Welcome to another installment of the “Life Behind Bars” series – handlebars of course! A chance for you to meet the team behind the magic.
Our Tour Leaders are a big part of the Grasshopper experience. Knowledgeable about their country, passionate and experienced, they are often time a highlight of tours themselves. Sampath is one of our star Sri Lanka guides. With tourism starting to pick up in 2022, he’s been one of the first on our team to be back on the road, doing what he loves and sharing the best of his country.
We had a quick Q&A, so you can discover a little more about him and the place he calls home.
Where are you from in Sri Lanka?
I’m from a city named Horana in Kalutara province in the west of the country. It’s located halfway between Colombo, the country’s largest city, and Ratnapura, a city known as a center of the gem trade. Horana is situated in the most urbanized part of the country, an area that’s undergoing rapid development with some of the largest infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. Growing up there, I had access to everything I needed, I was very lucky and thankful.
How did you end up working for Grasshopper?
I became a cycling guide for Grasshopper Adventures about 4 years ago. Before that, I started in the travel industry as a hotel receptionist in 2016 and then as a tour coordinator in 2018. Thanks to this experience in the industry, a number of training courses I did and with my interest in cycling, I got the opportunity to work with Grasshopper Adventures.
Connecting with people on tour, trying to understand guests, what they need and want and finding a way to make it happen, these are the things that really make me enjoy being a guide. I love being able to go above clients’ expectations.
How has guiding tours influenced your life?
Tour guiding has become more than a job for me because it has changed my life in so many ways. It’s made me more knowledgeable and taught me some important life lessons to help me have a successful life. Working with different people from around the world, trying to understand them and help them make the most of foreign situations. These have taught me a lot and have been very helpful in my personal life.
What's one thing tourists enjoy about Sri Lanka that surprises you?
I think that it is simply riding through the countryside. Actually, it is something I enjoy very much too! Riding through the tea plantations, paddy fields, rural villages, lakes, canals, vegetable plantations, it is all really amazing. I think customers often enjoy this the most and seeing it all on a bicycle makes it an even more special experience, because they wouldn’t see a lot of these places otherwise.
What are some of the highlights of the Sri Lanka tours?
That’s a tough one to answer because our tours stop by so many amazing places. The Temple of The Tooth in Kandy and the scenery around Horton Plains in Nuwaraeliya are always favorites with guests. Animal lovers enjoy Yala national park and the Jeep safari where they can see a variety of birds and some rare animals like leopards and sloth bears. There is so much more I could list here, and customers always leave wanting to see more and visit Sri Lanka again.
What do you do outside of work, when you're not guiding tours?
When I'm not working I usually stay home, cycle around and explore my home area or watch movies and read. I’m always trying to learn something new about my country, things that I can share on tour. So when I get a chance I read about Sri Lanka and often other countries too. My favorite thing is talking with the elders, there is so much to learn and so many untold stories.
Like to join Sampath on tour or one of our other amazing Sri Lanka guides? Explore the country by bike, safari, and two feet, on our Sri Lanka by Bike tour and enjoy the convenience of a fully supported tour, with local insight from our expert guides. This 8-day adventure takes you beyond the highlights to showcase the communities and hidden gems that make this country truly amazing.