From £2,345 per person
Includes flights, accommodation, a/c transport with chauffeur guide, activities & taxes.
Drive northeast to Sigiriya in the island’s Cultural Triangle.
Two nights in a resort hotel situated in private open grounds frequented by wild peacocks and surrounded by woodland with stunning views of Sigiriya rock fortress.
Jeep safari in Minneriya NP, which is part of an ‘elephant corridor’, along with Kaudulla NP, for the vast herds roaming the eastern region of the country from Trincomalee through to Wasgamuwa, Maduru Oya and Gal Oya NPs further south. The park is home to a variety of animals such as elephants, leopards, toque macaques, purple faced langurs, sloth bears, sambar and spotted deer, and about 160 bird species, including many endemics. Minneriya is home to the ‘gathering’ between August and October, when large herds of elephants congregate around Minneriya Lake to seek the last available water at the end of the dry season.
Continue south to Kitulgala in the foothills of the western Hill Country.
Two nights in a 'glamping' riverside camp alongside rapids and surrounded by mountains.
Visit the Kelani Valley Forest Reserve, which is a particularly good area for spotting lowland endemics including the Sri Lanka Myna, Green-billed Coucal, Spot-winged Thrush, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Brown-capped Babbler & Red-faced Malkoha.
Head into the upper Hill Country through tea plantations and past spectacular waterfalls to Nuwara Eliya, the British colonial capital of the Hill Country and the highest city in Sri Lanka at 1900 metres above sea level.
Visit Victoria Park, which is a particularly good area for spotting Himalayan migrants (Kashmir Flycatcher, Pied Thrush, Indian Pitta and Indian Blue Robin) and Sri Lankan endemics (Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lankan White-eye and Dull blue Flycatcher).
One night in a restored Georgian style upcountry mansion and former tea planters’ club surrounded by terraced lawns and still preserving the charm of a bygone colonial era.
Trek through the heath and forest of Horton Plains NP, via Baker’s Falls, in time to see the awe-inspiring views at World's End before the cloud sets in (circuit is approximately 9 km). Horton Plains is a particularly good area for spotting endemics, including: Sri Lankan Whistling Thrush (endangered), Sri Lankan Bush Warbler, Sri Lankan Blue Magpie, Black-throated Munia, Orange-billed Babbler and Dull-blue Flycatcher.
Continue to Ella in the southern Hill Country.
One night in a luxury retreat with spectacular views in an idyllic location at the southern end of the Hill Country.
Drop down to the hot and dry southern plain before continuing to Udawalawe.
Two nights in an intimate local hotel surrounded by wilderness close to Udawalawe NP.
Early morning and afternoon jeep safaris in Udawalawe NP, which is renowned for its outstanding scenic beauty and wealth of animal species, particularly mammals and birds. The park is centred on the large Udawalawe Reservoir, fed by the Walawe Ganga that originates in the southern Hill Country. Of all Sri Lanka's national parks, this best rivals the savanna reserves of Africa, with herds of elephants, wild buffaloes and sambar deer, and leopards. There are about 500 elephants in the park in herds of up to 100 individuals. Udawalawe NP is known to be the best place to see wild elephants in Sri Lanka, because of the elephant-proof fence surrounding the reserve, which prevents elephants from getting out and cattle from getting in. There are also populations of spotted and barking deer as well as wild boar. Other mammals include toque macaque and common langur monkeys, silver-backed jackals, sloth bears, toddy and civet cats, and mongooses. For bird watchers, there are large numbers of warblers, together with the usual low country birds in forested areas, and a variety of raptors. Water birds found on the reservoir include rare visitors and breeding residents such as the Indian cormorant and osprey. Notable endemic species are the Sri Lanka spurfowl and junglefowl, Malabar pied hornbill, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, and the brown-capped babbler.
Continue to Tissamaharama.
Two nights in a former government rest house overlooking tranquil and attractive Tissa Wewa (lake).
All-day jeep safari in Yala NP, which is one of the island's best-known reserves and one of its largest. This region, known as the "Dry Zone", has mostly dry thorn scrub, interspersed with small dusty glades – the ideal habitat to view elephants, Sri Lanka's largest mammal. The park does have a varied landscape, however, from parkland to dense jungle on the plains, scrubland with rocky outcrops and several streams, small lakes and lagoons. The picturesque ocean frontage to the east has wide beaches and high sand dunes. A former hunting reserve, which was transformed into a nature park in 1938, Yala NP, also called “Ruhuna”, is currently home to over 390 elephants, several of which are tuskers, and about 120 leopards, reportedly the highest density of leopards in the wild anywhere in the world. Watching elephants go for their bath at sunset or seeing leopards laze about on the rocks at dusk are the most popular natural spectacles at Yala NP. However, you may also see other species of mammals such as sambar and spotted deer, wild boar, buffalo, musk deer, black bear, the unique small Loris, toque macaque and langur monkeys, jackal, mongoose, porcupine, civet cat, anteater, and the enigmatic sloth bear. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded in Yala NP, including the Sri Lankan Junglefowl, White-bellied Fish Eagle, Painted Stork, Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Brown Fish Owl, Red-faced Malkoha, three species of bee-eaters, and large numbers of waders (including three species of pratincole and two thick-knees).
IMPORTANT – Yala NP is closed from 01 September for up to 2 months annually as a respite period for the animals and environment at the end of the dry season.
Early morning jeep safari in Bundala NP, which is the first Ramsar site (wetlands of international importance) in Sri Lanka and it is the most significant wetland for birds on the island outside of Northern Province. The shallow, brackish lagoons and saltpans of the park are among the most important overwintering areas for migratory shore birds in the country. This bird sanctuary is home to every species of water bird resident in the country. The rare Black-necked Stork is said to be a breeding resident in Sri Lanka. Vagrants turn up occasionally including the Capion Plover, Ringer Plover, Common Redshank, Red Knot, Red-necked Phalarope, Common Avocet and various sandpipers. The forest still harbours elephants as well as toque macaque and common langur monkeys, jackal, leopard, fishing and spotted cats, mongoose, wild boar, mouse, barking and spotted deer, sambar, black-naped hare, Indian pangolin, porcupine, mugger and estuarine crocodiles, common monitors, star tortoise, and pythons.
Head west along the picturesque southern coastline to Mirissa.
One night at a beachfront resort nestled in a palm grove with direct views over the Indian Ocean.
Early morning boat safari off the south coast to spot blue whales, the largest animal on Earth! Sperm, humpback and orca whales as well as large pods of dolphins are also regular sightings.
Continue to Galle.
Two nights in a town villa built in harmony with the original colonial Dutch architecture of the 17th century within the ramparts of the Fort.
Early morning boat safari through the mangroves and lush vegetation along the Mahamodara River, which offers great opportunities for spotting birds, butterflies, monitor lizards, and much more! A variety of water-borne birds can be seen including Purple and Grey Herons, Large and Little Egrets, Indian Shag, and White-breasted, Common and Indian-pied Kingfishers. Among the forest dwelling birds are the Spotted Dove, Pompadour Green Pigeon, drongos, bee-eaters, parakeets, coucals, and barbets. The birds of prey include the Brahmini Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle and the Tank Eagle.