SRI LANKA – Mostly Nocturnal Mammals & Blue Whales

Dates: Saturday 6th – Saturday 20th April 2019 (Colombo to Colombo)
Main Tour Price: £2,499 per person plus flights
Blue Whale Ext. Price: £550
Estimated Flight Price: London to Colombo approx. £550 return

Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: Approx. £270 – £360 
Deposit: £450 per person
Minimum Number required for trip to run: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 8 people
Accommodation: 1 night Chilaw, 2 nights Nikaweratiya, 3 nights Sigiriya, 1 night Kandy, 1 night Nuwara Eliya, 3 nights Kataragama, 1 night Uda Walawe, 1 night Udugama 1 night Katunayake  

Target Mammal Species:
Fishing Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat, Jungle Cat, Grey Slender Loris, Red Slender Loris, Indian Pangolin, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Yellow-striped Chevrotain, Asiatic Otter, Indian Crested Porcupine, Ring-tailed Civet, Common Palm Civet, Golden Palm Civet and more. Also an excellent chance of Blue Whale if doing the Extension

Target Birds include:
Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Indian Pitta, Spot-winged Thrush, Ceylon Hanging-Parrot, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka Junglefowl Brown Hawk Owl to name just a few!

Conservation work that you will directly contribute to by joining this holiday:
More details can be found on our Conservation Projects page.

This tour has been specially designed to maximise the chances of seeing some of the harder mammals in Sri Lanka by spending many hours spotlighting at night for highly sought after species such as Fishing Cat, Rusty-spotted Cat, Grey Slender Loris, Red Slender Loris, Indian Pangolin, Indian Porcupine and Yellow-striped Chevrotain. Spotlighting session will be for around 4 hours a night generally starting at around 9.30pm. April is a great time of year to visit Sri Lanka as the rains are scarce and it is also the period right after the rice paddy fields are harvested therefore making sightings of animals much easier.

Of course, we will also see plenty of other commoner mammal species and a great variety of birds too. Although we will not be attempting to see all the endemic birds on this particular tour, we will still see a good selection of endemic birds at the sites we visit.


DAY 1: Arrival Colombo – Chilaw
After arriving in Colombo during the afternoon we transfer to Chilaw.
During the afternoon we will do some leisurely birding and then take a night walk in Anawilundawa RAMSAR Sanctuary. Birds we should find include Asian Open-bill, Black-headed Ibis, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Purple Swamphen, Changeable Hawk Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Pied, Stork-billed and White-breasted Kingfishers, Lesser Whistling Duck.
During the evening we will do a night walk and look for Fishing Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat,
Grey Slender Loris and Sri Lanka Giant Squirrel.
Overnight in Chilaw at Carolina Beach Resort 

DAY 2: Chilaw – Nikawaratiya – Anamaduwa
After breakfast we proceed to Nikaweratiya where we will arrive for lunch and the afternoon will be at leisure. After dinner we travel to Anamaduwa (approximately 40 minute drive) for late night spotlighting by jeep. Key mammals we will be looking for include Black-naped Hare, Fishing Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat, Jungle Cat, Grey Slender Loris, Yellow-striped Chevrotain, Asiatic Otter, Wild Boar, Asian Elephant, Indian Crested Porcupine, Ring-tailed Civet, Common Palm Civet, Indian Gerbil and Indian Flying Fox. We are also likely to see some special birds including Brown Hawk Owl and Indian Nightjar.
Overnight in Nikaweratiya at Hotel Buddi Samudra

DAY 3: Nikaweratiya – Anamaduwa

After breakfast there will be time to relax or for those that wish to there will be some optional birding around the Chilaw lagoon. The afternoon will again be spent at leisure and then after dinner we will proceed to Anamaduwa for another late night spotlighting session by jeep trying to maximise our chances of finding as many as key mammals as possible. Overnight in Nikaweratiya at Hotel Buddi Samudra

DAY 4: Nikaweratiya – Sigiriya
After breakfast we travel to the town Sigiriya famous for its ancient rock fortress, a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres high. After checking into our hotel and having lunch, we will take an afternoon jeep safari in Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park dependent on the latest movement of Elephants within the region.

Key mammals we will be searching for include: Wild Boar, Asian Elephant, Golden-back Jackal, Indian Palm Squirrel, Sri Lanka Giant Squirrel, Grey Slender Loris, Toque Macaque, Grey Langur, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Leopard, Spotted Deer, and Sambar Deer. We are also likely to see some impressive reptiles such as Asian Water Monitor, Land Monitor, Mugger Crocodile and maybe Indian Python. The area has many great birds too and we will spend some time birding and hope to find Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Black-headed Ibis, Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Brown-capped Babbler, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Black-crested Bulbul and Crimson-fronted Barbet.
Overnight in Sigiriya at Ehalagala Resort

DAYS 5 – 6: Sigiriya

The next two days will take a similar format with excursions in the morning for birds and mammals and then free time in the afternoon before spotlighting. On one morning we will take an excursion to Pidurangala rock temple where we hope to see Schneider’s Leaf-nosed Bat, Pygmy Pipistrelle and False Vampire Bat before doing some birding around the Sigiriya sanctuary.

After lunch there will be free time before a late night spotlighting session by jeep around the Pidurangala forest and village. Again, this area will maximise our chances of finding some of the harder mammals that we may not yet have seen. In particular we will be trying hard for Indian Pangolin that our local guides have had some recent success in finding. Overnight stay in Sigiriya at Ehalagala Resort

DAY 7: Sigiriya – Kandy
After breakfast we travel to Kandy. Kandy is the home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988
We will have some free time in the afternoon to explore Kandy before another spotlighting session after dinner. This time it will be a late evening night walk around the hotel garden in which can be very productive for nocturnal mammals and a number of new species such as Ring-tailed Civet, Golden Palm Civet, Giant Bandicoot Rat, Lesser Bandicoot Rat, Muntjac and more.
Overnight in Kandy at Hotel Tree of Life

DAY 8: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya
After breakfast we travel to Nuwara Eliya at an altitude of 1,868M and is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka. After lunch at our hotel we will visit the Hakgala botanical gardens which has a nice selection of birds and mammals. Noteworthy species include Toque Macaque, Purple-faced Leafe Monkey, Indian Bush Rat, Giant Bandicoot Rat, Black Eagle, Shikra, Indian Pitta, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Kashmir Flycatcher, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Great Tit, Yellow and Grey Wagtail, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Yellow-eared Bulbul and Sri Lanka White Eye. Overnight in Nuwara Eliya at Heaven Seven Hotel

DAY 9: Nuwara Eliya – Horton Plains – Surrey Estate – Kataragama
Today we will make a very early start and take a picnic breakfast as we proceed to Horton the Plains National Park. The park lies in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres  and many species found here are endemic to the region. There are many mammals and bird possibilities here including the much sought after but very shy Leopard. More likely mammals we hope to find include Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Toque Macaque, Black-naped Hare, Sambar Deer,  Dusky Striped Squirrel, Stripe-necked Mongoose and Brown Mongoose. The birding is impressive and we will try and see a good selection of species representative of the area such as Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Kashmir Flycatcher, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White Eye, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Bush Warbler, Pied Bush Chat, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler and with luck the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush. Later in the morning we will return to our hotel and check out and then proceed to Kataragama visiting the Surrey Estate Bird sanctuary en route in search of Brown Wood Owl and other birds.

After an early dinner at our new hotel we will head out spotlighting by jeep on the Buttala Kataragama road in search of numerous mammal possibilities. Overnight in Kataragama at Tamarind Lake Hotel 

DAY 10: Kataragama – Lunugamvehera National Park
An early start today with a picnic breakfast and lunch as we spend a full day on a jeep safari in Lunugamvehera National Park. The park is located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka and is less well known than the neighbouring Yala NP but it still has many of the special mammals and without the crowds. Two special species in particular we shall try hard for are Leopard and Sloth Bear. Regardless of our success with the special two, there will still be plenty of other species that will keep us entertained. Possibilities include Grey Langur Black-naped Hare, Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, Stripe-necked Mongoose, Grey Mongoose, Ruddy Mongoose, Asian Elephant, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo and Golden Jackal. Birds will also play a key part of the day with too many species to mention but specialities include Brown Fish Owl, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Blue-faced Malkoha, Sirkeer Malkoha and Lesser Adjutant.
Overnight in Kataragama at Tamarind Lake Hotel 

DAY 11: Kataragama – Lunugamvehera National Park
Another full day exploring the park by jeep and searching for mammals and birds with a clear focus on Sloth Bear and Leopard if we haven’t already been successful.
Overnight in Kataragama at Tamarind Lake Hotel 

DAY 12: Kataragama – Udawalawe
Today we spend a full day exploring Udawalawe National Park by jeep. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan elephants and is also a very good area for seeing Jungle Cat in the day.

Key species here include Grey Langur, Ruddy Mongoose, Asian Elephant, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo, Golden Jackal and Jungle Cat. Birding in the park is excellent and we should see a good variety including Black-winged Kite, Plain, Jungle and Grey-breasted Prinias, Barred Button Quail, Greater Racket Tailed Drongo, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Plum-headed Parakeet, Oriental Skylark, Paddyfield Pipit, Malabar Pied Hornbill, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle and Changeable Hawk Eagle.
Overnight in Udawalawe at Centauria Wild Hotel

DAY 13: Udawalawe – Kanneliya
After breakfast we travel to Kanneliya, one of the last large remaining rainforest areas in Sri Lanka other than the famous Sinharaja Forest. Our main purpose for visiting this area is for the rare Red Slender Loris.
After lunch at our hotel we will have some time to rest and then after an early dinner we will visit Kanneliya Rainforest in search of Red Slender Loris and Golden Palm Civet.
Overnight in Udugama at Senaro Holiday Resort

DAY 14: Kanneliya – Katunayake
We will spend the morning exploring Kanneliya Rainforest during daylight hours for some birding where we may see specialities such as Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Sri Lanka Magpie and Red-faced Malkoha.
The afternoon will be free and then we will again take an early dinner and make another  night visit to look for Red Slender Loris and Golden Palm Civet before travelling to Katunayake near the airport and arriving late at night. If you are doing the Blue Whale Extension you will travel to Weligama – See itinerary below. Overnight in Katunayakes at Tamarind Tree Hotel 

DAY 15: Departure
After breakfast we will take the short journey to the airport in time for departure flight.

Blue Whale Extension
In recent years Sri Lanka has become a true hotspot for sightings of Blue Whales and within a short boat trip from shore. April is a great month to see Blue Whales in Sri Lanka as the sea is warm and generally calm. Although Blue Whale sightings are not guaranteed, sightings at this time of year are almost daily. Other cetaceans may include Bryde’s whales, Common, Bottlenose and Spinner dolphins.


DAY 14: Kanneliya – Weligama
After night visit to the Kanneliya Rainforest leave rest of group and proceed to the coast and the town of Weligama. Overnight in Weligama at Fisherman’s Bay Resort 

DAY 15: Weligama
Travel the short distance to Mirissa for the first morning of whale watching.
Afternoon birding in the Kirala Kele sanctuary or at leisure.
Overnight in Weligama at Fisherman’s Bay Resort 

Day 16: Weligama – Katunayake
A second morning at sea for whale watching.
After lunch proceed to Katunayake. Optional late evening birding around the hotel garden in search of Brown Hawk Owl. Overnight in Katunayakes at Tamarind Tree Hotel

DAY 17: Departure
After breakfast we will take the short journey to the airport in time for departure flight.

Leaders: Local Mammal Guide throughout tour plus Wise Birding Leader
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, water, all entrance fees, ground transport and services of leaders
NOT Included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water, any airport/visa fees and items of a personal nature
Accommodation: Good quality hotels with half-board and packed lunches / hotel lunches
Single Supplement: £465 or £599 with Extension
Max. Group Size: 8
Transport: AC 8 seater minivan. Plus Jeeps when visiting various National Parks
Difficulty: The walking throughout is relatively easy with leisurely walks on forest trails
Climate: Generally warm to hot with medium/high humidity and rain is also likely
Meeting Point: Colombo airport, Sri Lanka
Tour End: Colombo airport, in the morning of day 15 or day 17
Suggested Airlines: Sri Lankan Airlines from London Heathrow
Note: This is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted in relation to arrival and departure times, weather conditions and other related factors.