Birdwatching, Wildlife and Culture Tour in Sri Lanka
Walk With Jith’s "Bird, wildlife and culture tour in Sri Lanka" is a tour with a great selection of all the major archaeological sites declared as World Heritage Sites and offers a comprehensive overview of Sri Lankan culture and heritage.
You will encounter leopards and elephants as well as numerous birds when you go on a wildlife safari at Yala National Park, walk-in Sinharaja rain forest and experience the floral diversity in Kandy Botanical Gardens and Horton Plains in the highlands of Sri Lanka. In the last part of the tour, you will relax and enjoy a tropical beach in the Southern Coast of this Paradise Island. Throughout the tour, you will have a variety of comfortable accommodation and taste delicious Sri Lankan food.
This tour is highly recommended for birders who come with non-birding (not serious) partner.
Alternative Tour Name: Birding, Wildlife & Culture Tours Sri Lanka
We will meet you at the airport on your arrival and depart to Kitulgala. Kitulgala rain forest is where the film “Bridge on the River Kwai” was made. This is a small secondary rain forest patch along one of major rivers in Sri Lanka. The whole area is rich with birdlife including some endemic birds to Sri Lanka.
We will spend these two days in and around Kitulgala forest reserve and to reach the reserve cross the river by dugout canoe will be a memorable experience. In and outside of the forest we search for shy Green billed Caucal, and the elusive yet vocal Sri Lanka Spurfowl which we will really quite to see. Also here are Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Spot winged Thrush, Brown capped Babbler, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Layard’s Parakeet, Sri Lanka Yellow fronted Barbet, Sri Lanka Greater Flameback, Kitulgala is the best birding site to see endemic Sri Lanka Chestnut backed Owlet in close range.
Two nights in Kitulgala
After breakfast we will go straight from the hotel to Sigiriya rock Fortress, the main attraction for the day. Sigiriya rock is the plug from an ancient volcano which has completely eroded away. There are heaps of archeological ruins that belongs to 05th century A.D. around the rock, at various stages up the rock, and on the summit. You approach the rock by walking along a path through ancient water gardens, then through a terrace garden. Then, the first part of the climb leads up to a slight rocky overhang sheltering ancient wall paintings of concubines (if you believe it was a palace) or heavenly maidens - apsaras (if the monastery story takes your fancy). The paintings have been particularly well preserved as they aren’t in direct sunlight and are sheltered from rain. So their colours are still really bright and the images are very clear.
We will visit Polonnaruwa to see the archeological sites and the museum. Polonnaruwa is the medieval capital of Sri Lanka, more than one thousand years old. This city peaked during the reign of the king Parakramabahu the great (12th century A.D.), when Sri Lanka had an empire extending into India.
There you can see Palace and public halls of King Parakrama the Great, shrines, temples and pagodas, the massive but exquisite Gal Vihare sculptures carved in living granite and the mammoth ‘Sea of Parakrama’ water reservoir
Two nights in Sigiriya
After breakfast we’ll start to make our way towards Kandy. On the way we will stop at Dambulla World Heritage Cave Temple. This cave temple is one of the most impressive sites in Sri Lanka with colorful and well-preserved frescoes and statues of the Buddha inside the caves, which date back to the 1st century BC.
In the early evening we are visiting to Tooth Relic Palace, Sri Lanka’s most famous and important Buddhist site and enjoy a performance of the famous Kandyan Dancers and Drummers, with fire-walking finale.
One night in Kandy
Today we head into hill country and two nights stay in Nuwara Eliya. We leave the lowland and travel through beautiful tea estates and climbing higher to Nuwara Eliya. Later we visit to Victoria park in the town center a traditional site for certain sought after species. Migrant Pied Thrush can be seen beside the stream on feeding on the compost heaps. While Indian Pitta can usually be very confiding, sometimes even feeding under the bushes at edge of the park. Kashmir Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White Eye, Sri Lanka Yellow eared Bulbul, Velvet fronted Nuthatch, Sri Lanka Dull Blue Flycatcher, Forest Wagtail and the distinctive race of Blackbird may also be present.
Next day an early start will be needed to drive up to the dramatic scenery of Horton Plains. Stopping by scheduled pool and wait quietly for the first rays of sunlight. With some luck and patience, a highlight of the highland birds will be the chance to see very shy Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush. The birdlife here should also include endemic Sri Lanka Yellow eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Sri Lanka White Eye, Sri Lanka Dull Blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka Wood pigeon, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Black Eagle, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Black Throated Munia.
Two nights in Nuwara Eliya
Will have an exciting full day jeep safari into Yala national park, which is most famous national park in Sri Lanka. It is comprising of a diversity of habitats including scrub jungles, water reservoirs, brakish lagoons and riverine habitats. Mugger Crocodiles frequent the river banks and, as we explore through the southern sector of the park, we’ll find plenty of Tufted Grey Langurs as we watch eagerly for mammals such as Sambar and Spotted Deer, Golden Jackal, Grey Mongoose, Ruddy Mongoose. Leopards are probably easier to see here than anywhere else in Asia, and Yala is world famous for its large population of this most beautiful ‘big cat’. With luck, we should have at least one encounter during our stay here. Sloth Bear is also common in the park, but less easily seen.
For anyone with an interest in shorebirds and water birds, the day around Bundala national park is not to be missed. Bundala is the very first Ramsar wetland and declares as an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds.
Three nights in Yala area
One of the real highlight of any birding tour in Sri Lanka is birding in Sinharaja Rain Forest. This is the single most important site in Sri Lanka in term of endemic species, and represent the largest tract of old growth rainforest in the country.
Once in the forest we will walk along the old logging track, where we should encounter spectacular mixed bird species flocks. Among these feeding flocks we may find endemic Sri Lanka Orange billed Babbler, Sri Lanka Crested Drongo, Sri Lanka Red faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Malabar Trogon, Sri Lanka White faced Starling, Sri Lanka Ashy headed Laughingthrush, and Lesser Yellownaped to named just a few. There will be plenty more to see in or secretive places including Sri Lanka Serendib Scopes Owl, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush,
Also in the forest we should be able to find Giant Squirrel, endemic Purple faced Leaf Monkey, endemic Toque Monkey and endemic Layard’s Squirrel and many species of butterflies and dragonflies.
Three nights in Sinharaja rain forest
Visit to a tea plantation and a tea factory on the drive to Nuwara Eliya highlands, a ruggedly picturesque location with a soft English spring climate. Afternoon leisure walks in Hakgala Botanical Gardens, where you will find the highland race of the endemic Purple faced Leaf Monkey.
We are heading back to Colombo and transfer to the airport according to your flight time. This is a custom tour and can be added Blue whale watching or beach stay as per the choice of visitors. Please speak with us
In this tour you can see around 200+ birds with all 33 endemics and other wildlife in Sri Lanka. Also with a great selection of all the major archeological sites declared as World Heritage Sites and offers a comprehensive overview of Sri Lankan culture and heritage.
You have a great chance to see all 33 endemic birds in Sri Lanka. Green billed Caucal, Red faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, White faced Starling, Orange billed Babbler, Ashy headed Laughing Thrush, White throated Flowerpecker, Sri Lanka Myna, Sri Lanka Spur Fowl, Serendib Scops Owl, Brown capped Babbler, Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush, Spot winged Thrush, Sri Lanka Crested Drongo, Chestnut backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Small Barbet, Sri Lanka Yellow fronted Barbet, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Sri Lanka Greater Flameback, Sri Lanka Lesser Flameback, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Sri Lanka Dull Blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka Woodshrike, Sri Lanka Yellow eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Sri Lanka White Eye, Sri Lanka Swallow, Sri Lanka Layard’s Parakeet, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Sri Lanka Black capped Bulbul,
Mammals such as. Asian Elephant, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, endemic Purple Face Leaf Monkey, Grey Langur, endemic Toque Monkey, Giant Squirrel, Fruit bats, Indian Flying fox, Ruddy Mongoose, Stripped necked Mongoose, Brown Mongoose, Grey Mongoose
What is included?
- Accommodation with meals on half board basis - breakfast and dinner
- Services of an accompanying guide from airport to airport
- Main transport by air-conditioned vehicle (except safari jeeps)
- Entrances to the cultural sites, national parks and other birding sites
- Bottled water (when taken from the vehicle)
- Tips for hotel staff, jeep drivers and trekkers
- All currently applicable taxes
What is not included?
- Any international airfare
- Meals - lunch
- Tourist visa and travel insurance
- Tips for your birding guide
- Camera fee (if applicable)
- Any additional taxes levied on the tourism sector in future
- Any expenses of personal nature such as hard/soft drinks, laundry, phone/fax calls
- Any item not mentioned in the price includes section
- Any increase in the entrance fee to National Parks or Sanctuaries in the future. The price is based on the current entrance fee
- Cost incidental to any change in the itinerary/stay on account of flight cancellation due to bad weather, ill health, roadblocks and/or any factors beyond control
Walk With Jith is a leading wildlife and bird watching tours Sri Lanka operator, with more than a decade of experience. Walk With Jith offers a wide range of birding Sri Lanka (targeting more than 200 birds including all 33 endemics and birds of prey), nature and wildlife photography, safari tours (view our Yala National Park Safari). Other types of special interest wildlife tours include dolphin and whale watching in Sri Lanka tours. Sri Lanka is renowned as the major destination for dolphin and whale watching.
As a tropical country, it is very fair to say that Sri Lanka does not have any seasonal changes like in Europe. But we have two monsoon rains, southwest monsoon (May to September) and northeast monsoon (November to March). Rainfall is becoming increasingly unpredictable now. Anyway Although at most of the time of the year sunshine can be plentiful and most of the rainfall at nights. General tourist season in Sri Lanka is from November to March with more visitors from Europe. You can watch resident birds and endemic birds throughout the year. It is not a problem with two different monsoon rains. From October winter migrant birds start coming to Sri Lanka. These winter migrants can be seen until end of March. If you are concerned with both resident and migrant birds to Sri Lanka, the best time to visit is November to April.
The quality and condition of accommodations close to birding sites differ from area to area. If the birding site is in or close to a major tourist area, you can stay in large and luxury hotels. Some examples are Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Yala and Sigiriya areas. But in some isolated areas such as Sinharaja and Kitulgala rain forests, there are limited numbers of accommodation places. No luxury hotels. In birding areas, we have few selected hotels and lodges, where we can co-operate and work with the staff. Specially we have to start early in mornings and sometimes need packed meals or cup of tea or coffee. But any visitor ask to change or upgrade the hotel we can discuss and change in all possible places.
Martin’s Lodge is the oldest and famous lodge in Sinharaja. It is the closest place to the forest entrance. Rooms are basic with twin beds but no AC or fans but the area has very mild weather. Attached bathrooms available. The condition of rooms and bathrooms are not to expectations of everyone. Some visitors like this place and some dislike. Read Martin's Lodge reviews on Trip Advisor for more info. Any way very recently there are two small lodges opened with AC room facilities. Those are Rock View Motel and Blue Magpie Lodge. But both are little bit far from the forest entrance. About 40 minutes to the entrance.
Road travel for a couple, air-conditioned cars and vans are most common.Various types of luxury busses also used for group tours. Size of busses and other facilities depend with the numbers of people in the group. For safaris in national parks, Jeeps are commonly used. Some are four wheel driven (4x4). Most are Indian made jeeps or double cabs without four-wheel drive (4x4). Also, there are double cabs modified with high roofs, as safari vehicles. Easily 6 people can use one of these double cab or a jeep vehicle. Since this is a very general answer. You definitely need to get clear information about the vehicle, from the tour organizer, before book the tour.
Yes, we can add extra days for whale watching excursion to wildlife and safari tour, only if you do the wildlife safari tour in November to March. The best time for whale watching is from November to March.
The traditional Sri Lanka main meal is rice and curry. You can get it anywhere for your lunch and dinner. For breakfast most Sri Lankan hotels serve bread and curries. Sometimes you can get milk rise, string hoppers, rotti or hoppers and egg-hoppers with curry. Local herbal porridge is also available. But most of western birders doesn't prefer to have breakfast with spicy curry. They can order bread, butter, jam, marmalade, some fruits and a choice of egg preparation. Always serves Tea and coffee for breakfast table. Sri Lankan main meal is lunch. Traditionally most of Sri Lankans eats rice and curry (spicy) for mid-day meal. For western birders have a chance to orders sandwiches as they like. In all hotels dinner is the best meal of the day. There are many choices for your dinner. In small hotels or lodges, you have a chance to talk with the staff and order meals as you like. Most of big hotels have buffet dinner. It’s a mixture of Sri Lanka and western cuisines.
Most of the hotels have free Wi-Fi facility either in room or in specific public area. Some few hotels would charge you for Wi-Fi facility in rooms. But in some isolated areas such as Sinharaja rain forests, there is no Wi-Fi facility.
Since November 2012 Sri Lanka has be free of locally acquired malaria until now (as http://www.news.lk/fetures/item/7270-let-s-together-keep-sri-lanka-malaria-free reports on April 2015). However, please consult your family doctor or a specialist and get advice.