Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)
We depart to Colombo via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.
We arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport and transfer the short distance to Minuwangoda. We can choose to relax after the flight or start the bird watching in the grounds of the hotel.
After breakfast we drive to the uplands to Habarana, in the dry zone. The journey should take about 5 hrs with stops. In the late afternoon we will have time to start bird watching in the vicinty of the hotel.
After breakfast in the hotel will have a morning walk in the Sigiriya area. Later in the day those who choose can take an optional visit to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Entrance is not included and will need to be paid locally. Those not wishing to visit will be able to continue bird watching.
After breakfast we drive through the uplands to Kandy, the former capital. On the way we will stop at the Matale Spice garden for lunch (included). In the afternoon we will visit Peradeniya Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of Kandy, a birdwatcher's delight with Alexandrine and Layard's Parakeets, Asian Koel, three species of woodpeckers, and impressive species such as Asian-paradise Flycatcher and Indian Pitta are often present.
After breakfast we drive to Nuwara Eliya visiting a Tea plantation and a Tea factory en-route. The Sri Lankans will say this is the home of the best tea in the world. We will be taken through the production process and doubtless given a cup to savour. After lunch (included) and a short break, we will take a bird watching walk in Queens Park.
We will leave the hotel before dawn with a packed breakfast in hand to travel to Horton Plains National Park, hopefully arriving just after first light. Before you reach the park headquarters, a stop will be made to try and locate the endangered Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush - this localized, small bird only frequents mountain streams with dense cover above 800m.
The landscape here is reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands and the views are outstanding on a clear day. Birds to watch out for include the Pied Bushchat, endemics such as the Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Thrush and the Sri Lanka Bush Warbler. The trail goes through pinewoods where we could find Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Kashmir Flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Black-winged Kites. The road then climbs high above wooded valleys to where two endemics occur, the Dusky-blue Flycatcher and the highly localized Sri Lanka White-eye. Areas of scrub and low trees have two of Sri Lanka's rarest endemics, the Sri Lanka Bush-warbler and the Sri Lanka Wood pigeon. We will also look out for raptors including Crested Serpent Eagles and Legge’s Hawk Eagles. We should be back in Nuwara Eliya for a late lunch. After lunch, we visit Victoria Park to have a chance of spotting wintering Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher and Indian Blue Robin.
We have the option of a pre breakfast walk to hopefully catch any missing sightings from yesterday. After breakfast we continue to Sinharaja rain forest, a world heritage site. Here we find tropical low land rain forest, with a high degree of endemism in this ecosystem. 95% of the endemic birds of Sri Lanka have been recorded in Sinharaja. Some of the birds to look out for in the forest are the Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Green- billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Orange-billed Babbler and many more.
We will have a pre breakfast visit to the Sinharaja forest before returning to the hotel.
After some free time, late in the afternoon we will walk along the forest edge to hopefully spot the nocturnal, endemic Slender Loris.
Those who prefer can take another pre breakfast trip into the forest. After breakfast we depart for Udawalawe National Park, a dry zone game park, famed for its elephants in their natural surroundings as well as its diverse bird population.
In the afternoon we will take a jeep Safari for a bird watching experience in the park. Udawalawe has extensive areas of grassland, old trees, jungle, water holes and rivers, attracting high numbers of animals. Elephants are common here.
Birds of prey are a special attraction and include Osprey, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle and Black-shouldered Kite.
Additionally, the tracks attract many species of birds to look out for such as Dark-fronted Babbler, Common and Marshall’s Iora, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Woolly-necked Stork, Changeable Hawk Eagle and Indian Peafowl. The grasslands are also important for both Plaintive and Jacobin Cuckoos.
We stay until dusk at Udawalawe, as it is a reliable area for Brown Fish Owl, a specialty of the park. Among the migrant birds are Forest Wagtail, Indian Pitta and Osprey, as well as waders and terns.
After breakfast we leave for Tissamaharama and check in to our hotel. Later we visit the Tissamaharama tank. The huge lily-covered tank and surrounding farmland are excellent for birds. We expect to locate Cotton Pygmy-goose, Pacific Swallow and Ashy Prinia. This region has the remarkable White-naped Woodpecker and Clamorous Reed Warblers. The local roads also offers bird watching stops, in addition to being an exceptional area for mammals.
Early morning we proceed to Yala National Park for a Jeep safari. Here we should see Elephant, Spotted Deer and Sambur and there is a good chance of seeing Leopards at dawn. The birds are similar to those at Bundala National Park but with the added attraction of the huge Black-necked Stork, Brahminy Starling, Black-headed Cuckoos and Black Drongo. On the way back from Yala, you may see Indian and Jerdon's Nightjars sitting on the tracks.
At dawn, proceed to visit Bundala National Park, a birdwatcher's paradise. You will travel around the park on rutted and often water-filled tracks. Bundala holds Peafowl that are here in their natural habitat, often in the treetops. We should get close views of Painted Stork, Asian Open Bill, Greater Flamingo, Indian and Little Tern, Ceylon Jungle fowl, Little Green, Chestnut-headed and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark, Black backed Yellow Woodpecker and Oriental Darter. There are waders including Eurasian and Greater Thick-knees. Later we leave for our hotel at Weligama, the journey takes just over 2hrs. Here we can enjoy some well earned relaxation time.
Today is whale watching day! We start out early to Mirissa Harbour and take a boat out into the ocean. Sighting of whales is possible within 6-7 km of land and varieties commonly seen are Blue, Sperm and occasionally Orca. Dolphins can be spotted frequently.
We have a free morning to relax or try and get a last few species. Lunch is included today. Later in the day we will return to Colombo airport for our overnight flight to the UK.
We arrive back in the UK.