Dates: 15-25 January 2020 (extension to 26 Jan 2020)
Price: £1,810 (extension £220) including flights
Day 1 Kitulgala
After arriving in Colombo, you will be met by your guide and driven to Kitulgala, a small town in the west of Sri Lanka. Birding in the late afternoon could deliver a variety of species including endemics such Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Frogmouth and Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler.
Day 2 Nuwara Eliya
Following a morning at Kitulgala, we head to Nuwara Eliya, set against beautiful backdrops of mountains, valleys, waterfalls and tea plantations. Possible noteworthy species here could include Indian Pitta, Pied Thrush, Forest Wagtail and Kashmir Flycatcher.
Day 3 Horton Plains
We have an early start with a packed breakfast for a day trip up to Horton Plains, a gently undulating highland plateau at 2,100 m. The plains are of outstanding scenic beauty and conservation importance, containing most of the habitats and endemic fauna and flora of the country’s wet and montane zones. The western slopes support the most extensive area of montane cloudforest surviving in the country.
Possible species include Mountain Hawk Eagle, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Crimson-backed Goldenback, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Dark-fronted Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher and Black-throated Munia, among others.
Day 4 Tissamaharama
Today we drive towards the coast to Tissamaharama. In the afternoon, we will have time to bird around the local wetlands.
Day 5 Yala National Park
We have a full-day safari in open-topped jeeps in the national park. Yala is one of Sri Lanka’s Important Bird Areas. It harbours 215 bird species, including six endemics. 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.
Day 6 Bundala
We head to the coast for this site, which has a number of wetland areas and lagoons, favoured by both resident and migratory species. The excellent variety of waders, wildfowl and raptors could include Painted and Woolly-necked Storks, Lesser Adjutant, Spot-billed Pelican, Lesser Whistling-duck, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle and Crested Serpent Eagle, among many others.
Day 7 Udawalawa National Park
Next we head to Udawalawa National Park, a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawa Reservoir on the Walawe River. It is an important habitat for waterbirds and Sri Lankan elephants. In the evening we will drive to our next destination.
Day 8 Sinharaja
We have the entire day in this forested area, a national park and biodiversity hot-spot. The hilly virgin rainforest, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rainforests ecoregion, was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988.
One of the country’s hot-spots for endemism, birds to look out for include Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Sri Lanka Yellow-fronted Barbet, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Drongo, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, among many other desirable species.
Day 9 Colombo
After a morning’s birding at Sinharaja, we return to Colombo for an evening flight to London.
A whale-watching cruise from Mirissa could add dolphins and Humpback and Blue Whales to your list, so those taking this option will stay an additional night in Sri Lanka before returning to Colombo to catch their flight back to the UK.
This tour is operated for Birdwatch and BirdGuides by Sarus Bird Tours (ATOL licence 6563). The price includes return flights from London-Colombo-London, half-board accommodation, lunches and bottled water, all transportation, entry fees, and an expert local birding guide. For more information or to make a reservation, please contact the company on 0161 761 7279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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