Sri Lanka – The Ultimate Island Safari

Sri Lanka is unmatched for its wildlife for an island of its size. It is the best place in the world for seeing Blue Whale. It has the largest seasonal concentration of Asian Elephants. The island is arguably the best for seeing and photographing leopard. The Sinharaja Bird Wave is the largest in the world and offers the best viewing. Sri Lanka has a host of other bio-diversity rich features and beautiful landscapes, which make it the Ultimate Island Safari

Day
1

Arrival in Sri Lanka and transfer to Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle for two nights.

Day
2

Morning, drive to the Mirissa Fishery’s Harbour and start your journey out to sea in a spacious and comfortable boat. Blue Whales in concentrations not seen elsewhere in the world would be the highlight of the day. 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 as the continental shelf is narrow to the South of Dondra. After seeing the Blue Whales, you go further out to sea look for Sperm Whales. Even Sperm Whales sometimes come within a few kilometers off shore.

Evening visit the Galle Dutch Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Day
3

After breakfast leave for Martins Simple Lodge, Sinharaja for two nights. Evening at Sinharaja Rainforest with the emphasis on endemic plants, reptiles and birds.

Day
4

Full day birding at Sinharaja Rainforest (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) for lowland endemics and mixed species bird flocks. According to a study of the mixed species bird on average 42 individual birds occur in the flocks, which makes this 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.

Day
5

After breakfast leave for Jetwing Yala for three nights.

Day
7

Day 7 & 8

Morning & Afternoon game drives to Yala National Park. According to the Leopard Research, under the Jetwing Research Initiative Yala Block 1 has the highest density of Leopards in the world. Yala therefore offers one of the best chances in Asia to see Leopards. You may also see Elephant, Sloth Bear, Sambhur, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Stripe-necked, Brown & Ruddy Mongooses, Black-naped Hare & several civet species. In the water holes you may see Mugger Crocodile, Painted Stork, Lesser Whistling Teal, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Great, Median & Little Egrets & the rare Black-necked Stork. Also drive up to the Buttuwa Tank to see the rare winter visitor, Bay-backed Shrike. The migrant bird species that you are likely to see include Indian Pitta, Brahminy Myna & large flocks of Rosy Starling flying for roost. The monsoon forest vegetation of the park is dominated by Palu Trees. (Manilkara hexandra) and the thick undergrowth is dominated by thorny bushes.

Day
8

After breakfast leave for Jetwing St. Andrews, Nuwara Eliya for two nights.

Day
9

Morning, visit Horton Plains National Park. Walk though the grasslands and Cloud Forests to a popular viewpoint know as World’s end, which is an escapement with a 870 m drop. The park sensational view points and no better place you would have asked for if you’re a couple who enjoy the beauty of superb landscapes. Horton Plains offers excellent opportunities to photograph Sambar, Sri Lanka’s largest species of deer which are seen near the entrance. We look for montane endemics Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka White Eye, Dull Blue Flycatcher and if lucky the scarce montane endemic, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush. Also look for Indian Blue Robin, Zitting Cisticola, Pacific Swallow, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Crested Goshawk and Indian Pied Bush Chat. In the forest patches we look for the endemic Bear Monkey and Dusky Squirrel.

Evening visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens for habituated purple faced leaf Monkeys. The Hakgala Botanical Gardens was originally an experimental Cinchona plantation established in 1860. Cinchona is the plant from which the anti-malarial drug quinine is obtained. The gardens today enjoy a reputations for its roses and ferns. Although small in relation to Peradeniya, it is nonetheless is a charming place and deserves a visit for those who want a holiday at a leisurely pace. Botanists should take a look at the orchid house.

Day
10

After breakfast leave for Kassapa Lions Rock, Sigiriya for three nights. En-route stop at Kandy to visit the sacred Temple of the Tooth.

Day
11

Morning, climb Sigiriya Rock. Evening birding around the Sigiriya Sanctuary, which will be your chance to look for 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.

Day
12

After breakfast visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO archaeological 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 meters. 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 Leafbird, highly vocal Large Cuckooshrike, the beautiful songster White-rumped Shama and the migrants Forest Wagtail, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Indian Pitta.

Afternoon jeep safari to Minneriya National Park to look for elephants.

Day
13

After breakfast leave for Villa Talangama, Colombo for one night. Visit Talangama Wetland and surrounding paddy fields for an assortment of brilliant red Dragonflies such as Elusive Adjutant, Eastern Scarlet Darter and Spine-legged Redbolt and with luck two rare gomphids. Around the lake and canals we find many pond damselflies including endemic species of Gems, Sprites, and Threadtails. The list of species for the wetland is around 24 and growing. At Talangama one will encounter common species of beautiful butterflies, such as Tailed Jay, Common Crow, Common Palmfly, Common Rose, Common Sailor, Plain Tiger and Common Tiger.

Day
14

Transfer to International Airport for departure.

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