Sri Lankan Wildlife, History & Culture






Colombo – Colombo




  • Yala & Bundala National Parks
  • Sinharaja Rainforest
  • Sigiriya
  • Polonnaruwa
  • Whale watching at Mirissa

Off the southern coast of India, the enchanting island of Sri Lanka is beautiful, boasting an abundance of exotic, natural riches.

Sri Lanka’s ancient Buddhist traditions, teaching compassion for all living creatures, have paved the way for the country’s long history of conservation.

The island abounds with magnificent scenery and historic fortresses, temples and monasteries. Throughout your tour you will explore both the natural wonders and the island’s fascinating culture and history.

Sri Lanka’s wildlife is varied, including 86 mammal species, 16 of which are endemic to the island. Sri Lanka is home to several wild elephant herds, leopards, sloth bears, mouse deer and many monkey species. The birdlife and butterflies are colourful and plentiful. The island is home to over 400 recorded bird species, 33 of these are endemic.

A day of whale watching off the coast at Mirissa will be a highlight of your tour. Blue and Sperm Whales plus pods of dolphins are regularly seen in these waters.

For those interested in botany, Sri Lanka is a land of plenty. The island features diverse habitats, including wet zone tropical forests and shrub lands. In the hills, vegetation varies from almost treeless pantanas (plains) to dark rhododendron forests.

The tour will be led by Coates Wildlife Tours Managing Director, Tom Grove, and Saman Veediyabandara, one of Sri Lanka’s leading birding/naturalist guides.

Sri Lanka is an island paradise for nature enthusiasts so come and join Tom and 12 like-minded travellers on this unforgettable tour!

Day                      Activity

1                           Arrive Colombo

Today you’ll arrive at Colombo at around 1:00am. You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to the Tamarind Tree Hotel.  Late morning we will be picked up by your tour guide and taken into Colombo for lunch and a half day tour of the city.

Overnight: Tamarind Tree Hotel          BLD

2                           Colombo to Sinharaja Rainforest

After breakfast, today we’ll leave Colombo for Sinharaja rainforest. This morning’s drive will offer a mixture of farming lands, forest and small towns. We will arrive at our accommodation for lunch.

After lunch at Blue Magpie Lodge, we will have an afternoon to explore the Sinharaja rainforest. Translating to ‘Kingdom of the Lion’, Sinharaja rainforest was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. At Sinharaja, 75% of the flora is endemic and 30 of Sri Lanka’s 33 endemic bird species are found here, including the Red-faced Malkoha, Blue Magpie, Orange-billed Babbler and the White-faced Starling.

Overnight: Blue Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja          BLD

3                           Sinharaja Rainforest

Full day birding and botanising in Sinharaja rainforest.

Overnight: Blue Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja          BLD

4                           Sinharaja to Galle to Mirissa

After breakfast we’ll leave Sinharaja rainforest and head to Galle, a coastal town that has grown up around its historic Portuguese fort. We will have a couple of hours here so we can explore the old fort area on foot and enjoy lunch. Mid-afternoon we will continue our trip onto Mirissa.

Overnight: Paradise Beach Club, Mirissa          BLD

5                           Mirissa

Early this morning we’ll head to Mirissa Harbour, where we we’ll commence our whale watching expedition. On a boat specifically designed for whale watching, we’ll travel the seas off the south coast of Sri Lanka, known to be one of the best locations in the world to see Blue Whales and Sperm Whales. Pods of dolphins are also regularly seen in these waters.

Overnight: Paradise Beach Club, Mirissa          BLD

6                           Marissa to Bundala N.P. to Tassamaharama

After breakfast today we’ll head to Bundala National Park, which is well known for its birdlife. Including flamingos, Black-necked Storks, Spoonbills, Fish Eagles and Hawk Eagles.  We also look for monkeys, crocodiles, deer and elephants. We will spend time this afternoon exploring the park, before moving on to our accommodation at Tissamaharama.

Overnight: Elephant Reach Hotel          BLD

7                          Tissamaharama – Yala – Tissamaharama

After a very early breakfast, we’ll take a full day excursion to Yala National Park to view some of the local flora and fauna. Yala National Park covers 1,297 square kms and with ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to white sandy beaches, it is home to a large number of animals including the elephants, leopards, peacocks, bears, wild boar, spotted deer, buffalo, monkeys and resident and migrant water birds. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch during our time at the park.

Overnight: Elephant Reach Hotel          BLD

8                           Tissamaharama to Udawalawe

This morning we travel to Udawalawe, looking at the natural history of the area as we travel. After lunch we’ll visit Udawalawe National Park. This park features different landscapes: a teak plantation, grasslands, scrub jungle and wetlands.
Overnight: Grand Udawalawe Hotel          BLD

9                           Udawalawe to Nuwara Eliya

Today we start with a visit to the Elephant Transfer Station where orphaned elephants are cared for until they can be released into the National Park we then head to Nuwara Eliya. Known as the ‘city of lights’ Nuwara Eliya is the highest town in Sri Lanka (around 2000m above sea level) and is surrounded by lush tea plantations. This means we’ll have a break from the heat and humidity experienced in the rest of the country.

After lunch we will have time to visit the Victoria Park and have a wander around the town before enjoying a high tea at the Historic Grand Hotel.

Overnight: Jetwing St Andrews Hotel, Nuwara Eliya          BLD

10                         Nuwara Eliya – Horton Plains – Nuwara Eliya

Today we’ll take a full day excursion to Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka’s highest and most isolated plateau. This fascinating place features open grassy expanses and patches of mountain forest. At World’s End, the plateau drops steeply to the plains over 2,000 metres below. We should certainly hear and hopefully see the extremely handsome Purple-faced Leaf Monkey in the forest and keep our eyes peeled for Dusky Squirrels. Birds to look for include Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie and Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike.

Overnight: Jetwing St AndrewsHotel Nuwara Eliya          BLD

11                         Nuwara Eliya to Kandy

Today we proceed to Kandy, enjoying the undulating scenery of Sri Lanka’s famous tea plantations. Along the way we’ll visit a tea factory, set against a backdrop of beautiful mountains, valleys and waterfalls. After lunch at the hotel spend time walking and birding around Lake Kandy.

Overnight: Hilltop Hotel, Kandy          BLD

12                         Kandy

After breakfast today we’ll visit Udawatekele Sanctuary, a natural reserve overlooking the Temple of the Tooth and the town of Kandy. Returning to town we visit the Temple of the tooth. The Temple of the Tooth contains the most sacred relic of Buddhism and the most precious symbol of Sinhalese pride, the tooth of the Buddha. Carried by the ancient Kings, the tooth is never seen, but puja veneration ceremonies are held at dawn and dusk every day.

After lunch, there will be time to either again visit Lake Kandy or spend time shopping and exploring this historic town. This evening we’ll enjoy a cultural Kandyan dance performance at the Kandy Arts Assication Hall.

Overnight: Hilltop Hotel, Kandy          BLD

13                         Kandy to Sigiriya

As we leave Kandy we’ll visit the Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya. This 147-acre garden is the largest in Sri Lanka, hosting a variety of plants and animals including, Flying Foxes and a giant Java fig tree, which covers 1,600 square metres.
After visiting these botanical gardens we’ll proceed to Sigiriya. En route we’ll visit one of Sri Lanka’s famous spice gardens where will have lunch. This will be followed by a visit to the Dambulla Rock Temple, which dates back to the 1st century BC. Long ago, the caves of Dambulla sheltered a king in exile. When the king regained his throne he built Dambulla, a magnificent rock temple consisting of five caves. The temple boasts over 2,000 square metres of painted walls. The temple ceilings are painted with intricate patterns of religious images following the contours of the rock, which includes many images of the Lord Buddha.

Overnight: Hotel Sigiriya, Sigiriya          BLD

14                         Sigiriya – Polonnaruwa – Sigiriya

This morning we’ll visit Polonnaruwa to see the ancient ruins. The city was built in the 11th century during an Indian invasion when Polonnaruwa became the next seat of rule. In its day, the city was fortified with three concentric walls, and within these were beautiful parks and four carved-rock Buddha statues. The ruins are now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Overnight:  Hotel Sigiriya, Sigiriya          BLD

15                         Sigiriya

After breakfast we’ll visit the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya. Remains of this 70 hectare fortified town include a castle, fort, moat and extensive gardens. On our ascent of the rock, we will see the famous frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens of Sigiriya. This afternoon we will undertake a canoe trip looking for water birds before heading to a local village where we will see the traditional cooking methods being used to produce some of the local foods.

Overnight: Sigiriya Hotel, Sigiriya          BLD

16                        Sigiriya To Columbo International Airport

This morning we’ll continue our examination of the wildlife and fascinating history around Sigiriya. After lunch we’ll travel to the airport for our farewell dinner at the Airport Garden Hotel, before transferring you to the terminal for your evening departure. This marks the end of your wonderful Sri Lankan experience.          BLD

NB: The above itinerary may be varied according to conditions and advice.

14th – 29th March 2017 – Date Fully booked, please enquire for upcoming dates

  • Land content as set out in the trip notes
  • Accommodation for the duration of the tour
  • Meals as per the trip notes
  • Whale watching cruise
  • Tips and gratuities during the tour
  • Village Life experience
  • Entrance fees to elephant transfer & turtle rescue facilities
  • High Tea at the Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

To make a booking download a booking form and return it to us via email/post or by clicking here to fill out the form online.