This is the signature Summer wildlife tour, and ideal for first time visitors to Sri Lanka who want to experience the best wildlife the country has to offer. The period ranges from May to October. One of the key attractions which is in season during this time is the Great Elephant Gathering. Yala is not included during this time as the park tends to close for a month or two during this season for maintenance and as its unpredictable when this would happen it has been excluded. But if a client does inquire and we can check at time of inquiry on the status of the park and add this or maybe replace with another park to tailor make for the client.
Nocturnal wildlife walk seeking the elusive Flying Squirrel.
Explore Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks which hosts one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles in the world the “Great Elephant Gathering”.
Venture into Polonnaruwa with an expert primatologist as you walk the ruins which is home to the 3 species of monkey in Sri Lanka and observe their social behavior and learn about their individual stories related by an expert from the Primate Research Center. Meet the stars of the famous Disney documentary “Monkey Kingdom”.
Safaris in Wilpattu, Udawalawe and Lunugamvenera National Parks famed for its Leopard, Sloth Bear, Asian Elephant and many more.
Explore the highland wilderness of Horton Plains known for its breath-taking sceneries and unique and endangered species.
Delve deep into the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sinharaja, Sri Lanka’s largest tropical rainforest which has one of the highest densities of species of plant, bird, and animal life in once location.
Upon arrival you will be welcomed by your naturalist guide, with a warm welcome of “Ayubowan”, which is the Sri Lankan word for “May you Live Long”, which is the universal greeting across the island. He will escort you outside where you will onboard the comfortable vehicle arranged for you. Journey to the nearby town of Makandura (30-40 min drive), and check into your hotel and spend the remainder of the day at leisure.
After checkout, journey towards the North Central Region of Sri Lanka, where Wilpattu National Park, the largest park in the island is located. Upon reaching the village of Hunuwilgama, switch to a safari jeep which will take you on a short drive across a jungle road to your safari camp. After a warm welcome you will be escorted to your tents, and thereafter served a succulent Sri Lankan lunch at the camp dining area. By 2.30 PM it is time for you to hop on your safari jeep with your naturalist, and head into Wilpattu National Park for your first game drive.
Popularly dubbed as ‘the land of the lakes’, Wilpattu National Park is famous for watching wildlife within its picturesque villus and dry evergreen forests. It is Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest national park which re-opened in 2010 after being closed for nearly three decades due to the civil war. Wilpattu is one of the top spots in Sri Lanka for watching Leopard and Sloth Bear. Other larger animals seen regularly here include Elephant, Jackal, Mugger Crocodile, Sambar, Spotted Deer and Buffalo are among the larger animals regularly encountered.
Return back to camp by dusk.
After dark, head out on a night safari in the buffer zone of the park. This is the best time of year to spot the elusive Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat and the extremely rare Rusty Spotted Cat. If you are truly lucky you might even catch a glimpse of a leopard prowling the night.
Return back to camp for your overnight stay.
Early morning head into Wilpattu National Park with packed breakfast and Lunch for a full day safari. The longer you spend in the park the better the chances of some captivating sightings.
Wilpattu is also an excellent birding location particularly in the winter months with over 200 recorded species including a variety of raptors such as Crested Serpent, Changeable Hawk and White-bellied Sea Eagles, Brown Fish Owl; the endemic Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Woodshrike and a large number of water birds and waders by the water’s edge near the villus.
Return on both days back to camp at dusk.
A night drive will be organized during your stay. These night drives are around the buffer zones of the park are an excellent time and opportunity to try and catch an eye on rare nocturnal animals especial the small cat species the Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat and Rusty Spotted Cat
After one more safari early morning, you will checkout from camp and head towards Habarana (2 hours drive),
Check into your hotel in Habarana
Afterwards, you will head to either Kaudulla or Minneriya National Parks to witness the largest gathering of Asian Elephants in the world.
The Gathering of Elephants’, which is ranked among the world’s top wildlife viewing spectacles runs from June – October each year. Each afternoon, around 150 - 200 individual elephants come out of the forest in to the open to graze on the fresh green pasture by the water’s edge at Minneriya and Kaudulla national parks. You have excellent opportunities here to observe the social dynamics of the Asian Elephant as the large bulls in musth compete among each other and seek the females within the herd, while young calves with carefree abandon get up to their mischievous antics often to the displeasure of its alert mothers within the herd. Water birds such as Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Woolly-necked Stork along with raptors such as White-bellied Sea Eagles and Grey-headed Fishing Eagles are abundant around these large man-made lakes.
Return back to your hotel for Dinner and overnight stay
Early morning head to Polonnaruwa, for a guided primate walk,
Walk with a primatologist amongst the ruins in Polonnaruwa to observe the antics of the Langurs and Macaques and get to meet some of the characters within the troops who the researchers know personally. All three species of monkey- the toque Macaque and the canopy dwelling Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (both endemics) and the Grey Langur can be observed here. Polonnaruwa’s ‘Temple Troop of Toque Macaques’ have been featured in numerous natural history documentaries are a part of the world’s longest running study on primates which has run continuously since 1968. The monkeys here are habituated to the presence of humans enabling excellent opportunities to observe their social interactions at close-range. Whether play fighting, feeding or grooming each other there is never a dull moment when watching monkeys.
Return back to your hotel for a late breakfast.
In the afternoon depending on the water conditions of Kalawewa Lake, head towards the newly proposed park which is home to another elephant gathering. This gathering is lesser known and with much fewer visitors. The specialty of this herd of elephants is the high number of tuskers. Only bulls in the Asian Elephant produces ivory unlike in the African Elephant, and among Sri Lankan Elephants, it is very rare to have males with ivory. It is estimated that only 7% of the bulls have tusks in Sri Lanka. Hence the herd in Kalawewa is unique that there is a higher number of tuskers in comparison to other parts of the country.
If the waters are too high, visit Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park once again depending on the locations of the herds of elephants
Return back to your hotel at dusk. After some refreshments, head back out towards Dambulla to a patch of forest where you naturalist will take you on a wildlife walk like no other. Come face to face with the “Elves of the Forest” the bizzare Grey Slender Loris. These animals are primates which are strictly nocturnal which can be clearly noticed with their large round eyes. Despite their cute appearance they are fearsome predators and known to kill and eat small birds, lizards and insects.
Return back to your lodge afterwards for dinner and overnight stay.
Today spend the morning at leisure. Maybe join your naturalist on a walk in the surrounding property looking out for some bird species.
After you checkout and head towards the Central Hills of Kandy ( 2 hours drive),
Known as the “Cultural Capital” of Sri Lanka and a UNESCO world heritage site, Kandy was established in the years 135AD by King Wickramabahu and was named Senkadagalapura at the time. In 1592 Kandy became the official Capital of the last Sinhalese Kingdom as the coastal areas were conquered by the Portuguese invaders. The hill capital remained a stronghold despite constant invasions by the Portuguese and the Dutch during the 16th , 17th and 18th century and also by the British (most notably in 1803) which were repelled thanks to the hilly landscapes, and guerilla tactics of the Sinhalese forces. The last ruling dynasty of Kandy was the ‘Nayaks’ of Kandy while the Kingdom preserved its independence until it finally fell to the British in 1815, mainly due to the lack of support of the noble families. The British deposed the last king, Sri Wikrama Rajasingha, and all claimants to the throne, thus ending the last traditional monarchy of Sri Lanka.
Upon reaching Kandy, check into your hotel, which is famous for a very elusive nocturnal mammal- The Greater Flying Squirrel.
After dinner, search the hotel premises with a flashlight for this elusive mammal.
After you checkout, and head towards the central highlands of Nuwara Eliya (2 hours drive), where you will check into your hotel. The air can be chilly hence some light layered clothing will be recommended in the highlands.
In the evening you will explore the many parks and nooks and corners of this highland town in search of endemic species of birds found only in the highlands, such as the Dull Blue Flycatcher, Yellow Eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White Eye as well as few migrants such as the Kashmir Flycatcher. Also keep an eye out for the endemic Rhino Horned Lizard which are found in scattered numbers in forest patches in the highlands.
Early morning, you will head towards Horton Plains National Park.
Horton Plains is Sri Lanka’s highest elevated national park lying approximately 7,000 feet above sea level and comprises of cloud forests and open grassland. Make an early morning start with a packed breakfast to Horton Plains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site . One of Sri Lanka’s most biodiversity rich hotspots, with a high number of endemic rare species found no where else in the world. The landscapes alone are breathtaking and the abundance of bird species as well as other rare endemics like the Rhino Horned Lizard, and the Pygmy Lizard as well as the Eurasian Otter and Stripe Necked Mongoose who are among the residents of this amazing highland wilderness. The primary herbivore in the park is the Sambhur the largest deer species in the island who are found all across the park. Also you will catch a glimpse of the shaggy coated Bear Monkey which is the highland variant of the endemic Purple Faced Leaf Langur. The main road from the ticket office to the car park plus the road to the Ohiya Ticket Office are a few Kilometers which are known to have occasional sightings of the apex predator of the park the Leopard. This highland variant of the big cat is much larger and has a more stockier appearance to the lowland cousins. The tell tale sighs of their presence is the alarm call of the Sambhur Deer. Your naturalist will keep a sharp eye out for any leopards during your tour.
Afterwards return back to Nuwara Eliya and spend the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. You can join you naturalist in a session of birding in and around Nuwara Eliya to possibly catch any species you may like to see and have missed while in Horton Plains.
After an early checkout, head down the lowlands in the South, towards Udawalawe, (4.5 hours drive)
Upon reaching your destination check into your hotel. In the afternoon head out on a game drive into Udawalawe National Park.
Uda Walawe was declared as a national park in 1972 and was at one time, an area where destructive slash and burn chena cultivation was widespread. The area was declared as a national park with the intention of safeguarding the flora and fauna in the catchment area of the reservoir on the Walawe river. With ample water and rich nutrition from the scrub jungles and grasslands, Uda Walawe is a stronghold of the Asian Elephant and one of the best places to see them in the wild year-round. Grey Langur, Toque Macaque, Jackal, Mugger Crocodile and Spotted Deer are the other larger animals seen occasionally. Uda Walawe also has occasional sightings of Jungle Cat, an elusive medium sized feline. The park is an excellent biding destination too especially for dry-zone species and raptors. Changeable Hawk Eagle, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Shikra, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Common Kestrel and Brown Fish Owl are some of the raptors regularly encountered here.
Return back to your hotel at dusk.
Early morning, head into Udawalawe for another game drive. The mornings would be best to focus on Jungle Cat, the elusive feline found in the park. Further keep an eye out for many rare species of birds which migrate and come only to this park and region such as the European Roller, Eurasian Bee Eater, Bayback Shrike and many more.
Return back to you hotel afterwards.
In the afternoon head out towards Lunugamvehera National Park which is located 45 minutes from the hotel. This is a relatively lesser known and seldom visited park. The wildlife will not be as habituated as in the more popular parks but the true wilderness experience is amazing, with chances of seeing elephant, sloth bear, and even leopard.
Return back to the hotel at dusk.
After you checkout today morning head to the lowland rainforests of Sinharaja, (2 hours drive)
Check into your hotel,
In the late afternoon, go birding in the outskirts of the forest with your naturalist and local tracker.
The largest tract of natural rainforest in Sri Lanka, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve contains a wide variety of endemic flora and fauna. It is a top birding location where 28 of Sri Lanka’ 34 endemic species have been recorded including the recently discovered Serendib Scops Owl and other rarities such as the Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, and White-faced Starling. The mixed species bird flocks found moving through the rainforest canopy within Sinharaja are believed to be the longest studied and largest in the world, which is popularly dubbed as the Sinharaja Birdwave. Other species of fauna encountered during a rainforest walk include Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Giant Squirrel, Kangaroo Lizard, Hump-nosed Lizard and Sri Lanka Keelback.
Early morning, head out with a packed breakfast towards Kettelapattala Road which is forest road bordering the main forest reserve. This is an ideal location to spot the elusive Sri Lanka Spurfowl, plus many mixed flocks of endemics. If you are extremely lucky, your local tracker would locate a roosting Serendib Scops Owl, one of the most sought after species of birds on the island, and which was discovered newly to science as early as 2004.
In the afternoon continue birding inside the reserve.
Also keep an eye out for endemic reptiles such as Green Pit Viper and Hump Nosed Lizard, as well as endemic mammals such as the lowland variant Purple Faced Leaf Monkey.
Return back to your hotel for the night
Today after you checkout, you will drive towards airport, where you will onboard your flight back home (3 hours drive)
Thank you so much, I appreciate all of your hard work helping us find great snakes...
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and helping us find some fantastic wildlife...
Cannot thank Rajiv and Classic Wild enough for the two trips (and more planned)...
Had a wonderful 3 night excursion to Sinharaja arranged by Rajiv and his team at Classic Wild...
Took part on a birding tour to Sinharaja with Classic Wild, it was a very well organized tour...