Inspiring • Authentic • Tailor-Made

Inspiring • Authentic • Tailor-Made

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Sri Lanka Wildlife Holidays

Lying south of India the teardrop shaped island of Sri Lanka boasts a staggering variety of habitats in a comparatively small area, making it a rewarding destination for all wildlife enthusiasts. Sri Lankan Leopard and Asian elephant are rightly star species, with good populations of both. Birdlife is prolific with over 400 species being recorded, including an array of endemics, found only in Sri Lanka. In addition, there are a number of migratory species including overwintering waders and pelagic sea birds. Dazzling butterflies flourish in the tropical climate, with over 200 species including over 40 endemics. Stunning flora abounds in this verdant country and off the coast, marine life includes blue whales, spinner dolphins and sea turtles.

Popular Yala National Park is best known for its leopards, thought to be the world’s highest concentration of these majestic cats. Situated on the south east coast it has a mix of grassy plains, dense forest, wetlands and coastal dunes. Leopard sightings are possible in other national parks and reserves too. Drawn to a vast ancient reservoir, the natural spectacle known as the ‘elephant gathering’ at Minneriya National Park usually begins around May and continues through the drier months to November, though the peak months are August and September. Sightings of elephants are also good at the famous Uda Walawe National Park in the south, along with deer, water buffalo and jackal, while the lesser-visited Gal Oya National Park in the east provides the opportunity to watch elephants on a boat safari. Gal Oya consists of lush forest, open savanna and surrounds a large lake. It’s home to marsh mugger crocodile, the elusive sloth bear and over 150 species of bird.

Wilpattu National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest reserves. Less visited, its wildlife is also less habituated so can be harder to see, making sightings all the more rewarding. Spread over a large area Wilpattu has evasive leopard, elephant, mongoose, monitor lizard and offers excellent birding opportunities with endemics including red-backed flameback, pompadour green pigeon and brown-capped babbler. Sinharaja Forest Reserve contains the last viable area of tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka and is best known for birdwatching with endemics such as the blue magpie and red-faced malkoha. Head to the coastal areas in the south and north-west to go on a marine wildlife boat trip, where the largest of the cetaceans; blue whales as well as other whales, dolphins and sea birds are most likely, though never guaranteed, to be seen from November to April.

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Wildlife Holiday Experts

We have many years’ experience in creating tailor-made wildlife holidays. Whether it’s highlighting the best time of year to spot that elusive animal or suggesting the most impressive national parks to explore, we have all the inside knowledge and expertise when planning this type of holiday.

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Your Wildlife Holiday IN SRI LANKA

Your Wildlife Holiday IN SRI LANKA

The wildlife of Sri Lanka can be experienced in different ways; in national parks open jeep safaris are the most common, where you join an experienced naturalist, driver and fellow visitors to enter the park. Boat safaris can be taken at Gal Oya National Park only. Walking safaris at Gal Oya and Sinharaja Forest Reserve provide an unforgettable and intimate experience of the forest and its wildlife. All safaris are regulated and limited in number to conserve the wildlife and environment and it is recommended to book well in advance to secure these.

The best times to spot wildlife are at the beginning and end of the day, when animals and birds are at their most active. Hence safaris are scheduled for early morning and late afternoon, adjusted for sunrise and sunset throughout the year. Boat trips to try to see marine life generally depart in the morning. Staying at a lodge that is close to an entrance to a national park or reserve allows you to maximise your safari time and minimise travelling time. Some lodges offer guided walks within their grounds, enabling you to familiarise yourself with some birdlife as well as trees, plants and butterflies. Flora and fauna are not restricted to the national parks and forest reserves throughout the country. There are many enjoyable viewing opportunities, particularly birdwatching and butterfly spotting, in the rural countryside and in the tea growing hill country. Plants and flowers including orchids can be enjoyed at Peradeniya Botanic Gardens as well as at hotel and lodge gardens across Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is blessed with a climate that differs across the island, meaning a wildlife holiday to Sri Lanka is great all year round. When the monsoon season starts in the north between October and January, it is dry and warm in the south-west. As the rain starts in the south during May and September, the north gets a hot summer season. November to April is the best time to try to see marine life including the majestic blue whale. Being a tropical climate it is humid, with an average of around 80% at any given time. It is always cooler in the hill country than the low lands. When to time a trip depends on a number of factors, including if you have key species to target and we can advise and tailor your trip accordingly.

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