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A fabulous two week tailor made itinerary in Sri Lanka, explore the stunning scenery, wildlife and heritage sites of this beautiful country.

Sri Lanka has everything a wildlife enthusiast could ask for. The island’s dazzling array of national parks are home to an excellent range of mammals, as well as a huge diversity of birds. This extensive itinerary brings together the finest locations in Sri Lanka for observing wildlife, but also combines wonderful landscapes and some of the island’s iconic cultural and historical locations.

Over the course of two weeks, this suggested itinerary will provide opportunities to see Asian elephant, marsh mugger crocodile, sambar, chital, leopard, and even sloth bear. As for birds, there have been more than 400 species recorded in Sri Lanka, of which 30 are endemic to the island. Some of the notable highlights that you could see here include red-faced malkoha, malabar trogon, Sri Lanka blue magpie and white-bellied sea eagle.

Suggested Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Days 2-3 : Arrive Colombo & drive to Kandy

    On arrival in at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo, you will be met by your driver-guide and transferred to your hotel in Kandy - a drive of around three hours. The remainder of the day is free to relax.  On your second day, visit the Temple of the Tooth and Millennium Elephant Foundation.

    Accommodation: Hotel Thilanka, 2-nights

  3. Days 4-6 : Drive to Nuwara Eliya via Udawattakale Forest; visit Horton Plains

    This morning you head south to Nuwara Eliya, visting Udawattakele Forest en route. Located a hillside north of Kandy, this rainforest reserve is home to numerous animals and birds, including mouse deer, jackals, porcupines and civets. 

    During your stay in Nuwara Eliya, you will also visit Victoria Park and Hakgala Botanical Gardens. You will also make a full day visit to Horton Plains, which lies roughly two hours drive from Nuwara Eliya, in search of endemic birds and butterflies.

    Accommodation: Heaven Seven Nuwara Eliya Hotel, 3-nights

  4. Day 7: Transfer to Tissamaharama

    Continue your drive to Tissamaharama, visiting Ravana Ella waterfall en route. You spend the night at Tissamaharama. 

    Accommodation: Rain Tree Hotel, 1-night

  5. Day 8: Lunugamvehera National Park

    It will be an early start to the day as you have a full-day safari in Lunugamvehera National Park, one of the sectors of the larger Yala National Park. On your safari, there is a possibility of spotting some of Sri Lanka’s large mammals, including leopard, and a diverse range of birds and reptiles. After the safari, you continue to Yala where you will spend the next two nights.

    Accommodation: Cinnamon Wild Hotel, 2-nights

  6. Day 9: Full-day safari in Yala National Park

    Today, enjoy a full day jeep in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s oldest wildlife reserve and famous for one of the world’s highest densities of leopard – and some of its largest and most visible individuals. The park is also home to elephant, sloth bear, sambar, chital, marsh mugger crocodile and several civet species. Birding highlights include blue-faced malkoha, rufous-winged bush lark, thick-billed flower-pecker and purple sunbird.

  7. Days 10-11 : Drive to Hambantota

    Today you drive to Hambantota and visit the Ramsar site of Bundala Lewaya, the south coast’s major wetland area. Home to almost all Sri Lanka’s resident waterbirds, the area attracts countless migrants between November and March. Highlights include greater flamingo, lesser adjutant and painted stork. Mammals such as elephant, chital, grey langur, water monitor and crocodile are also seen regularly.   

    Accommodation: Peacock Beach Hotel, 2-nights    

  8. Days 12-14 : Drive to Sinharaja Forest Reserve via Udawalawe

    Udawalawe National Park and Walawe Reservoir comprise an area of open plains and hills in south-west Sri Lanka at the foot of the Kaltota Escarpment. The park is good for elephants with herds of 50 to 60 individuals regularly seen as well as sambar, chital and wild boar. Dry zone birdlife includes greyheaded fish eagle, black-shouldered kite, changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, white-bellied sea eagle, shikra, common kestrel, brown fish owl and western marsh harrier. Safari drives in open-top jeeps are accompanied by local wildlife guides.

    After your visit here, continue to Sinharaja Forest Reserve, home to several of Sri Lanka's endemic animals, birds and plants. 

    Accommodation: Blue Magpie Lodge, 3-nights

  9. Day 15: Katunayaka near Colombo

    Today it’s time to head back north to the Colombo area - a drive of roughly five hours, to a pleasant hotel close to the airport, ready for your farewell tomorrow.

    Accommodation: Tamarind Tree Hotel, 1-night

  10. Day 16: Fly back to the UK

    You will be transferred to Colombo airport in time for a daytime flight back to the UK.

Key info

Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 16 days from £2.595 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 15 days from £1,945 pp
  • Single supplement: From £450
  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Activities available:
    • Culture
Featured locations:

Nuwara Eliya & Horton Plains

Nuwara Eliya is in the heart of tea country and its elevation creates a cooler climate, making for fascinating birdlife. Nearby Horton Plains is the country’s highest plateau which terminates at the sheer precipice of 'World’s End', and is the perfect environment for a distinctive, wild flora and rare highland birds.

  • Where: Central Province
  • Ideal for viewing: sambar, leopard, purple-faced langur, scaly thrush, Sri Lanka hill white-eye
  • Excellent for: Vehicle safaris

Kandy & Udawattakele Forest Reserve

The lakeside city of Kandy boasts a wealth of treasures, and is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. Surrounded by hills, lush, valleys, rivers, lakes and waterfalls, its forests and the surrounding Udawattakele Forest Reserve are home to endemic birds. The nearby Paradiniya Botanical Gardens house 4,000 plant species.

  • Where: Central Province
  • Ideal for viewing: Asian palm civet, mouse deer, muntjac, porcupine, toque macaque
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Yala National Park

Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s oldest wildlife reserve and famous for one of the world’s highest densities of leopard. It has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, freshwater and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches.

  • Where: Eastern Province
  • Ideal for viewing: Asian elephant, leopard, marsh mugger crocodile, sambar, sloth bear
  • Excellent for: Vehicle safaris

Udawalawe National Park

Walawe Reservoir and Udawalawe National Park comprise an area of open plains and hills at the foot of the Kaltota Escarpment. The park is good for elephants with herds of 50 to 60 individuals regularly seen and game drives are in open-top jeeps, accompanied by local wildlife guides.

  • Where: Sabaragamuwa & Uva Provinces
  • Ideal for viewing: chital, Asian elephant, sambar, wild boar, rusty-spotted cat
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Reserve is Sri Lanka’s only primary lowland tropical rainforest and is a treasure trove of nature. Its rolling terrain and series of ridges and valleys provide a diversity of habitats and a vast repository of endemic tree species, as well as being one of only a few homes to the blue-faced leaf monkey.

  • Where: Sabaragamuwa & Southern Province
  • Ideal for viewing: crested serpent eagle, purple-faced langur, green pit viper, orange-billed babbler, red-faced malkoha
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Blue Magpie Lodge

Located a few minutes’ drive from the entrance to Sinharaja, this lodge has 12 simple rooms with en suite bathrooms with hot water. There are more than 20 endemic bird species in the surrounding forest, and the nearby river is a perfect spot for a refreshing dip after a birdwatching walk.

Cinnamon Wild Yala

This resort-style hotel borders Yala National Park, and has approximately 70 spacious jungle and beach chalets. There is a pool and observation deck with panoramic vistas, and naturalist guides lead excursions into the park to search for Yala’s famous leopards and its 200+ bird species.

Rain Tree Hotel

Located in Tissamaharama, the Rain Tree Hotel lies between two ancient reservoirs to the west of Yala National Park. This pleasant hotel is also within easy reach of Bundala and Udawalawe National Parks, making it perfectly situated for access to some of Sri Lanka’s most iconic wildlife locations.