Sri Lanka – endemic wildlife, rainforest and coast

A perfect introduction to the wonderful wildlife of Sri Lanka, which boasts an enviable number of endemic species.

Our visit starts in the historic city Kandy, the former Sri Lankan capital. During our trip we will travel slowly south and west, taking in a range of habitats from hilly tea plantations, beautiful cloud forests, lush wetland, dry grasslands and wildlife-rich rainforest. Our itinerary is designed to give a flavour of the diversity of wildlife including striking birds, orchids, forest mammals, colourful butterflies, reptiles and amphibians, as well as plenty of opportunity to come face to face with some of the country’s many endemic birds and mammals.

Our visit wouldn’t be complete without visiting some of Sri Lanka’s national parks and forest reserves, including Yala, Bandala and Udawalawe, as well as the tropical rain forest of Sinharaja – an essential birdwatching location.

The final days of our holiday see us heading to Mirissa on the south coast with sandy beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean. The easy access to the deeper waters of the continental shelf make these waters an ideal location for cetacean watching, and we will take at least one boat trip to look for species including Blue Whale, Risso’s Dolphin and Sperm Whale.

Sri Lanka is home to amazing wildlife possibilities and we hope to encounter a wide variety of birds including endemics such as the Brown-capped Babbler, Green-billed Coucal, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot and Sri Lanka Yellow-fronted Barbet, as well as Leopard, Sloth Bear and Asian Elephant, among many other mammals.

This will be far more than a bird watching trip, with opportunities to see much of the country’s other wildlife.

Dates

10 – 25 February 2018

Leaders

Mike Russell with local guides

Price

£3,495

Single Room Supplement £395

Included

Return flights from London Heathrow to Colombo. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary. Fourteen nights’ accommodation (one extra night is overnight flight), full board basis. Whale watching trips.

Not included

Visa. Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

Day 1 – Evening flight from London to Colombo, arriving Bandaranaike International airport early afternoon on 11th.

Day 2 – Following our arrival we transfer (three hours) to Hotel Tree of Life, Kandy. We will have time to explore the hotel gardens looking for birds including the endemic Crimson-fronted Barbet.

Day 3 – We will have a morning visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. During the afternoon we will explore the area around the hotel.

Day 4 – Today we head south to Nuwara Eliya in the high hills (four hours), we will make stops on the way to look for birds and other wildlife. Following lunch in Nuwara Eliya we head toward Victoria Park, a fantastic birding site to look for species such as Indian Pitta, Kashmir Flycatcher and Pied Thrush.

Day 5 – An early start takes us to the grasslands and beautiful cloud forest of Horton Plains National Park. We will spend some time here looking for mammals, butterflies and birds, including the elusive endemic Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush.

Day 6 – Following breakfast we travel west to Kitulgala (three hours). The rainforest in this area is rich in birds, butterflies and mammals and we will spend time in Kelani Valley Forest Reserve.

Day 7 – We will spend the morning birdwatching in the rainforest before travelling south towards Sinharaja (four hours) after lunch. Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot, declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a must for birdwatching in Sri Lanka.

Days 8 and 9 – We explore Sinharaja Forest, enjoying its rich diversity.

Day 10 – We travel onwards to Udawalawa National Park (three hours), where we will take a jeep safari to explore the grassland, scrub and forest, looking for birds,butterflies and Asian Elephant.

Day 11 – Following a morning visit to Udawalawe National Park we transfer to the wetlands of Thissamaharama (one and a half hours) to look for water birds.

Day 12 – We pay a visit to Yala National Park to take an exploration by jeep, searching the wetlands, grassland and scrubs for birds, butterflies and mammals such as the Sloth Bear and Asian Elephant.

Day 13 – We visit Bundala National Park, an area of high species diversity. We will spend the morning exploring the wetlands here, which attract many wetland birds among an array of habitats. After lunch we will travel towards Sri Lanka’s south coast and the town of Mirissa (four hours).

Day 14 – We will spend our morning on a whale watching trip searching the waters of the Indian Ocean for cetaceans – possibilities include Blue Whale, Striped Dolphin and Bryde’s Whale.

Day 15 – A second whale watching exploration before lunch and our return north to Colombo for our flights back to the UK in the early morning of Day 16, arriving later that morning.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.

Our accommodation during this holiday will be at good lodges all with en-suite accommodation.

All the meals provided during the stay will be a mixture of local and International dishes. Requests for special diets can be accommodated.

We will ensure that our travelling is as comfortable as possible, using a small coach. However, some of the roads are in poor condition, and can be bumpy at times.

 

The group flights are with SriLankan Airways from London Heathrow.

10 February depart London Heathrow 20.40, arrive Colombo 12.35 (11 February)
25 February depart Colombo 02.20, arrive London Heathrow 08.40

Sri Lanka is five and a half hours ahead of the UK at this time of year.

You must have a valid passport for this trip (for at least six months from the date of entry into Sri Lanka). A temporary tourist visa is required to enter Sri Lanka – this can be obtained online at the Electronic Travel Authority. For non-British passport holders, it is essential you check with your embassy or consulate and obtain the necessary documents prior to travel.

At this time of year the weather is usually hot and humid. February falls outside the monsoon season so rainfall should be low.

No strenuous walking is involved but you need to have a reasonable level of general fitness. The tour visits several locations and travelling in the tropics can be tiring if you are not used to it. However, the trip is designed to be relatively comfortable.

Although most of the walks are not long, we will sometimes be walking on rough or wet ground. Walking boots (lightweight ok) are essential for most areas. There are a few occasions when we walk uphill but this is not excessive.

Some vaccinations are recommended for Sri Lanka- you should consult your doctor for advice. Yellow fever is not present in Sri Lanka but you must have an inoculation certificate if you are travelling from a country where it is (e.g. not taking the group flight). All regions of Sri Lanka experience outbreaks of dengue fever and you should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. There is low or very low risk of malaria in Sri Lanka. Antimalarials are not usually recommended–you should consult your doctor.