Sri Lanka,

The Wildlife Highlights of Southern Sri Lanka

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Tailor-Made Tour
13 Days
From £2698
GEOIP Not Available
Big Cat Safari
Birding
Rainforest

Tour Introduction

13 Days from £2698
GEOIP Not Available
per adult.

The diversity and quality of the wildlife attractions in southern Sri Lanka are really quite astonishing and this tour has been designed to include them all. Sinharja National Park is the island’s last remaining sizeable tract of primary rainforest and protects a large number of endemic birds and reptiles; Yala National Park is the premier safari spot in Sri Lanka and one of the best places in the world to see leopard; Bundala is a RAMSAR wetlands reserve with an impressive number of water birds, many mammals and both species of Sri Lanka’s crocodiles; Mirissa offers reliable sightings of blue whales and dolphins by boat or, far better, by optional light aircraft overflight ; and Uda Walawe is famed for its impressive Asian elephant herds. Add the services of a private driver cum guide and comfortable, characterful accommodation throughout, and you have the recipe for the perfect Sri Lanka wildlife holiday, at a very reasonable price.

Full Itinerary

Price from £2698
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Arrive in Colombo

Met on arrival in Colombo by your private driver and drive through coconut plantations, rolling hills and rainforest to Sinharaja. Rest of day free to relax and explore.

Staying at Rainforest Edge. Includes Dinner.

Day 2
Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve

Day for guided walking in the Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve with local naturalist guide plus your private guide. As the last remaining primary rainforest tract on the island, Sinharaha 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, endemic hump-nosed lizard and many birds including the common birdwing, black bulbul, and the endemic white-faced starling, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka jungle fowl, Legge’s flowerpecker and spot-winged thrush.

Staying at Rainforest Edge. Includes All Meals.

Day 3
Sinharaja to Uda Walawe

Morning departure from Sinharaja and drive to Uda Walawe. Perhaps stop for a visit to the Elephant Transit Camp which helps rehabilitate orphaned and injured pachyderms. In the afternoon, enjoy a game drive in Uda Walawe National Park to see the elephants for which the park is renowned, and much more besides.

Staying at Kalu’s Hideaway. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Uda Walawe to Yala

Morning private jeep safari in Uda Walawe National Park with local guide plus your private guide. The park is surrounded by mountain ranges and is one of the few reliable water sources in the dry zone leading to sizeable herds of elephants and many waterfowl. In the afternoon, drive to Yala in the far southwest of the island.

Staying at Cinnamon Wild. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Yala National Park

Enjoy a thrilling day of morning and afternoon private game drives in Yala National Park. Yala has very high leopard densities, and they are well habituated making Yala one of the world’s best parks for spotting and photographing these magnificent cats. One may also see elephant, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, wild boar, stripe-necked mongoose, black-naped hare and several civet species. In the water holes live mugger crocodile, painted stork, lesser whistling teal, black-headed Ibis, Eurasian spoonbill and the rare black-necked stork. Palu trees dominate the monsoon forest vegetation of the park, Manilkara hexandra and thorny bushes dominate the thick undergrowth.

Staying at Cinnamon Wild. Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Yala National Park

Enjoy another day of morning and afternoon private game drives in Yala National Park.

Staying at Cinnamon Wild. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Yala National Park

Enjoy another day of morning and afternoon private game drives in the Yala National Park.

Staying at Cinnamon Wild. Includes All Meals.

Day 8
Bundala

Morning game drive in Yala, then leave Yala for Bundala National Park. Afternoon game drive in Bundala. Famous for its water birds, but also containing elephant, golden jackal, black-naped hare and macaques. Buffalo and deer can be seen there, as well as the island’s two species of crocodile.

Staying at Lagoon Inn. Includes All Meals.

Day 9
Bundala

Morning and afternoon game drives in Bundala National Park.

Staying at Lagoon Inn. Includes All Meals.

Day 10
Bundala to Mirissa

Drive with your private driver to Mirissa the centre of Sri Lanka’s burgeoning whale watching industry and close to the historic town of Galle.

Staying at Mirissa Hills. Includes All Meals.

Day 11
Mirissa Whale Watching

Enjoy an unforgettable morning spotting blue whales by boat. During the months of December to April the seas here are home to a large population of blue whales, giving very reliable sightings of the largest animal to have ever lived. Sperm whales are also seen frequently as well as large pods of spinner dolphins. There is a voluntary code of conduct amongst responsible operators to keep at least 100m from each whale [please encourage your boat captain to respect this]. Optional: You could book a light aircraft overflight of the blue whales, a far better way to see them. Afternoon at leisure.

Staying at Mirissa Hills. Includes All Meals.

Day 12
Mirissa & Galle

In the morning, visit the nearby town of Galle to visit the old Dutch fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) with its well-preserved ramparts and plentiful grand colonial buildings. A free afternoon to relax and pack.

Staying at Mirissa Hills. Includes All Meals.

Day 13
Depart Colombo

An early start for your drive back to Colombo and check in for your flight home.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Tour Accommodation

Sri Lanka Hill Country

Rainforest Edge

Overview

Only ten minutes from the Sinharaja rainforest, this accommodation is the perfect escape for nature lovers wishing to immerse in the Sri Lankan wilderness, whilst experiencing fantastic hospitality from local village folk. The eco-friendly rooms on site are designed so as to balance ancient traditional techniques with modern comforts, resulting in an authentic local experience without compromising on amenities.

The lodge’s environmentally friendly ethos is reflected in many of the systems they have in place: the majority of fruit and vegetables used on-site are grown organically at the property’s eco-farm; and energy is derived from a combination of solar energy, mains electricity and lanterns.

Enjoy traditional Sri Lankan cuisine under the thatched roof of the open air restaurant, and keep yourself fuelled with traditional snacks and fresh juices from the snack house.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
7
Facilities

‘Ambalama’ snack house serving herbal drinks, fresh fruit juices and Sri Lankan snacks, and restaurant.
Rooms have a day mattress, tea and coffee facilities and en suite bathrooms. There is one family room also available.

Local Wildlife

Sinharaja Rainforest contains many endemic plants, animals and birds, including 139 varieties of Sri Lanka’s 830 endemic trees, and is one of the few places where you can see Sri Lanka hanging parrot. A wonderful diversity of butterflies is present, including spectacular blue morphos and bird-wings. Lizards are also plentiful, including a number of rare endemics.

Although many mammals inhabit Sinharaja, sightings are always a matter of luck due to the density of the undergrowth. However, troupes of purple-faced leaf monkeys can be found by the fearsome roaring calls of the males.

Sinharaja is noted for its birdlife, much of which is endemic including four eagles: mountain hawk, black, cresented serpent and rufous-bellied eagle. Some of the other species include: crested goshawk, Sri Lanka spurfowl, Layard’s parakeet, red-faced malkoha, green-billed coucal, Malabar trogon, brown-backed needletail, chestnut-backed owlet, yellow-fronted barbet, black-crested bulbul, yellow-browed bulbul, spot-winged thrush, orange-billed babbler, ashy-headed laughing thrush, Sri Lanka blue magpie, white-faced starling, hill myna, Sri Lanka myna and black-throated munia.

Optional Activities

Bird watching, cycling and mountain biking, fauna and flora spotting tours, hiking and trekking, photography and filming, and rainforest expeditions.

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Lagoon Inn

Overview

A friendly, homely guesthouse located in Hambantota, 2km east of the northern entrance gate to Bundala National Park. Choose this lodge for location primarily, as its basic facilities provide adequate comfort and functionality but are not luxurious. 2.8km from Bundala Bird Sanctuary, this is a great property for keen birdwatchers, and the upstairs bedrooms even have a shared balcony from which guests can observe many bird species within the nearby marshlands.

The owner, Kamal, is himself an experienced nature guide, and is happy to arrange fairly priced wildlife tours in the park for guests.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
7
Facilities

All rooms have private ensuite bathrooms, laundry and room service is available, free wifi access and guest parking. Four of the rooms only have fans, whilst the other three have air conditioning systems. The hotel has a private safari jeep and English speaking guide with extensive birding knowledge which guests can book to use for tours of the national park or bird sanctuary.

Local Wildlife

Migratory birds come to Bundala in October, and in the season (September to March) you can find nearly 200 bird species in the National Park. The parks geography (20km of coastline with five brackish lagoons and low scrub forest) lends itself particularly to water birds. There are also 32 mammal species to be seen, and all five turtle species are known to lay their eggs on the park’s beaches. Crocodiles and land monitors are among the reptiles on offer.

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Cinnamon Wild Yala

Overview

The recently refurbished and award-winning Cinammon Wild Yala is located just outside the world renowned Yala National Park boundary and borders a beautiful golden beach in Kirinda.

The lodge blends wilderness and luxury living without damaging the existing flora and fauna. The theme of the lodge is ‘in harmony with wildlife’. The hotel has 68 well-appointed deluxe air-conditioned bungalows with verandahs scattered around ten acres of woodland, some with beach views.

All rooms are equipped with minibar, satellite TV, international direct dial telephone, safety deposit box, electric kettle with tea and coffee, hair dryer and have free WiFi.

The Tuskers Restaurant in the main lodge offers an good selection of a la carte dishes and there is a friendly bar and plenty of living areas including a rooftop terrace around the property in which to enjoy a beverage. There is a large swimming pool with sun lounging terrace for relaxation between safaris.

The lodge is ideally located for early morning and evening game drives in Yala and also offers birdwatching and bush walks and night safaris with infra-red light giving opportunities to see elusive nocturnal species. Even around the grounds of the hotel it is not unusual to see a diversity of wildlife including wild boar, squirrels, deer, scorpions, civets and hear elephants in the distance.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
68
Facilities

Restaurant and bar, swimming pool, LCD TV, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, hair dryer, safety deposit box, laundry service, room service, free WiFi, currency exchange, luggage storage and gift shop.

Local Wildlife

Yala has some of the highest leopard densities in the world and the cats are particularly habituated making it one the world’s best parks for spotting and photographing these magnificent cats. One may also see elephant, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, wild boar, stripe-necked mongoose, black-naped hare and several civet species. In the water holes you may see mugger crocodile, painted stork, lesser whistling teal, black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill and the rare black-necked stork. The monsoon forest ecosystem of the park is dominated by Palu and Manilkara hexandra trees and thorny bushes create a dense understory.

Optional Activities

Game drives, elephant back safaris, night drives, guided walks and cultural tours.

Sri Lanka Wet Zone

Kalu’s Hideaway

Overview

Kalu’s hideaway is a small, well run guesthouse with swimming pool and just five rooms situated in lush gardens close to the entrance to Udawalawe National Park, famous for its impressive herds of wild Asian elephants.

All of the five characterful rooms have en suite bathrooms, air-conditioning, ceiling fans and mosquito nets over comfortable double or twin beds.

The hotel sits within five acres of beautifully landscaped gardens with a picturesque stream running through. It is a perfect distance (3km) from Udawalawe National Park, famous for its elephant population of 700+ individuals.

There is a restaurant offering both buffet and a la carte dishes with a choice of local, Indian, Chinese and continental cuisine and as well as a BBQ facility for special occasions.

Free WiFi is available throughout the property and facilities include a wellness centre with massage and body treatments, bicycle rental and a children’s play area.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
5
Facilities

Restaurant, swimming pool, air-conditioning, mosquito net, ceiling fan, massage service, laundry service, luggage storage, children’s play area, currency exchange, bicycle rental, safety deposit box and 24hr reception desk.

Local Wildlife

Udawalawe National Park is the principal wildlife attraction with its large population of elephant, but jungle cats, golden jackals, spotted and sambar deer, wild boar, toque macaques, monitor lizards, marsh mugger crocodiles and a wealth of birdlife can also be seen.

The Udawalawe National Park is one of the oldest national park’s in Sri Lanka and protects the largest density of wild elephants in the country. The park is home to the Udawalawe Reservoir, which during the dry season is a key water source for the elephants and results in a large gathering of elephants. Throughout the year, the park remains the best location in Sri Lanka to view elephants and they can be seen on almost every game drive.

Close to the entrance of the National Park is the Elephant Transit Home, a conservation project set up to rehabilitate orphaned or injured wild elephants back to the wild.

Optional Activities

Game drives in Udawalawe National Park and visits to the Elephant Transit Home.

Sri Lanka Wet Zone

Mirissa Hills

Overview

The Mirissa Hills property is still a working cinnamon estate but offers superb exclusive and quiet accommodation despite being only a short drive from the main town and beaches of Weligama.

Accommodation is in Mount Cinnamon, a contemporary house set high on the summit of the estates hill with extensive 360 degree views to Weligama Bay and the Denipitiya Hills. The service provided is first class and there are amenities such as a large swimming pool, three communal lounges, drawing room, bar and a restaurant serving divine local cuisine but also caters for more international pallets. The management prides itself on its cooking using locally sourced and estate-produced ingredients. There is also a small museum on site dedicated to the history of cinnamon production.

The resort is an ideal base for whale and dolphin watching trips. The sea between Mirissa and Dondra Head has become the most reliable area in the world to observe the largest animal to have ever lived; the blue whale. Between November and April the calm weather enables excellent sightings of blues and sperm whale and long-beaked spinner dolphin schools are also a common sight.

The clear and calm waters close to shore offer good snorkelling which can also be arranged from the hotel.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
4
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, lounge, 24-hr room service, swimming pool, laundry service, Wi-Fi (public areas) and shop.

Local Wildlife

The whale-watching season starts in November and continues into April, but the peak months for activity are between December and March. At this time blue whale, sperm whale and huge schools of long-beaked spinner dolphins can be seen on most boat trips. There is also a chance of encountering the Bryde’s whale and even a turtle as well as several species of sea bird. Studies have found this area to offer the most reliable blue whale watching in the world.

Optional Activities

Whale and dolphin watching trips, snorkelling, and water sports.

Route Map

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Kalu’s hideaway : 6.416013, 80.846292
Mirissa Hills: 5.963824, 80.465111
Cinnamon Wild Yala: 6.259165, 81.405282
Lagoon Inn: 6.200466, 81.194504
Rainforest Edge: 6.466114, 80.433111

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.

Flight Info:

Sri Lankan Airlines direct from Heathrow to Colombo

Best Visited:

January to January

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

Our guide was excellent being knowledgeable, interesting, trustworthy and a good travel companion. I would unhesitatingly recommend him to your future clients. Yala was undoubtedly the highlight of the tour and from a wildlife point of view exceeded our expectations. My wife and I have had a thoroughly enjoyable two weeks in Sri Lanka. Everything ran smoothly and there were no major faults. Astounding scenery and wildlife, friendly people and delicious food.

We will certainly consider using Reef and Rainforest again. Thank you for putting together a wonderful itinerary which covered all our needs in the time available. A return visit to see other parts of the island will be on our list!

Dr A H - Derby