Ayubowan (may you live long)!
My name is Donald Srimal, and over the past decade I have been a tour guide in Sri Lanka, facilitating dream experiences for my clients. I love nature – bird watching, hiking Adam’s Peak, exploring Knuckles Mountain Range, discovering hidden waterfalls, searching for leopards in Yala National Park, and walking untouched beaches in the north of Sri Lanka.
I’m proud of my country and the diversity of the island. There are so many different types of religion, people, animals, trees, and plants. It is a beautiful island, filled with deserted beaches, coconut trees and tropical fruits (lycées, mangosteen, mango, passionfruit, pineapples – you name it!) but I grew up in the center of the island, surrounded by farmland and mountains. As a kid, I loved to explore – I climbed every tree, hiked every mountain and knew every turn in the road.
In the village where I grew up, Ihalamulla (which is not even on google maps!), we didn’t have TV or electricity, but the families in my village had everything we wanted in our lives, because we grew our food ourselves and supported our neighbors, even while a civil war was waging across our country, which ended over a decade ago. To this day, my parents live in the house in which I was born, with clay floors and walls, a wood fire, and the transportation of only a trusty bicycle.
After testing out 12 jobs, including a cook, garment factories, construction, hair dresser, jeweler and even a brief stint as a coconut tree climber, I discovered my love for people, my island and the outdoors translated perfectly into a career in tourism. I decided to found my company, Skyfeather, when I realized I could share the truth about Sri Lanka – the real people, the authentic culture and the natural beauty. Skyfeather is driven by my belief in nature and travel – that travel should be lightweight, like a feather boundless in the wind, bold as a lightning bolt dashing through the night sky and as unique as a peacock feather to a fingerprint.
From the beginning, I wanted to change the tourism industry. Every stop that you take on a Skyfeather tour, every destination, every landmark, is community based, and every rupee is divided between the local people. When traveling on Skyfeather, your tour fees will directly benefit every community we visit – the eighty year old ‘auntie’ who cooks us a tasty road-side rottie, to the young villager who climbs a tree to cut you down a fresh king coconut, to the third-generation hotelier who employs an all local staff. Just like Skyfeather will feed you the best mangos, we will serve you the best experiences.
Travelling is something I love, not because it is my job, but because it fulfills me. I have traveled not only throughout Sri Lanka, but across nearby island nations and Europe as well. It is important to me to learn about all different people to bring global perspective and eliminate cultural barriers both to Skyfeather and to my island.
As I have moved throughout my journey as a tour guide in the past 10 years, I’ve found the best hidden gems the country has to offer, and I can’t wait to share them with you.