Sri Lanka,

The Wonderful Wildlife of North East Sri Lanka

Scroll
Tailor-Made Tour
13 Days
From £3070
GEOIP Not Available
Beach
Off The Beaten Track

Tour Introduction

13 Days from £3070
GEOIP Not Available
per adult.

Best enjoyed between mid-March and mid-April, this extraordinary itinerary concentrates on the fabulous diversity of wildlife to be found in north and eastern Sri Lanka, both on land and below the sea.

Your accommodation will be in a comfortable safari camp, a luxury hotel and a pleasant beachside resort.

In the company of your private driver cum guide and various local naturalist guides, venture out to look for leopards, search for sloth bears, marvel at monkeys, observe Asian elephants, snorkel on coral reefs and perhaps also swim and snorkel with humpback and blue whales off the east coast: perhaps the ultimate marine mammal experience, and, to the best of our knowledge, only possible here.

During a window of roughly one month, the seas off Trincomalee become becalmed, resembling a lake. The visibility is remarkable; up to 300 metres at times. Significant numbers of sperm whales and blue whales congregate here at that time, and we are exclusively able to offer boat trips offshore to snorkel and swim with these gentle leviathans.

This is a Sri Lanka wildlife tour like no other – please ask for details.

Full Itinerary

Price from £3070
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Arrive Sri Lanka

Arrive Colombo, pick up by private drive guide and transfer to Chilaw, on the west coast north of Colombo.

Staying at Anantaya. Includes Breakfast.

Day 2
Wilpattu National Park

Transfer with private guide and vehicle to (approx 3hrs) to Wilpattu National Park. Arrive at campsite and settle in. Your driver will leave you for this section. Stay in spacious tents with raised beds and en suite shower rooms (not hot water, but you probably won’t need it). The food is delicious and the service impeccable.

Staying at Mahoora Luxury Camping. Includes All Meals.

Day 3
Wilpattu National Park

Enjoy morning and afternoon private game drives by private jeep in Wilpattu National Park to look for leopard, elephant, wild buffalo, wild boar, fishing cat, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, land and water monitor lizards and hundreds of bird species including rollers, bee-eaters, fishing owl, adjutant stork, serpent eagle, grey and pied Malabar hornbills, jungle fowl and various kingfishers. Wilpattu, the largest and one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka, has nearly sixty villus - natural, sand-rimmed water basins that attract abundant wildlife. The park currently attracts very few tourists and remains wonderfully unspoilt.

On your daily game drives you stand a good chance of seeing leopard. At night, harmless snakes and slender loris, a gentle prosimian, can be seen in the trees around the campsite.

Staying at Mahoora Luxury Camping. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Wilpattu National Park

Enjoy further morning and afternoon private game drives by private jeep in Wilpattu National Park. Perhaps a night nature walk by torchlight too.

Staying at Mahoora Luxury Camping. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Wilpattu National Park

Another day of morning and afternoon private game drives by private jeep in Wilpattu National Park.

Staying at Mahoora Luxury Camping. Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Minneriya

Spend the morning driving to Habarana and check in to your luxury hotel. In the afternoon, you will visit Hurulu Eco Park where wild elephants congregate during the wetter season. If you come during the dry season, from roughly July to September, you will instead visit Minneriya National Park, famous for “The Gathering” when hundreds of elephants congregate in the open to feed on the fresh grass which grows around the edge of the retreating tank (reservoir) which is the central feature of that park. Watching the antics of these pachyderms interacting with each other is an exceptional wildlife treat to savour for always.

Staying at Cinnamon Lodge. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 7
Sigiriya

Today is set aside to visit one of the cultural wonders of Sri Lanka, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya. Climb the ancient rock fortress which dates back to 477 AD. The most impressive facets of the unique complex are the water gardens, the frescoes of beautiful maidens, the mirror wall with ancient graffiti, the lion platform and the summit of 1.6 hectares, which was completely covered by buildings during the period of Sigiriya’s glory. Built by King Kashyapa, the “Lion Rock” is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200m from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town and the base is ringed by a moat, ramparts and extensive gardens. The world-renowned frescoes (originally 500, of which only 19 remain today), in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway, are painted in earth pigments on plaster. The old stairway to the top led through the mouth of a crouching lion but today only the huge paws remain giving an indication of the massive proportions of the head. Remains of the handsome royal citadel are on the summit and several caves for meditation, audience platforms and baths complete the unique site.

In the afternoon there may be time for an OPTIONAL visit to the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa. Then return to your hotel.

Staying at Cinnamon Lodge. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 8
Trincomalee

Drive with your private driver/guide to Trincomalee on Sri Lanka’s beautiful east coast. Closed during the civil war, this area has remained wonderfully unspoilt with a beautiful white sand beach. Nearby is Pigeon Island which offers some good snorkelling and from February to August sperm and blue whales and large pods of dolphins can be seen on boat trips and occasionally from the shore. Your private guide can on request take you to see the Hindu temple and old Dutch fort in the town before heading to the beach, and will leave you during your time by the sea.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 9
Trincomalee

Free day to relax on the beach or take (optional) snorkelling and whale watching trips – blue whales can be seen in season (March to August) on boat trips.

SPECIAL EXCURSION: If you come in the period around mid-March to mid-April, the wind normally dies and the sea off Trincomalee becomes very calm and flat. Visibility can sometimes reach an incredible 300 metres. On request, we can organise an optional, specially guided boat trip far offshore where blue whales and pods of sperm whales can often be seen. Either from the boat or in the sea, you can take advantage of the unusual clarity of the water to view the whales as never before: it’s as if you were in a huge aquarium with these gentle oceanic leviathans. If you stay aboard, you can see so the whole whale below, rather than merely a dorsal fin or tail fluke. Snorkelling with the largest creature ever to have lived on Earth must count as one of the ultimate wildlife experiences. Please ask us for details.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 10
Trincomalee

Free day. Optional: Perhaps visit Pigeon Island, a nature reserve with good snorkelling. During the boat trip to the island, pods of dolphins are often seen.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 11
Trincomalee

Free day to relax before the trip home.

Staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon. Includes Breakfast.

Day 12
Dambulla - Colombo

Depart after breakfast for your long (6 hour) drive back to Colombo. Stop en route to visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating from the first Century BC: the site comprises five caves and a picturesque facade carved into the side of a steep rock face housing ancient statues and paintings depicting the Buddha and his life. Arrive in the outskirts of Colombo in the late afternoon.

Staying at Tamarind Tree. Includes Breakfast.

Day 13
Depart Colombo

Drive to the international airport and check in for your flight home.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Tour Accommodation

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Mahoora Luxury Camping

Overview

Mahoora Tented Safari Camps offer a very different wildlife experience from lodge-based safaris in Yala, Uda Walawe, Wilpattu and nine other Sri Lankan national parks. The more basic Explorer Camps are perfectly fine and offer good value for money: the Elite Camps, however, provide the top level tents, and the added luxury, quality and service really make a difference to the overall safari experience. The Elite and Explorer camps are recommended for families with young children, who will certainly relish the adventurous wildlife camping experience.

Mahoora Elite Camping’s fully sealed, walk-in tents are spaced well apart and have ventilation screens for added comfort, raised beds with proper mattresses, living area with chairs and mini library and lighting, and outdoor furnished sitting areas. Bed linen and towels, torch, slippers, umbrella, bottled water, en suite bathroom with a fully flushable lavatory, wash basin, toiletries and shower using pipe-borne hot and cold running water. All meals are taken al fresco at table and freshly prepared by an executive chef using the freshest available fruits and vegetables from the local community. The camps are usually situated in buffer-zone woodland just outside the parks, close enough to reach the entrance early before the rest. Two game drives in converted 4x4s are taken each day, complete with complimentary picnic basket with hot and cold beverages and sandwiches on the morning safari, and complimentary beverages provided for the afternoon outing. A gourmet seven-course dinner is usually on the menu for one night at the Elite Camps, with the other meals being equally delicious and freshly prepared by the camp chef. Local soft and alcoholic drinks and wine are all included in the Elite package.

An experienced and informative naturalist guide accompanies each exclusive jeep foray into the park, vital for spotting and illuminating the wildlife. Due to the nature of the jungle environment, electricity is run off the camp generator and laptops and digital cameras may be charged on request in the campsite in the evenings only. There is electricity in the Elite tents between 1800 and 2300 hours.

Mahoora Elite Camps are the ultimate in Sri Lankan safaris, and will give you the feeling of truly being in the wild – but with no loss of comfort.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Facilities

Walk-in tents with en suite bathrooms, dining area, dining tables, morning and afternoon wildlife drives using well converted 4x4s and guided by expert naturalists.

Local Wildlife

Depending on the park visited, you might encounter leopard, elephant, wild boar, jackal, wild buffalo, water and land monitor lizards, barking deer, crocodile, sloth bear, grey langur, spotted deer, samba deer, fishing cat and many species of birds.

Optional Activities

If you are a particularly keen photographer, we can arrange unlimited extra safaris at additional cost. However, the normal safaris times are from 0600 to 1000, then 1430 to 1800, which are the best times for spotting wildlife in any case.

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Cinnamon Lodge

Overview

Nestled among 27 acres of grounds containing 1700 trees and countless plants, all bordering a large lake, Cinnamon Lodge is one of Sri Lanka’s foremost hotels. The location in Habarana makes it ideal as a base for exploring the prime sites of the Cultural Triangle – Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla – as well as the wildlife sanctuary of Minneriya, where the spectacular Gathering of the Elephants occurs annually during the dry season from April to October.

Rooms come in three categories but all have minibar, tea/coffee, WiFi, air-conditioning, telephone, desk, safe, en suite bathrooms, ironing boards and complimentary bottled water. The airy dining room looks out onto the large swimming pool and gardens. The restaurant buffets are legendary, with a bewildering variety of delicious western and eastern dishes, various cooking stations and a separate, air-conditioned room just for desserts: perhaps the best buffet to be found in Sri Lanka.

All in all, a perfect option for visiting Sri Lanka’s World Heritage Cultural Triangle.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
137
Facilities

Restaurant, swimming pool, air-conditioning, fan, lakeside location, massage service, laundry service, safe, free WiFi.

Local Wildlife

In the hotel’s grounds you will find many bird species and various reptiles. Nearby is Minneriya National Park where large herds of elephants can be seen during the dry season.

Optional Activities

Swimming, visiting cultural sites and national parks, early morning guided birdwatching, hot air ballooning.

Sri Lanka Dry Zone

Trinco Blu by Cinnamon

Overview

Trinco Blu by Cinnamon opened in May 2010 (then known as Chaaya Blu) and was the first hotel in the area north of Trincomalee since the civil war ended to have been completely refurbished and brought up to a good international four-star standard. The area is fast becoming one of Sri Lanka’s premier beach locations, with some of the finest beaches on the island plus ample scope for diving and snorkelling.

There are three accommodation options: Suites, Beach Chalets and Superior Rooms. All are en suite and equipped with cable TV, minibar, safety deposit box, direct dial phone and many rooms have balconies and views towards the sea.

Outside there is a large swimming pool and the daily buffets served three times a day at the restaurant are very good. Other facilities include a bar and communal lounge area with air-conditioning and free WiFi is available throughout the property. A PADI-certified dive centre is located on site and provides scuba diving trips, while the hotel arranges snorkelling trips separately.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
81
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, communal lounge, large swimming pool, free WiFi, pool table, laundry service, room service and 24-hour reception service. All rooms are en suite and have cable TV, mini bars, and air-conditioning, safety deposit boxes and have complimentary toiletries. There is a dive operation on site.

Local Wildlife

The Trincomalee coastline is superb for whale watching, especially during the months of March/April and August/September when the world’s largest mammal, the blue whale can be seen with regularity often within a 30-minute boat ride of the shore. Large schools of spinner dolphins are common and small groups of sperm whales are occasionally seen and there is even a chance of finding a pod of false killer whales, or turtle.

Optional Activities

Snorkelling, diving, whale and dolphin watching boat trips and various other water sports can be arranged.

Sri Lanka Wet Zone

Tamarind Tree

Overview

Very convenient for Colombo airport, the Tamarind Tree is set amidst a lush arboretum, which includes an ancient tamarind tree. The accommodation is in simple but spacious villa rooms and suites (some with two bedrooms) with traditional décor and feature private bathrooms, air-conditioning and cable TV.

Tamarind Tree has a restaurant serving Sri Lankan and some international cuisine and a well-stocked bar with pool-side service.

There is a large and inviting swimming pool with sun loungers in the garden to enjoy and other facilities include a business centre and Wi-Fi (charges apply) and room service.

The hotel is just a 10-minute drive from the International airport, but has a quiet location and a surprising number of birds can even be seen in the gardens. It is not a luxury hotel but serves as a convenient transit on arrival or just before departure.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
61
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, swimming pool, arboretum, WiFi (charges), room service, currency exchange, 24-hour reception desk, concierge service, laundry service and luggage storage.

Optional Activities

City tours of Colombo.

Route Map

loading map - please wait...

Trinco Blu by Cinnamon: 8.617670, 81.217570
Cinnamon Lodge: 8.034573, 80.748821
Mahoora Tented Safari Camps: 6.310043, 81.390839

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

“It was a very good tour in every respect…Anyone fortunate enough to get [our guide] as their guide will have met an excellent ambassador for Sri Lanka. It was a perfect mix of culture and wildlife and overall a very good mix of hotels.

Mr I C - Dorset