Nature Trail Tour
Sri Lanka Nature Trail
Type: Nature Trail Tour
Duration: 13 Days
Best Time to Travel: September – March
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Sri Lanka Nature Trail - Itinerary
Sri Lanka has a remarkable abundance of national parks and places of outstanding beauty for such a small island nation. On this nature tour you will get the chance to see wildlife up close and personal including wild elephants at Minneriya which congregate in large numbers at a large watering hole ‘the tank’ in the dry season. You can camp out under the stars at Wasgamuwa and enjoy jeep safaris at Udawalawe, home to buffalo, deer, monkeys and water buffalo. On Sri Lanka’s southern coast we take to the ocean for some whale watching. Blue Whales and Sperm Whales are frequently spotted as are Spinner Dolphins.
Colombo – Habarana
Arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo where we will be met and welcomed by your Sri Lankan guide. Transfer by road to Habarana (185kms) located in the heart of Sri Lanka and your hotel for checking-in and briefing of the tour. The remainder of the day is free at leisure.
Enjoy a full day exploring Minneriya National Park by jeep. Located between Habarana and the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa, Minneriya National Park boasts mixed evergreen forests and scrub areas, and is the home to sambar deer, reptiles, toque monkeys and of course, elephants. Visitors can experience a remarkable phenomenon at Minneriya National Park, where a natural assembly of up to 300 elephants congregate around the shores of Minneriya Tank in the dry season to bathe, drink and feast on the emerald grass around its edge. Known simply as The Gathering, this is the largest congregation of wild Asian elephants in the world. Minneriya Tank is also an incredible place to observe huge flocks of birds such as cormorants and painted storks that come to fish in the shallow waters.
Habarana – Wasgamuwa
Depart the hotel to visit the Sigiriya rock fortress, an awe inspiring palace- cum- fortress sitting atop a 200m rock outcrop. Built in the 5th century by a tyrant king fleeing exile, the fortress is a jaw-dropping architectural marvel.
Continue to Wasgamuwa, located between the districts of Matale and Polonnaruwa, bordered by Mahaweli and Amban rivers. Here you will camp out under the stars for the night. You arrive in Wasgamuwa in the afternoon and travel to the campsite in the national park, located in a shady area surrounded by trees, sitting next to the Mahaweli River.
Early morning we board an open-topped four-wheel drive jeep and proceed on a safari ride. Return to the campsite to freshen up with a wash in the river (or the camp showers if you prefer)!
After lunch at the campsite there is time to relax before we embark on an evening ride around the park.
Wasgamuwa – Kandy
After breakfast we leave the park and proceed to Kandy (140kms).
Arrive in Kandy and transfer to the hotel.
Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Ever since it was founded in the 16th Century, it has housed one of the most sacred relics of Buddhism – a tooth of Buddha collected from his funeral pyre and which is now protected within the gold-roofed Temple of the Tooth. See the blessing ceremony with all the fanfare, drums, trumpets and brightly coloured Monks performing their rituals.
Kandy – Nuwara Eliya
Take the train to Nuwara Eliya in the observation salon. Sit in the cool and misty hilly interior at an altitude of 1800m is the colonial hill station of Nuwara Eliya. Built by the British in the 19th century as an escape from the sweltering heat of the lowlands it came complete with half-timbered mock-Tudor houses with inglenook fireplaces & billiard tables, a golf course, race track, gentlemen’s clubs and botanical gardens. Now a bustling town and the vegetable garden of Sri Lanka it nonetheless gives you a glimpse into life in the colonial heyday.
Have a walking tour of the town
Nuwara Eliya – Udawalawe
After an early breakfast we depart for Udawalawe (125kms). En route we stop at Horton Plains. Horton Plains is undoubtedly one of the world’s best nature reserves. It is characterized by a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, covered in upper slopes, and the grasslands in the valleys, eventually giving way to wetland habitats. The park is home to a wide variety of flora and 24 species of mammals such as elk, deer, giant squirrel, wild boar, porcupine, wild hare and leopard. There are also 87 species of birds, including many migratory kinds. Baker’s Falls, Chimney Pool and the proverbial World’s End are some of the other attractions of the plains.
Continue south to Udawalawe stopping at the Elephant Transit Home located just outside Udawalawe National Park. Travel the remaining distance by jeep to you campsite in the park.
Early morning we set out by jeep and take a safari tour of the park. Udawalawe National Park is most famous for the many elephants that live there. In addition to this main attraction, the park is also home to water buffalo, water monitor lizard, sambar deer monkeys and the occasional leopard. The park is also an exciting location for bird enthusiasts. We will return to the campsite and relax. Later in the afternoon we will board the jeeps again for an evening ride in the park to witness the nightlife.
Udawalawe – Yala National Park
After breakfast, leave the campsite and return to the entrance. We travel by car to Yala (140kms) and check in to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool.
Yala National Park
We spend the whole day at Yala National Park. A jeep will pick us from the hotel early in the morning and take us to the park. Yala National Park is renowned for the variety of its wildlife, most notably it’s many elephants, number of leopards, and its finest coastline associated with beautiful coral reefs. It was at this park that Steve Irwin did his feature for the Crocodile Hunter, on the killer Mugger Crocodile. Yala National Park also boasts a large number of important cultural ruins, bearing testimony to earlier civilizations and indicating that much of the area used to be populated and well developed many centuries ago. Return to the hotel in the evening.
Yala National Park - Mirissa
After breakfast, checkout from the hotel and proceed along the southern coast to Mirissa. The small fishing village of Mirissa is a popular for whale watching.
This is probably the best kept wildlife secret in the world! Sri Lanka is now ranked amongst the top three locations on the planet to watch Blue Whales and arguably the best location in the world to see both the Blue Whale and the Sperm Whale – two of the most sought after mammals in the world – in one area. That is not all, we will also see hundreds of Long-snouted Spinner Dolphins performing aerial acrobat shows while pods of False Killer Whales keep you company. All this is found within just 10kms of the beautiful tropical beaches of southern Sri Lanka – an opportunity of a lifetime.
This morning after breakfast, head to Mirissa Fishery’s Harbour where we board our small, specially adapted boat and head out off-shore to look for blue and sperm whales, found in these rich marine waters. The best season for whale watching in Mirissa is from November to April, but we will still have a possibility to see whales during the rest of the year.
Our vessel is equipped with comfortable cushions and life jackets made available in all sizes. The journey then takes around 1 – 1½ hours to reach the range, with the occasional flying fish and passing fisherman keeping you company, before the Whale spotters on board become active. We are now in the narrow continental shelf and it is a matter of minutes before we spot the fountains splashing out from the sea. At this point we move around a radius of 5 miles spotting Blue Whales, Sperm Whales, Spinner Dolphins and False Killer Whales.
After breakfast, checkout from the hotel and proceed to the airport in time for departure. The drive time from the hotel to the airport is approx. three hours. Do note that we are required to be at the airport three hours before the actual departure time.
- Room accommodation in twin share
- Private transportation by car/ minivan
- Experienced English speaking Sri Lanka tour guide
- Drinking water in car / minivan (2 litres)
- Daily breakfast and other meals as indicated
- Entrance and sightseeing fees as mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival and departure transfers
What's Not Included?
- Drinks during meals
- Optional tours
- Sri Lanka visa
- Any personal expenses such as laundry, hotel phone etc
- Tips and gratuities