Wild Sri Lanka Safari (14 days)

specialThe island of Sri Lanka is unmatched for its wildlife for its size. It hosts the largest seasonal concentration if Asian Elephants while being considered a great place for photographing leopard. A wide variety of birds call Sri Lanka their home with the Sinharaja Bird Wave being the largest in the world. With its rich bio-diversity and scenic landscapes, Sri Lanka is perfect for an island safari. Included are visits to the “must see” places such as the Cultural Triangle and the Kandy Tooth Temple. Discover Yala and Sinharaja Rainforest. Wild Sri Lanka Safari is for you nature enthusiasts who want the ultimate island safari.

Day 1: Arrive Colombo – Negombo
(By surface 20 minutes)

Upon arrival you will be met outside of ground transportation after clearing customs by our representative who will be holding a sign with your name on it and driven to your hotel.

In the afternoon, you enjoy a boat ride in the Muthurajawela. The name Muthurajawela – meaning ‘Swamp of Royal Treasure’ – says it all. Muthurajawela – the largest saltwater coastal peat bog in Sri Lanka – is one of the island’s most important wetland habitats, extending over 3,068 hectares of marshland and mangroves. Overnight at Jetwing Lagoon Hotel (1 night)

Day 2: Negombo – Habarana
(By surface 4 hours)

After the breakfast we drive to Habarana visiting the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage en-route.
Pinnawela is home for more than 65 Elephants. The morning feeding can be observed at 9.15 a.m. where frolicking young ones are being bottle-fed milk. Soon after at 10.00 a.m. the Elephants are taken to a nearby river for their morning bath which is a popular attraction. Later arrive in Habarana.
Overnight at Chaaya Village Hotel (3 nights)

Day 3: Day Trip to Anuradhapura
Morning visit Anuradhapura. It is the first capital in Sri Lanka founded in the 4 century BC. Anuradhapura is considered the most extensive and the most important of the ancient cities in the northern region. It served as a capital city of this region for over 1000 years and hence was residence to many ancient kings from 377 BC. King Pandukhabhaya first made it a capital, naming it after the constellation Anuradha. He was followed by king Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC) in whose reign Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka and became the predominant religion. The city became great and a center for Buddhist devotion. The great Sinhalese kings Dutugamunu (161-137 BC), Vasabha and Mahasena belonged to the Anuradhapura period.

In the Afternoon, take a safari at the Minneriya National Park to see the elephants. During August and November, over 300 elephants gather on the receding shores of the Minneriya Tank. ‘The Gathering’ of Elephants at Minneriya is one of those awesome spectacles, which should rank alongside better-known wildlife spectacles such as the migration of wildebeest in Africa. Return and overnight in Habarana.

Day 4: Day Trip Sigiriya
Take a morning visit to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. It is situated in the north central province belonging to the ‘Cultural Triangle’, in the dry lowlands of Sri Lanka. After lunch, climb the 5th century AD fortress palace built by King Kasyappa, but suspected to have been in use by Mahayana Buddhists for many centuries previously. The rock is an inselberg, which dominates the landscape and was both a military refuge as well as an aesthetic refuge for king who was a patron of the arts.

In the afternoon, enjoy an Elephant Ride. Return and overnight in Habarana.

Day 5: Habarana- Kandy
(By surface 2 hours)

Drive to Kandy and en- route visit Dambulla, famous for its rock paintings and rock temples and one of the most important sites for Buddhist pilgrimage. Dambulla leaves a lasting impression on many visitors. The heady mix of ancient art and fervent religious activity combined with the spiritual location leaves many visitors overwhelmed by the experience.

Embark on an afternoon visit to the Kandy Temple, which houses The Sacred Tooth Relic, housed in the Temple of the Tooth. This is an object of veneration to Buddhists and the most important sacred relic in the country. The temple is one of the most sacred places in the world for Buddhists. The Relic is kept in the Upper storey. An outer gold-plated casket in the shape of a dagaba or Karanduwa is kept behind a gilt railing. Inside this casket are six smaller gold and jeweled caskets. The casket can be viewed during certain hours only. The Relic inside is only shown to very special guests.

Kandy City tour: Take in the magnificent architecture of the ancient capital of Kandy as you stroll through the streets, which resonate with its rich culture and vibrant heritage.Overnight at Hotel Suisse (1 night)

Day 6: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya
(By surface 3 hours)

After breakfast drive to Nuwara Eliya. En route, visit the Mackwoods Tea Factory. We will take you out to the organic tea fields and show you which leaves to pluck. You’ll find that it takes a bit of practice to make sure the leaves end up in your basket rather than on the floor! Overnight at Jetwing St Andrew’s Hotel (2 nights)

Day 7: Day Trip Horton’s Plains
Early morning, visit Horton Plains National Park to see Cloud Forests and rare montane fauna, which include the endemic Rhino-horned Lizard, which was featured in Charles Darwin’s monumental work on evolution, Bear Monkey, Giant Squirrel and Sambhur. Walk through the grasslands and Cloud Forests to a popular viewpoint know as World’s End, which is an escapement with a 870 meter drop. We also look for endemic birds such as the Yellow-eared Bulbul and Sri Lanka Hill White-eye and Dull blue Flycatcher. Also, visit Hakgala Gardens for habituated troops of Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, montane endemics and other highland species. Overnight in Nuwara Eliya

Day 8: Nuwara Eliya – Udawalwe
(By surface 2.5 hours)

After breakfast we depart for Udawalwe. Afternoon game drive to Udawalwe National Park for viewing Asian Elephants and dry-zone birding. In a visit to Udawalwe National Park close to 50-60 Elephants can be seen and the park is good for birds of prey and we will look for: Grey-headed 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. Also look for Malabar-pied Hornbill, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Plum-headed Parakeet, Common Hoopoe, Sirkeer Malkoha, Blue-faced Malkoha, Little Green Bee-eater, Barred Buttonquail (sub species leggei, which is one of the 18 sub species worldwide!), Indian Silverbill and Black-headed Munia. Also look for the migrants which include Black-capped Purple Kingfisher, Blyth’s Pipit and Orange-headed Thrush. Overnight at Grand Udawalwe Safari Resort (1 night)

Day 9: Udawalwe – Yala
(By surface 2 hours)

After breakfast we travel to Yala. En route visit the Elephant Transit Home, Udawalwe (“eth athuru sevana” )

Later discover the Bundala National Park in safari jeeps. Bundala is a fascinating wetland home for 150 species of winter migrant and resident birds. The park is accessed by jeep only. The highlight are large flocks of Greater Flamingos, which could number up to a few hundred. Bundala is the only ‘Ramsar’ wetland of Sri Lanka. Among the larger water birds you could also see Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-headed Ibis and Wooly-necked Stork. Overnight at Cinnamon Wild Hotel (3 nights)

Days 10 & 11: Yala
Morning & afternoon game drive at Yala National Park targeting Yala’s big three – Leopard, Sloth Bear and Asian Elephant. The biggest draws in Yala are Leopards, Elephants and Sloth Bears. A recent study has shown that Yala Block I has one of the highest densities of Leopards in the world. Other wildlife seen includes Mugger Crocodile, Jackal, Monitor Lizard, Spotted Deer, Black-naped Hare, Asiatic Buffalo and Sambar. The park is also good for dry zone specialties like Indian and Great Thick-knees, Sirkeer and Blue-faced Malkohas and Malabar Pied Hornbill. A day’s birding in the park, during the winter months can yield 100+ species. Overnight in Yala

Day 12: Yala- Kataragama
(By surface 2 hours)

After breakfast leave fir Kataragama and visit the Pilgrims Center.
Sightseeing is along the way. Overnight at Ratnaloka Tour Inn (1 night)

Day 13: Kataragama – Negombo
(By surface 4 hours)

In the morning visit the Sinharaja rain forest. Enjoy a picnic lunch. Drive onward to Negombo. Overnight at Tamarind Tree Hotel (1 night)

Day 14: Depart Negombo
You are met at your hotel and driven to the airport for your departure flight homebound.

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