TikaWeeks #21/2023: Sri Lanka update

Posted by John on 25th May 2023

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is home to well over 400 species of exotic birds with names to match, like the White-throated Flowerpecker, Blue-faced Malkoha and Sri Lanka Paradise-flycatcher. Thirty three species are endemic while the vast majority are vagrants, migrants or residents. The joy of bird watching on the island is to see them wherever you travel, although some areas are better than others. You don’t need to be an avid ‘twitcher’ to enjoy the birdlife across the country as the little peckers seem to come to you!

During the Big Garden Bird Count in January over the past couple of years, we have managed to record up to 15 different bird species around the garden and over the year we may see upwards of 30. In Sri Lanka, by contrast, past customers Gill and Nigel spotted 172 different birds on a three-week holiday while Martin and Julia managed around 125 bird species in just a week! As you can see, birdlife is everywhere on the island.

Possibly the best places to spot birds are in the various national parks and most of our real avian enthusiasts head to these wildlife reserves for walking and jeep safaris as well as choose particular ‘bird-friendly’ accommodation locally for their stay.

Here are the top 10 places to bird watch in Sri Lanka (in alphabetical order):

  1. Bundala NP
  2. Gal Oya NP
  3. Giant’s Tank
  4. Horton Plains NP
  5. Kelani Valley Forest Reserve
  6. Knuckles Mountain Range
  7. Sinharaja Forest Reserve
  8. Udawalawe NP
  9. Wilpattu NP
  10. Yala NP

And here are a few places to stay where birds like to enjoy, too:

The Pekoe Trail – Stage 8: Norwood to Bogawantalawa

This 15.8-km stage has two distinct phases: the first half of the route is a continuous and moderately challenging ascent while the second half is a gentle and picturesque descent towards Bogawantalawa. Overall, this stage of the trail should take between 3 and 3.5 hours to complete.

The trail heads directly south from Norwood on a slow and at times challenging climb heading up towards the ridge that separates the Bogawantalawa and Maskeliya Valleys, which will afford magnificent views of the area. After 400 metres, the trail dog legs sharply upwards and continues to zig-zag up to the Norwood – Upcot road at 1.1 km, where you cross, and continue zig-zagging to the top of the ridge, after approximately 3 km. You are now in the Norwood Estate, a very well-known tea plantation and factory which you will spot on the right as you gain elevation.

At the 3.8-km point, the trail re-crosses the Norwood – Upcot road as is saddles both valleys, revealing marvellous and far-reaching vistas over the next few kilometres, including sacred Adam’s Peak (on a clear day!). This is the most remote and exposed section of the stage as you leave a wide tea trail to follow a narrow track leading to the upper divisions of the Kew Estate. On reaching a small Hindu shrine, take the steps to the left of the shrine and follow them up.

The trail widens again and begins to descend towards Bogawantalawa at 7.3 km just after you enter the Kew Estate, passing Kew Estate tea factory heading east after 10 km, at which point you will be surrounded by beautiful countryside all the way down to Bogawantalawa town. The next 4 km of the trail gradually slaloms down and around attractive tea fields before arriving at the main Norwood – Bogawantalawa road, where you turn right, passing a picturesque church on the left and the Bogawantalawa Planters’ Club to your right, following the road down to the centre of town and the end of this stage.

Categories: Accommodation, Sightseeing, Sri Lanka, Travel tips, Wildlife

« All articles