wanted to get in one so we did. They wasn’t really fussed about where they went they just wanted to go in it for the ride. I organised this tour again with ASDA Tours. This time Thamel’s brother in law Niroshan took us.
A tuk tuk drives simular to a moped and has a maximum speed of 80mph. We drove to Negombo Fish Market.
Driving through Sri Lanka was similar to driving through Jamaica. The shops are similar, we even saw a bull casually crossing the road. It was such a great experience. It was so fun and interesting. When we got to the fish market a guide told us all about how they soak the fish then dry it out. They put the fish to lay out in the sun and turn them over individually. They work 13 hour days in the heat for only £3 per day. It was such an eye opener and I am so glad I was able to expose the boys to this so they can see that life in other cultures can be very hard.
Niroshan also stopped off for me to take photos. He showed us the temples and churches.
The cost of the Tuk Tuk cost £10 for all of us.
The weather in Sri Lanka was lovely and hot. We all got a nice tan. When I checked the weather it was between 39-31 degrees but it said thunderstorm everyday. I just imaged it to have tropical rain for about 10 minutes. While we was there there was a thunderstorm twice. One in the night and one the afternoon on our last day. Other than those two times the weather stayed in the 30’s and there was no rain.
You need a visa to enter Sri Lanka and this can be done online. It cost $35 and children are free. We was accepted within minutes. You can also apply for the visa at the airport in Colombo but this will take up more time and cost a little bit more.
The currency is Sri Lankan rupee and this can only be exchanged in Sri Lanka. There are places to exchange money at the airport and at the hotel. They also accept and prefer GBP as it has more value. I changed £30 and used GBP to pay for my tours and tips.
Sri Lanka Final Thoughts
Overall we had an amazing time in Sri Lanka, I cannot think of one fault or issue. Being a black female traveller with two children I couldn’t have felt more accepted and reassured. The people were so friendly, genuine and helpful. I felt safe and not once did I feel intimidated, scared or worried. I was very comfortable travelling around with my children. People often asked me what country I was from and said I must come back with my partner. The boys were adored by everyone, they loved their hair and the bond between the. I asked Micaiah what he enjoyed the most and he said “seeing the elephants having a bath/ shower, riding the elephant, the beach and the pool” I think that sums up the whole holiday. I asked Ahaziah what he enjoyed the most and he said “the elephants having a bath, I liked going in the Tuk Tuk and seeing the bull cross the road”. I enjoyed it all, the people, the food, the tours, the culture, the whole experience was amazing and I will definitely visit again.
ASDA tours thank you for a brilliant time and showing us your country. Club Hotel Dolphin thank you for a relaxing and comfortable stay at your hotel.
Until next time