Leopard Photo: Uditha Hettige
These new short tours will first visit two of the island’s premier national parks to look for some of the many mammals that can be found there. These will range from herds of Asian Elephants in Udawalawe National Park to the Sri Lankan subspecies of Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) in Yala National Park. We’ll then spend four days based at an idyllic cove on the southern coast which will be our base for a series of pelagic boat trips to search for cetaceans.
In recent years the discovery of large numbers of Blue Whales and other cetaceans in the waters off southern Sri Lanka have made this dazzling island in the Indian Ocean and internationally recognized whale-watching hotspot with 27 species recorded so far.
Day 1: The tour begins this evening in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Day 2: We’ll drive south through the lush Sri Lankan countryside to Embilipitiya, arriving in time for lunch. In the afternoon we’ll visit Udawalawe National Park and explore it in open-top jeeps. The Park has a reputation for harboring a large number of Asian Elephants and is home to the Department of Wildlife Conservation’s orphaned elephant rehabilitation and transit center. Driving through the open grasslands and dense forests, passing areas of open water, we are bound to have many encounters with Elephants but we’ll also be on the look-out for Chital, Wild Boar, Ruddy and Indian Brown Mongoose, Indian Hare and feral Water Buffalos. With luck we may chance upon a secretive Jungle Cat. In addition there will be an array of stunning birds to distract us such as Malabar Pied Hornbill, Plum-headed Parakeet, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Brown Fish Owl, and Stork-billed Kingfisher. Night in Embilipitiya.
Days 3-4: Leaving Embilipitiya we’ll drive through the island’s gentle countryside, past rice paddies, banana plantations and tall groves of coconut trees, all occasionally interspersed by a giant Buddha statue or domed stupa rising out of the landscape. After lunch we’ll make the first of several visits to Yala National Park, one of the jewels in Sri Lanka’s conservation crown. The park consists of many different habitats varying from dry scrub to tall riverine or gallery forest, open grasslands, and a rich mosaic of coastal and freshwater lagoons. This beautiful area is celebrated for being one of the best locations on the island to view Sri Lankan Leopard and we are hopeful of obtaining some excellent views of this amazing cat. In addition we’ll be looking for Sloth Bear, Golden Jackal, Tufted Grey Langur, Toque Macaque, Indian Brown, and Striped-necked Mongoose. Close to any of the lagoons we may come across Marsh or Mugger Crocodiles or one of the huge Water Monitor Lizards.
One night we’ll explore the area just outside the park for nocturnal mammals such as Small Indian and Asian Palm Civets. If we are fortunate we may encounter as well some of the more elusive nocturnal mammals such as Jungle and Rusty-spotted Cats, possibly hunting for some of the many rodents found here, such as the Indian Gerbil.
Days 5-7: We’ll drive the morning of day 5 to the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent and to our hotel on a lovely cove at Mirissa. The seas here are placid and the weather is most conducive for whale watching. We may take up to three separate pelagic trips out into the vast Indian Ocean using vessels specially modified for our needs. Our main quarry will be the magnificent Blue Whale, the largest mammal on the planet which is usually encountered between three and ten miles offshore. These pelagic tours provide very good possibilities to see other cetaceans as well. Bryde’s Whale, Bottle- nosed Dolphins and Long-snouted Spinner Dolphins are regularly encountered. Also possible, although seen less often, are Sperm Whale, Killer Whale, Short-finned Pilot Whale, and Risso’s, Spotted, and Striped Dolphins. We should also find Wilson’s and Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels, Bridled and Sooty Terns, and perhaps a migrant Long-tailed Skua.
In addition there will be opportunities to just relax and enjoy the wonderful setting of gleaming white beaches cooled by gentle breezes drifting from the Indian Ocean. Nights at Mirissa.
Day 8: After a last pelagic trip in the morning we return to Colombo, stopping for lunch on the way. Night in Colombo.
Day 9: The tour concludes in Colombo this morning.
Updated: 31 May 2012
- 2012 Tour Price : $2,580
- Single Occupancy Supplement: : $400
* Tour invoices paid by check carry a modest discount. Details here.
* This tour is organized by our British company, Sunbird. Please review the explanation of our Sunbird pricing here.
Maximum group size 12 with two leaders.
Anyone wishing to accompany the tour participants flying from London, England, should contact the WINGS office for more information.