The Sri Lankan Airport will soon be a better place

After 30 years of continuous operation, the runways at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka are being revamped. Heavy operations and weather conditions have lead to cracks being seen on the runways and authorities are acting immediately by keeping the airport closed from 08.30 am to 4.30 pm every day for resurfacing purposes. For passengers planning a holiday in Sri Lanka, it is important to keep the following details in mind.

These operations began on the 6th of January 2017 and will continue until the 6th of April 2017. Until then, passengers are requested to corporate with authorities and arrive five hours early prior to check in so as to avoid delays and combat extra congestion predicted during the night time flights. In addition to that, check in counters for each flight will close 90 minutes before scheduled departure time, as compared to the usual 60 minutes time frame.

On an average day, when the airport is open 24 hours, it handles 175 flights and about 25000 passengers. These 175 flights are being handled by 25 airlines and 75 of those are owned by Sri Lankan airlines. For the duration of this development project, many flights have either been canceled or re-scheduled and although this can be uncomfortable for passengers, it is our duty to corporate with authorities trying to make the airport a better and safer place.

Sri Lankan airlines have sent in an excess amount of staff to handle the rush during the few hours that the airport remains functional. From the few days that this schedule has been put into place, some excessive congestion has been reported in the early morning hours but was efficiently handled by all staff at the airport. All 27 immigration counters at arrivals are manned at all hours to allow arriving traffic to move faster. Departure immigration counters are also increased by three more. According to a passenger arriving from Chennai, the customs officials were handling passenger traffic very well, with a turnover of just about 20 minutes.

The security department is also doing an efficient job with extra staff and extra shifts being operated, along with more x-ray machines to allow baggage to move faster. Passengers are restricted from bringing friends and relatives inside the airport, hence reducing the congestion further. Porters are working extra hard to cover up on their earnings since the working hours of the airport have greatly reduced. The number of operating floor supervisors and police officials has doubled and this adds to the efficiency of the airport’s restricted hours of operation. Most importantly, passengers have been cooperating well and arriving five hours before their scheduled flight departure which gives them sufficient time to check in, pass through immigration and arrive at the boarding gate in time, even if there are any congestion delays during the process.

Once the strengthening of the existing pavement is successfully completed, the runways would regain the necessary strength and would increase their lifespan for another 20 years. During this three month period, staff would work on 200 meters of runway every day when the airport is closed and sufficient time would be given for that stretch to harden before the airport opens and the runway is used.

Another aspect that airport authorities are looking to improve on the airfield is the ground lighting. The existing halogen cable system will be replaced with 2500 LED lights, making it easier for pilots, and also significantly reducing the amount of energy consumption.

For further efficiency of operations at the airport, all business jets, domestic operations and military operations have been diverted to the Ratmalana domestic airport and training flights have been completely put on hold for the time being. Transit passengers at the airport are segregated upon arrival at the airport and are allowed to stay for a maximum of 12 hours at the transit lounge. The number of lounge chairs available was to be increased by 1000.

Blue Lanka Tours is proud to say that maximum efforts are being taken by all authorities to make sure this airport development phase passes out smoothly and the runways are improved successfully for the safety of everyone travelling in and out of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka – An Adventurous Holiday!

  1. Mountain Climbing

The Adam’s Peak, over 2200 meters in height, is a popular location for a super adventurous mountain climbing experience. December to May is the ideal season for this eight hour long activity. Most moderately fit people can successfully reach the summit of this mountain although it takes a lot of encouragement and motivation to make it to the top. Climbers usually begin their tour at around 1.00 a.m. so that they reach the top in time to see the sunrise. If your level of fitness is lower, it is advisable to start your climb earlier on in the night. It gets chilly as you climb higher, hence carrying warm clothing and your own bottle of water is advisable.

A ‘sacred footprint’ is found near the summit which Buddhists believe is the footprint of Lord Buddha, Hindu’s believe that of Lord Shiva, Muslims and Christians believe that it is the footprint of Adam. At the crack of dawn, indulge in absolutely breathtaking scenery around the mountain and capture memories with your camera. Once you have spent enough time at the summit, head back down and give your body a good rest.

  1. Diving/Snorkeling

Enveloped by the Indian Ocean, Sri Lankan waters offer splendid opportunities for exploring the marine life. You may choose to dive deep into the ocean to greet schools of tropical fish or you may want to simply observe from the surface with a snorkeling mask. Whatever your choice may be, the waters of the south western coast will definitely not disappoint you. You will see a range of exotic fish, beautiful coral reefs, magical underwater sceneries and maybe even historic ship wrecks if you are lucky! And what’s more; if you move up to the Eastern coasts of the island, there are chances you may be diving amidst the dolphins!

  1. Rafting

As one of the emerging sports in Sri Lanka, rafting gives you a thrilling and holistic experience to test your leadership and strategic thinking skills. The white waters of the Kelani River are the most ideal location for a shivering rafting experience. The waters are suited for amateurs and professionals alike. Before you head down to the boat, a guide will explain briefly what kind of major and minor rapid thrills you will be going through and how you should deal with every situation. Every rafter is provided with quality life jackets, helmets and other required equipment. Once you are done with the 5km rafting experience which takes about 1-2 hours, you will be treated to an authentic Sri Lankan lunch included in most rafting packages.

  1. Hot Air Ballooning

If you have planned a holiday in Sri Lanka this year, don’t forget to try the hot air ballooning experience for a wondrous bird’s eye view of the beautiful island. November to April are usually the best months for this experience where you will fly over the countryside, gaze down on villages, wildlife, lakes, rivers, cultural sites, and observe how artistically the rising sun brings to life Mother Nature. The flights usually begin at the crack of dawn, flying an average of 500-2000 feet for approximately one hour. Set aside about four hours for the whole experience; from the time you leave your hotel till you reach the take off point, your flight lands back, you take loads of photographs and then you are entertained with a question answer session from the pilot.

  1. Dolphin/Whale Watching

Mirissa is one of the best places for whale and dolphin watching in Sri Lanka. Located along the southern coastline, head out on a boat to the deep sea and greet the mischevious dolphins and observe the giant blue whales glide past you. In Mirissa, several cruise packages are available for guests to set out on their adventure in style. These are luxury boats owned by the Sri Lankan Navy, given out for leisure and entertainment activities. On board, additional facilities such as audio, video, medical assistance, beverages and snacks are also available. If you are a large group, the cruise experience could be a lot of fun.

Kalpitiya, on the east coast of the island is also another famous dolphin watching location. Here, small boats that can accommodate 6-8 people set out into the deep sea where you will be sure to spot a whole school of dolphins carrying out their routine stunts.

Plan an exciting adventure holiday with Blue Lanka Tours this year and you will definitely not be disappointed. We will write up an itinerary for you that is aligned with adventure at its best. In addition to the above few, there are many more activities in Sri Lanka for those who love adventure. So this year, mark it in your books to make Sri Lanka your next holiday destination!

Ideal camping spots in Sri Lanka

A camping holiday in Sri Lanka lets you get up-close and personal with Mother Nature. You can observe the beauty, splendor and complexities of wilderness at your own comfort and pace. While on a camping holiday, you can immerse yourself in a cycle of sleeping, eating, showering and loitering on the campsite only. This allows you to be a part of the natural wildlife experience. Also, when you are at the park all day, you have the exclusive advantage of being at the hotspots of the parks at the peak times. For example, game viewing and other scenery hotspots have their best viewing times during dawn and dusk. By being an on-site camper, you can indulge in such natural hotspots and grab the benefits that day-time visitors are restricted to.

We at Blue Lanka Tours provide camping facilities to the following National Parks in Sri Lanka. Select a location or two from our range of partners and have an ‘experience of a lifetime’ while on your holiday in Sri Lanka.

  1. Leopard Trails

Leopard Trails eco-friendly luxury camping site aims to provide visitors with an authentic Sri Lankan safari experience in absolute privacy and calming comfort. Only the canvas walls of your tent will separate you from the wonderful and remarkable bio diversity of the Yala National Park and Wilpattu National Park.

These luxury tents at Leopard Trails replicate the original tented safari experience in a redefined manner. Large tents include modern amenities such as comfortable beds, lounge areas, private showers, and dining facilities. Indulge in some deliciously cooked local cuisine catered to the liking of a tourist. You can choose to dine under the stars, in the privacy of your tent, or even on the river.

The density of wildlife per square kilometer at the Yala National Park is quite high and hence you are sure to come across some unique wildlife species during your safari rides. Leopards, tusked elephants and a wide variety of birds are very common here.

  1. Leopard Safaris

Escape into the wild and indulge in your passion for wildlife with the expertly designed leopard safari camps in Sri Lanka. The range of mobile and stylish South African tents at the Leopard Safaris camping site include single, double, triple and family tenting options. All tents have attached hot water outdoor showers, toilettes, lounge areas with a jungle view, facilities to charge your phone and camera, and much more. Chefs are at your service to serve you with freshly prepared, homemade Sri Lankan food cooked with much love.

Game drives, star gazing, guided nature walks, photography classes, bird watching, campfire drinks, animal identification and cooking classes are some of the fun-filled activities provided at Leopard Safaris campsite. Crocodiles, elephants, leopards and sloth bears are popularly spotted during your game drives at the Yala and Wilpattu National Park.

  1. Mahoora

Camping is not just restricted to Yala and Wilpattu National Parks. Mahoora safari camps are located at 11 National Parks in Sri Lanka. These include Udawalawe, Bundala, Gal Oya, Sinharaja, Knuckles, Minneriya, Horton Plains and a few more. Depending on your budget, you can choose either an Elite, Premium or Explorer camping package, each of which include a talented naturalist and a professional ranger. All tents have carpeted flooring, private bathrooms and showers, an outdoor living area, a fruit platter, mosquito nets and other modern amenities. A well cooked five course meal with signature dishes, campfire barbeque and a la carte menus are also available.

The unique benefit of Mahoora camps is that they are located in strategice and advantageous locations around the island. So whichever part of Sri Lanka you are in and are looking for a neighboring ultimate camping experience, Mahoora will be at your service.

  1. Kulu Safaris

Yala, Udawalawe, and Wilpattu National Parks are where Kulu safari camps are based. Their aim is to bring alive the magical nature of Sri Lanka’s jungles and exhibit the abundant, yet rarely explored biodiversity to the eager traveler. The team at Kulu Safaris is dedicated towards serving its guests with maximum attention to detail to make their camping experience a truly memorable one. Along with exclusive access to the riches of Sri Lanka’s wildlife, Kulu Safari tents are raised on wooden platforms and have been custom made in South Africa with all the modern amenities included.

  1. Master Campers

Master Campers provide unique luxury camping experience to travelers visiting Udawalawe and Wilpattu National Park. With responsible eco tourism in mind, Master Campers make sure tourists have an exceptional experience that does not harm the natural habitat in any manner. They provide high end camping experiences with luxury tents with private bathrooms, five course meals, safaris, and guided tours.

Sri Lanka Public Holidays 2017

Blue Lanka Tours is already planning your next getaway! Whether you are an international tourist looking to explore Sri Lanka or a local in search for a short break, we are at your service to help you begin your planning for holidays in 2017!

With 70% of Sri Lankan population following Buddhism, majority of the public holidays in 2017 are based on Buddhist culture. Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are also practiced in some areas of the country and as a mark of respect; the government also includes holidays for these religions in the country’s list of public holidays every year.

One of the major Buddhism based holidays announced as national holidays are the Full Moon Poya Days of every month. On every Full Moon Poya Day, workers are entitled to a paid leave, banks and all organizations remain closed on these 12 days of the year.

Apart from that, some of the other important national holidays observed in Sri Lanka include National Day, Labor Day, New Year’s Day, Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday (Milad-un-Nabi), Thai Pongal Day, Mahasivarathri, Eid-al-Fitr, Eid-al-Adha and Christmas Day. While some of these are public, bank and mercantile holidays, others are only public and bank holidays where the corporate sector remains working. Time off is usually given at the discretion of the employer for celebrations of the religious and national festivals.

Below is a detailed list of all the Sri Lankan public holidays in 2017. This table shows you the date of the holiday, the occasion as well as which sectors remain closed on that particular holiday.

 

Date

Day

Holiday

*Holiday Type

12 Jan Thursday Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

14 Jan Saturday Tamil Thai Pongal Day

P.B.M

4 Feb Saturday National Day

P.B.M

10 Feb Friday Navam Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

24 Feb Friday Mahasivarathri Day

P.B

12 Mar Sunday Madin Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

10 Apr Monday Bak Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

13 Apr Thursday Day prior to Sinhala & Tamil New Year

P.B.M

14 Apr Friday Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day

P.B.M

14 Apr Friday Good Friday

P.B

01 May Monday May Day

P.B.M

10 May Wednesday Vesak Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

11 May Thursday Day Following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

08 Jun Thursday Poson Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

26 Jun Monday Id-ul-Fitr/Ramzan Festival

P.B

08 Jul Saturday Esala Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

07 Aug Monday Nikini Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

01 Sep Friday Id-ul-Adha/Hajj Festival Day

P.B

05 Sep Tuesday Binara Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

05 Oct Thursday Vap Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

18 Oct Wednesday Deepavali Festival Day

P.B

03 Nov Friday Ill Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

01 Dec Friday Milad-un-Nabi/Prophet Muhammed’s Birthday

P.B.M

03 Dec Sunday Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day

P.B.M

25 Dec Monday Christmas Day

P.B.M

 

*P=Public Holiday                        B = Bank Holiday                                 M = Mercantile Holiday