Sri Lanka is a land with immense cultural diversity influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and British - a land of ancient cities and National Parks such as Minneriya, Udawalawe and Yala that are home to Leopard, Indian Elephant, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Sloth Bear and Marsh Mugger Crocodiles.
Birds are prolific with 33 endemic species including Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Crimson Flameback Yellow-fronted and Crimson-fronted Barbets, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrot, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Blue Magpie Whistling-Thrush Yellow-eared Bulbul Bush-Warbler, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler and Ashy-headed Laughing-Thrush and Legge's Flowerpecker to name a few, plus a host of other migrants and residents.
Our tour takes us to highlands, lowlands, plains and rainforest plus the seas off the south coast - home to Blue Whales and a variety of other cetaceans. We are also making a few cultural stops here and there. Throughout the two weeks we will travel through verdant scenery, stay at very high standard hotels, meet delightful people and enjoy a general sense of serenity.
Depart Heathrow on an overnight flight to Colombo.
Colombo / Dambulla
Arriving at Bandaranaike International Airport Columbo at lunchtime, we then proceed by road to our first destination, Dambulla. Check in to the hotel on Amaya Lake at Dambulla where two nights are spent.
Amaya Lake, Dambulla, is set amidst the Cultural Triangle, (Sigiriya, Anuradhapura and Pollonaruwa) and the sumptuous grounds provide a rich mix of habitats to a wide range of bird species. Forming a scenic backdrop is the magnificent Kandalama Lake and the mist-shrouded mountains of the Sleeping Soldier.
We will spend the day exploring the grounds where we may see Black-hooded Oriole, Alexandrine Parakeet, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Lesser Goldenback, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Jerdon’s and Golden-fronted Leafbirds to name a few.
Sigiriya / Kandy
After breakfast we make the short journey to Sigiriya rock fortress where we will stroll the surrounding grounds and woods. Here we might find Shaheen (local race of the Peregrine), Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, White-browed Fantail, Common Iora, Sri Lanka Woodshrike, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher and Indian Pitta. After lunch at Amaya Lake we leave for Kandy visiting the Dambulla Rock Temple en route, arriving in good time at our next accommodation at Hunas Falls Hotel in the hills near Kandy where two nights are spent.
After breakfast we will enjoy a full day birding around hotel. The lake and surrounding forest is excellent for a wide range of species including Layard’s Parakeet, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Black-capped Bulbul, Brown-capped and Sri Lanka Scimitar Babblers.
Other forest birds include Blue-winged Leafbird, Emerald Dove, Brown-breasted and Kashmir Flycatchers, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Stork-billed Kingfisher and White-bellied Sea Eagles which regularly patrol over the lake.
Kandy / Nuwara Eliya
After breakfast we visit The Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic, then proceed to Nuwara Eliya stopping on the way at a tea plantation and factory and lunch.
After checking in at our hotel we will make the short journey to Victoria Park where bird species include Forest Wagtail, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Indian Blue Robin, Pied Thrush, Indian Pitta, Kashmir Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye and Dull Blue Flycatcher. Check in to the St. Andrews Hotel, Nuwara Eliya where two nights are spent.
Today we visit Horton Plains, a unique upland habitat. The specialities here include Sri Lanka Woodpigeon, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Pied Bush Chat, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Sri Lanka Bush-warbler, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, endemic Rhino-horned Lizard, Bear Monkey, Giant Squirrel and Sambar. This is also a great area for raptors including Oriental Honey-buzzard, Legge’s Hawk Eagle and Rufous-bellied Eagle. Packed lunch.
Uda Walawe / Yala
After breakfast we leave for Embilipitiya arriving at Uda Walawe National Park in time for lunch before taking a jeep safari into the park, looking out for Spot-billed Pelican, Oriental Darter, Lesser Adjutant, Montagu’s and Pied Harrier, Crested Hawk Eagle, Grey-headed Fish eagle, Barred Buttonquail, Plum-headed Parakeet, Blue-faced and Sirkeer Malkohas and Malabar Pied Hornbill.
We also have a good chance of mammals such as Toque Monkey, Grey Langur, Golden Jackal, Spotted Deer and Water Buffalo and of course Asian Elephant for which the park is well-known. We then travel on to Yala and check in to Cinnamon Wild Hotel where three nights are spent.
After breakfast we have a full day jeep safari in Yala National Park with picnic lunch. One of the largest national parks in the country, the terrain at Yala is varied with grassy plains and forest, rocky scrubland, lagoons and a coastline.
This multitude of environments supports a diverse range of animals and an abundance of birdlife including Spot-billed Pelican, Painted & Black-necked Storks, Lesser Adjutant plus an array of raptors and waders.
Mammals include Asian Elephant, Sloth Bear, Mugger Crocodile, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Wild Buffalo, Golden Jackal. Yala also has one of the highest concentrations of Leopard in the world.
Yala / Bundala
After breakfast we return for another morning in Yala National Park. Then, after lunch at Cinnamon Wild we then proceed for another jeep safari in the nearby Bundala National Park. This is an excellent area for waterbirds such as Greater Flamingo, Garganey, Watercock, Great Thick-knee, Small Pratincole, Pacific Golden Plover, Little Ringed, Kentish, Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers, Marsh, Wood, Terek and Curlew sandpipers, Little Stint, Brown-headed Gull, eight tern species, Jerdon’s Bushlark, Oriental Skylark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark, Jerdon’s and Indian Nightjars.
After breakfast we head for proceed to Mirissa, stopping off at Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary en route. A wide array of birds to be found within the lagoons and marshes of the sanctuary include four nationally threatened species – Indian Reef Heron, Glossy Ibis, Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl and Black-capped Kingfisher.
The sanctuary is also home to 38 species of reptile. After lunch at Mirissa we pay a visit to the famous Galle Fort which was first built by the Portuguese in 1588 before being extensively fortified by the Dutch in the mid-1600s. Recognized by UNESCO for its cultural heritage value, the Fort was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988.
Check in to the Mandara Hotel in Mirissa where one night is spent.
Whale watching by boat with picnic breakfast. This trip provides a fantastic opportunity to see the mighty Blue Whale – the largest mammal on earth as well as a variety of other cetaceans and marine life.
Because the sea can be very lively, for those preferring to stay on terra firma we will of course make available an alternative option.
After lunch in Mandara Hotel Mirissa we proceed to Sinharaja via Deniyaya. Check in to the Rain Forest Edge Boutique Hotel in Sinharaja where two nights are spent.
After breakfast full day visit to Sinharaja rain forest Oriental honey-buzzard, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Shikra, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Lesser Hill Myna, Green-billed coucal , Lesser Yellownape, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Red faced Malkoha, Spot-winged thrush. Lunch and dinner at the Rain Forest Edge Boutique Hotel.
After breakfast birding around Sinharaja rain forest followed by lunch in Rain Forest Edge Boutique hotel. We then proceed to Columbo and check in to the Gateway Hotel Airport Garden in Katunayake where one night is spent.
After breakfast and some last birding in the garden we proceed to airport for lunchtime flight to London Heathrow.