Experience Wild Sri Lanka January 31 to February 17, 2019

From AUD $5,975.00
  • Duration: 18 Days
  • Product code: WSL 01/19
Key species - Sri Lanka has 33 endemic species which are often the key target species for serious bird watchers. There are a further 53 species that are endemic to India and Sri Lanka, and some of these are easier to see in Sri Lanka than India. Mammals, reptiles and invertebrates also feature on our targets list.


Day 1 ARRIVAL Thursday 31/01/2019 - Airport Transfer

Arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport and transfer to your hotel at Katunayake.  Meet your guides, Upali Ekanayake and Mike Jarvis.
Dinner and overnight stay at Tamarind Tree Hotel. www.tamarindtreehotels.com

Day 2 Friday 1/02/2019 KATUNAYAKE to SINHARAGAMA.  Distance covered 166 km, est. driving time 4hrs.

Early morning birding around the hotel grounds before breakfast.

Bird species we are likely to see almost everywhere, everyday, include House Crow, Large-billed Crow, Spotted Dove, Indian Pond Heron, Eastern Cattle Egret, Brahminy Kite, Rock Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, White-throated Kingfisher, Black-hooded Oriole, Red-vented Bulbul, Yellow-billed Babbler, Oriental Magpie-robin and House Sparrow.

After breakfast we travel north along the coast, making several birding stops along the way as we pass through Chilaw, Anaivilundawa Ramsar Wetland, Mundel Lagoon, Navadankulama Tank and Puttalam Lagoon. 

We spend the afternoon birding around the gardens at Hotel Sinharagama Resort. 

Target species:- Brown-headed Barbet, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Black-hooded Oriole and Red-backed Woodpecker

Each night over dinner we review the days sightings using your complimentary Checklist Journal and preview the next days locations and targets.

Dinner and accommodation at Hotel Sinharagama Resort.

Day 3 Saturday 2/02/2019 Explore WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK Distant to the Park Entrance is about 20 km, est. driving time about 20 min, plus the jeep drive. 

A very early start carrying picnic breakfast and lunch to do a full day safari in jeeps in the Wilpattu National Park which is famous for birds and other wildlife including the Sri Lanka Leopard. 

Target species:- Indian Peafowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Green Bee-eater, Sri Lanka Leopard, Sloth Bear.

Dinner and accommodation at Hotel Sinharagama Resort.

Day 4 Sunday 3/02/2019 SINHARAGAMA  to MANNAR.  Distance from the Park Entrance is about 143 km, est. driving time about 2 hr, 45 min. 

We make several birding stops along the way as we pass through a number of wetlands around Thanthirimale, Cheddikulam, the amazing historic Giant’s Tank Sanctuary, Vankalai Ramsar Wetland and two small Thallady Ponds.

Target species:- Western Reef Egret, Black Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Indian Thick-knee, Great Thick-knee, Crab Plover, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover,  Greater Painted Snipe, Pheasant-tailed Jacana. 

Dinner and accommodation at The Palmyrah House. 

Day 5 Monday 4/02/2019 Explore MANNAR

After exploring the grounds at Palmyrah House, where we are likely to see Eurasian Hoopoe, Grey Francolin and Black Drongo, we enjoy breakfast then spend the morning exploring the Uramalai and Adam’s Bridge area. This area teams with waders, terns and gulls. In the afternoon we explore the Poonaryn Road area.

Target species:- Grey Francolin, Eurasian Wigeon, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Common Teal, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Greater Flamingo, Striated Heron, Pintail Snipe, Common Snipe, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank,  Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, Long-toed Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Eurasian Hoopoe, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Lesser Whitethroat, Hume's Whitethroat.

Dinner and accommodation at Palmyrah House, Mannar Island

Day 6 Tuesday 5/02/2019 MANNAR to HABARANA Distance covered 180 km, est. driving 3hr. 30min

Breakfast at the hotel. We search good birding locations around Mannar and then head back to Habarana via Medawachchiya and Anuradhapura.

Target species:- Eurasian Collared Dove, Indian Roller, Jerdon's Nightjar, Indian Pitta, Orange-headed Thrush, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Little Grebe, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Indian Robin, Purple-rumped Flowerpecker, Thick-billed Flowerpecker

Dinner and accommodation at The Other Corner, Habarana.

Day 7 Wednesday 6/02/2019 HABARANA to KANDY Distance covered 96 km, est. driving 2hr, 20min.

After breakfast at the The Other Corner, we proceed to  Sigiriya Sanctuary area for a short birding session. We continue on to Kandy where we check in to the Hotel Suisse, then visit the historic Peradeniya Royal Botanic Garden in the afternoon. Kandy is also a great place for souvenir shopping if there is time.

Target species in Sigiriya Sanctuary:- Shaheen Falcon, Shikra, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Alexandrine Parakeet, Indian Cuckoo, Drongo Cuckoo, Blue-faced Malkoha, Crested Treeswift, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Rufous Woodpecker, Lesser Sri Lanka Flameback, Common Woodshrike, Large Cuckoo-Shrike, Black­headed Cuckoo-Shrike, Small Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Brown-capped Babbler, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Dark-fronted Babbler.

Target species in Peradeniya Royal Botanic Garden:- Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Layard’s Parakeet, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Indian Pitta and Southern Hill Myna.

Dinner and accommodation at the Hotel Suisse, Kandy.

Day 8 Thursday 7/02/2019 KANDY to KITULGALA  Distance covered 64 km, est. driving time 2 hrs.

Visit the Royal Forest Park, Udawattakele. Continue on to Kitulgala, bird around the gardens at Kitulgala Rest House

Target species at Udawattakele Sanctuary:- Brown Fish Owl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Layard’s Parakeet, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Lesser Yellownape, Lesser Sri Lanka Flameback, Sri Lanka Greater Flameback, Brown-capped Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Southern Hill Myna, Indian Blue Robin, White-rumped Shama and Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.

Dinner and accommodation at Kitulgala Rest House.

Day 9 Friday 8/02/2019 KITULGALA

Explore Kitulgala village area. The Kelani River runs through the thickly forested area and is a magnet for white water rafting thrill-seekers. It is also the location for the filming of 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' filmed in 1957.

Target species:- Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Black-capped Bulbul, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Stork-billed Kingfisher

Dinner and accommodation at Kitulgala Rest House.

Day 10 Saturday 9/02/2019 KITULGALA to SINHARAJA  Distance covered 114 km, est. driving time 3hr, 10min

After birding around the Rest House grounds and breakfast, we check out and head up to the thick rainforest at Sinharaja. On arrival and checking in we birding around the Blue Magpie Lodge.

Target species:- Black Bulbul, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Plum-headed Parakeet, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot

Dinner and accommodation at The Blue Magpie Lodge.

Day 11 Sunday 10/02/2019 EXPLORE SINHARAJA (Jeep trip and trek in Sinharaja Forest)

Early breakfast at the lodge and then jeep trip to Sinharaja Forest. Walk the jungle trail, watching and listening for ‘bird waves’ – mixed species feeding flocks.

Target species:- Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Red-faced Malkoha, White-faced Starling,   

Dinner and accommodation at The Blue Magpie Lodge. 

Day 12 Monday 11/02/2019 SINHARAJA to UDAWALAWE  Distance covered 85 km, est. driving time 2hr, 25min

Early departure in jeeps to Spurfowl House with packed breakfast. We travel in jeeps along the steep up and down and windy tacks through villages, tea plantations and jungle to a house where we are welcomed as guests. Here the family invite us into there dining room where we look straight out the window to the small garden on the edge of the jungle. Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl and Slatey-legged Crake and Ruddy-breasted Crake often appear out of the jungle and come to the garden for scraps and to drink. Other species that may be seen here are Green-billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Blue Magpie and Red-backed Woodpecker. 

Target species:- Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl,

Back to the lodge for 10am check out

Continue on to Udawalawe. 

Dinner and accommodation at Centauria Wild. 

Day 13 Tuesday 12/02/2019 UDAWALAWE to TISSAMAHARAMA  Distance covered 57 km, est. driving time 1hr, 5min. 

Early morning jeep trip at Udawalawe National Park. This park is noted for it's elephants. Other mammals such as Golden Jackal, Spotted Deer and Grey Mongoose can be seen here and the birdlife is outstanding. Our jeep drivers are know the habitat very well and are alert to new species, often spotting them before the guides.

Explore Tissamaharama wetlands. We meet up with some young lads who are very observant of local birdlife and lead us to some owl day roosts.

Target species:- Jungle Owlet, Brown Fish Owl, Indian Scops Owl, Barred Button-quail,

Asian Elephant, Golden Jackal, Spotted Deer, Mugger Crocodile

Dinner and accommodation at The Rain Tree Hotel, Tissamaharama.

Day 14 Wednesday 13/02/2019 Explore LUNUGAMVEHERA NATIONAL PARK

In the morning we explore Lunugamvehera (Veheragala) National Park. The jeep trip offers more opportunities to see Elephants, Leopards, Deer and other mammals. The list of birds recorded in the park is 183 species.

After lunch we explore Tissa wetlands.

Target species:- Black Bittern, Yellow Bittern, Watercock, Spoonbill, Spot-billed Pelican, Little Grebe

Dinner and accommodation at The Rain Tree Hotel, Tissamaharama. 

Day 15:  Thursday 14/02/2019 TISSAMAHARAMA to NUWARA ELIYA  Distance covered 146 km, est. driving time 3hr, 50min

Jeep trip to Bundala National Park where we find an exceptional number and variety of waders, terns and other waterbirds.

Continue on to Nuwara Eliya which at 1868m is one of the highest towns in Sri Lanka and has a history as a hill country retreat, called 'little England' in colonial days. It is a great birding destination, with the gardens at Victoria Park attracting many endemic species and likewise with the nearby Hakgala Botanical Gardens.

We check in at the Avian Breeze and then go birding at Victoria Park.

Target species:- Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye, Indian Pitta, Forest Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Sri Lanka Greater Flameback, Asian Great Tit,

Dinner and accommodation at Avian Breeze, Nuwara Eliya.

Day 16 Friday 15/02/2019 Explore NUWARA ELIYA.

A predawn start carrying picnic breakfast to reach Horton Plains National Park at first light. We spend the morning exploring Horton Plains National Park looking for the highland endemics. At an elevation of 2,500 metres, we are dressed for cold weather.

In the afternoon we go back to Nuwara Eliya and from there we explore Hakgala Botanical Gardens. This is a great location for Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler and Chestnut-backed Owlet.

Target species:- Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Jerdon's Baza, Himalayan Buzzard, Black Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Legge’s Hawk-Eagle, Sri Lanka Woodpigeon, Hill Swallow, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Sri Lanka White-eye, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Pied Thrush, Indian Blackbird, Indian Blue Robin, Pied Bushchat, Kashmir Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Black-throated Munia.

Dinner and accommodation at Avian Breeze, Nuwara Eliya.

Day 17 Saturday 16/02/2019 NUWARA ELIYA to KATUNAYAKE.  Distance covered 177 km, est. driving time 4hr, 45min. 

We depart Nuwara Eliya for Katunayake via Gampola, Peradeniya and Kandy.  We have a short stop in Kandy for some souvenir shopping and lunch and then proceed through Mawanella, Kegalle, Nittambuwa and Minuwangoda.

Final dinner together and accommodation at Tamarind Tree Resort.

Day 18 - Sunday 17/02/2019 Tour ends

After a group breakfast at The Tamarind Tree Hotel we say our goodbyes, some may stay another day or two in Sri Lanka, others will be heading home.

The Tamarind Tree Hotel provides transfers to Bandaranaike International Airport at a very modest charge. 

Please Note: The above itinerary is based on the outcomes of many previous tours to the areas described. Each season is different and as various wildlife observing opportunities arise and depending on the preferences of the group, adjustments will be made.

Inclusions - Accommodation double/twin sharing in standard rooms, travel in air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced English speaking chauffeur, local ornithologist and EtW guide, entrance fees to all sites and national parks mentioned and jeep hire, breakfast and dinners each day including group dinner at end of tour on day 16, bottled water available at all times. Forty page booklet - combined checklist, itinerary, map and journal.Tips are customarily paid to local guides, jeep drivers, chauffeurs and hotel staff, this is a hidden cost and is completely covered on your behalf by Experience the Wild. 

Exclusions - Pre and post tour accommodation, flights to and from Sri Lanka, airport tax, travel insurance, visa fees, items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, etc., lunches thoughout the tour, entry fees for sites mentioned other than included, early check-in and late check out.

Group Tour - $5975 per person twin share, single supplement $1275.