Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is a place of postcard quality beaches, rich cultural heritage, flavourful cuisine, emerald-green tea plantations, ancient Buddhist temples, a rich and accessible wildlife assemblage, stunning countryside train rides. Our 13-Day Sri Lanka Wildlife Expedition definitely ticks all the boxes and offers a trip with excellent value.
Boasting 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and known as one of 25 biodiversity hotspots on the planet, it deserves a spot on your bucket list. The island boasts 123 mammal species (21 endemics), 179 reptile species (109 endemic), 122 species of amphibians (112 endemics) and 3,210 flowering plant species (916 endemics). On this exciting Sri Lanka Wildlife Expedition, you will also get the chance to search for the elusive Leopard, Asian Elephant and Blue Whale.
|Starts in Colombo||Ends in Colombo||Duration: 13 Days||Next planned Departure: 29 November 2022|
• Nuwara Eliya-
Home to Hakgala Botanical Gardens and Queen Victoria Park
• Horton Plains National Park-
Open grassy woodland plains, evergreen subtropical cloud forest and the magnificent “World’s End”
• Udawalawe National Park-
Home to over 250 Asian Elephants and important habitat for waterbirds
• Wilpattu National Park-
Natural, sand-rimmed water basins that fill with rainwater called “Willus” (Natural lakes)
• Yala National Park-
Moist & Dry monsoon forests, semi-deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, marshes, marine wetlands, and sandy beaches.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
One of the best places in the world to see the iconic Blue Whale
|Day 1||Arrival in Sri Lanka & Anuradapura|
|Day 2||Wilpattu National Park|
|Day 5-6||Nuwara Eliya|
|Day 6||Nuwara Eliya|
|Day 7-8||Udawalawe & Tissamaharama|
|Day 9||Yala National Park|
|Day 10||Tissamaharama & Koggala|
|Day 12||Koggala & Mirissa & Katunayake|
Day to Day Itinerary
Arrival / Anuradapura – Our Sri Lanka Wildlife adventure starts when you land at Bandaranaike International Airport. You will be met by the local guide and driver outside the airport and from here we will make our way to Anuradapura where we will spend our first night.
Wilpattu National Park – First up, a full day jeep safari to Wilpattu National Park. The unique feature of this park is the existence of “Willus” (Natural lakes) – Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Wilpattu is world-renowned, known for its Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population. Other mammals we hope to see include: Water Buffalo, Ruddy Mongoose, Mouse Deer, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Sloth Bear and Tufted Gray Langur.
The Park also hosts many species of birds and we will be on the lookout for Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Little Cormorant, Sri Lankan Junglefowl, Garganey, Whistling Teal, Asian Spoonbill, Black-headed Ibis, Purple Heron, Greater Coucal, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Green Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Black-capped Kingfisher and the beautiful Indian Peafowl.
Sigiriya– Once we arrive at Sigirya you can look forward to an afternoon Jeep Safari in Minneriya or Kawdulla National Park (depending on the Elephant movements). The park provides important habitat for the two endemic Monkeys found in Sri Lanka: Purple-faced Langur and Toque Macaque.
Large mammals such as Sambar Deer and Sri Lankan Axis Deer frequent the park. Rare and endangered species such as Sri Lankan Leopard and Sloth Bear inhabit in Minneriya. Minneriya is one of the areas where the Gray Slender Loris can be found in Sri Lanka. The Minneriya reservoir is an important habitat for large water birds such as Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Great white Pelican and Ruddy Turnstone. Among the Endemic birds are Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Brown-capped Babbler, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Black-crested Bulbul and Crimson-fronted Barbet all call the park home.
Another exciting activity is our visit to the Sigiriya rock. Sigiriya or Sinhagiri (Lion Rock) is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The birding around Sigiriya sanctuary offers highlights like White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle can be seen gliding over the area. In addition, a variety of both common and rare species including Indian Long-tailed Nightjar, Forest Eagle Owl, Asian Openbill, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Indian Blue Chat, Brown-capped Babbler, White-Rumped Shama, Black-capped Bulbul, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Brown Flycatcher, Layard’s Flycatcher, Orange Minivet, Small Minivet, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Ceylon Grey Hornbill and the Blue-faced Malkoha.
An evening safari will focus on nocturnal mammals found in the area, including Grey Slender Loris, Asian Elephants, Fishing Cat, Rusty-spotted Cat, Red Slender Loris, Indian Pangolin, Indian Porcupine and Yellow-striped Chevrotain.
Nuwara Eliya – On the way to Nuwara Eliya, we visit a tea plantation and Victoria Park if time permits. The Nanu Oya River runs through the 11 ha Victoria park and the number of small lakes and mature trees attracts great bird and mammal species. Here we will look for Pied Thrush, Indian Pitta, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Slaty-legged and Ruddy-breasted Crake, Forest and Grey Wagtail, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Indian Blue Robin, Brown Shrike, Kashmir Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye, Greenish Warbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and many more.
We will also explore Horton Plains National Park, a key wildlife area, focussing on protecting the rich biodiversity and high endemism that occurs here. It is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. Highlights include birds and wildlife and to view the World’s End (a sheer precipice with a 4,000 feet (1,200 m) drop) before mist closes in during the latter part of the morning.
Special mammals that occur in Horton Plains National Park include Leopard, Sambar, Purple-faced Langur, Red Slender Loris and Toque Macaque, along with over 20 other species. Nearly 750 species of plants belonging to 20 families have also been recorded here. This is also the home of the 20 metres (66 ft) high Baker’s Falls. The 150-year-old Hakgala Botanical Gardens, famous for its orchids and roses are also included in our itinerary.
Udawalawe & Tissamaharama – After a last visit to the Victoria Park we make our way to Udawalawe and The Queen Victoria Park. Famous for its bird watching you can look forward to seeing Indian Pitta, endemic Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White-eye, Scimitar Babbler and migrant Pied Thrush, Forest Wagtail, Velvet Nuthatch and Indian Blue Robin and Kashmir Flycatcher in ten Park.
Udawala National Park is also home to some scarce bird species like Malabar Pied Hornbill, Blue-faced Malkoha and Barred Buttonquail. On safari in Udawalawe National Park we will be on the lookout for special mammals like Leopard (rare), Sloth Bear (rare), Jungle Cat, Rusty-spotted Cat, Fishing Cat, Golden Jackal, Sambar, Chital, Southern Red Muntjac, Golden Palm Civet and Indian Hare.
Yala National Park – We have a full day safari planned in Yala National Park. We will enjoy breakfast and lunch in the park while searching for a wide variety of wildlife. Yala NP covers 979 square kilometers (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometers (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds.
Yala National Park has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi-deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, marshes, marine wetlands, and sandy beaches. We will be spending our time searching for Sloth Bear, Leopard, Elephant, and wild Water Buffalo are all threatened mammals that Yala. Other mammals seen in Yala include Toque Macaque, Golden Palm Civet, Red Slender Loris, and Fishing Cat.
Some of the avian specials of the Yala are the Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Black-capped Bulbul, Blue-tailed Bee-eater and Brown-capped Babbler. The park plays host to some incredible waterfowl with highlights being Lesser Whistling Duck, Garganey Little Cormorant, Indian cormorant, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Oriental Darter, Crested Serpent Eagle, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Indian Paradise Flycatcher Asian barbets, and Orioles.
We will return to our stunning hotel in the late afternoon, enjoy some sumptuous local cuisine in the restaurant, and have a good night’s rest.
Tissamaharama & Koggala – We enjoy a relaxed breakfast and do some birding around Tissamaharama Tanks focusing on any species we might have missed in the area before making our way to Koggala- a small coastal town, situated at the edge of a lagoon on the south coast of Sri Lanka. With its beautiful beaches and crystal clear warm water this is the typical beach scene we all see on postcards from Sri Lanka.
We will have lunch at our hotel enjoying the views over the ocean before our afternoon visit to the turtle hatchery and the Dutch Galle Fort. We visit the Turtle hatchery near Galle to see various species of Sea Turtles, that being Green Turtle the most common species, Hawksbill Turtle-regular visitor to Sri Lankan waters, Loggerhead Turtle (rare), Olive Ridley Turtle and Leatherback Turtle-rare in Sri Lanka. We then proceed to Koggala to witness Sri Lanka’s most photographed iconic stilt fishermen who sit on perched poles in the shallow water of the Indian Ocean waiting for their daily catch.
Finally, we take a relaxed walk to the best-preserved colonial fort in South Asia, the Dutch Galle Fort. This magnificent piece of architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage site was initiated by the Portuguese in the 16th century, seeing some of its best days during Dutch rule in the 18th century, until the British took over in 1796. We shall enter the fort through the main entrance which bears the carved logo of the British monarch on the outer wall and the VOC symbol of the Dutch East India Company in the inner wall. Time will be spent observing the magnificent building with its old stone walls, the ramparts, Dutch colonial villas, the clock tower, the Old Dutch Hospital, Dutch period houses, the beautiful Dutch Reformed Church and the old Bread fruit tree, thought to be the oldest bread fruit tree in the country.
We return to our hotel to freshen up, enjoy a wonderful meal and relax after our busy and exciting day.
Mirissa – We have an exciting day planned as we leave for Mirissa with our breakfast packs and have the full morning excursion for Blue Whale and Dolphin watching. A Blue Whale – 30 meters long and weighing over 200 tonnes and the biggest animal that has ever lived on our planet. The Southern coastline of Sri Lanka around Galle and Mirissa is one of the best places in the world to see this iconic species. We will depart on a specialized whale watching boat in search of these amazing oceanic mammals. Other species we will be looking for include up to ten different species of Whale, including Fin, Bryde’s, Minke, Humpback, Sperm, and of course a plethora of dolphins.
We return to our hotel for lunch and have the option to visit the Kirala Kele Sanctuary for some birdwatching or optional activities.
Dinner will once again be enjoyed at our wonderful hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Koggala & Mirissa & Katunayake – We spend another full morning in Mirissa, Whale and Dolphin watching targeting any of the species we may have missed the previous day. Our picnic breakfast will be enjoyed on the boat trip.
We return to our hotel for lunch and after packing up we make our way to our hotel close to the airport. We will enjoy our last dinner together at our hotel tonight close to the airport.
Departure – After breakfast at the hotel we will make the short transfer to the airport in time for your onward international flight and you will leave with some great memories of your time exploring this wonderful island.