Eli Ginossar, his wife Orli, and their children Ido (11) and Yuval (9).
For the Chinese New Year holiday, the Ginossar family set off to explore Sri Lanka. The family chose Sri Lanka because of its wildlife, natural beauty and calm beaches. The Ginossars arrived in Colombo at night and went directly to their small hotel on the beach in Negombo. Their trip included a two-night stay in Kandy, followed by another two-night stopover at Nuwara Eliya, where they stayed at the Binota Hotel situatedhigh in the mountains. Very family-friendly, Binota Hotel also has great food. The Ginossars also stayed overnight at Yala National Park and Marrisa Beach.
For a family of four, flights cost a total of RMB 18,400. Their 11-night hotel stay (breakfast included) came to approximately RMB 6,100. Food set the Ginossars back around RMB 200 per meal, adding up to approximately RMB 3,300 for the whole trip. Entrance fees totaled around RMB 3,300 and included rafting, a visit to Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, a one-hour elephant ride, a trip through the Horton Plans National Park including car rental, a safari tour and whale watching. Transportation costs came to RMB 2,800 for the entire holiday. Shoppingtrips, which included purchasing nice batik fabric, tea, herbs and spices, added up to RMB 650. The total cost of the holiday was approximately RMB 34,500.
The Ginossars booked their flights through the SriLankan Airlines website(www.srilankan.aero). The flight is direct with a one-hour stopover in Bangkok, where the passengers remain on the plane. In general, Sri Lankan Airlines has comfortable seats and friendly service.
The family hired Nuwan Jayasundara (firstname.lastname@example.org), a good reliable driver, who is also a great English-speaking tour guide. He took them everywhere and organized entrances to parks. He charged USD 40 (approximately RMB 260) per day for a large van.
On their way from Colombo to the city of Kandy, the family stopped for some rafting in the rapid streams of the Kelani River – the same river from the film, The Bridge on the River Kwai. During their stay, they visited the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, where the kids had a short ride on an elephant and watched the elephants bathe in the river. The next morning, the Ginossars headed up into the mountains for a tour of the tea fields.
While in Nuwara Eliya, they went hiking in Horton Plains National Park and saw many birds, waterfalls and a stunning cliff named The World Ends. The following day, the family drove six hours to Yala National Park on the southwest shore, ready for a safari tour the following morning. A jeep from Yala National Park picked them at 6am. While on safari through the national park, the family saw leopards, wild elephants, sambur (a type of South Asian deer), buffalos, wild pigs and exotic birds.
A three-hour drive from Yala National Park is Marrisa Beach, a stretch of coast popular with professional surfers. At their surf beach hotel, the Ginossars stayed in a beautiful, clean room with a balcony overlooking the sea. The kids took surfing lessons at Weligama Bay Beach. The family also went on a whale watching and sailing tour, where they saw Blue whales.
It’s better to hire a driver than to rent your own car. Don’t hold high expectations for the hotels and if you can, check them before you decide to stay. The service is often better in the small guesthouses than in the large four-star hotels – and the price is often about the same (around RMB 525 per night).