Sri Lankan Blue magpie.
We'll focus on seeing endemic and migratory species.
We have a good chance of seeing
wild elephants in their native habitat
at Wilpattu and Udawalawe.
Our safari jeeps have excellent visibility
and are comfortable.
A 700 year old Baobob tree,
purportedly planted by Arab traders.
A stork-billed kingfisher, also endemic.
- Accommodation on bed and breakfast, room sharing basis at boutique, heritage and 3/4-5 star (national standard) hotels, and luxury safari camps
- All breakfasts, and lunches and/or dinners as noted
- Trip Leader KarmaQuest Director Wendy Lama
- A highly skilled naturalist guide in the national parks and reserves
- Road travel in an air-conditioned vehicle
- Airport pick up and drop off transfers on group basis
- Monuments and national park entrance fees, all activities as per the itinerary except where activities are noted as optional.
- Jeep safaris as noted
- All government taxes
Cost does not include:
- International flight airfare
- Visa fee (currently gratis)
- Meals not mentioned in the itinerary, and all beverages
- Tips, expenses of personal nature including phone calls, laundry, excess baggage
- Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
- Medical and emergency evacuation travel insurance (mandatory)
- Additional nights’ stay or half stay, trip extensions
- Camera and video permits (generally not charged
- Optional donations, and any other services not mentioned above
Sri Lanka is the place to see an amazing diversity of wildlife: it boasts the highest species diversity in Asia, and is home to a large number of bird and plant species that exist nowhere else on earth, called “endemics.” This trip will focus on seeing the endemic and migratory birds, as well as an array of magnificent wildlife creatures – including the Asian Elephant, Leopard, Sloth bear, deer, monkeys, crocodiles and much more.
Accompanied by an English-speaking Sri Lankan naturalist and KarmaQuest Director and Ecotourism Specialist Wendy Brewer Lama, we’ll venture to some of Sri Lanka’s best wildlife viewing areas where few tourists go, maximizing our chances of seeing birds and animals away from noise and disturbances. We’ll cover the island’s main ecological zones, defined by weather and elevation, from the lush coastal lowlands to the dry interior hills, as well as cloud forests and highland grasslands at 7,000+ ft. This diversity of landscapes, our choice of destinations and season, and our naturalist’s keen eye will promise excellent results.
We’ll also offer you the option of visiting some of Sri Lanka’s outstanding archaeological sites should you wish to take a break from birding and wildlife viewing.
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, coastal Sri Lanka capitol: Transfer to the hotel and rest or explore Colombo (time dependent). No activities are planned as most flights arrive late at night. If you wish to arrive a day early, we are happy to book your hotel.
Day 2: Anaiwilundawa Bird Sanctuary: Drive up-coast to one of the six internationally recognized wetlands in Sri Lanka. Migratory birds use this area as a feeding and breeding ground this time of year. It is a good place to see Grey and Purple herons, Painted storks, Black hooded orioles, and many more species.Overnight at a beach resort.
Days 3 and 4: Wilpattu National Park: Jeep Safari: We’ll drive approx. 3 hrs to Wilpattu, the largest protected area in Sri Lanka and our staging ground for two days of safari excursions. On previous trips to Wilpattu, we've seen sloth bear, Asian elephant, spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, and mugger crocodiles. It is also home to leopards, barking deer, jackals, and one of the last remaining populations of pure water buffalo. Endemic birds include the beautiful Jungle fowl (left), Brown-capped babbler, Woodshrike and Black-capped bulbul and rare migrants such as the Black capped Kingfisher. We'll stay in a luxury safari tented camp, ideally, proximate to the Park.
Days 5 and 6: Mannar: The Mannar Peninsula, in very north of Sri Lanka, is one of the main entry points for migrant birds to the island. It is rich in marine biodiversity with estuaries, mudflats, mangroves, and beaches. Amongst the marine life are dolphins -- Bottle-nosed and Spinner dolphins are common – Blue Whale, Fin whale, Humpback whale, Sperm whales, Mink whale, and others. Some of the largest sea turtles call this home- the Green turtle, Olive Ridley turtle, Hawksbill turtle, Leatherback turtle, and Loggerhead turtle. On land, we’ll be looking for Golden backed flameback woodpeckers, Black drongos, Black kites, and many species of Ducks, Reef herons, Grey herons, Purple herons and Grey bellied cuckoos.
Northern Sri Lanka is also rich in history. As early as the 2nd century AD, the town was renowned as a center of pearl fishing. Mannar’s baobab tree (left) was allegedly planted by Arab traders and believed to be over 700 years old. The old town’s fort was built by the Portuguese in 1560 and taken by the Dutch in 1658; its ramparts and bastions are intact, though the interior is largely destroyed. Hindu temples, mosques and churches dot the town.
Days 7 and 8: Jaffna: We've planned more birding outings from our next stop, Jaffna, once devastated by warfare and now on its way to integration into Sri Lankan life. It has the perfect habitat for waders and water birds as well as some dry zone birds. Chundikulam Lagoon and its surroundings became a national park in 2015 and is partly surrounded by mangrove swamps and sea grass beds. The lovely Palmyra palm is native to this area. Mugger crocodile and saltwater crocodile can also been seen.
Days 9 and 10: Sigiriya Forest Reserve and Rock Fortress: Today we head south to Sigiriya, driving on the re-built A-9 highway. Many a fierce battle were fought over this main supply route to the Tamil Tigers' claimed territory in the north. We'll spend a day in the Sigiriya Forest Reserve at the base of the UNESCO World Heritage site, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an important refuge for migratory birds and endemic species such as Shaheen falcons (a species of Peregrine), Grey-bellied cuckoo, Drongo-cuckoo, Indian cuckoo, Crested treeswift, Stork-billed kingfisher (left), Coppersmith barbet and Indian pittas. As a break from birding, we can arrange a visit to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 11: Kandy: We’ll stay near Kandy at a forest-environs boutique hotel, with great on-site birding in well-appointed quarters, and can arrange an optional visit to Temple of the Tooth, housing Sri Lanka’s most revered object, an actual tooth of Lord Buddha.
Days 12 and 13: Nuwara Eliya: We'll spend two nights in Nuwara Eliya to , explore Horton Plains National Park’s montane highland forest (elevation 7,000+ ft), home to bird and animal species that can only be seen here including large herds of Sambar deer, leopards and endemic highland birds. We’ll also visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens where you may see Oriental and Ceylon white eyes, Yellow eared bulbuls, Sri Lanka dull blue flycatcher , Sri Lanka wood pigeon and rare migrants like Kashmir fly catcher. We’ll also visit a tea estate.
Day 14: Udawalawe National Park: We’ll head back to lower elevations to broad open plains with scattered vegetation – with good visibility -- and several watering holes to see wild elephants, monitor lizards, marsh mugger crocodiles, Gray langurs, and various deer. Bird life is also rich with Grey bellied cuckoos, Peregrine falcons, White shouldered kites, Pygmy woodpeckers, Pied cuckoos and plenty of storks and herons. It is also common to see Peacocks roost high in the branches.
Days 15 and 16: Sinharaja Rain Forest: At 3,360 ft, Sinharaja is the only undisturbed rain forest of such size in Sri Lanka and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Approximately147 bird species have been recorded to date and the only location where 21 out of 26 species native to Sri Lanka may be seen. In addition, you can witness mixed-species bird flocks, averaging up to 42 different bird species. Endemic birds in Sinharaja are the red-faced malkoha, the Sri Lanka blue magpie, the ashy-headed laughing thrush, the white-faced starling, Sri Lanka spot-winged thrush, Serandib Scops owl, the green-billed coucal and many more. If we’re lucky, we’ll also spot the purple faced leaf monkey. The Reserve is a treasure trove of plants, trees, creepers, and flowers including many types of rare forest orchids not found anywhere else in the world. We'll be here two nights to afford morning and evening naturalist-guided walks.
Day 17: Colombo and Home: On arrival in Colombo (a several hour drive), we may have time for a bit of sightseeing and shopping before dropping you at the airport for your homeward bound flight. Most flight depart late at night; we can arrange for a short-stay at a comfortable hotel for a few hours rest and shower (optional); or a full overnight If your flight departs the following day.
Supporting Wildlife Conservation
In keeping with KarmaQuest’s commitment to nature conservation through ecotourism, your travels to Sri Lanka will help support conservation of Sri Lanka’s endangered wildlife, particularly the wild elephant which is being threated by habitat loss and retaliatory killing for the damage it does to farmers' crops.
Trip Price: from US$5,790/person
Single supplement: $1,780
Prices given for payment by check. Customized trip prices for other dates available upon request.
A non-refundable deposit of $1,000/person must be deposited in KarmaQuest's bank account by September 1, 2021 to secure your booking. Final payment is due December 15, 2021.
For more information and a detailed itinerary... please contact
KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel
Tel: (650) 560-0101/
699 Spindrift Way, Half Moon Bay,
California 94019 USA