Amazing Biodiversity of Sri Lanka
Featuring key Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot areas, this tour includes leopard safaris at Yala, elephant safaris at Minneriya, birding at Bundala & exploring Sinharaja Rainforest.
Arrival in Sri Lanka and transfer to Villa Talangama, Colombo for one night. Late afternoon walk along Talangama Lake. Birding highlights include black and yellow bitterns, one of the many attractions being the endemic Purple-face Leaf Monkey.
After breakfast leave for Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sigiriya for two nights. Afternoon visit Sigiriya Sanctuary is also fantastic for dry zone birding. We look for the scarce resident Blue-eared Kingfisher.
Morning visit Polonnaruwa (A UNESCO World Heritage Site), the medieval capital of Sri Lanka. Visit the world famous rock-cut Buddha statues of Gal Vihara and the Parakrama Samudra (‘Sea of Parakrama’) a 2500-hectare man made reservoir built by King Parakramabahu I (1153 –1186 AD) with a capacity of 134 million cubic metres. Birding highlights include Wooly-necked Stork, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Large Cuckoo Shrike and Coppersmith Barbet. Afternoon visit Minneriya National Park, for Elephants. During September and October over 300 elephants gather on the receding shores of the Minneriya Tank. ‘The Gathering’ of Elephants at Minneriya is one of those awesome spectacles which should rank alongside better-known wildlife spectacles such as the migration of wildebeest in Africa.
Morning visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, which was the pleasure capital of a single king called Kashyapa in the 5 Th centuries A.D. Afternoon Leave for Hunas Falls by Amaya, Elkaduwa for two nights.
Morning leave for an excursion to Knuckles Wilderness, which is the most rugged and picturesque terrain of Sri Lanka. The drive from Reverseturn to Pitawala-Patana grasslands offers panoramic views of rugged hills. Do a crepuscular walk in the sub montane forests. Highlights include Keerthisinghe’s Rock Frog and endemic montane crab species. Afternoon walk along the hotel gardens.
Morning birding in the hotel’s nature trail before continuing higher into the hill country where more biodiversity awaits us. The scenery is spectacular and as the road winds higher, we pass picturesque waterfalls, tumbling down hillsides and vantage points, which afford views over a panorama of rugged hills stretching far into the distance. This is the home of the Sri Lankan tea industry and as we gain in altitude, neatly manicured tea estates become a familiar part of the landscape, acres of tea bushes extending over the hills on either side of the road. Check in at Jetwing St Andrew’s, Nuwara Eliya for two nights. Afternoon visit Victoria Park for Himalayan migrants Kashmir Flycatcher, Pied Thrush Indian Pitta and Indian Blue Robin. Other highlights include Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Hill White-eye and Dull blue Flycatcher. Also visit a nearby wetland for proposed endemic Black-throated Munia, Paddyfield Pipit, Pied Bush Chat, Pintail Snipes, Zitting Cisticola, Plain Prinia, Blyth’s Reed Warbler and if lucky Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler.
Pre-dawn start to Horton Plains National Park for scarce endemic Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush. Other biodiversity highlights include the endemic primate Bear Monkey, Rhino-horned Lizard, Dwarf Lizard and Black-lipped Lizard. Afternoon visit to Hakgala Botanical Gardens. It was once the pleasure garden of Ravana of the Ramayana epic and according to many, it was one of the places where the beautiful Sitha was hidden by the demon king. If you have left your heart in an English garden, you will surely find it again in Hakgala’s Rose garden, where the sights and scents of these glorious blooms can be experienced in their infinite variety. From there it is a quiet stroll from the sublime to the exotic sophistication of the Orchid House. A special attraction here is the variety of montane orchids, many of them endemic to Sri Lanka.
Morning, leave for Jetwing Yala for three nights. Afternoon visit Yala National Park for Leopards, Elephants and Bear. According to the Leopard Research sponsored under the Jetwing Research Initiative, Yala Block 1 has one of the highest densities of Leopards in the world. Yala therefore offers one of the best chances in Asia to see Leopards. Other large animals you may see include Elephant, Sloth Bear, Mugger Crocodile, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Wild Boar, Wild Buffalo, Jackal, Grey Langur and Mongoose. Birding highlights include Malabar Pied Hornbill, Painted Stork, Lesser Adjutant and Black-necked Stork.
Morning, birding at Tissa wetlands. Afternoon, visit Yala National Park once more to see Leopards.
Morning visit Bundala National Park in safari jeeps for waders and shore birds, which include Red-necked Phalarope, Great Thick-knee and hundreds of Greater Flamingo. Afternoon, visit Yala National Park for more Leopards.
Morning leave for Sinharaja Rainforest, the biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. En route, visit Udawalawe National Park for dry zone birds and Elephants. Look for Orange-headed Thrush, Coppersmith and Malabar Pied Hornbill. In a visit to Udawalawe National Park close to 50-60 Elephants can be seen. Check in at Martin’s Simple Lodge, Sinharaja, for two nights.
Birding in Sinharaja for endemics and mixed species bird flocks. According a study of the mixed species bird flocks, on average 42 individual birds gather in the flocks, which makes this the world’s largest mixed species bird flock. The mixed species Bird flock study of Sinharaja forest has been continuing since 1981 and is considered as the World’s longest studied bird-flock study. Birding highlights include Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, White-faced Starling and Scaly Thrush.
After breakfast leave for Jetwing Blue, Negombo for one night. Afternoon leisure by the beach.
Transfer to the International Airport.