This is a signature Winter wildlife tour, which is ideal for a first-time visitor to Sri Lanka. It covers the best parks, and wildlife experiences which are in season during this time of the year from November – April. One of the key attractions during this season are the Blue Whales off the Southern Coast.
Nocturnal wildlife walk seeking the elusive Flying Squirrel.
Safaris in Wilpattu, Yala and Veheragala National Parks famed for its Leopard, Sloth Bear, Asian Elephant and many more.
Explore the highland wilderness of Horton Plains known for its breath-taking sceneries and unique and endangered species.
Cruise on the Nilwala River to come face to face with Saltwater Crocodiles.
Soar above the Indian Ocean and get a bird’s eye view of the largest animal in the world the Blue Whale.
Upon arrival you will be welcomed by your naturalist guide, with a warm welcome of “Ayubowan”, which is the Sri Lankan word for “May you Live Long”, which is the universal greeting across the island. He will escort you outside where you will onboard the comfortable vehicle arranged for you. Journey to the nearby town of Makanduwa (30-40 min drive), and check into your hotel and spend the remainder of the day at leisure.
After checkout, journey towards the North Central Region of Sri Lanka, where Wilpattu National Park, the largest park in the island is located. Upon reaching the village of Hunuwilgama, switch to a safari jeep which will take you on a short drive across a jungle road to your safari camp. After a warm welcome you will be escorted to your tents, and thereafter served a succulent Sri Lankan lunch at the camp dining area. By 2.30 PM it is time for you to hop on your safari jeep with your naturalist, and head into Wilpattu National Park for your first game drive.
Popularly dubbed as ‘the land of the lakes’, Wilpattu National Park is famous for watching wildlife within its picturesque villus and dry evergreen forests. It is Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest national park which re-opened in 2010 after being closed for nearly three decades due to the civil war. Wilpattu is one of the top spots in Sri Lanka for watching Leopard and Sloth Bear. Other larger animals seen regularly here include Elephant, Jackal, Mugger Crocodile, Sambar, Spotted Deer and Buffalo are among the larger animals regularly encountered.
Return back to camp by dusk.
The next two days, will encompass full day safaris into Wilpattu National Park with packed breakfast and Lunch. The longer you spend in the park the better the chances of some captivating sightings. (You can also opt to do two half day safaris as well)
Wilpattu is also an excellent birding location particularly in the winter months with over 200 recorded species including a variety of raptors such as Crested Serpent, Changeable Hawk and White-bellied Sea Eagles, Brown Fish Owl; the endemic Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Woodshrike and a large number of water birds and waders by the water’s edge near the villus.
Return on both days back to camp at dusk.
Early morning head out on one more game drive.
After returning back to camp, checkout and head towards the Central Hills of Kandy ( 3 hours drive),
Known as the “Cultural Capital” of Sri Lanka and a UNESCO world heritage site, Kandy was established in the years 135AD by King Wickramabahu and was named Senkadagalapura at the time. In 1592 Kandy became the official Capital of the last Sinhalese Kingdom as the coastal areas were conquered by the Portuguese invaders. The hill capital remained a stronghold despite constant invasions by the Portuguese and the Dutch during the 16th , 17th and 18th century and also by the British (most notably in 1803) which were repelled thanks to the hilly landscapes, and guerilla tactics of the Sinhalese forces. The last ruling dynasty of Kandy was the ‘Nayaks’ of Kandy while the Kingdom preserved its independence until it finally fell to the British in 1815, mainly due to the lack of support of the noble families. The British deposed the last king, Sri Wikrama Rajasingha, and all claimants to the throne, thus ending the last traditional monarchy of Sri Lanka.
Upon reaching Kandy, check into your hotel, which is famous for a very elusive nocturnal mammal- The Greater Flying Squirrel.
After dinner, search the hotel premises with a flashlight for this elusive mammal.
After you checkout, and head towards the central highlands of Nuwara Eliya (2 hours drive), where you will check into your hotel. The air can be chilly hence some light layered clothing will be recommended in the highlands.
In the evening you will explore the many parks and nooks and corners of this highland town in search of endemic species of birds found only in the highlands, such as the Dull Blue Flycatcher, Yellow Eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White Eye as well as few migrants such as the Kashmir Flycatcher. Also keep an eye out for the endemic Rhino Horned Lizard which are found in scattered numbers in forest patches in the highlands.
Early morning, you will head towards Horton Plains National Park.
Horton Plains is Sri Lanka’s highest elevated national park lying approximately 7,000 feet above sea level and comprises of cloud forests and open grassland. Make an early morning start with a packed breakfast to Horton Plains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site . One of Sri Lanka’s most biodiversity rich hotspots, with a high number of endemic rare species found no where else in the world. The landscapes alone are breathtaking and the abundance of bird species as well as other rare endemics like the Rhino Horned Lizard, and the Pygmy Lizard as well as the Eurasian Otter and Stripe Necked Mongoose who are among the residents of this amazing highland wilderness. The primary herbivore in the park is the Sambhur the largest deer species in the island who are found all across the park. Also you will catch a glimpse of the shaggy coated Bear Monkey which is the highland variant of the endemic Purple Faced Leaf Langur. The main road from the ticket office to the car park plus the road to the Ohiya Ticket Office are a few Kilometers which are known to have occasional sightings of the apex predator of the park the Leopard. This highland variant of the big cat is much larger and has a more stockier appearance to the lowland cousins. The tell tale sighs of their presence is the alarm call of the Sambhur Deer. Your naturalist will keep a sharp eye out for any leopards during your tour.
Afterwards return back to Nuwara Eliya and spend the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. You can join you naturalist in a session of birding in and around Nuwara Eliya to possibly catch any species you may like to see and have missed while in Horton Plains.
Today once you checkout, head down towards Yala (4.5 hours drive),
Upon reaching Yala, check into your hotel,
In the afternoon hop on your safari jeep for your first guided game drive into Yala National Park,
The Yala National Park is the country’s premier destination for wildlife viewing. Yala’s star attraction is undoubtedly the Leopard and Yala Block I is believed to have the highest concentration of these big cats in the world. Leopards however are elusive by nature and we recommend a minimum of three to four game drives to have the best opportunities for good encounters. It is also one of the few places in the country where the endangered shaggy coated Sloth Bear can be seen. Asian Elephants are also encountered; lone bull elephants, a few iconic tuskers and small herds of females and calves maybe seen. Jackal, Sambar, Spotted Deer Buffalo, Wildboar and the Grey Langur are among the other larger mammals that may be seen.
The next two days, enjoy some spectacular game viewing during your early mornings and afternoon game drives in Yala National Park.
To mix things up, you will also visit Veheragala National Park, nearby which is a smaller but new section of the greater Yala eco system. This park is also great for its leopards, as well as other wildlife. Further its great for photographers, providing some great light for some captivating images.
Early morning head into Yala for one more game drive.
Once you checkout from the lodge afterwards, head towards the Southern Coast of Mirissa (3 hours drive).
Check into your hotel which will be your stay for the next 2 nights.
In the afternoon head out towards Matara (20 min from the hotel), where you will go on a spectacular river cruise along the Nilwala River, which is famous for its mangroves, water birds and especially its giant Saltwater Crocodiles. These remnants of the prehistoric era, these saurians are found in numerous numbers on this riverine eco system, from young hatchlings barely a few inches long to giant males who exceed 15 feet long. This river safari will get you at eye level with these majestic predators.
After you get back on land, head over to your hotel for your overnight stay.
After an early breakfast, head to the nearby Air Force Base, where a small Cessna airplane awaits you to take you over the skies of the Indian Ocean to witness the largest animal on the planet the mighty Blue Whale. These giant leviathans are found as residents off the island. These magnificent animals can be seen in all their glory from the sky as one gets a birds eye perspective and can witness the full length of these giants as they surface to breathe.
After returning back to land, return back to the hotel.
Spend the remainder of the day at leisure.
Today after you checkout, you will drive towards airport, where you will onboard your flight back home
Thank you so much, I appreciate all of your hard work helping us find great snakes...
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Cannot thank Rajiv and Classic Wild enough for the two trips (and more planned)...
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