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A fabulous two week itinerary to explore the stunning scenery, wildlife and heritage sites of this beautiful country.

With some fabulous parks and reserves, great birdwatching, and exceptionally knowledgeable guides, Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for lovers of wildlife. This itinerary takes in several parks, where you can spot leopard, elephant and a myriad of bird species, including some endemics.

Suggested itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Days 2-3 : Arrive Colombo and 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.

  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.

  4. Day 7: Transfer to Tissamaharama

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

  5. Day 8: Full-day safari in 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.

  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.        

  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. 

  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.

  10. Day 16: Fly 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 £2,645 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 15 days from £1,945 pp
  • Single supplement: From £465
  • 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 4000 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, fresh water 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 the country’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 is 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