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Sri Lanka - Wildlife & History

Tour Code: LKA02

A 17-day birdwatching and wildlife holiday which also includes visits to the ancient city of Anuradhapura and the rock fortress at Sigiriya.

17 days from £3195(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2695 SRS: £695 + an optional 3-day extension


Sri Lanka is a naturalist's paradise, a verdant tropical island endowed with an abundance of forest and freshwater pools and populated by a great

  • Over 200 bird species
  • We’ll hope to see most of the island's 33 endemics on the tour
  • Warm, tropical climate
  • Comfortable hotels & tasty cuisine
  • Leopard & Indian Elephant among mammals likely to be encountered
  • Tea estates in the hills, with a visit to one during the holiday
  • Time spent in ancient cities of Anuradhapura & Sigiriya
  • Colourful butterflies & a rich flora
  • Visit to spice growing area
  • Friendly islanders
  • Led by an expert naturalist guidebr />

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Comfortable tourist class hotels and lodge, all with private facilities.

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (Colin Brown)

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (Colin Brown)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London

Day 2/3 Anuradhapura

Day 4/5 Sigiriya

Day 6/7 Kandy

Day 8/9 Nuwara Eliya

Day 10 Tissamaharama

Day 11/12 Lunugamvehera and Yala

Day 13/15 Uda Walawe and Sinharaja Forest

Day 16 Return to Colombo

Day 17 Fly London

The verdant tropical island of Sri Lanka is a paradise for lovers of natural history, and the setting for this exciting tour. Our itinerary will provide a thorough introduction to the island’s birds and wildlife, as well as incorporating some sightseeing in the ‘Golden Triangle’s of archaeological sites. Although situated just a short distance from the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka has many zoological affinities with south-east Asia and much of the flora and fauna is unique to the island, including 33 species of endemic bird. This holiday offers the obvious attraction of exchanging a British winter for the tropical warmth of Sri Lanka, but this tour has the added advantage of coinciding with the visit to Sri Lanka of large numbers of wintering birds, including waders from Siberia and passerines from the Himalayan region. To enjoy all this we have chosen a selection of good quality hotels, many of them situated close to the prime wildlife areas.

Our tour begins with a glimpse of the island’s past at Anuradhapura, one of several former capitals used during the reign of the Sinhalese kings. Remains of the city dating from 4 BC are remarkably well preserved and are set amid acres of parkland frequented by Indian Rollers, Ashy Swallow-shrikes, sunbirds and many other Dry Zone species. Birds are never far away in Sri Lanka, even in the midst of archaeological sites, nor are the ubiquitous Grey Langur Monkeys which loiter among the ruins waiting for hand-outs from tourists. At nearby Mihintale there is a huge dagoba at the place where Buddhism was first introduced to the island, and we will also visit the towering rock fortress at Sigiriya, famed for its ancient wall frescoes and an impressive panorama for those energetic enough to reach the summit.

Travelling south through the island’s main spice-growing region we continue to Kandy for a 2-night stay. Once the capital of an autonomous kingdom until captured by the British in 1815, Kandy marks our ascent into the picturesque hill country, and is surrounded by forests in which we should find such endemic birds as the charming Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot and Layard’s Parakeet. Close to the city are Peradiniya Botanical Gardens which contain over 4,000 species of plants in a beautiful riverside setting and provide a day-time roost for a large colony of Indian Flying Foxes that hang like giant fruits in their favoured trees.

We penetrate deeper into the hills to stay for two nights at Nuwara Eliya, a favourite hill station of the British as evidenced by the Victorian architecture, race track and golf course. This area is the heart of the island’s tea industry and we will visit one of the many estates en route from Kandy to witness the production processes and sample the finished product. Yet more endemic birds occur at this increased elevation, and even a small park in the middle of Nuwara Eliya can provide us with views of Yellow-eared Bulbul, Hill White-eye and such winter visitors as Blyth’s Reed Warbler and Pied Ground Thrush. We will spend one day exploring the wild expanses of Horton Plains which epitomise the uniqueness of the hill country with its strange forests of stunted trees festooned in bromeliads, and stretches of moorland leading to the aptly named World’s End where a sheer escarpment drops to the plains far below. This is the haunt of the handsome highland race of the Purple-faced Leaf Monkey and a great diversity of plants and birds including the endemic Arrenga, Blue Magpie and Sri Lanka Woodpigeon.

Descending to the arid south of the island we next visit a number of freshwater ‘tanks’s or lakes, crowded with birds, before reaching the endless palm-fringed beaches which characterise the Indian Ocean coastline. We will spend a half-day inside the vast Yala National Park hoping to see one of the resident Leopards, but even if we fail to locate one of these elusive cats there will be adequate compensation in the form of Indian Elephants, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Marsh Mugger Crocodiles, Peacocks and an abundance of other birds. Sri Lanka Junglefowl are particularly numerous here, and during the early mornings they emerge from cover to display their gaudy plumage.

More herds of Elephants are in prospect during a tour of Uda Walawe Reserve near Embilipitiya before the final highlight of our natural history tour, a visit to Sinharaja Forest. Now preserved as a Biosphere Reserve, Sinharaja is the largest and most important lowland forest remaining on the island. Almost everything about it is special; over 80% of the island’s endemic bird species occur in the forest, 60% of the trees are found nowhere else in the world, and most of the other flora and fauna has a similarly high level of endemism. Resident birds include the spectacular Blue Magpie, Red-faced Malkoha and Orange-billed Babbler, providing an exciting conclusion to a memorable holiday.

The start of the walk up Sigiriya Rock (Thomas Mills)Sigiriya Rock (Thomas Mills)Sigiriya fortress atop the rock (Thomas Mills)Kandy Lake (Thomas Mills)Temple of the Tooth, Kandy (Thomas Mills)Horton Plains waterfall (Rajan Jolly)Sambar Deer (Rajan Jolly)Indian Ocean, Yala (Thomas Mills)Little Egret (Barbara Lovell)Purple-faced Leaf-Monkey (Barbara Lovell)One of the top spots for leopard sightings in Yala (Thomas Mills)Changeable Hawk-Eagle (Barbara Lovell)Peacock (Barbara Lovell)Greater Thicknee (Barbara Lovell)Marsh Mugger Crocodile (Barbara Lovell)Leopards (Uditha Hettige)Little Egrets (Barbara Lovell)Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Barbara Lovell)Pheasant-tailed JacanasGiant Squirrel (Barbara Lovell)Yala National Park (David Allison)Orchid sp. (Barbara Lovell)Rat Snakes  (Barbara Lovell)Snake skin (Barbara Lovell)Toque Macaque (Barbara Lovell)Asian Elephant, Uda Walawe National Park (Thomas Mills)Sinharaja Forest (Thomas Mills)Blue Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja Forest (Colin Brown)Sri Lankan Blue Magpie (Barbara Lovell)Sri Lanka Junglefowl - endemic (David Allison)Naturetrek Group
R.L.
Kent
The leaders were excellent, particularly Thushara who was one of the best guides we have had due to his combination of knowledge on all aspects of Sri Lankan life and natural history. Both he and Saman worked tirelessly to find those elusive birds.
A.L.
Kent
Excellent itinerary; superb guiding team; good mix of wildlife and history. I appreciated the pre-breakfast birding walks and excursions. Thushara made a good holiday excellent. Not only a brilliant field naturalist but also knowledgeable and passionate about his country's history and culture. He worked tirelessly for the group and was thoughtful and attentive, and great company. He kept us well informed and often amused. Saman was much quieter but we all benefited from his field skills and personal care and attention. They made a brilliant team and it was a joy and honour to have them show us their wildlife and culture.
A.L.
Kent
Excellent itinerary; superb guiding team; good mix of wildlife and history. I appreciated the pre-breakfast birding walks and excursions. Thushara made a good holiday excellent. Not only a brilliant field naturalist but also knowledgeable and passionate about his country's history and culture. He worked tirelessly for the group and was thoughtful and attentive, and great company. He kept us well informed and often amused. Saman was much quieter but we all benefited from his field skills and personal care and attention. They made a brilliant team and it was a joy and honour to have them show us their wildlife and culture.
P.N. & T.C.
Suffolk
Friendly group of people, as usual. Tour guides - Thushara and Chaminda were very good and provided a good balance between the history/culture of Sri Lanka and birdwatching.
M.D.
Derbyshire
The Blue Whales extension was superb, with good and fairly close sightings.
H.R.
Greater London
The guides were outstanding: adaptable, knowledgeable and fun to be around. Our driver was superb. We were very well looked after on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve - really splendid buffets - the chefs had pulled out all the stops. The trip was a good mix of history, culture and wildlife.
R.S.
West Yorkshire
Both leaders were Sri Lankan nationals; both were very knowledgable and worked hard and long hours to ensure everything went smoothly. Very well organised, a credit to Naturetrek.
M.P.
Ayrshire
Brilliantly organised to maximise viewing. The all-day safari in Yala ensured we were there when the crowds weren't. 3 Leopards were the reward. I would mark Dhammi and Sammi as excellent plus. The Blue Whales extension was well worthwhile and really finished off the trip well.
J.C.
West Yorkshire
The trip was extremely well organised and everything ran smoothly. The combination of nature and history worked very well with both our guides being suitably knowledgeable, making it interesting to the whole group. We learnt a huge amount, whilst enjoying the fabulous countryside. What a beautiful country. We would definitely visit Sri Lanka again.
R.B.
Berkshire
The guides could not have been better. Their knowledge and endless patience wth a novice birdwatcher was exemplary. Suzantha was always on hand to solve problems and made the holiday one to treasure, especially since it was the first time I have travelled on my own in over 40 years.
A.W.
Pembrokeshire
I would like to take the opportunity to say how impressed I was with our local guides and main driver. Their choice of local guides at the historic sites and National Parks also enhanced our experiences.
J.H.
Surrey
Lester Perera was excellent and really tried hard to find us as many birds as possible. His local knowledge and identification skills were superb.
Mr & Mrs A.
London
Lester was an outstanding good local leader - enthusiastic, knowledgeable, kind and helpful to all.
R.M.
West Sussex
Good options to visit places of interest and for people to opt out is desired. Paul Dukes and Upali were first rate.
C. & R. S.
Wimbledon
Upali Ekanayaka combined expert knowledge and a v. pleasant manner.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Sat 3rd February 2018 - Mon 19th February 2018

5

£3195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2695 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Blue Whales extensionMore info

Sat 3rd November 2018 - Mon 19th November 2018

YES

£3195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2695 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Blue Whales extensionMore info

Sat 22nd December 2018 - Mon 7th January 2019

YES

£3395

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2895 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Blue Whales extensionMore info

Sat 2nd February 2019 - Mon 18th February 2019

YES

£3195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2695 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Blue Whales extensionMore info

Sat 2nd November 2019 - Mon 18th November 2019

YES

£3195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2695 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Blue Whales extensionMore info

Sat 21st December 2019 - Mon 6th January 2020

YES

£3395

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2895 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Blue Whales extensionMore info

Visiting: Sri Lanka

Detailed tour map

Tour Extensions

If you wish to prolong your holiday we offer the following extensions.

Blue Whales extension

Can I help You?

Rajan Jolly
Operations Manager

Email Rajan

01962 733051

Tour Focus

CultureMammals

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

The leaders were excellent, particularly Thushara who was one of the best guides we have had due to his combination of knowledge on all aspects of Sri Lankan life and natural history. Both he and Saman worked tirelessly to find those elusive birds.
R.L., Kent