Safety Plan

Sri Lanka is a Safe & Clean Country of Indian Ocean. Safety and security are essential to providing quality in tourism and more than any other economic activity for visitors Therefore GARI is readying to welcome travelers from across the world with safety guidelines and precautionary measures reviewed by Ministry of Health (MOH)


The protocol will be regularly reviewed by Ministry of Health (MOH)

In order to mitigate the risks a standard testing schedule including use of antigen and/or PCR testing on arrival, a mandatory PCR/Antigen test 5-7 day after arrival and a mandatory 7 days stay in a Level 1 hotel and a subsequent 7 days in a Level 1 or 2 hotel is mandatory.

Open Hotels Island wide that have KPMG Safe & Secure Certified accommodation, identified by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority together with Ministry of Health as Level 1 hotels and Level 2 hotels

Know More Click Here

Safety Terms & Instructions for other Activities

Be sure to raft at your physical fitness (Please disclose before participating, if you are suffering from heart problem, Epilepsy or any other disease, then we can take necessary arrangements)

Wear the life Jacket (Personal Floatation Device- PFD ) even though you are a good swimmer. Also make sure that you get it checked by our staff to make sure that the PFD is the correct size and all of the fasteners are clipped and Tighten to a comfortable snug.

Before going on the river have a partner lift on your PFD to make sure that it will not slip off. This is done for two reasons.

1. If you fall out of the boat the PFD needs to be tight enough that it will not slip off.

2. If you fall out of the boat your rafting partners will be pulling you back into the raft by your PFD.

When rafting in a Class III or higher river, wearing a helmet is a must. Also, make sure that the chinstrap is secure and placed correctly to the chin and the helmet is placed on the head facing the correct way as depicted in the picture given below.

Always carry a paddle when going down a river. Do not drag your paddle in the water while you are at rest. It tends to make the raft drag on one side. Hold the paddle by the T-Grip at all times. A loose T-Grip can be very painful if the blade of the paddle hits a rock. Watch out the embed video for Rafting Paddle Tips.

Forward Paddling Techniques for Whitewater Rafting

Don’t panic when you fall out! follow instructions as given below.

Closer Range: If you have fall out of the raft try to get closer to the raft, so you can grab the perimeter rope and wait for one of your raft mates to help pull you back into the raft.

Mid Range: If it's a mid Range; look for a T-Grip to be extended to you from the raft, so you can hold it and get closer to the raft.

Long Range: If you are past the rapids and in clear water, try to swim to the raft or close enough that someone in the raft can extend their T-Grip to you. If you are just before a rapid or in a rapid when you fall out, assume the whitewater swimmers position

Whitewater Swimmers Position I (Rapids / Long Swim) Lie on your back Legs extended down river Keep head back and toes above the water

Whitewater Swimmers Position II (Falls) Lie on your back Pull knees up to your chest and hug them

To secure yourself in the raft, wedge your foot between the side of the raft and the inflatable support in front of you. If you are in the front of the raft, some rafts have foot holes to secure your feet. Find the perimeter rope. This is the rope that goes all the way around your raft. If you should fall out of the raft, while going down the river, try to grab the perimeter rope on your way out. Or grab it when you get back to the raft.

Use suitable dress for rafting. (Most of the time shorts and T-shirt will work)

Use sun cream or sun block, if you need to protect your skin from Sun Shine.

Ask straps for your glasses.

Bring water proof bags or rent from us if you want to carry your digital camera or valuables.

Respect the local culture and adapt to it in case of need.

Raft at your performance level (if you are a beginner, don’t attempt to take on “level 4” rapids.

Do not take alcohol.

Don’t wear jewelry or expensive watches.

Don’t put anything to river.

Don’t try to catch or obstruct to birds on the way.

Don’t put anything in your pocket.

Listen and follow the guide’s instruction well.

If someone in your raft should fall out;

If the swimmer is close to the raft, grab the shoulders of their PFD, put one leg on the edge of the raft, tell the swimmer that you are going to pull on the count of 3. Count to 3 and pull them into the raft by falling backwards and pulling hard on their shoulder straps.

If the swimmer is close to the raft but too far to reach with your hands, extend the T-Grip of your paddle to them and use it to pull them in. Then go ahead with the procedure listed above.

If the swimmer is not close to the raft, either throw a rope to the swimmer or paddle over to them. If you can not paddle to them due to a rapid, instruct the swimmer to assume the whitewater swimmers position until after the rapids then get them back in the raft.

The Visitor Code

Mother Nature welcomes you with open arms but just as you would do when entering a plush hotel, museum or even a friend’s house for dinner, there are things expected of you when visiting a wildlife park. Sadly, for many people a wildlife park is a free for all, with scant disregard to what Mother Nature and note this, the wildlife ordinance expects expect and insist! If the animals had a choice they probably wouldn’t want humans in their habitat but the wildlife kingdom needs protected parks. A protected, well-governed park offers animals a rare refuge where they can roam free unlike in open forests increasingly preyed upon by people with bad intentions. In an increasing threatened habitat, even in protected parks, endanger animals and forest resources. A balanced eco-system must be maintained for their future; endangered species must be specially monitored and cared for. Water, an increasingly depleting resource need to be managed, too. This is where the Department of Wildlife steps in and it is an enormously difficult and costly endeavor. This is where you come in. People must have the opportunity to see and marvel at the beauty of the nature; witness the glorious wonders of the animal kingdom and when they do come, they provide a lifeline to the wild. Income from ticket sales contribute to the colossal sums needed to protect and maintain a park. And when you do come to the wild, it is your bounden duty to come prepared. Study this page carefully and you will know all about the Visitor Code that you must respect and practice.

Rules of the jungle

The headline may bring you other ideas, but contrary to popular beliefs, the jungle has rules, as much as cities do! Believe it or not, some of these rules may even be tougher than in your hometown. You must remember that rules pertain not just to animals and your conduct but also extend to the plant life and soil, ancient ruins etc. Violations may be punishable with fine and/or prison term, so take heed, obey the law. Don’t do it just out of fear; do it because you care!

Don’t get on their nerves: A quick lesson in animal behavior

The rule of the thumb in visiting a national park is that you must simply blend in and try to be invisible. While you just can’t hide from them, there’s a lot you can do to make sure that the animals can simply ignore you. Each animal has its own personality and the slightest thing can destroy their peace. When you understand their habitat, lifestyle and behavior, you can become a good visitor. Just as much as an irritating and selfish neighbor can drive us wild, destroy our peace and turn us into angry human beings, the slightest thing can upset the equilibrium of animals and that may happen quite unwittingly on your part. This is why educating ourselves is to prepare ourselves for the journey. Avoid any kind of interaction, verbal or through gestures. Did you know even the noise of vehicles seem to affect the feeding habits and personality of elephants, for example? Animals sense who you really are. Be patient and respectful and they will roam freely. Predators can feel mostly under pressure because of photographers, which has huge impact on their hunting, feeding and reproductive habits. Be a spy and never force a photo op on them. Chasing an animal in your vehicle puts them under tremendous pressure and think of having to experience that visitor after visitor, day after day. Some species of birds are more sensitive in special times; the most crucial period for birds is nestling season. Any undue pressure can bring on the kind of pressure they feel when a predator is on the prowl. That’s quite cruel. Learning about animals is fun and adds meaning to life; what’s more, it prepares you to be a responsible visitor to the animal kingdom. Be patient at all times; the VIP is not you but your host, who wants you to come, be amazed and go, all unnoticed!

It’s a jungle out there: Infrastructure facilities

Sri Lanka’s national parks are still at development stages, infrastructure wise. Even basic facilities may not be at desired levels. It’s best not to expect much with toilet, restaurant facilities at the gate and inside the park. Improved visitor and staff facilities are being considered with private sector participation. So bring plenty of water, first-aid and snacks but be responsible for your decisions and actions at all times.

What to do in an emergency!

When you enter a national wildlife park you accept the risks involved. While animal attacks are rare, you must remember that they can happen. Animals are highly unpredictable, temperamental and may easily be provoked or spring to action without a warning. They are known to guard their herds and territories; with behavior different from one species to another. Elephants offer the highest risk while other predators may pose dangers at close range.

In case of an emergency, remind yourself to be calm and intently listen to the instructions of your trekker. If you are on your own, remain quiet, engine of vehicle cut and do not leave the vehicle at all.

In extremely dangerous situations, your trekker may ask you to put foot to the pedal; remember to keep calm and think rationally. Loud noise should be made only if trekker says so or when no other solution is in the offing, in the face of a violent, persistent attack, which is extremely remote and unlikely.

Your trekker is trained for any eventuality and will take you out of harm’s way. If you do not have a trekker, call for help if you need assistance if you are lost or need urgent help.

What you shouldn't do!

Leave home Guns, knives, and other potential weapons as well as matches, lighters, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and anything that can harm the nature are strictly prohibited. Having illegal items in your vehicle or in your person can land you in jail.

Feeding animals is strictly prohibited Do not feed animals and remember, there is a red light also for your own food! Smell of food can interfere with animal habits and behavior. Have a good meal before entering the park. You can bring a snack but avoid cooked food and items with strong smells. You’re your food in airtight containers and consume at designated rest areas only.

Electronic devices Cameras, video-camera, mobile phones and other electronic devices must be used with care. Put your phone to ‘silent’ and switch off your stereo as some animals can clearly hear low frequencies even at a reduced volume. Do not do flash photography.
Do not ‘honk’ inside the park.

Alcohol consumption Alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited within the park.

Do not litter Nothing, no nothing can be thrown out inside the park. Keep your bags carrying any food items tightly locked to prevent from animals taking away their own thrash.

Do not touch or pick up any object from the park Carrying soil, stones, feathers or any other item from the park is strictly prohibited.

Leave the park before closing time Remaining in the park after dark is strictly prohibited.

What is wildlife and eco-tourism?

Eco-tourism can be defined as travelling to exotic areas or responsible travel to nature while making little or no impact on the natural habitat and at the same time impacting the improvement of local society. Wildlife tourism is a coordinated journey into the wild where people can be at one with animals in their natural habitat. This must, however, be done in strict conformity to wildlife regulations, taking utmost precautions to conserve and protect the natural habitat. Where there is wildlife attraction, there is almost certain to be eco-tourism. Combining your visit to a national park with a stay at a village-based eco-lodge, camp or resort will not only let your experience a magical new dimension to life but also an integral part of conservation and rural development efforts.

Water sports such as surfing, bodyboarding and canoeing take place in a wide variety of environments, including out at sea, at the beach, on lakes, and in rivers and streams — all of which provide fabulous opportunities for fun and fitness, but all of which also present potential dangers. Here is our guide to staying safe during water sports.

While there are ‘search and rescue’ services and lifeguard assistance at popular spots, these should be relied on only as a last resort. The best thing when taking part in a water sport is to have as much information and education as possible to prevent you and other people from getting into life-threatening situations in the first place.

Some participants in such activities are members of clubs and channel their activity through organised trips and events, while others use their own equipment on accessible waters without supervision.

It’s often in the latter case that problems occur, when unsupervised and possibly inexperienced people head out and get themselves in trouble — and even put their lives at risk. So, always be accompanied by a more experienced person when you’re starting out in a water sport.

Different water sports activities and environments

The range of water sport activities is diverse, and different safety concerns will arise depending on the activity. For example, the safety requirements and considerations for someone water-skiing on a lake will be different to someone intending to do offshore yacht racing. The environment in which the sport is being practiced will also have a bearing on what safety advice it is necessary to follow.

Boat sports safety

Boating or traveling on the water in some other craft should be fun, and there’s a range of safety information designed especially to help you stay safe when doing so. If you’re planning on using some form of boat or other watercraft, then make sure you follow this safety advice...

1. Always wear a life jacket, even if you think you are a strong swimmer. Life jackets should be adequately suited to the type of boating you are planning on doing.

2. Always check your equipment, including the boat and all safety equipment. Make a checklist to go through each time you go out on the water so that it becomes part of your usual drill.

3. Tell someone where you are going, as well as when you’ll be back. This way they can raise the alarm if you haven’t returned in time.

4. Check the weather forecast before you set out, and make sure you are prepared for whatever weather conditions you may encounter.

5. Get appropriate training, taking into account the craft you are using and where you are planning to go — or take an experienced person with you.

6. Ensure that you have a means of communication with shore and that you have safety equipment on board — including a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, and distress signals.

If you’re venturing into the water to engage in sports such as surfing, windsurfing or swimming, then it will pay to follow these beach safety tips...

1. Do a check of the beach when you arrive. Look for areas that are patrolled by lifeguards and avoid potentially dangerous rocks, piers, or breakwaters.

2. Always wait at least an hour after large meals before going out into the water, and never drink alcohol before going out.

3. Try not to enter the water alone, or at least have someone keeping watch.

4. Get out of the water if you feel cold, as even strong swimmers get tired in the cold.

5. Take notice of signs and flags and remember the following ...

6. Between red and yellow flags is the area patrolled by lifeguards.

7. A black and white checkered flag shows the designated area of water for boats and surfers.

8. A red flag means ‘do not enter the water’.

9. Know what to do if you see someone in difficulty in the water. Shout for help and tell a lifeguard if there is one available. Then go to the nearest phone, and contact the coastguard. Do not enter the water to rescue anyone.

10. If you get into trouble while surfing or bodyboarding, then try to hold onto your surfboard or bodyboard as a floating device.

11. Inflatable toys such as lilos and rubber rings are not suitable for use at the seaside and should be avoided, as the slightest offshore breeze can blow an inflatable out to sea.

When planning to use an inland waterway, bear in mind that even people who are strong swimmers can get into difficulties — especially as the waters can often be very cold and hide all manner of objects. It’s also best to stick to locations that are well known and used by water sports clubs.

Some of the advice we have already looked at in Boat safety and Beach safety will also apply here — but a few other safety tips for when you’re using an inland waterway include ...

1. Don’t overdo it in the water. Get out before you feel too tired, and only swim where you are able to swim easily according to your own ability.

2. Wetsuits or drysuits are recommended to provide flotation and warmth.

3. Thoroughly check out new places if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar and ask a local person if it’s safe to enter the water there.

4. Follow the information on any signs and posters near the waterway.

5. Don’t go out alone, because if you do and you get into trouble then there won’t be anyone to help you.


(Posted on June 5, 2020)