For a small island paradise, Sri Lanka has an incredibly diverse wildlife population. From the Pheasant-tailed Jacanas delicately picking their way through the flowering lotus to the mighty Asian Elephants grazing yards from your vehicle, there is an abundance of flora and fauna to observe.
This wildlife tour includes game drives in Wilpattu (leopards), Gal Oya (swimming elephants), and Yala (leopards, elephants, and peacocks), as well as an Elephant Transit Home and Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center.
Colombo Arrival / Transfer to Negombo
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival, meet your guide and transfer to the hotel in Negmobo. Sri Lanka, the island nation home to more than 20 million people, is a strategic naval link between West and Southeast Asia. the nation famously exports tea, coffee, and coconuts and boasts a rich cultural heritage.
Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, is a vibrant mix of modernity and colonial ruins. Because of its natural harbor and positioning along East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders from 2,000 years ago. Evening at leisure and overnight.
Negombo - Wilpattu
In the morning, drive to Wilpattu (3.5 hours). En-route, visit Medirigiriya Vatadage. Dating back to the pre-Christian times, Medirigiriya is situated in middle of the dry zone forest area which adds to its mystic view. The Brahmin characters found on the bricks and stone carvings is an indication of the ancient history.
The unique feature of Wilpattu is the existence of natural lakes and rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Nearly sixty lakes and tanks are found spread throughout the park which is the largest and one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is also world renowned for its leopard population. Evening at leisure and overnight.
Today you will enjoy game drives in Wilpattu with a naturalist. Evening at leisure and overnight.
Wilpattu - Gal Oya
In the morning, drive to Gal Oya (6 hours). En-route, visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa is an ancient Sri Lankan kingdom and remains one of the best planned archaeological relics in the country. The UNESCO site houses the ruins of a garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century and Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas.
Following the visit, enjoy a traditional Sri Lankan meal at a café by the rice fields, prepared using clay pots and a wood fire. Continue to Gal Oya and transfer to the lodge.
Gal Oya National Park remains peacefully untouched by the hand of man. It is one of Sri Lanka’s hidden gems, yet to be explored. Distinct from other Sri Lankan protected areas, Gal Oya encompasses the country’s largest inland body of water, the Senanayake Samudraya Lake. Over 25,000 hectares of lush evergreen forest and open savannahs thrive around the calm waters. The lake’s surface is peppered with islands, a reminder of the earth rising from the depths. Its diverse wildlife is best seen on a boat safari, especially the iconic swimming elephants. Avoiding the crowds, Gal Oya is an opportunity to experience some of the best of Sri Lanka wildlife. Overnight.
In the morning, enjoy a jeep safari. Return to the lodge for lunch and then enjoy a boat safari. Gal Oya offers the only experience in Sri Lanka to spot inland wildlife from the water. Return to the lodge and overnight.
Gal Oya - Yala
After breakfast, drive to Yala National Park (5 hours). Yala is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity, and the park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and, along with Wilpattu, was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka. It is recognized for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds.
Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. The number of mammals that have been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Also, the area surrounding Yala has hosted several ancient civilizations.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
ST's Hotel Recommendation
Chena Huts by Uga Escapes
The luxury cabins with private pools have a unique location bordering Yala National Park, the Indian Ocean, and a natural watering hole. Experienced rangers escort guests on personalized safari's and the family-friendly property features activities for all ages.
Your day is reserved for morning and afternoon safari excursions with a naturalist in the park. Overnight in Yala.
Yala - Udawalawe - Weligama
In the morning, drive to Udawalwe (2.5 hours) and visit the Elephant Transit Home. The sanctuary was established by the Department of Wildlife and Conservation with the assistance from the Born Free organization back in 1995. The orphaned elephants, due to much escalating human-elephant conflicts, are nurtured and protected by this establishment. Presently there are about 40 elephants at the transit home; 65 were released into the wild when strong enough to survive on their own.
Continue to Weligama, the “Sandy Village” on the southern coast. Driving from Ahangama, you begin to notice the famous stilt fishermen perched like curious-looking birds. At one end of the sleepy town stands a megalith to the memory of Kustaraja, the Leper king who became miraculously cured of his dreaded disease by consuming copious amounts of King Coconut water. Evening at leisure and overnight.
In the morning, visit a sea turtle hatchery and rehabilitation center. Often sea turtles are caught in nets from the local fisherman, becoming injured and losing limbs. Disabled and at risk, the turtles are rescued by Sri Lankans and relocated to conservation centers for care and rehabilitation. The hatcheries also help repopulate the endangered species and educate others about the plight of sea turtles in Sri Lankan waters.
Afternoon at leisure and overnight.
Today, transfer to the airport in Colombo (2 horus) for your onward flight. Bon Voyage!
9 nights of hotel accommodations
Daily breakfast and dinner
Private air-conditioned vehicle with driver for touring and transport
Comprehensive touring as listed in the itinerary, including a private English-speaking guide and entrance fees to the monuments
Game drives with a naturalist in Wilpattu, Gal Oya, and Yala
Boat safari in Gal Oya
Sea turtle hatchery and rehabilitation center
Private airport transfers with representative
Road/Interstate taxes, fuel surcharges, and parking fees
Mineral water during touring and transport
Taxes, fees, and government surcharges
Any items of a personal nature
A visa is required to visit Sri Lanka. It can be facilitated online.