Sloth Bear, Sri Lanka by Chris Townend

Tour Dates: Thursday 12th – Thursday 26th March 2020 (Colombo to Colombo)
Standard Tour Price: £2,650 plus flight
Blue Whale Extension: £599 Wednesday 25th – Saturday 28th March
Estimated Flight Price: London to Colombo approx. £600 return
Deposit: £500 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £250 – £300
Minimum Number: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 8 people

Target Species
Mammals: 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.
Birds: 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!

Tour Summary
This tour has been specially designed to maximise the chances of seeing some of the harder to see mammals in Sri Lanka, by spending time spotlighting at night. We will be looking 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. April is a great time of year to visit Sri Lanka as the rains are scarce and it is also the period immediately after the rice paddy fields are harvested therefore making sightings of animals much easier. Our spotlighting sessions will be carried out for around 4 hours a night and generally starting at around 9.30pm.

Of course, we will also see plenty of other mammals and a great variety of birds too. Although we will not attempt to see all the endemic birds on this tour, we will still see a good selection of them at the sites we visit.


Many of the afternoons will be free to relax before spotlighting sessions and on one afternoon there will be time to explore the famous town of Kandy.

ACCOMMODATION: 14 nights in Sri Lanka
Good quality hotels throughout the tour
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
Inclusive Meals: Full Board

DAY 1: Arrival Colombo – Chilaw
After arriving in Colombo during the afternoon we will 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 Chilaw

Jungle Cat, Sri Lanka by Chris Townend

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 for a late night spotlighting session 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 Nikaweratiya

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. 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 Nikaweratiya

DAY 4: Nikaweratiya – Sigiriya
After breakfast we travel to the town of 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 may see 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 Sigiriya

Indian Crested Porcupine, Sri Lanka

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 more 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. We will then do some birding around the Sigiriya sanctuary. After lunch there will be free time before another 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 have seen. In particular we will be trying hard for Indian Pangolin that our local guides have had some recent success in finding. Overnight Sigiriya

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 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 Kandy

DAY 8: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya
After breakfast we travel to Nuwara Eliya at an altitude of 1,868M and a place considered to be the most important location for tea production in the whole of 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, Grey Wagtail, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Yellow-eared Bulbul and Sri Lanka White Eye. Overnight Nuwara Eliya

Fishing Cat, Sri Lanka

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 is home to many species which are endemic to the region. There are many mammals and bird possibilities here including the beautiful, 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 too and we should 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 and Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler.

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 Kataragama
 
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, but 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 Kataragama 

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. We will also try Weerawila for some late night spotlighting! Overnight Kataragama

Grey Slender Loris, Sri Lanka

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 Udawalawe

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 Udugama

Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka by Chris Townend

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. We will then travel to Katunayake near the airport, arriving late at night. Those doing the Blue whale extension will continue to Weligama.
Overnight Katunayake / Weligama

DAY 15: Departure
After breakfast we will take the short journey to the airport in time for our flight where the standard tour concludes.

If you are doing the Blue Whale Extension you will travel to Weligama on day 14 – See itinerary below.

Blue Whale, Sri Lanka by Chris Townend

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. Late March 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, as well as Common, Bottlenose and Spinner Dolphins.

DAY 14: Kanneliya – Weligama
After night visit to the Kanneliya Rainforest you will leave the rest of the group and proceed to the coast and the town of Weligama. Overnight Weligama

DAY 15: Weligama
Travel the short distance to Mirissa for the first morning of whale watching. Afternoon birding walk or at leisure. Overnight Weligama

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 Katunayake

DAY 17: Departure
After breakfast we will take the short journey to the airport in time for our flight where the tour concludes.

Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides

Leaders: Wise Birding leader plus local bird and mammal guide
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, bottled water, all entrance fees, ground transport and services of leaders
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water and any airport/visa fees
Single Supplement: £470 or £605 with Blue Whale Extension
Transport: A/C 8 seater minivan. Plus Jeeps when visiting various National Parks
Difficulty: Easy
The walking throughout the tour is relatively easy with walks on forest trails of up to 4Km a day and less on others.
Climate: Generally warm to hot with medium/high humidity and rain is also likely
Tour Start Point: Colombo airport, Sri Lanka
Tour End Point: Colombo airport, Sri Lanka
Suggested Airlines: Sri Lanka Airlines

Udawalawe, Sri Lanka by Chris Townend