SRI LANKA

Endemic Birds, Mammals and Blue Whale

Best time of year – November

 

Tour Details

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels and guest houses, all with en-suite facilities

Participants: 4 - 8 plus tour leader

Focus: The endemic birds of Sri Lanka together with the islands mammals, including a pelagic (or two) in search of Blue Whale

Grading: Generally easy going with one or two long walks

 

Itinerary

Day 1 - Depart London Heathrow on an overnight flight to Colombo

 

Day 2 - Arrive in Colomboand transfer to Kandy

Overnight Chaaya Citadel, Kandy

 

Day 3 - After an early breakfast we’ll visit the Udawattakele Forest Reserve looking for Emerald Dove, Ceylon Hanging-parrot, Plum-headed Parakeet, Layard's Parakeet, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Ceylon Small Barbet, Crimson-backed Flameback, Indian Blue Robin, White-rumped Shama, Brown-capped Babbler and Common Hill-myna.

After lunch in the hotel visit the Peradeniya Botanical Garden where possibly Sri Lanka’s largest Flying Fox roost can be seen. Bird species to look for are Ceylon Hanging-parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Layard's Parakeet, Common Hawk-cuckoo, Indian Pitta, Forest Wagtail, Large Cuckooshrike.

Overnight Chaaya Citadel, Kandy

 

Day 4 - After breakfast we depart for Nuwara Eliya. Afternoon - Birding in Victoria Park .

Possible noteworthy species: Forest Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Indian Blue Robin, Pied Ground Thrush, Indian Pitta, Kashmir Flycatcher, Ceylon White-eye.

Overnight Galway Forest Lodge, Nuwara Eliya

 

Day 5 - Nuwara Eliya/Horton Plains/Nuwara Eliya

We shall have a pre-dawn start to reach Horton Plains National Park at first light. Here we spend half a day looking for the highland endemics.

Birding highlights will include Ceylon Woodpigeon, Alpine Swift, Crimson-backed Flameback, Hill Swallow, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Indian Blackbird, Ceylon Whistling-thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, Dusky Blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Sri Lanka Bush-warbler, Ceylon White-eye and Black-throated Munia.

Overnight Galway Forest Lodge, Nuwara Eliya

 

Day 6 - Leave after breakfast for Kitulgala

Afternoon - Birding in Kelani Valley Forest Reserve, Kitulgala

Possible noteworthy species: Serendib Scops-owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Brown Hawk-owl, Ceylon Frogmouth, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Black-capped Bulbul, Dark-fronted Babbler, Ceylon Rufous Babbler, Black-throated Munia, Ceylon Hill-myna

Overnight Kitulgala Rest House

 

Day 7 - A full day birding in Kelani Valley Forest Reserve will begin after breakfast.

In particular, we shall be looking for: Black Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Ceylon Spurfowl, Ceylon Junglefowl, Ceylon Green-pigeon, Ceylon Hanging-parrot, Layard's Parakeet, Green-billed Coucal, Serendib Scops-owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Brown Hawk-owl, Ceylon Frogmouth, Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceylon Swallow, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Black-capped Bulbul, Gold-fronted Leafbird, SPOTTED-WINGED GROUND-THRUSH, Legge's Flowerpecker, Brown-capped Babbler, Ceylon Rufous Babbler, Ceylon Hill-myna, and Ceylon Crested Drongo.

Overnight Kitulgala Rest House

 

Day 8 - After breakfast we’ll spend a couple of hours birding around the Kitulgala Village before heading on to Sinharaja via Ratnapura, birding in the garden of Ratnaloka Tour Inns before lunch.

Target species being: Ceylon Hanging-parrot, Plum-headed Parakeet, Ceylon Small Barbet, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Black-rumped Flameback, Indian Pitta , Ceylon Swallow, Forest Wagtail, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, White-browed Fantail Gold-fronted Leafbird, Loten's and Purple-rumped Sunbird.

Dinner and overnight stay at the Blue Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja

 

Day 9 - Full day excursion to Sinharaja World Heritage Wilderness Area

Possible species include Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Ceylon Spurfowl, Ceylon Junglefowl, Ceylon Wood Pigeon, Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Coucal, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Serendib Scops Owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, spot-winged Ground Thrush, Ceylon Scaly Thrush, Ceylon Rufous Babbler, Ashy-headed Laughing Thrush, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Ceylon Blue Magpie, White-faced Starling, Ceylon Hill Myna and Black-throated Munia.

Mammals to look out for include: Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Sri Lanka Giant Squirrel, Layard’s Striped Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.

Lunch, dinner and overnight stay at the Blue Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja

 

Day 10 - After breakfast we’ll spend a couple of hours around the Lodge before driving to Embilipitiya.

Afternoon birding in Embilipitiya/Udawalawe area.

Possible species for the afternoon include Spot-billed Pelican, Black-crowned Night-heron, Yellow Bittern, Black Bittern, Lesser Whistling-duck, Oriental Darter, Purple Heron, Brahminy Kite, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Pied Crested Cuckoo, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Streaked Weaver.

Overnight Centauria Hotel, Embilipitiya

 

Day 11 - After an early breakfast we head off on a jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park.

Possible species include Spot-billed Pelican, Oriental Darter, Lesser Adjutant, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Barred Buttonquail, Black-winged Stilt, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Yellow-wattled & Red-wattled Lapwing, Pacific Golden plover, Marsh & Wood Sandpiper, Jerdon’s Bushlark, Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark, Orange-breasted Green-pigeon, Plum-headed Parakeet, Sirkeer Malkoha, Blue-faced Malkoha, Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Indian Pygmy Woodpecker, Yellow-fronted Pied Woodpecker and Ceylon Woodshrike.

Mammals possible in the park include Toque Monkey, Grey Langur, Golden Jackal, Mongoose spp., Asian Elephant, Spotted Deer, Water Buffalo and, Sri Lanka Giant Squirrel.

We then make our way to the beach resort of Dickwella, located on the south-western coast of the island.

Overnight The Dickwella Village Resort

 

Day 12 - This morning we go on an exciting Whale Watching excursion off the coast of Galle or Mirissa to track the incredible Blue Whale….

Arrive at the harbour in Galle or Mirissa by 0700 hrs and where we are met by our naturalist guide and crew for the day before setting out across the azure sea with the clear and crisp early morning breeze to keep us cool.

The captain will often stop and hail a passing fishing boat on its homeward journey after a long nights work, out at sea. The mood aboard the fishing boat may be jubilant or sombre, depending on the value of the days catch. It’s not unusual for the fisherman to offer a small portion of the catch to your vessel in a gesture of goodwill and to bring them more good luck in the future; this is specially so if they’ve had a particularly good catch!. Meanwhile the fisherman will hopefully have first hand information on where and which whales were spotted that morning!

 We continue out to sea for between 20-40 nautical miles from the coast where, hopefully, we will encounter the mighty giants of the oceans - The Blue Whales. Sightings of other species of whales and dolphins are not uncommon and will be a special treat.

Overnight The Dickwella Village Resort

 

Day 13 - At leisure to relax by the pool or on beach or take a 2nd Optional Whale Watching Excursion

Overnight The Dickwella Village Resort

 

Day 14 - Leave after breakfast for Negombo which is located 50 km north of Colombo approximately 15 minutes away from the airport.

Stop en route at Galle to visit the Dutch Fort and also in Colombo to take a city tour of Sri Lanka’s capital.

Overnight The Goldi Sands Beach Hotel, Negombo

 

Day 15 - Transfer to Colombo airport for departure, arriving in London in the early evening.