These tours are a superb introduction to the wildlife and beautiful scenery of Sri Lanka. A treat for the animal enthusiast with the chance to see elephants, sloth bear, leopards, the blue and sperm whales.
An expert naturalist in the flora and fauna of the parks will guide you, allowing you to explore in depth the different national parks you visit.
Ayubowan! A warm welcome to our Island Nation!!!
On arrival at the Colombo Airport you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel in Negombo (Approx. 30 minutes drive).
Check-in to your hotel and evening at leisure
After a leisurely breakfast visit the Muthurajawela Marsh (Approx. 30 minutes drive).
This wetland located between Colombo and Negombo translates as ‘Swamp of Royal Treasure’, so named because the area was once a rich rice-growing basin, before the Dutch built the canal. The construction resulted in seawater ruining the fields, thus creating Sri Lanka’s largest saline wetland & peat bog, over the centuries.
The wetlands are home to kingfishers, purple herons and cormorants and provide a home to some 192 distinct species of flora and 209 species of fauna including the slender loris and 102 species of birds as well as crocodiles, monkeys and even some rarely seen otters.
A guided boat ride through the wetland is an experience for all nature lovers.
In the afternoon, you will drive north to the Kalpitiya Peninsula (Approx. 2 Hrs drive). Enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery that takes you through coconut plantations, cultivations and scenic saltpans.
Further north of Colombo on the West Coast, the road threads its way across the beautiful windswept Kalpitiya Peninsula. Its pristine beaches are bounded on either side by sea and lagoon, fringed with mangrove swamps, salt marshes and bar reefs. Offshore, large schools of dolphins hundreds strong can often be seen jostling each other and frolicking in the waters. Boat safaris are available to watch the antics of these spectacular aquatic creatures. This area remains largely unspoilt and for the time being, tourism remains low key, centered on a small cluster of eco- resorts.
Check-in to your hotel. Evening at leisure and overnight in Kalpitiya
Leave early this morning with a picnic and spend the day exploring the Willpattu National Park – the largest Park in Sri Lanka. A visit to its stunning stretch of beach is recommended.
(Land of Lakes), occupying a large swathe of land stretching all the way up to the border of the Northern Province, the Wilpattu National Park is the largest in Sri Lanka., and was formerly the most popular until the onset of the civil war. The park reopened in 2009. The effects of long term poaching have reduced the overall density of wildlife. However the chances of spotting leopard and sloth bear are significant for which the park was once famous, not to mention elephants, deer and many types of bird. Equally the lack of visitors and the size of the area means that its also supremely peaceful compared to many of the other parks.
An unusual feature of the Wilpattu topography is its numerous ‘villus’. These look like lakes though they are actually just depressions filled with rainwater, which expand and contract with the seasons, attracting a range of water birds and wildlife.
Check-in to your hotel. Evening at leisure and overnight in Anuradhapura
This morning you will continue with your tour onto Habarana, your base to visit the Minneriya National Park, a beautiful leisurely drive through lush green undulating country (Approx. 3 Hrs drive).
For a change of scenery from viewing the ancient ruins, head out to the Minneriya National Park. Its centerpiece is the large Minneriya Tank, built by the famous King Mahsena during the Anuradhapura period.
The park is relatively small, but it has an unusually wide range of habitat types from dry tropical forest to wetlands, grasslands and terrain previously used for slash-and-burn (chena) cultivation. Much of the area around the entrance to the park is covered in superb dry-zone evergreen forest, dotted with beautiful satinwood (palu), rosewood, halmilla and wera trees.
Elephants are a principal attraction at the park, since Minneriya forms part of the elephant corridor. A large number of the pachyderms can be found here at certain times of the year during their migrations between the various parks, most numerous from July to October, peaking in August and September when water levels drop, drying up the area. As many as 300 elephants, come to the shores of the tank during this period. It can be a sheer delight to watch them drink, socialize and feed on the fresh grass that grows up from the lakebed as the waters recede.
This annual event has been dubbed " The Gathering ', the largest meeting of Asian elephants anywhere in the world.
Other mammals found in the park include sambur, spotted deer, macaque and purple-faced langur monkeys, sloth bears and leopard. Birds in great variety and vast in numbers are also a happy feature.
Check-in to your hotel. Evening at leisure and overnight in Habarana
Drive further north to Trincomalee, a scenic drive past forests where you may spot wild elephant (Approx. 3 Hrs drive)
Lord Nelson aged seventeen, sailing through here in 1775, declared that this was "the finest harbour in the world”.
This is indeed no exaggeration or hyperbolic description for Trincomalee’s, appealing tropical beauty is one that lures visitors to it over and over again. Foreign powers were attracted to Trinco because it was a conduit for trade between countries throughout the world, from the Middle East to China and the Far East. With its great watery labyrinth of coves, islets, jungle tufted headlands & bays, little wonder then, that from ancient times, world powers that wanted control over the island and the seas surrounding it, regarded Trinco as a prize possession.
From the Pandyan Kings to the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, the French and finally the British who renamed the Fort, the previous occupiers had built, Fort Fredrick and the Naval Dockyard, are outstanding landmarks.
Raven-Hart called it a 'starfish ramified’. The great historian Tennent became a little purple with his comparisons to Carthage. To geographers, it is our planets 2nd best natural harbour. North of Trincomalee are two of the most beautiful beaches along the coast – Nilaweli & Uppuvelli. Across, lies Pigeon Island, popular for snorkeling. Further out to the deep, one may view the largest mammals, the Blue & Sperm whales, swimming amidst schools of frolicking dolphins.
Check-in to your hotel. Evening at leisure and overnight in Trincomalee
Go on a whale watching expedition to spot the blue and sperm whales. Spend the rest of the day exploring this beautiful seaside port and natural harbor.
Overnight in Trincomalee
Head back to Kandy and the central hills. Break journey in this historic town and enjoy its cool climate before you head back towards the coast.
The Hill Capital of Sri Lanka (the last Kingdom of the Sri Lankan Kings) nestled in a valley in the Highlands and locally referred to, as "Nuwara" meaning The Great City, a picturesque town by the side of a miniature lake. Visit one of the only natural reserves within city limits, the beautiful Udawatta Kele famous for its avifauna.
Dalada Maligawa, The Temple of the Tooth one of the most sacred & famous Buddhist sites, not just in Sri Lanka but also in the religion worldwide, is host to one of Asia’s most celebrated festivals, The "Esala" procession, held during the month of July/August around the Full Moon. The temple took nearly a hundred years to construct from 1687 to 1782 and houses the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha. Rituals are performed daily at 04:30, 10:30 and 6:30 p.m. The sacred square and old city centre within the temple complex contain the four shrines of the Gods Vishnu, Natha, Kataragama and the Goddess Pattini and many historical buildings and museums.
The pageant features over a 100 elephants in elaborate and colourful dress, accompanied by traditional dancers, drummers and torchbearers.
A hive of activity during the day with shops displaying, handicrafts, colorful batiks in cotton and local silk, antique & skillfully crafted jewelry, semi precious and precious stones, it quietens down at dusk. Add flavor to your visit by trying out the local cuisine! Don’t forget to sample the 'short eats’ (snacks) as its popularly known.
Check-in to your hotel. Evening at leisure and overnight in Kandy
Before you embark on your final lap to Colombo, take a tour of the City of Kandy’s highlights to gain an insight into its local life. Proceed to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a visit guaranteed not to disappoint. (Approx. 4 Hrs drive)
is home to the world’s largest troupe of captive pachyderms. The animals here range from newborns to elderly matriarchs, and include abandoned elephants, as well as those injured in the wild. Twice daily, the elephants are driven to the Ma Oya river for a leisurely bath but its best to coincide your visit with feeding time – watching the orphaned youngsters guzzle enormous quantities of milk from oversized baby bottles is one of the cutest sights you will ever see. Feeding times are 09:15 am, 13:15 pm and 17:15 pm.
A dynamic capital that can vie with many a city around the world, it has evolved to be the commercial hub of the island connecting with several towns linked by a fine system of roads and railways connecting both the North, the South, the East and the hill country. A new expressway, one of many coming up, connects the international airport at Katunayake, with the capital - a 20 minute drive avoiding the busy sprawling towns on the old route. Crowded streets and peak hour traffic are the results of a long and formless urban straggle overflowing from Colombo.
Nevertheless, the city’s impressive commercial and cultural life grows apace and a heady mixture of Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern progress defines its character. Showily opulent and shiny office blocks rub shoulders with tumbledown local cafes and shops while serene Buddhist shrines and colonial churches stand cheek-by--jowl with ornate, colourful Hindu temples - all evidence of a rich mix of races and religions, that has blossomed into this cosmopolitan city.
A rebuilt and revitalized Pettah, the more colonial styled Fort area, the renovated Dutch Hospital, the Independence Square, the Nelum Pokuna theatre hall, the Victoria Park, now ablaze with lights are all elegant architectural landmarks, that the city can justly be proud of. Not always the bustling metropolis today with its crowded bazars and tuk-tuks weaving among the kamikaze traffic of a vibrant city, Colombo developed from small beginnings as a garden city with its tranquil suburbs, when it took precedence over the ancient Kotte Kingdom. The Beira Lake in Colombo and a network of canals around the city extending to Negombo, is yet another unused Dutch legacy.
With the construction of a new harbour, Colombo builds itself as one of the vital entrepots of Asia, acquiring the sobriquet the ' Charing Cross of the East ' thanks to its location at the crossroads of Indian Ocean trade.
British legacy has undeniably come to stay in Sri Lanka. While the Sri Lankan Parliament modeled on the British system - located today in Kotte, stands like a memorial, a cross between the old and the new.
Check-in to your hotel and overnight in Colombo
Depending on your time of departure, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward destination.