Ancient Cities & Wildlife Marine Mammals

Combining culture & adventure, this tour features UNESCO World Heritage Sites, thrilling whales watching in Sri Lanka & witnessing the amazing elephant gathering at Minneriya.

Day
1

Arrival in Sri Lanka and transfer to Hotel Sigiriya for two nights.

Day
2

After breakfast leave to visit Polonnaruwa (a UNESCO world heritage site).

From the tenth century AD the capital of the most powerful kingdom in the island shifted to Polonnaruwa from Anuradhapura. It was the capital from around 993 AD to 1250 AD. The greatest king of Polonnaruwa was Parakramabahu I (1153 –1186 AD). In his ‘golden reign’ the whole area flourished. Agriculture developed to its highest peak and Sri Lanka became the ‘Granary of the East’.

Birding highlights include seeing a large colony of Rose-ringed Parakeets which holds the Lion’s share of the nest holes found on the tall Colon Trees (Adina cordifolia). We also look for the endemic Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, well-camouflaged Blue-winged Leaf bird, highly vocal Large Cuckoo shrike, the beautiful songster White-rumped Shama and the migrants Forest Wagtail, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Indian Pitta.

Also Polonnaruwa is probably one of the best places of the world to observe the social dynamics of diurnal primates. The endemic Toque Monkeys have been studied in one of the longest running field studies in the world.

Afternoon, visit Minneriya national Park by safari jeeps.

During the months of June – September, up to 350 Asian Elephant can be seen gathering in the tank beds of Minneriya. The Gathering has been ranked by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. Flocks of about 2000 cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) diving in to the water is a sight not to be missed. Some of the other birds that come to the reservoir to quench their thirst and look for food are the Painted Storks, Great White Pelican, Ruddy Turnstones and Grey Herons. The endemic birds found in this Park are the Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler and the Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill. Crimson-fronted Barbet and the Black-crested Bulbul can also be seen flittering through the trees.

Overnight at Hotel Sigiriya

Day
3

After breakfast, visit Sigiriya Rock Castle (a UNESCO world heritage site).

Sigiriya Rock Fortress is situated in the north central province belonging to the ‘Cultural Triangle’, in the dry lowlands of Sri Lanka. After lunch, climb the 5th century AD fortress palace built by King Kasyappa, but suspected to have been in use by Mahayana Buddhists for many centuries previously. The rock is an inselberg, which dominates the landscape and was both a military refuge as well as an aesthetic refuge for king who was a patron of the arts. The frescoes of the bare breasted heavenly maidens, which remain are a fragment of a band, which may have held over 500 figures. In Arthur C Clarke’s science fiction novel, ‘The Fountains of Paradise’, the king had the architect blinded so that he could not construct another heaven on earth.

Also birding around the Sigiriya Senctuary, which will be your chance to see dry zone birds. Look for Orange-headed Thrush, Purple Sunbird, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama and Shahin. Look for also see the rare Blue-eared Kingfisher around the Sigiriya Moat. You may also visit the World Heritage Site of Sigiriya Rock Fortress to see frescos of celestial nymphs.

On completion, continue to Jungle Beach, Trincomalee for four nights.

Afternoon, at leisure by the beach.

Overnight at Jungle Beach

Day
4

Morning, drive to Nilaveli, get onboard a boat for Dolphin & Whale watching at Uppuveli. Blue Whales in concentrations not seen elsewhere in the world would be the highlight. A concentration of Blue Whales of this nature is something which whale watchers can only dream about. During the migration, Blue Whales are seen relatively close to shore at Uppuveli. Sperm Whales may also be seen, which can sometimes come within a few kilometres of shore. Pods of Spinner Dolphins & Bottlenose dolphins too can be seen, where on a lucky day you will have the treat of observing more than five hundred dolphins. The Spinners are a treat to watch in action, often flipping and jumping out of the water.

Afternoon, at leisure on the beach.

Overnight at Jungle Beach

Day
5

After breakfast, visit Trincomalee.

Visit Fort Frederick, originally built by the Portuguese. On the spit of land pointing east into the sea, is used by the military but usually visitors are allowed to walk through the fort in order to visit the Koneswaram Kovil (temple) at the end of the spit. You are not allowed to bring a camera. Few foreigners come here these days; the temple is however, popular with Pilgrims.

At the end of the road through the fort is Swami Rock. The end of the spit is occupied by a Hindu temple (Koneswaram). Swami Rock is also known as “Lover’s Leap”, from the story of a Dutch officials daughter who, watching her faithless lover sail away, decided to make the fatal leap. Her father erected a pillar at the time simply because he was rather fond of her.

The Dutch Bay at Trinco can suffer from a very dangerous undertow, so take great care if swimming there. The best beaches in the Trinco area are north of the city, particularly at Nilaveli.

On your way back, visit The Commonwealth War Cemetery.

It is about 4.5 km north of Trinco on the Nilaveli road is the last resting place for many servicemen who died at Trinco during the WWII. It’s beautifully kept and the friendly caretaker who lives next door can show you a record of exactly who’s buried where, should wish to locate a particular grave. A surprising number of foreigner’s visit this spot.

Overnight at Jungle Beach

Day
6

Breakfast at the hotel.

Full day at leisure by the beach or Optional – Another session of Whale Watching

Overnight at Jungle Beach

Day
7

After breakfast, transfer to Jetwing Lagoon, Negombo for one night.

Day
8

Transfer to Bandaranayake International Airport for departure.

Plan holiday Plan Holiday