Thursday, 17 December 2015

Sri Lanka November/December 2015 Part 1 Introduction

Three visits in fairly quick succession ! Why? Well it's one of those places that ticks all our boxes and we felt there was still much to offer and besides, having experienced travel delays when flying Qatar Airways in the past, we were still sitting on a voucher worth over £300 and it had to be used within a time period.Sri Lanka it was then. Flights a bargain £635 for the two of us. All booked 6 months in advance we had plenty of time to think about when,where and how we would spend our month's holiday.
 I have a partner whose interests don't exactly match my obsession for wildlife for photography so she has to be considered too. Avid birdwatchers might find it hard to believe that I omitted one or two of the best spots in Sri Lanka but Claire is so supportive of my hobby that I am lucky to get to do what I do, never mind subjecting her to visits to leech invested forest
We eventually formulated a plan that would involve travelling a path trodden before but this time we would spend more time at each venue allowing time to settle, explore or simply relax without having the feeling of living out of a suitcase. We also wanted to reduce our travelling costs by using the trains and taxis rather than hiring a driver and vehicle that was often sitting idle all day.
The biggest consideration of all was what luggage to take. We had a healthy 7kg of hand baggage and 30 kgs of hold baggage each but with my camera gear that still made it a tough decision of what to take. 
For those with a photographic interest I decided on my two camera bodies, you need a back up just in case and Claire uses one occasionally. Then it was what lens to take. I am lucky in that I have a great selection to choose from including both the new 500mm and 600mm f4 Canon primes. The 600mm won the day purely on reach. However, that alone with a camera body was the limit for one cabin item so for my other bag I chose my 24-105 and 70-200mm lenses. I was thinking specifically that those would be best for scenic shots as well as potential Dolphin photography and mammal safari  trips. I have also acquired a small pocket camera too, potentially for some snorkelling shots it's a waterproof Olympus Tough. Add two Kindles, an iPad some headphones, travel documents and you are already overweight! In the case went my tripod and head, two teleconverters,battery chargers and my binoculars. A travelling electronics shop.
I had made the decision to leave behind my two best lenses for bird in flight photography but that was the most sensible option from what I could see.
We ended up with two suitcases weighing around 26-27 kgs plus my photo bags. A fair weight and also a hindrance to travel but if needs must you have to pay the price. ( I must admit there were a couple of occasions when I had to drag the cases up three flights of stairs when my patience was tried but I have only myself to blame.)
Eventually we finalised our itinerary and booked accommodation. The only thing we hadn't booked were railway tickets, they would have to wait until we arrived as doing it online was over complicated.
On November the 16th we were on our way. To fit in a month before Christmas this was the latest we felt comfortable with otherwise too much to do when we got home for festive preparations. We didn't want to travel earlier because previous experience has shown us that the monsoon rains continue to mid November. We wanted to make it a month as the flights are the most expensive part so might as well make the most use of a 31 day VISA too.
Then of course there's escaping the UK winter weather. We got away in the nick of time before the winter storms hit the UK big time. Lucky us!!

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