Sri Lanka Wildlife Safari

Overview 

This small group tour is a superb introduction to the wildlife and beautiful scenery of Sri Lanka. A treat for the animal enthusiast, it offers the chance to see elephants and the elusive leopard as well as marine life on the island’s south coast. In the different national parks you will be guided by a naturalist who is an expert in the flora and fauna of their park, allowing you to explore in depth.

Tour Route

  • Chilaw: 2 nights
  • Sigiriya: 2 nights
  • Kandy: 1 night
  • Nuwara Eliya: 1 night
  • Yala: 2 nights
  • Udawalawe: 1 night
  • Deniyaya: 1 night
  • Galle: 2 nights

Prices from £2,775 per person for 13 nights including flights and transfers.

Stay longer

Mount Lavinia 3 nights from £368 per person
Kick back and relax after your tour with a short beach stay on one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful golden beaches.

Maldives 5 nights from £482 per person
Relax in paradise on your chosen Maldivian Island. A soft mound of sand covered in lush vegetation surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters teeming with life. Snorkel, dive or just dig your toes into the powder soft sand and relax.

Highlights

This is a true wildlife tour which focuses not on the island’s main sights but its natural habitats and wildlife. It also goes beyond the renowned Yala National Park, with a visit to a bird sanctuary and the once off-limits Wilpattu National Park, rainforest explorations and soft to moderate treks in the Knuckles Mountain range and the nation’s hill country. You’ll also join a trek into native rainforest and visit a turtle nesting site.

Good to know

  • All departures are guaranteed
  • For guests over 16 (unless travelling on a private journey)
  • Average group size of 7 guests
  • A maximum of 14 guests.

What to expect

  • A range of safari vehicles, both uncovered and covered
  • Bring long sleeves, trousers and sensible shoes for the rainforest
  • The Knuckles Mountain Range and Horton Plains trek is recommended for energetic individuals
  • There are active experiences and early starts included so a relatively high level of fitness is recommended.
  • The whale-watching excursion is available seasonally from November to April.
  • A number of very early mornings, including one 3:30am start.

Accommodation on tour

The hotels have been chosen for their proximity to nature. In Chilaw you’ll stay at the beautiful Anantaya Chilaw which is located between a river and the Indian Ocean. In Yala we have chosen the Jetwing Yala, a popular resort that’s located on the beach and just ten minutes drive from the entrance to the national park. The property in Deniyaya, the Rainforest Eco Lodge, has an unbeatable location that really lives up to its name.

Single travellers

  • Single supplement from £550 

Tour Dates

2019
Jan 04, 18; Feb 01, 15; Mar 01, 22; Apr 12; May 03; Oct 25; Nov 08, 29; Dec 13

Included in price

  • Quality accommodation
  • Insightful local tour leaders
  • Hand-picked itineraries
  • Small groups and a relaxed approach
  • Porterage and guide tips
  • Meals where most convenient, or the freedom to explore local restaurants independently
  • All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £578 per person.

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Itinerary

Day 1: UK to Chilaw

Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Sri Lanka.

Day 2: Chilaw

On arrival in Colombo, travel north to the coastal town of Chilaw. There will be some free time this afternoon allowing you to relax by the pool. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, The Ocean. Approx. journey time: 2 hours, 53 miles. Stay: Anantaya Chilaw (or similar). Dinner.

Day 3: Chilaw

Your adventure gets off to a fantastic start today with a visit to the Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary, a unique eco-system of coastal landscapes, mangrove forests and man-made freshwater reservoirs. This is a haven for wildlife, especially bird species, both resident and migratory. Later, return to the hotel where you will have some free time to relax before your early start the following day. Approx. journey time: 1½ hours, 31 miles. Stay: Anantaya Chilaw (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 4 Chilaw to Sigiriya

At 3:30am the group will depart from Chilaw and travel towards Wilpattu National Park, a real highlight of this tour. The country’s largest National Park was cut off for decades before reopening in 2009 giving it a real off-the-beaten-track feel. Visitor numbers are still generally very small as the wildlife gradually recovers, and much of the park is open for exploration. Although the density of wildlife is lower than that of the country’s southern parks, whatever you do see, you are likely to be in one of just a handful of vehicles present as you experience the moment. Enjoy a four-hour game drive from 6am (a packed breakfast will be provided) before travelling onwards to Sigiriya. Approx. journey time: 4¾ hours, 150 miles. Stay: Amaara Forest (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 5: Sigiriya

This morning is free to relax at your hotel. Alternatively, you can visit the iconic Sigiriya Rock on an optional excursion. We recommend that you only embark on the ascent to the top if you are fit, healthy and do not mind heights as there are many steep steps and narrow walkways. This afternoon, head out on a game drive into Minneriya National Park, one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. Approx. journey time: Stay: Amaara Forest (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 6: Sigiriya to Kandy

There’s an early start this morning as you travel south towards the breathtaking Knuckles Mountain Range of Central Sri Lanka (packed breakfast provided). Here you will set off on a soft-to-moderate three-hour hike into the hilly landscapes. Following the walk, continue south west to the city of Kandy where you will stay one night. Approx. journey time: 5½ hours, 115 miles. Stay: Cinnamon Citadel. Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 7: Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Begin the day with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. These beautiful gardens are home to a vast selection of Sri Lanka’s native flora as well as many exotic species and a renowned orchid collection. Following lunch in Kandy (payable locally), visit the Giragama Tea Plantation. Continue on to the pretty town of Nuwara Eliya. Approx. journey time: 2½ hours, 62 miles. Stay: Jetwing St Andrew’s (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 8: Nuwara Eliya to Yala

Depart early this morning for a three-hour trek in Horton Plains National Park. Your destination is the renowned World’s End precipice where you can enjoy incredible views over the surrounding hills and the countryside beyond. We strongly recommend that only fit, healthy and active guests take on this trek due to its challenging terrain. Continue on southwards towards Yala, with lunch served at a local restaurant en route. Approx. journey time: 4.5 hours, 106 miles. Stay: Jetwing Yala (or similar). Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Day 9: Yala

Today begins with an early morning game drive into world-famous Yala National Park. It is known locally as leopard country as it plays host to one of the world’s highest density of these elusive creatures. Late this afternoon there will be a further game drive in the park. Stay: Jetwing Yala (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 10: Yala to Udawalawe

This morning, head back inland to another National Parks, Udawalawe. The first stop is the Elephant Transit Home. Although you won’t get to interact with the elephants, this short visit is a great opportunity to see the animals and discover the work that’s done to get them back into the wild. Continue on for an afternoon safari in Udawalawe. Travel south to your hotel which is located approximately 10 minutes away from the entrance of the National Park. Approx. journey time: 3 hours, 84 miles. Stay: Centauria Hotel (or similar). Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Day 11: Udawalawe to Deniyaya

Today the tour continues onwards to your next hotel, a tranquil property that’s located on the outskirts of Deniyaya, a village close to the edge of the beautiful Sinharaja Forest Reserve. This afternoon, head out on a rainforest trek with a knowledgeable naturalist (2-2½ hours). The trails may be wet under foot so be sure to pack suitable footwear. Approx. journey time: 1½ hours, 31 miles. Stay: Rainforest Eco Lodge (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 12: Deniyaya to Galle

Following breakfast, begin the journey to the beautiful coastal city of Galle and on arrival, proceed to the Lady Hill Hotel for lunch. A short introductory tour of Galle will follow. Approx. journey time: 2¼ hours, 56 miles. Stay: Lady Hill (or similar). Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Day 13: Galle

If you’re travelling between November and April you’ll have the opportunity to join an unforgettable whale-watching excursion from the town of Mirissa (approx. journey time: 1 hour, 29 miles). For those travelling between mid-April and October, the morning will be free to explore Galle at your own pace or enjoy the facilities at the hotel. Later, travel along the west coast to the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project where they monitor sea turtle activity and conserve the local nesting sites. Return to Galle for your final evening and a special farewell dinner at your hotel. Stay: Lady Hill (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 14: Galle to UK

Transfer to the airport (approx. journey time 2½ hours, 78 miles) for your return flight to the UK. Alternatively, if you are extending your holiday with a beach stay, you’ll be transferred to your chosen beach hotel. Breakfast.

Is this for you?

If you have a particular interest in wildlife then this is the tour for you. There are also a handful of moderate treks, great for those seeking a relatively active holiday.