Over the last few years Sri Lanka has come to the fore front as the premier destination to see the largest animal to have ever lived. The blue whale is seen more often here than anywhere else in the world. But thats not the only spectacular wildlife to be found on this remarkable little island. In the absence of tigers, leopard have grown into the top predator role and are very easy to see along with some of the only wild populations of Asiatic elephants and water buffalo left in the world. In addition to these large animals there is a wealth of endemic reptiles and birds which can be spotted in the ancient forests of the central hill regions. This mixed in with some of the friendliest people and brilliant culture everywhere we guarantee that Sri Lanka will live long in the memory!
Up to 15 species of cetaceans
Guided walks through Sinhraja Forest
Two nights camping in Sinhraja Forest
Up to 40 species of reptiles
Sri Lankan endemic birds
5 days of jeep safaris
Destination: Sri Lanka
Tour Dates: 3/3/2021 – 13/3/2021
Duration: 10 nights
Type / Focus: Whales & Mammals
On arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport you will be met by your zoologist escort and your Sri Lankan guide/driver and transferred in our private air conditioned vehicle to our accommodation in Negombo (15 mins), level – 3* (Browns Beach Hotel / Sunset Beach Hotel). Once here you will have the rest of the day at your leisure, enjoying the beaches here and relaxing after a long flight is best before your adventure across this remarkable island starts. All our meals (depending on the time we have arrived) will be at the accommodation.
Wilpattu National Park
This morning after our breakfast we will leave Negombo and travel north to a remote and wonderful national park (2-3 hours). Wilpattu National Park has one of the highest concentrations of leopards in the world as well as a wealth of other wildlife including Asiatic elephants, sloth bears, water buffalo, painted storks, whistling teals, brown fish owls, mugger crocodiles and many other animals. As soon as we arrive here we will enjoy an afternoon jeep safari with a local naturalist and national park driver as well as your zoologist escort, so you are in good hands when it comes to spotting and understanding the wildlife. At sunset we will head to the ancient city of Anuradhapura and check into our hotel, level – 3* (Palm Garden Village / Heritage Hotel). Today our evening meal will be at our accommodation and we will grab some lunch on the way to Wilpattu National Park.
Wilpattu National Park
Early this morning we will travel from Anuradhapura to Wilpattu National Park for a morning jeep safari. The morning is the best time to see leopards and sloth bears, as they are more active before the sun comes up. We will try and find some of the rarest mammals in the world here such as wild water buffalo and one of the last remaining populations of wild Asiatic elephants. We will probably bring with us a picnic breakfast but if not we will grab some breakfast after the morning safari from a nearby café. This afternoon we will come back and enter the park for a third time. The bird life here is prolific with plenty of water birds such as little cormorants, woolly-necked storks, purple herons and plenty of different egret species. We will have our evening meal back at the accommodation after sunset.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
This morning after breakfast we will leave for the last major primeval rain forest on the island. Sinharaja is a world heritage site and home to more endemic species than any other area in Sri Lanka. However where we stay and our activities are dependant on the weather and local conditions. We will either drive from Anuradhapura through the heart of the central hills (past all the tea growing plantations) and arrive at Rathnapurna (3.5 hours), where we will check into our accommodation, level – 3* (Rathnaloka Tour Inn) and after some lunch leave for a jeep safari into the rain forest. Or we will drive direct to the forest (4.5 hours) and meet the Mahoora camping team who will transfer us to a camp-site in the heart of the forest. Sinharaja Forest Reserve is the best place in Sri Lanka to find many endangered species such as the Indian giant squirrels, Sri Lankan blue magpie, green-billed coucal, red-faced malkoha, purple-faced langurs and green pit vipers. There are also leopards here which make for an excellent sighting if we are lucky enough. Either way we will explore the forest with a jeep safari along a single footpath which dissects the forest. We will return to our accommodation or camp-site and enjoy a relaxing evening surrounded by the sounds of the rainforest at night.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Today will be spent exploring the forest in more depth, with guided walks (if the weather means the footpaths are walk able) and this is the best way to find the smaller animals which is what Sinharaja is all about, the green pit vipers as they cling to the trees are so intricately patterned they are a joy to behold; and its not unusual to see five or six forest endemics in one tree. Including white-faced starling, Sri Lanka scimitar-babbler, Sri Lanka blue magpie, Sri Lanka yellow-eared bulbul and Sri Lanka grey hornbill. This place really is a heaven for birders. We will most probably grab some lunch from a local café or bring with us a picnic and enjoy it in the forest. After the exploration we will enjoy our evening meal at our accommodation or camp-site.
Mirissa / Yala National Park
Today, after breakfast we will either drive to Mirissa (2 hours) or we will head east to Yala National Park (2-3 hours). The route is dependant on local conditions and will be decided on booking of the tour. If we head to Mirissa now we will arrive at our accommodation, level – 3* (Mandara Boutique Hotel) and the rest of the day will be at your leisure. Lunch and dinner will be served at the hotel. The hotel is right on the beach and this makes an ideal place to rest, relax and have a look through all the photo’s you have taken during the visits to Wilpattu and Sinharaja. If we have gone to Yala National Park we will arrive and check into our accommodation, level – 4* (Yala Village) and after lunch head into the national park (Sri Lankas largest) in a jeep safari. The safari will be complete with your zoologist escort, local naturalist and a national park driver. This park is the best place in Sri Lanka for water buffalo, wild boar, sambar, chital, mouse deer, sloth bears, Sri Lankan grey hornbills, mugger crocodiles, Bengal monitor lizards, bonnet-head macaques and is very good for leopards. We see an average of 3 leopards per safari here. After the sun sets we will head back to the accommodation and have our evening meal.
Yala National Park
This morning we will rise early whether we are in Mirissa or Yala; if we are in Mirissa we will have an early breakfast as we want to be at the harbour for 06:00am. This is by far the best time to try and see the most spectacular animals around Sri Lanka. The whales and dolphins. Here we will board our whale-watching boat and head out into the International Whaling Commissions protected zone in the Indian Ocean. Here we have the best place in the world for blue whales, they pass here as they migrate from their feeding grounds on the north-east of Sri Lanka to the south west point of the Arabian Sea. But as well as blue whales, sperm whales are here in large numbers and we usually see various beaked whales, spinner dolphins, striped dolphins and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins; making this a true cetacean hotspot. After the whale watching trip we will eat lunch and drive to Yala National Park (3-4 hours); here we will check into our accommodation, level – 4* (Yala Village) where the rest of the day is at your leisure and the evening meal will be at the accommodation. However if we are already at Yala we will again rise early and head out into the national park again for a morning jeep safari. We may have a picnic breakfast or have breakfast back at the accommodation. The morning is an excellent time to spot sloth bears and leopards as they are often walking around after a night hunting. After lunch we will come back here and have our second afternoon jeep safari until sunset and once again our evening meal will be back at the accommodation, level – 4* (Yala Village).
Yala National Park / Mirissa
Today is variable once again, if we waking up at Yala National Park for the first time we will rise early and go into the national park for the first time on a jeep safari. This day will follow the same pattern as described in Day 7. However if we have not been to Mirissa yet we will have a leisurely breakfast and leave in our private air conditioned vehicle for Mirissa (3-4 hours); after checking in and having some lunch the rest of your day will be at your leisure, the beach here is superb and the birding is very good. Our evening meal will be at the accommodation.
Yala National Park . Mirissa
Today we will rise early regardless of where we are, we will either enjoy the whale watching as described on Day 7 if we are in Mirissa or have two jeep safaris into Yala National Park with the meal format the same as Day 8.
Today is our last full day in Sri Lanka and we will spend it by seeing some of the most beautiful coastline or the tea growing hill regions in the world. We will leave either Mirissa or Yala National Park after breakfast and head to Negombo (3.5 hours) or (4-5 hours) respectively. Once we arrive in Negombo and at our accommodation, level – 3* (Browns Beach Hotel / Sunset Beach Hotel) we will check in and enjoy lunch before relaxing the rest of the day away and reviewing what we have seen on this exploration of Sri Lanka. In the evening your zoologist escort will offer you a drink or two as we enjoy our last evening meal.
After breakfast you will be transferred to International Airport so you can catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather during January is usually mild with an average temperature of 26 degrees C and highs of 30 degrees C. There is little rain but it can be relatively humid (around 75%). At night the temperature can get a little chilly, but it is never truly cold.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned Tempo Traveler with an excellent local driver. We have two brilliant guides; first an professional zoologist will escort you on all your excursions and we also use a very knowledgeable English speaking local guides.
All our excursions including treks, guided walks, jeep safaris, whale watching and park entrance fees are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be light and airy clothes as well as comfortable walking shoes. As the nights can be chilly we recommend you bring a fleece, long trousers, scarf and a woolly hat. Insect repellent is handy as there can be mosquitoes about during the evenings and nights. Andy medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive). Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souveniers and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Etihad Airways as a good airline for flights to Colombo. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is www.holidaygenie.com. They are an ATOL bonded company and this provide all the securities related to ATOL protection. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Sri Lanka. However these are usually given out free of charge for 30 days on arrival at the airport. The easiest way to find information is by visiting http://www.slhclondon.org/ (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Sri Lanka, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Sri Lanka as soon as you have decided on this trip.
The Francis's, Malvern
Susan Francis, Malvern
Marie & Tom King - Kent