Conservationists, animal lovers and eco-tourists will be spellbound by our Summer Wildlife Holiday which includes the Elephant Gathering at Minneriya, Dambana Vaddah Village and wildlife safaris in seven national parks.
Few countries in the world can compare with Sri Lanka for its abundant wildlife and bird species. Its 22 national parks are home to 4000 species of plants, 245 butterfly species, 492 different birds, 95 mammals and 207 reptile species*, including many endemic and endangered species. From herds of wild elephants to solitary reclusive leopards, we transport you in your own air-conditioned chauffeur-driven vehicle from one amazing animal experience to the next. Our fantastic Wildlife Holiday includes the best naturalists, guides and jeep safaris in some of Sri Lanka’s top national parks.
From jungle-covered mountain to reservoirs, lakes and even a 1700 year-old “tank”, we seek out the best wildlife encounters and photo opportunities. Of course, every single tour is different as we never know quite what we will see, but we do ensure the best possible sightings with carefully timed trips accompanied by some of the best ranger/spotters in the country.
Our local contacts secure permission for you to visit little-known wildlife conservation sanctuaries, indigenous jungle villages and remote places few independent travellers even know exist. A particular highlight of our Summer Wildlife Holiday is the chance to witness the Annual Elephant Gathering at the Minneriya Tank from July to September.
Best of all, you can tailor-make your own Wildlife Tour by adding some optional tours and choosing from a range of pre-selected hotels to suit your budget and desired standard of luxury. We include a two-night stay at an eco-lodge surrounded by pristine rainforest for a real jungle wildlife experience. From mountains to plains and back to the coast, we introduce you to some of Sri Lanka’s best wildlife locations and provide you with once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters that sadly may not be available for future generations.
Day 1Your personal driver/guide will meet you at the airport and transport you to Tissamaharamaya or Yala via a Turtle Hatchery.
Day 2You'll be up before dawn for a full day's jeep safari in Yala National Park.
Day 3Learn about the valuable work of the Elephant Transit Camp before seeing wild elephant herds in the Uda Walawe National Park.
Day 4Sit back and take in the stunning mountain scenery as your driver transports you to an eco-lodge in the jungle.
Day 5Join a ranger/guide in the Sinharaja National Park for a half or full-day hike before spending a second night at your eco-jungle retreat.
Day 6There will be plenty of photo ops as you journey by car to the temperate tea-estate country of Nuwara Eliya.
Day 7A 5am start to Horton Plains National Park guarantees plenty of sightings as you hike with a naturalist to Baker's Falls and World's End.
Day 8Meet indigenous people at the remote Dambana Vaddah Village on the journey to Wasgamuwa.
Day 9A full day's wildlife spotting is planned at the Wasgamuwa National Park.
Day 10Your driver will transport you to Dambulla or Habarana. A timely visit to Minneriya National Park may include witnessing the Elephant Gathering.
Day 11A leisurely drive to Anuradhapura is followed by an optional afternoon safari in Wilpattu National Park.
Day 12A full day in Wilpattu National Park, best known for its "willus" lakes which attract a host of wildlife.
Day 13Journey through amazing countryside from mountains to coast with time for a refreshing swim.
Day 14Time to say goodbye. Your driver will collect you for a final short drive to the airport.
Day 1: Tissamaharamaya or Yala
Arrive in Bandaranaike Airport where your smiling driver/guide will be waiting to greet you. You’ll soon be on your way to Tissamaharamaya or Yala, watching local scenery flash by on the approximately 5 hour journey south by expressway. You may want to break the journey with an interesting optional stop at a Turtle Hatchery where conservationists greatly increase the survival rate of hatchlings through their protection program. Stay overnight at the hotel of your choice in Tissamaharamaya or Yala from our recommended list.
Day 2: Tissamaharamaya or Yala
Get off to an early start around 5am to spend a full day in Yala National Park with packed breakfast, lunch, fruit and drinks on-the-go so you don’t miss a moment. Dawn and dusk are the best time to see wildlife sightings and the low light is perfect for wildlife photography. Expect to see elephants, sloth bears, macaques, wild water buffaloes and many birds. You may be lucky enough to see a leopard as Yala has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. After an exciting day on a jeep safari encountering plenty of local wildlife, you’re sure to sleep well.
Day 3: Embilipitiya or Uda Walawe
After breakfast, depart for Uda Walawe for an exciting elephant experience. We take you to an Elephant Transit Camp, a true conservation project which rears orphaned baby elephants and rehabilitates them back into the wild, unlike the more commercialized Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. Bring your camera and checkout the cute and hairy youngsters. More elephants can be seen in the wild at the Uda Walawe National Park. Your overnight hotel will be in Embilipitiya or Uda Walawe.
Day 4: Sinharaja or Deniyaya
After breakfast your driver will collect you for a drive of 1.5 to 2 hours to Sinharaja or Deniyaya. On arrival you can settle into your unique eco-lodge and start spotting birds and wildlife from your amazing location surrounded by rainforest.
Day 5: Sinharaja or Deniyaya
After breakfast it’s boots on for a full or half-day hike with a ranger/guide in the Sinharaja National Park. This is an amazing opportunity to spot and identify mammals and birds in this pristine environment before returning to your eco-lodge to relax. Fall asleep for a second night listening to the wildlife from the sanctuary of your jungle retreat.
Day 6: Nuwara Eliya
After breakfast we head for the cooler temperature area of Nuwara Eliya which is known for its vast tea estates. This area is known as “Little England” for its neat gardens and colonial architecture. Your comfortable drive will take you through some amazing natural scenery with the chance to stop if you encounter a photograph opportunity or perhaps to view local wildlife and birds along the way. The journey is likely to take 5.5 to 6 hours, depending upon traffic conditions.
Day 7: Nuwara Eliya
It’s up with the larks (or should that be hornbills?) for a 5am visit to Horton Plains National Park. We avoid the heat of the day with this half-day hike accompanied by a local naturalist and guide. Enjoy the cool mist rising from of Baker’s Falls and admire the extensive view from World’s End which has a sheer 900-metre drop. See how many amazing creatures you get to see and photograph, including the resident Toque macaques, purple-faced langurs, leopards, rusty-spotted cats, giant squirrels and maybe even a glimpse of the highly endangered Horton Plains slender loris. Your driver will transport you back to your hotel in Nuwara Eliya for a relaxing evening.
Day 8: Wasgamuwa
Enjoy breakfast before being collected by your driver for the 5 to 5.5 hour journey to Wasgamuwa. As we head north through the mountains you will see tea plantations, local villages, reservoirs and tropical jungle along the way. The benefits of having your own private driver will be evident as you can stop whenever you like for refreshments, photo opportunities or to take in an opportunistic sighting of wildlife along the way. We include a stop at the Dambana Vaddah Village where you will have the rare privilege of meeting these indigenous people who live a simple life in the jungle primarily as hunter-gatherers. You will get the chance to observe the tribe’s culture, perhaps with a chance to meet the chief and see the “Kiri Koraha” ritualistic dance. Arrive late afternoon and settle into your chosen hotel in Wasgamuwa.
Day 9: Wasgamuwa
An early start is needed for our dawn-to-dusk wildlife watching in the Wasgamuwa National Park. The full day requires a picnic lunch and staying until evening gives us the best possible chance of spotting shy leopards. The park is home to a herd of 150 wild Sri Lankan elephants, monkeys, water buffalo, Mugger crocodiles, Axis deer and sloth bears. You will certainly hear and see some of the 143 bird species which include 8 endemic species. Back at your hotel in Wasgamuwa you can browse through your wildlife photographs or relax after a long and exciting day.
Day 10: Dambulla or Habarana
Indulge in a late breakfast then sit back as your driver transports you further into Sri Lanka’s interior to your chosen hotel in Dambulla or Habarana (about 2 hours away). We have another wonderful treat instore with an afternoon safari in the Minneriya National Park. Our summer itinerary allows us to witness the annual Elephant Gathering (usually from July to September) at the Minneriya Tank. This artificial lake was built in the 3rd century AD to provide water and feeding grounds for elephants and wildlife during the dry season. Who knows what other wildlife will be attracted to the reservoir during your thrilling visit! Overnight in Dambulla or Habarana.
Day 11: Anuradhapura
Another late breakfast and a leisurely start before your driver/guide transports you on a 1.5 to 2 hour journey to the ancient city of Anuradhapura. On arrival at your hotel you can relax and enjoy the hotel’s amenities, explore independently, or take an optional safari in Wilpattu National Park. The unique features are the “willus”, natural lakes that are home to many reptiles and waterbirds including the painted stork, egrets, cormorants, teal and garganey. Your overnight stay will be in Anuradhapura.
Day 12: Anuradhapura
A 5am start is planned for your full day safari in the Wilpattu National Park. We plan a full day’s wildlife spotting with a picnic lunch and will stay until dusk to hopefully see rare leopards stalking their prey. Total driving time will be 2 to 2.5 hours depending upon road conditions. Relax and sleep well again in your comfortable Anuradhapura hotel.
Day 13: Katunayaka or Negombo
We check out after breakfast and drive west to the coast with a drive of 4.5 to 5 hours. Enjoy the wonderful scenery as you transition from the mountains to the coast. Arrive at your hotel in Kayunayaka or Negombo with plenty of time to relax or perhaps take a swim in the hotel pool.
Day 14: Airport
Enjoy a final breakfast in Sri Lanka before being driven to the airport, a journey of around 15-20 minutes. You will get a final glimpse of Sri Lanka before saying farewell to your wonderful driver/guide who we know will have made your Wildlife Holiday extra special. You are recommended to check in 3 hours prior to your flight. Sit back and reflect on your wonderful holiday and perhaps make plans to return soon for a totally different Winter Wildlife Holiday or one of our other perfectly planned VIP tour experiences. We look forward to seeing you again soon.