Sri Lankan Wildlife, History & Culture
- Yala & Bundala National Parks
- Sinharaja Rainforest
- 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!
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Extended Trip Details
|Day 1, 15||March Arrive Colombo – Sigiriya Area||Today you’ll arrive at Colombo at around 1:00am. You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to the Tamarind Tree Hotel. After a rest and lunch we will head north to the historic Sigirya area. Overnight: Tamarind Tree Hotel / Hotel Sorowwa Resort, Habarana B.L.D|
|Day 2, 16||March Sigiriya – Polonnaruwa – Sigiriya Area||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 Sorowwa Resort, Habarana B.L.D.|
|Day 3, 17 March||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: Hotel Sorowwa Resort, Habarana B.L.D.|
|Day, 4, 18 March||Sigiriya Area to Kandy||As we leave Sigiriya we’ll visit the caves of Dambulla which which dates back to the 1st century BC and 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.We then proceed on to Kandy. Overnight: Thilanka Hotel, Kandy B.L.D.|
|Day 5, 19 March||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: Thilanka Hotel, Kandy B.L.D|
|Day 6, 20 March||Kandy||We will 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 lunch, there will be time to either again visit Lake Kandy or spend time shopping and exploring this historic town. Overnight: Thilanka Hotel, Kandy B.L.D|
|Day 7, 21 March||Kandy to Nuwara Eliya||Today we leave Kandy, enjoying the undulating scenery of Sri Lanka’s famous tea plantations as we 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. Along the way we’ll visit a tea factory, set against a backdrop of beautiful mountains, valleys and waterfalls. This afternoon we will have time to visit the Victoria Park and have a wander around the town. Overnight: Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya B.L.D.|
|Day 8, 22 March||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: Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya B.L.D.|
|Day 9, 23 March||Nuwara Eliya to Tissamaharama||We leave the high country behind this morning as we head south towards the coast. We will check into our accommodation and have lunch then we’ll head to Bundala National Park, which is well known for its birdlife. Including 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 returning to our accommodation. Overnight: Chaarya Resort B.L.D.|
|Day 10, 24 March||Tissamaharama – Yala – Tissamaharama||After a very early breakfast, we’ll take a half 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. This afternoon will be spent exploring the wildlife that can be found the Tissa wetlands. Overnight: Chaarya Resort B.L.D.|
|Day 11, 25 March||Tissamaharama – Lungamvehera National Park – Tissamaharama||After a very early breakfast, we’ll take a half day excursion to Lungamvehera National Park which is a small national park interconnected with Yala but as it is less well known there are less tourists. In the park it is possible to see Leopard, crocodiles, elephants, a variety of birdlife, deer and some wonderful scenery. Late this afternoon we will visit the Tissamaharama Temple. A visit to the temple is a very peaceful experience. Overnight: Chaarya Resort B.L.D.|
|Day 12, 26 March||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 plus some . Overnight: Grand Udawalawe Resort B.L.D.|
|Day 13, 27 March||Udawalawe to Sinharaja||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 Sinharaja Rainforest. The 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 B.L.D|
|Day 14, 28 March||Sinharaja Rainforest||Full day birding and botanising in Sinharaja rainforest and the surrounding area. Overnight: Blue Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja B.L.D|
|Day 15, 29 March||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 . B.L.D.|
|Day 16, 30 March||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 B.L.D.|
|Day 17, 31 March||Mirissa To Colombo||This morning we’ll leave the coast and head back to Colombo. After lunch we’ll undertake a tour of the city. We will have a farewell dinner in Colombo this evening at the 5 start Kingsbury Hotel. After dinner we will be transferred to the Colombo terminal for your evening departure. This marks the end of your wonderful Sri Lankan experience. B.L.D.|
NB: The above itinerary may be varied according to conditions and advice.
Please contact us to Register Interest
- 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 the elephant transfer station & the turtle rescue facility.
[Tour highlights] Our Cheerful well organised leader, Tom and our expert and patient wildlife guide, Saman were excellent. The small group of the tour & the companionship. Climbing the rock fortress of Sigiriya.
Great to see birds and animals without Crowds…..I thought the itinerary was well balanced, given the rich offerings in all categories.
Many highlights – lots of new birds, visit to ancient ruins at Polonnaruwa, canoe trip and visit to village, local dance program at Kandi, Victoria Park gardens, jeep trips though national parks, watching a jungle cat, seeing monkeys every day, elephants and the whale watching trip.