Competition in action

Wild Sri Lanka

10 days
from
1 905 €
Loading...
Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 3 reviews >
Leisurely
Learn more
Trip code: 
WIYA
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Wildlife Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Best of Sri Lanka's wildlife from the national parks to the ocean

Sri Lanka is well known for its cultural heritage and picture perfect beaches, but perhaps less known is that it is also one of the best locations in Asia for wildlife. The wide range of altitudes found in this small island results in a variation of climate and diversity normal only found across a whole continent. Blue whales congregate off the southern coast of Sri Lanka, elephant herds gather in Udawalawe and the elusive leopard rules in Yala. As well as game drives in Sri Lanka’s most famous national parks we visit the steamy Sinharaja Rainforest and relax on the south coast, where the warm waters of the Indian Ocean lap the shore and days can easily drift by from the shade of a palm tree.

Highlights

  • Private whale watching from a chartered boat
  • Four game drives within Yala and Udawalawe National Parks
  • Sinharaja Rainforest and tranquil Talalla beach
  • Naturalist guides throughout

Key information

  • 10 days land only / 11 days flight inclusive
  • Travel by private bus, boat and 4WD
  • 9 nights in comfortable hotels and eco lodges
  • Whale watching season: November to April

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 9 dinners included
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Colombo; transfer to Ahangama beach hotel.

    The group flight arrives into Colombo Airport today where our local guide will be waiting to meet us. Land Only clients should be at the airport ready to join the group transfer to Ahangama on the south coast of the island - please refer to the joining instructions for further information. Sri Lanka's road network has improved greatly over the last few years, and the 'deep south' (as it is often known) is now accessible within around 3 hours from Colombo. The coastline's coconut groves and tall palms give way to magnificent views of the sea as we approach Ahangama.

    Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Morning private whale watching excursion; afternoon visit Galle Fort.

    Shortly after sunrise we depart for the harbour, where we board a small, privately chartered boat for today's whale watching excursion. Accompanied by excellent crew and a naturalist guide, we spend the morning searching the Indian Ocean for whales and other cetaceans. The vessel is fitted with radar and GPS which helps to increase our chance of success. Blue whales, the largest animals that have ever lived, typically frequent these waters between November and April. They are huge, reaching up to 30 metres in length and weighing as much as 160 tonnes. We may also be lucky enough to encounter Sperm whales, Brydes whales and large pods of Spinner or Bottlenose dolphins in the surrounding waters. After spending the morning at sea, we return to the harbour and our hotel in Ahangama. Later this afternoon we have a guided visit to Galle to discover the historical fort, a fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by the Dutch in 1663, the fort is a maze of cobbled streets crammed with cafes, boutique shops and beautifully restored colonial houses.

    Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest; afternoon walk.

    This morning we transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest, the last undisturbed area of rainforest in Sri Lanka. This biodiversity hotspot harbours a number of endemic species. Canopy trees reach heights of up to 45 metres and bird species number 160 and counting. Amongst the insects, amphibians and reptiles are mammals such as Sambar, Barking deer and Wild boar. Purple-faced langurs usually congregate in groups of 10 or more and are fairly common to see amongst the trees. Around 15 leopards are known in this area but sightings are very difficult to come by due to the dense vegetation. This afternoon we take a walk to discover Sinharaja and its many inhabitants, accompanied by our naturalist guide.

    Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Full day to discover Sinharaja Rainforest.

    Wake up to birdsong and get ready for another day in the forest. Sinharaja covers a narrow sliver of land 21km long and 3.7km wide, covering an area of roughly 11,187 hectares. Within this area 43% of all the species recorded in Sri Lanka can be found. Our naturalist guide will take us on a wildlife walk to discover the many trails and abundant diversity here.

    Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    To Udawalawe; afternoon game drive in Udawalawe N.P.

    This morning we leave the rainforest and travel further inland to Udawalawe National Park, which lies on the boundary between Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones. Udawalawe is one of the best parks in Sri Lanka to see elephants with around 600 animals in the park who can be seen roaming in herds of up to 50 - the highest concentration of wild elephants anywhere in Sri Lanka. The Udawalawe Reservoir is at the centre of the park and makes a stunning backdrop amongst the otherwise lightly vegetated area. For this reason wildlife watching in the national park is relatively easy. Aside from elephant families feeding in the grasslands, we may encounter Sambar deer, Spotted deer, Water buffalo, Wild boar, jackal and mongoose on this afternoon's game drive.

    Accommodation: Nil Diya Mankada (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Morning game drive in Udawalawe N.P.; visit Elephant Transit Home at feeding time.

    This morning our 4WD safari vehicles are waiting to take us back into Udawalawe for a second game drive within the park. Game drives typically last for 3 hours, depending on sightings, and are always accompanied by a naturalist guide. In the afternoon we visit Udawalawe's famous Elephant Transit Home (ETH), situated just 5km from the park entrance. The transit home is run by the department of Wildlife Conservation and supported by the Born Free Foundation. It provides a safe environment for orphaned elephants, who are typically looked after at the home until they reach the age of 4, at which point they are old enough to be released back into the wild. Our visit will co-incide with feeding time at ETH, where the juveniles are given bottled milk by a team of park rangers and the noisy specatacle can be witnessed from the viewing platform.

    Accommodation: Nil Diya Mankada (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Transfer to Tissamaharama; afternoon game drive in Yala N.P.

    After breakfast we depart for Tissamaharama and Yala National Park, a drive of around 3 hours. On arrival in Yala we check into our hotel and then around 3pm head out in 4WD jeeps for our afternoon game drive. Yala is Sri Lanka's most well known national park, famous for having a higher concentration of leopard per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world. Located in Sri Lanka's lowland dry zone in the south eastern corner of the country, Yala National Park is extensive, covering some 97,881 hectares across five 'blocks'. Yala's vegetation primarily consists of dense secondary forest, semi-arid thorny scrub, brackish lagoons and mangroves since the park borders the coastline. With this diverse habitat comes a huge array of wildlife, including elephant, Sloth bear, Spotted deer, Water buffalo, Sambar deer, Wild boar, langur and macaque. Bird counts are also high, with over 215 species recorded, including thousands of migrating waterfowl. Our game drive this afternoon will last around 3 - 4 hours, before we return to the hotel to freshen up and have dinner.

    Accommodation: Kithala Resort (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Morning game drive in Yala N.P.; to Talalla.

    Wildlife tends to be at its most active during the early morning and to take advantage of this we have a morning game drive in Yala, returning to our hotel for a rest and lunch afterwards. Our naturalist guides will focus on Yala's diverse wildlife and birds, with our game drive lasting around 3 hours.

    After lunch we transfer around 3.5 hours to Talalla, a quiet and remarkably undeveloped beach. Traditional fishing boats rest on the sand in front of a backdrop of palm trees - this is postcard worthy, and in our opinion, one of the most picturesque beaches in Sri Lanka. Accommodation for our two night's here is in a lovely resort with direct access to the beach. Set in tropical grounds with hammocks and a freshwater swimming pool, our open-sided cabanas let you drift off to sleep listening to the waves and wake up to birdsong! We have marked this property as a 'comfortable hotel' but please note the rooms are not air conditioned. Instead our quirky cabanas - with alfresco showers - have sides that are open to the elements, so as well as the overhead fan there is plenty of breeze from the ocean. There is still privacy in the form of retractable blinds and all rooms have a safe to store belongings. This property will no doubt be a highlight of the holiday due to its lovely setting!

    Accommodation: Talalla Retreat (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Relax by the beach in Talalla; optional whale watching excursion.

    Today is free to enjoy all of the facilities at Talalla Retreat - swim in the sea, walk on the beach, take a dip in the pool, drink a fresh coconut juice, swing in a hammock or join one of the daily yoga lessons (at extra cost). Alternatively if there are enough people interested we can organise a second whale watching excursion to take place this morning. By having the opportunity to go whale watching again we maximise our chances of having the most favourable weather and sea conditions. Please note that this optional excursion will involve transfers to/from Mirissa where all of the whale watching boats depart.

    Accommodation: Talalla Retreat (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    To Colombo; end Colombo.

    This morning we check out and make our way to Colombo airport where our holiday comes to an end. Flight inclusive clients travelling with Sri Lankan airlines will usually leave Sri Lanka in the early afternoon, arriving into London this evening. Flights with Etihad Airlines tend to depart much later in the evening and won't arrive back into London until Day 12 of this itinerary. Land Only clients should check with our customer operations team before booking their own flights to ensure they can be dropped at the airport in time. Alternatively, an additional nights accommodation can be organised near to Colombo Airport if you would like to fly home on Day 12 of the itinerary.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

Sri Lanka

A visa (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is required if you are British and for most other nationalities. If you do not hold a British passport, please check the visa requirements with your local Sri Lankan Embassy or the ETA website www.eta.gov.lk. Passengers should also be aware of local laws and customs in Sri Lanka (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sri-lanka/local-laws-and-customs). The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is an offence; please note that people have been refused entry to Sri Lanka because of visible tattoos of Buddha.

Vaccinations

Sri Lanka

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 9 dinners are included.

These are provided at the hotels we are staying in and usually consist of a buffet with local and international options. Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the island’s heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to simply as ‘Rice and Curry’; this is the staple dish in most restaurants and usually consists of assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as various pickles, ‘sambols,’ and a handful of tiny poppadum’s – all using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic. The abundance of fresh seafood and fish will ensure that cuisine is a highlight of the trip. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Sri Lanka the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat/gluten or dairy-free. Please be prepared for this as you may need to bring such supplies from home. Spicier food can be avoided and lots of the hotels will serve Western options alongside local cuisine.

Weather

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with two distinct wet seasons or monsoons. The south-west monsoon brings rain to that area of the island between May and August. The north-east monsoon takes place from October to January and only really affects the north and east coastal regions. Generally you should expect rain some of the time but with plenty of sunshine. On the plains, day and night time temperatures are warm to hot with Colombo having an average daytime temperature of 30ºC.

Galle

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely) with a Safari Rating of 4. This is a relatively leisurely itinerary, staying in comfortable accommodation throughout and travelling on air-conditioned buses, private boats and 4WD game vehicles. There are some long drives and early starts, and if you're prone to sea sickness you may wish to take medication for the whale watching excursions. Temperatures are typically hot although the early mornings can be cool. There are some important things to note about wildlife watching in Sri Lanka: Yala is Sri Lanka's most popular national park, and in peak season attracts a large number of both international and local visitors. Game drives in Yala are a very different experience to being in Africa; geographically the area is much smaller and wildlife tourism is a relatively new thing, which means that the number of vehicles in parks and communication between vehicles is not being controlled by the authorities at this time. In peak times there can be many vehicles in the park at one time and this can result in 'traffic jams' where a number of vehicles are present at the same sighting. The naturalist guides and drivers that Exodus works with will do their best to avoid such sightings, and although we always try to make sure you see leopard, we ensure this is done in a safe and sensible way away from the crowds as much as possible. Our preferance is to focus on the quieter areas of the park to enhance the quality of the wildlife encounters, as and when they occur, and we believe this is the most responsible way to operate game drives in Yala. Whale watching is becoming an increasingly popular activity and as yet there are very few regulations on the industry in Sri Lanka. Exodus have chosen a responsible operator and our boat trips will always be accompanied by a naturalist guide, with a focus on education. We are careful to use small, private boats for our groups and will ensure that wildlife is approached at a minimum boat speed and only ever from a sideways angle, as approaching head-on can be threatening for cetaceans. In addition we adhere by responsible tourism guidelines to spend no more than 20 minutes at any sightings. Enforcing these regulations on ourselves, and educating our clients in best practice, is the most simple way of encouraging responsible behaviour around marine life and we hope to see such behaviour adopted by other boats in Sri Lanka.

Accommodation

Hotels and eco lodges

On this holiday we have 9 nights in comfortable hotels and eco lodges, all rooms with en suite facilities. Several hotels have swimming pools. We have a total of four nights at the coast, two at the Insight Resort in Ahangama and two at Talalla Retreat on the south coast. Talalla Retreat will no doubt be a highlight of this holiday - set in tropical grounds with hammocks and a freshwater swimming pool, our open-sided cabanas let you drift off to sleep listening to the waves and wake up to birdsong!

Single accommodation (available on request).

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

Part archipelago, part biodiversity showcase, the remarkable volcanic islands of the

  • Reviewed May 2017
    Jo Carr
    This was a wonderful trip that certainly lived up to its promise of plenty of wildlife encounters. Sri Lanka is stunningly beautiful and has a lovely relaxed vibe.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many - a blue whale popping up in front of our boat, the stunning scenery, the friendly people, the narrow streets of Galle and the pristine beaches

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had a leader, Kingsley and a naturalist, Sunil. Both made sure we were well informed without being intrusive and were great company throughout the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are British take Stirling to change at the airport (loads of change bureaus as you leave). Don't change heaps because it's really easy to use atms as you go along and every hotel took credit cards for settling bills. Don't bother packing beach towels - every hotel had pool /beach towels for you to use. Pack light - you will be living in shorts and t-shirts as it is so hot and humid. An umbrella is useful for a sudden downpour or as a parasol. In Talalla have lunch on the beach at the seafood hut - it looks basic but the food was fabulous.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it - especially if you love wildlife and particularly monkeys, birds and elephants!
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Rebecca Perman
    A wonderful holiday. Well paced with the right mixtures of activities. All the accommodation was well chosen. The two guides, one especially for the wildlife were exceptional. Very informative, funny and welcoming.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Sinharaja rainforest is breathtaking. The eco lodge was perfect. Sleeping in converted shipping containers in the middle of a rainforest was truly magical.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Exceptional. He was organised, caring and highly professional. He was very informative and entertaining. Our second guide, for the wildlife was incredibly knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take binoculars, they say it's optional, but it should be a MUST.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A wonderful experience in a magical country all made even more fun by the leaders.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Julia Humpherys
    I travel somewhere new every year, but this trip is one I'd love to repeat. I'd like to get back to the wild side of Sri Lanka!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the majesty of the incredible animals in Sri Lanka was definitely inspiring.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide and our naturalist were very knowledgeable, helpful and just plain fun to be with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take good walking shoes with tread, a sturdy trekking stick for the short, steep walk, and don't forget your leech socks!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I've gone somewhere new and exciting every year for 10 years and this was by far the best experience I've had! I can't wait to book my next adventure with Exodus!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Trips you might also like

North Sri Lanka Revealed

A comprehensive journey discovering this inspiring island focusing on the undiscovered northern regions

Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures

Discovery & Wildlife
17 days
From 1 905 €
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate
Add to wishlist
  • Premium

Discover Sri Lanka - Premium

Spend two weeks exploring the delights of Sri Lanka, a diverse and inspiring island

Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures, Premium

Discovery & Wildlife
15 days
From 2 095 €
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate
4.6 / 5
 from 
Add to wishlist
Call us on +91 531 40 28