Sri Lanka, Wildlife Tours

Central and Southern Sri Lanka: Highlands, Forests & the Leopards of Kumana

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Tailor-Made Tour
15 Days
From 5985
Beach
Big Cat Safari
Culture and Archaeology
Rainforest

Tour Introduction

15 Days from  5985 per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote

An ideal window to enjoy this fabulous tour would be during our later winter months, arriving at Kumana around February, the start of the park’s dry season. The programme begins in Kandy, colourful cultural capital of the Hill Country, where you visit the Temple of the Tooth and Perediniya Botanical Gardens. Take the scenic train to Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s highest town, with its historic colonial buildings and large tea estates. It’s the base for a visit to the high-altitude Horton Plains, where good wildlife can be seen and walks taken to World’s End, a famous viewpoint.

Descending to Gal Oya National Park, take a boat ride on the lake in the hope of seeing elephants swimming, and explore the beautiful forests of the park where remnants of the Vedda culture still hang on. Next comes the island’s best nature reserve – Kumana National Park, the centrepiece of this itinerary. You will see it after the rains, with lush greenery, majestic trees, grassy plains with wildflowers, and rain-filled pans. Compared to most of Yala and even Wilpattu, Kumana is much less busy and the wildlife much more in evidence. It’s difficult to get to and accommodation is limited, which has helped retain its relative isolation. Our director, on his first trip there in 2024, had six leopard sightings in three days, mostly from the only jeep present. There are also plenty of other mammal, bird and reptile species in large numbers, including wild boar, wild buffalo, crocodiles, monitor lizards, many raptors and storks and, of course, beautiful bee-eaters and kingfishers. There are also miles of deserted Indian Ocean beaches and sand dunes, and ancient cave sites revealing bygone scripts carved into the rock face.

The specified accommodation in Kumana is a well-run but basic camp with walk-in tents, camp beds and desk fans, erected exclusively for your visit (you don’t share with other parties) and taken down afterwards. It’s the only camp allowed within a national park in the whole of Sri Lanka due to this ability to disappear, and so needs to be simple. The lack of luxury, however, is more than made up for by the unique wildlife access afforded within the park. (You can otherwise opt to stay for all four nights in a small beach-side hotel in Pottuvil, one hour’s drive away from the park entrance, and take packed lunches for exciting whole-day safaris within the park.)

Afterwards, travel to the last remaining large tract of primary rainforest replete with rare endemic birds and reptiles and the purple faced leaf monkey. Leave Sinharaja and stay by the sea in a glorious boutique hotel for some relaxation before heading home. This wonderfully varied itinerary – taking in the best wildlife location in Sri Lanka – is certain to provide some of your most precious travel memories.

Full Itinerary

Price from  5985 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Arrive in Colombo

Met on arrival in Colombo by your private driver and transfer to the historic city of Kandy. Rest of the day free to relax or explore at your leisure.

Staying at Taru Villas. Includes Breakfast.

Day 2
Kandy

Spend the morning relaxing after your long travels, or perhaps have a wander around Kandy. In the afternoon, join your guide for a visit to the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic, where the sacred tooth of the Lord Buddha is enshrined. You may also wish to visit Kandy Garrison Cemetery.

Staying at Taru Villas. Includes Breakfast.

Day 3
Nuwara Eliya

After breakfast, visit Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, the premier gardens in Sri Lanka, where you can observe over 5,000 varieties of tropical and sub-tropical plants. The orchid house is one of the finest in Asia. Later on you will board a train to Nuwara Eliya, where you will be staying at the Grand Hotel.

Staying at Grand Hotel. Includes Breakfast.

Day 4
Nuwara Eliya

Early morning pick up from hotel to visit Horton Plains to see World's End, a dramatic escarpment with far reaching views and a sheer 900m cliff face. In the afternoon take a guided tour to an artisanal tea factory and estate. Return to the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya.

Staying at Grand Hotel. Includes Breakfast.

Day 5
Gal Oya National Park

After breakfast proceed to Gal Oya and check in to a luxury tented camp. Gal Oya Valley National Park, situated in the eastern part of Sri Lanka, is a hidden gem of biodiversity and wilderness. The park's centrepiece is the vast Senanayake Samudra, Sri Lanka's largest ancient reservoir, where boat safaris allow visitors hopefully to witness elephants swimming between islands, creating a unique spectacle.

Staying at Wild Glamping Gal Oya. Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Gal Oya National Park

This morning you will take a boat tour on Senanayake Samudra to look for elephants, birds and other animals. After lunch, join a game drive to explore the park's other ecosystems, including lush forests, grasslands, and waterways that provide a sanctuary for a large range of wildlife, including endemic and migratory bird species.

Staying at Wild Glamping Gal Oya. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Kumana National Park

After breakfast, depart for Kumana National Park, arriving in time for lunch. Take an afternoon safari drive with the Xtreme Nature Tours guide, venturing into the heart of this incredible reserve.

Staying at Xtreme Nature Tours Kumana. Includes All Meals.

Day 8
Kumana National Park

Morning and afternoon game drives in the wonderfully uncrowded park to look for leopard and much else.

Staying at Xtreme Nature Tours Kumana. Includes All Meals.

Day 9
Kumana National Park

Morning and afternoon game drives in the park, to include a stop at an ancient cave site with prehistoric petroglyphs and stunning views across the wilderness to faraway hills.

Staying at Xtreme Nature Tours Kumana. Includes All Meals.

Day 10
Pottuvil

Enjoy a final morning game drive with your guide before lunch. Afterwards, say goodbye to the campsite crew and head towards Pottuvil, just outside the park's boundaries. Keep on the look out for leopard, sloth bear and elephant as you make your way to the park exit.

Staying at Kottukal Beach House. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 11
Sinharaja National Park

After breakfast at Kottukal Beach House, you will depart with your guide, making the journey by private vehicle to Sinharaja National Park. The last remaining viable primary rainforest tract on the island, Sinharaja is very precious – indeed, it is the only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. It has pitcher plants and all of 57 endemic dipterocarp tree species in its lowland habitat, attracting the purple-faced leaf monkey, many rare birds and the endemic hump-nosed lizard.

Staying at Jansen's Bungalow. Includes All Meals.

Day 12
Sinharaja National Park

Head out on morning and afternoon birding and forest walks. Bird species to look out for include the common birdwing, black bulbul, white-faced starling, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka jungle fowl, Legge’s flowerpecker and spot-winged thrush.

Staying at Jansen's Bungalow. Includes All Meals.

Day 13
Galle

Your guide will take you south west to a stretch of coastline just north of Galle. You will check in to the stunning Aditya Resort. Either today or tomorrow you may want to venture into Galle itself. Within the ramparts of its fort, with its charming Dutch-era architecture, one can wander the narrow streets and alleyways lined with boutique shops, art galleries, bars and vibrant cafes.

Staying at Aditya Resort. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 14
Galle

Full day for total relaxation before travelling tomorrow. Perhaps enjoy a well-earned massage or other traditional treatment in the spa.

Staying at Aditya Resort. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 15
Depart Sri Lanka

Drive back to Colombo and check in for your flight home.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Tour Accommodation

Sri Lanka Hill Country

Taru Villas Kandy

Overview

Conveniently located in the centre of Kandy (Sri Lanka’s second city and its cultural nucleus), this colonial property now provides an excellent accommodation option from which to explore the island’s Cultural Triangle with its three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
9
Facilities

swimming pool

Optional Activities

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, International Buddhist Museum

Sri Lanka Hill Country

The Grand Hotel

Overview

Experience the sheer opulence of the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. Immerse yourself in the historic charm and sophistication of this iconic destination, where luxury meets elegance. This four-star boutique hotel is nestled amid lush surroundings, with expertly manicured gardens and plenty of birdlife around. The sophisticated rooms are styled toward an Edwardian theme.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
154
Facilities

Indoor swimming pool, spa, mindfulness studio, fitness centre, billiards/snooker room, large manicured garden.

All rooms have scenic views of the surrounding countryside, heating, private bathroom, minibar, coffee/tea making facilities, free Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service, luxury bedding, pillow menu, complimentary toiletries, in-room safe.

Restaurant and bar options on-site include: Barnes Restaurant, Grand Thai, Grand Indian, Magnolia All Day, Tea Lounge, Fusion Grill, Grand Café, Public Bar, Wine Bar, Cocktail Bar, Unique Dining experience.

There are Deluxe rooms, and four Junior Suites/three Presidential Suites

Optional Activities

Moon Plains hiking, Hakgala Botanical Gardens, Tea plantation tour and tea tasting experience, watersports on Lake Gregory, Galway's Land Park for local birding

Sri Lanka Hill Country

Wild Glamping Gal Oya

Overview

In the East of the country, the prestigious Gal Oya National Park has remained wild and unspoiled for centuries. Just outside of the national park lies the mountain village of Rathugala, home to Wild Glamping Gal Oya. Rathugala is inhabited by the Veddas — the aboriginal inhabitants of Sri Lanka. Experience a unique adventure of glamping in Sri Lanka in rustic luxury and authenticity cocooned by pristine savannah & medicinal forests and mist-wrapped mountains. The location of the property lets nature lovers indulge amidst a 30-acre good practice organic farm and learn the art of living in harmony with nature from the Veddas.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
10
Facilities

Infinity pool, restaurant, private bathrooms, air conditioning, private veranda, hot and cold water, tea/coffee making facilities, in-room safe, rain shower, refilled drinking water, fan, wardrobe, solar torch.

The lodges come in two different varieties; deluxe tented lodge (sleeps four) or family tented lodge (sleeps two).

Optional Activities

Hathpotha safari, Gal Oya boat safari, trek to monkey mountain, discover the ruins of Rajagala, walk to Kiri Oruwa Lake, cultural show, farm tour, Kiri Oruwa Lake and village tour, Henewala cave visit, jungle walk with a Veddah, Nilgala safari

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Xtreme Nature Tours Kumana

Overview

Xtreme Nature Tours Kumana operates a mobile campsite within the wonderfully undisturbed Kumana National Park. They will usually site their camp on the shores of the Kumbukkan Oya river, on Kumana’s park boundary bordering Yala Strict Natural Reserve. Kumana National Park receives a fraction of the visitor numbers that Yala National Park does, and its wildlife thrives there.

This is a well-run but basic camp with walk-in tents, camp beds and desk fans, erected exclusively for your visit and taken down afterwards. It’s the only camp allowed within a national park in the whole of Sri Lanka due to this ability to disappear, and so needs to be simple. The lack of luxury, however, is more than made up for by the unique wildlife access afforded within the park.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Facilities

Spacious, high quality walk-in tents; desk fans, single or double bed options with fresh linen, meals on a full board basis, two nature drives per day, snacks, mineral water and juices, showers and flushing toilets, solar powered charging stations for cameras and phones.

Local Wildlife

Leopard, sloth bear, elephant, jackal, wild boar, fishing cat, sambar deer, chital deer, mugger crocodile

Pelican, painted stork, spoonbill, white ibis, herons, egrets, little cormorants, crested serpent eagle

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Kottukal Beach House

Overview

Perfectly situated on Pottuvil Point, just outside the main town, this hotel is the definition of boutique. There are only two rooms upstairs and two chalets, all exuding a peaceful charm to them whilst being extremely comfortable. The property is set in a two-acre coconut garden, with each room having beautiful views of the ocean and surrounding coconut trees. The Beach House has been decorated in a minimalist yet artistic fashion. Meals can be eaten wherever you like, including the beach, while lunch and dinner are prepared specially for you on request.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
4
Facilities

Massages, yoga and ayurvedic treatments can be arranged on request. There is a swimming pool and surfboard rental/surfing lessons are also available.

Breakfast is included in all stays, and lunch and dinner are off a set menu, prepared as, where and when you so wish. There is a laundry service, and daily housekeeping.

Rooms have air conditioning, a private balcony or terrace, hot and cold water, private bathroom, rain shower, complimentary bottled water, free Wi-Fi, safety deposit box and luxury toiletries.

Optional Activities

Yoga, surfing, cycling, trips to Arugam Bay, Pottuvil Lagoon boat safari, cookery demonstrations and classes, fishing

Sri Lanka Wet Zone

Jansen’s Bungalow

Overview

A delightful property from which to admire the surrounding rainforest, whilst sipping a cup of local tea, listening to the eternal chorus of birdsong present.

The rooms feature four poster beds and are each unique in style. A mezzanine covering half of the floor plan, and accessed by a wooden stairway, provides an additional two single beds for children or accompanying adults. The private balcony proves to be a real highlight of each room, allowing a superb space to comfortably sit and view the surrounding rainforest and tea estate. Most of the private bathrooms include a bathtub, and there are various seating areas dotted around the property to encourage you to relax and enjoy the serene atmosphere found here.

The chef prepares fine Sri Lankan and international meals, which can be eaten at either the inside or outside dining areas. Fresh fruit juice is practically on tap, prepared from the range of fruits grown in the garden, and there is a natural pool in the river, just a short walk down a path, providing a sumptuous swimming hole in which to cool off and refresh yourself.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
5
Facilities

Outdoor swimming pool with great views.

There are four deluxe family rooms and one bungalow.

Deluxe family rooms include a mini-fridge, TV, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, private bathroom with hot water and bathtub.
The larger bungalow option contains a living area with wooden furniture, a dining area with a large dining table, an open veranda, outside seating area, and a barbecue facility.

Local Wildlife

Monkeys, birds and lizards all frequent the surrounding forest and garden itself. The vast majority of Sri Lanka's endemic species are present in Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Optional Activities

Swimming in the river's natural pool, 1km walk to Duwili Ella Waterfall, birdwatching, tea factory tour, yoga and meditation by request, barbecue evenings.

Sri Lanka Wet Zone

Aditya Resort

Overview

This boutique hotel, close to the historic city of Galle, is decorated and styled with both Balinese and Sri Lankan accents, and was one of the original boutique hotels on the entire island. Its beach feels like it is practically private to hotel guests. The hotel is small and intimate and its rooms are amongst the largest and most lavishly presented on the island. The emphasis is on unrestrained luxury, personalized service and total privacy.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
16
Facilities

spa, gym, swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, bar and lounge, bicycle hire, restaurant.

Rooms include a private balcony/veranda, minibar, air conditioning, fridge and flatscreen TV.

There are twelve suites and four villas

Optional Activities

Sri Lankan cookery classes, village bicycle tours

Route Map

Departure Dates

This tour has no set departure date and can be tailored to suit your travel requirements. Contact us for more details.

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Best Visited:

February to September

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Alan Godwin

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965

Exactly what we hoped for in a country which we already liked. UK agents always quick to respond to queries and flexible in designing our trip. Exactly what we hoped for in a country which we already liked. Highlights – six Leopards! Nearly 100 species of birds. Many elephants including family groups, as well as plenty of monkeys, deer, Crocs etc.

Mrs HA- Amersham