Wildlife Safari, Sri Lanka featuring
The Gathering: A Coming Together of Elephants
Trip Dates: August 15 to 29, 2019

"I just returned from… Sri Lanka, having had a fascinating visit to this multi-faceted island… We had premier seats for the local Perahera street fair in Kandy. We had wildlife sightings all around the island. We saw elephants, leopards, sambar and spotted deer, sloth bears and monitor lizards, crocodiles and buffalo. KarmaQuest does an excellent job. I recommend it highly." Steve Slomka, August 29, 2017

Sri Lanka is one of the best places
in the world to see a leopard in the wild.
Photo by C. Jayatilake

Elephant families and entire herds
come together at The Gathering.
We'll be there!
Photo by C. Jayatilake

A painted stork, among the many
colorful birds we're likely to see.

One of three Buddha statues
carved in granite at
Polonnaruwa ancient city.

Perahera Festival in Kandy.

Relax along Sri Lanka's picturesque
coastline, dining on fresh fish
and coconut curries.

Cost includes:
- 13 nights in boutique, heritage and 4-5 star hotels
- All meals except two dinners
- KarmaQuest Director and Ecotourism Specialist Wendy Lama as Trip Leader (for groups of 5 or more)
- Guided by a Sri Lankan English-speaking naturalist
- Reserved gallery seats for the Kandy Perahera
- Tips to service staff and wildlife spotters
- All activities mentioned

Cost does not include:
- International flight airfare
- Beverages
- Visa fees
- Optional activities
- Tips for naturalist and driver
- Expenses of personal nature
- Trip cancellation insurance
- Emergency evacuation insurance (required)
- Optional donations, and other services not mentioned above. Additional details provided in full itinerary.


During our 14 day naturalist-led wildlife safari, we’ll explore five of Sri Lanka’s top national parks and nature reserves with a focus on sighting wildlife in its natural habitat. On guided safaris (in jeeps) aided by expert spotters, we are likely to see wild elephants, monitor lizards, spotted and sambar deer, marsh mugger crocodiles, and much more. We’ll spend two full days roaming Wilpattu National Park, the best place to see leopard.

Birding is also excellent in the parks: we sighted some 70 species of colorful and quixotic birds including some rarely seen species on a recent trip.

A highlight of the trip is what’s known as “The Gathering” -- the coming together of hundreds of wild elephants on an annual pilgrimage to their summer gathering spots. Here we’ll watch as they coalesce and socialize. The baby elephants are particularly captivating and the interactions among adults remarkable.

The ancient Buddhist monuments and capital city ruins of Sri Lanka are equally as captivating: Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Anuradhapura.

We’ll be well positioned for the acclaimed Esala Perahera, a procession of traditional dancers, drummers and performers walking the streets of Kandy, bearing the most prized possession of Sri Lanka – the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha -- in a golden casket born by an honored tusker.

In keeping with KarmaQuest’s commitment to nature conservation, your trip to Sri Lanka will help support conservation of Sri Lanka’s endangered wildlife.


Day 1:   Arrive in Colombo and drive to Anuradhapura .

Days 2 & 3:    Two full days of jeep safari at Wilpattu National Park: Here, we'll have a chance to see the sloth bear, wild elephant, several types of deer, other mammals, crododile, monitor lizard, and dozens of bird species.

Day 4:    "The Gathering" of elephants: After a morning visit to the ancient Buddhist city of Anuradhapura, we'll travel to one of the national parks where hundreds of wild elephants congregate to feed, bath and mingle. A sight to behold!

Day 5:    Polonnaruwa and More Elephants!: Today we’ll tour one of Sri Lanka’s most notable archaeological sites, Polonnaruwa, with its impressive large size statues of the sitting, reclining and standing Buddha carved in granite (left). This afternoon we’ll again join The Gathering.

Day 6:   Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy: An early climb up the granite face of Sigiriya reveals the ruins of a sprawling palace built in the 5th century AD. Travel to Dambulla Caves, then continue to Kandy, where we'll unpack for a relaxing three night stay.

Days 7 & 8:    Peradeniya Gardens, Temple of the Tooth, and Perahera Festival, Kandy: During these days, we'll visit the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, housing more than 4,000 species of trees and plants, including the Giant Bamboo of Burma, capable of growing up to a foot in a day. We’ll join pilgrims at the Temple of the Tooth, home to the Sacred Relic, and visit other smaller temples with superb stone and wooden carvings in quiet settings. In the evening we'll have a front row seat for the Randoli Perahera, a lively parade of elephants, dancers and drummers, bearing a relic representing the sacred tooth of the Buddha -- a tradition for centuries.

Day 9:     Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains: We'll travel via winding roads (or train) through tea plantations to Nuwara Eliya, a cool temperature hilltop once favored by the British elite.

Days 10 & 11:   Yala National Park: We'll travel to the south coast and spend two days seeing some of Yala's abundant wildlife on jeep safaris. While famous for its elephants and with the highest density of leopards in the world, it is also home to spotted deer, wild buffalo, wild boar and black nape hares, mongoose, jackal, and civets.

Days 12 & 13:   Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve: Two nights and a day provide ample time for guided walks through the lush forest revealing an extraordinary display of endemic birds, butterflies, dragonflies, reptile and freshwater fish species. If we’re lucky, we'll catch a glimpse of the purple faced leaf monkey and rare forest orchids. Overnights in a lovely eco-lodge.

Day 14:    Hikkaduwa: Drive to Hikkaduwa for a relaxing last day at the beach, ending the trip on a relaxing note.

Day 15:   Colombo and Depart: We’ll return to Colombo and do a bit of shopping or sightseeing before heading to the airport for your departing flight.

Note: The itinerary is subject to change reflecting local conditions and opportunities to optimize wildlife sightings that arise.

Trip Cost:

From US$6,450 per person

Additional single supplement charge applies.

Trip deposits ($500/person) are due April 1, 2018. Please sign up now as space is limited.

Please click here to view a slide show about this trip to Sri Lanka.