Bird and wildlife watching tour in Sri Lanka including Mammal & Whale watching  

January 17th  - 30th  2024  (13 nights)

Price :   £2250 per person sharing a twin/double room.  Single Room Supplement £370

For an exciting and enjoyable mid-winter bird-watching break this is an ideal destination, the birding ia easy going the weather is just lovely and the scenery is simply fantastic. Yala National Park is the best place I have ever visited for combined bird and mammal sightings, a must-see destination.

Sri Lanka is the 'tear drop' shaped island found off the southern coast of the Indian Subcontinent, it measures roughly 430 kilometers in length by just 225 kilometers at its widest and is considered one of the most bio-diverse areas in South Asia. In fact, globally, Sri Lanka comes into the top 25 hotspots in biodiversity.

The Birds

For a small island Sri Lanka has a rich bird fauna, and many passionate bird watchers rank Sri Lanka among their favourite destinations. 426 bird species have been recorded in Sri Lanka, and 33 of these are endemic, that is, found nowhere else in the world (this number may soon be revised upwards based on a new taxonomic study). Between October and April, many migrants visit the isle, traveling from as far away as Siberia . Another noteworthy feature of Sri Lanka 's avifauna is the presence of mixed-species flocks, which makes watching birds both easy and interesting, since one can study carefully the interactions between different species.

Your total list will consist of 220-250 bird species we shall make a special effort to see all 33 endemics in this tour. This is one of the best birding holidays you can get for our very competitive price; it is an excellent bird watching tour for bird lovers and general nature lovers alike.

Tour itinerary (14 days /13 nights)  

Day 1 – Arrival at Colombo - Transfer to KITULGALA

Our local tour guide will meet us at the airport on our arrival and drive us to Kitulgala village (where the film “Bridge on the river Kwai” was made). Along the way we will enjoy some spectacular views of Sri Lanka’s countryside, so keep your cameras handy! This drive will be approximately three hours depending on how many road-side stops we make.

Along the way, we are likely to encounter a varied selection of common birds of Sri Lanka’s Wet Zone. Possibilities include Cattle and Little Egrets, White-breasted Kingfisher, Shikra, Spotted Dove, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Yellow billed Babbler, Asian Koel, Oriental Magpie Robin, Red-vented Bulbul, Red wattled Lapwing, White bellied Drongo and Black-hooded Oriole.

If time allows we will walk in our hotel grounds and nearby gardens which are home to a wealth of exciting birds.

Accommodation – Rest House, Kitulgala   

Day 2  – KITULGALA RAIN FOREST (Endemic birds)

OPTIONAL -  early morning pre-breakfast short bird watching walk around the hotel area.

After breakfast, if river levels permit, we may be ferried across the river by dug-out canoe or walk across a hanging bridge to explore Kitulgala’s quiet forest trails, which are home to such exciting endemics as the tiny Serendib Owl, Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Orange-billed Babbler and Sri Lankan Grey Hornbill. As well as these unique Sri Lankan residents, the area is rich in other bird life with the shy (but noisy!) Black Bulbuls, (Black rumped) Flameback Woodpecker, Crested Goshawk and Crested Treeswifts to watch for as Indian Swiftlets swirl overhead.

                 Chestnut-backed Owlet

Highlights – Sri Lanka Chestnut backed Owlet (E), Sri Lanka Layard’s Parakeet (E), Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (E), Sri Lanka Green billed Coucal (E), Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (E), Sri Lanka Spur Fowl (E), Brown capped Babbler (E), Spot winged Thrush (E), Indian Pitta (M), Oriental Dwarf kingfisher, Purple-rumped and Loten’s Sunbirds,  Green Warblers, Pigmy and  Flame backed  Woodpeckers, Lesser Yellownape, Orange Minivet, Orange billed Babblers (E) and many more. 

E = Endemic   M = Migrant

Accommodation – Rest House, Kitulgala   



                                      Serendib Scops Owl


An early morning visit to local tracks near the river is an exciting prospect, last year we found the endemic Chestnut Backed Owlet along with many other species.​  After breakfast we transfer to Nuwara Eliya highland city.

We’ll aim to arrive at our hotel in Nuwara Eliya by mid-afternoon, in time to stretch our legs with a visit to Victoria Park in the middle of town. Our route takes us through some extraordinary landscapes as we pass some of the largest tea plantations in the country. The mountainous setting adds charm and beauty to the vast fields of tea plants and some highland species of birds will be added to our list. A visit to one of the largest tea plantations is planned.

Highlights - Kashmir Flycatcher (M), Forest Wagtail (M), Indian Pitta (M) and Pied Ground Thrush (M), Dull Blue Flycatcher (E), Indian blue Robin (M), Yellow eared Bulbul (E), Sri Lanka White-eye (E) and possibly Scimitar Babbler, Kashmir Flycatcher and at nearby Nandana we get the chance to look for Sri Lankan Whistling-Thrush.

Accommodation – Leisure Village Hotel, Nuwara Eliya or similar  


Ceylon tea in the highlands of Sri Lanka

Day 4  – HORTON PLAINS NATIONAL PARK (highland endemic birds)

Bird watching in Horton Plains national park. We are spending 4 to 5 hours there and it requires a very early start! We hope to arrive there at 6am giving us another opportunity of seeing the extremely secretive Sri Lankan Whistling Thrush a species generally regarded as the island’s trickiest endemic, it is both rare and very shy. The magnificent Indian Blackbird may also be encountered in the same area

Set at an elevation of nearly 2,000 meters, Nuwara Eliya is a famous old hill-station that lies at the hub of Sri Lanka’s tea estates. Extensive areas of superb montane forest still remain, holding hill-forest specialties such as  the endemic Sri Lankan Woodpigeon and Sri Lankan White-eye amongst others.  With luck, we will also encounter the highland form of Purple-faced Monkey, known as the ‘Bear Monkey’ and Giant Squirrel.

Purple faced Leaf Monkey and Sri Lanka Tree Nymph Butterfly

Highlights – Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon (E), Dull Blue Flycatcher (E), Sri Lanka White-eye (E), Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush (E), Yellow eared Bulbul (E), Sri Lanka Bush Warbler (E), Greater Flameback Woodpecker (E), Grey headed Canary Flycatcher, Pied Bushchat, Common Buzzard, rare Mountain Hawk Eagle and stunning Black Eagle
Accommodation – Leisure Village Hotel, Nuwara Eliya or similar

Day 5 - Transfer to Tissamaharama

After breakfast we will travel on to Tissamaharama, a drive of approximately five hours depending on stops.

Afternoon walk to nearby wetland where Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Yellow and Black Bittern, Baya Weaver, Black headed Munia, Brown Fish Owl and where the White-naped Woodpecker can sometimes be seen.

Accommodation – Hibiscus Garden Hotel, Tissamaharama or similar


We leave the hotel early in the morning with picnic-breakfast and lunch for a full day jeep safari in Yala national park, which lies about an hour’s drive from our hotel and forms part of Sri Lanka’s oldest and most famous National Park, comprising of a diversity of habitats including scrub jungles, water reservoirs, brackish lagoons and riverine habitats.

Mugger Crocodiles frequent the river banks and, as we explore through the southern sector of the park, we’ll find plenty of Tufted Grey Langurs as we watch eagerly for mammals such as Sambar and Spotted Deer. Leopards are probably easier to see here than anywhere else in Asia, and Yala is world famous for its large population of this most beautiful ‘big cat’. With luck, we should have at least one encounter during our stay here. Sloth Bear is also common in the park, but less easily seen.



Sri Lanka Leopard

Highlights – Indian Pea Fowl, Black necked, Painted, Wooly necked and Adjutant Storks, Blue-faced Malkoha, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Greater Flamingo (M), Brahminy (Myna) Starling, Rosy Starling (M), 

Mammals including Elephant, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Wild Boar, Grey Langer, Marsh & Estuarine Crocodiles.


Accommodation – Hibiscus Garden Hotel, Tissamaharama or similar


The morning will be spent bird watching in and around Bundala Ramsar Wetland.

Bundala Ramsar Wetland was the first wetland declared as Ramsar wetland in Sri Lanka, comprising of a scrub jungle bordering the sea together with large shallow pools. This is an excellent place to watch water birds.


Spot billed Pelican


Highlights- Greater Thicknee & Eurasian Thicknee, Watercock, Yellow Bittern, Black Bittern, Ashy crowned Sparrow Lark, Yellow wattled Lapwing, Blue faced Malkoha, Grey headed Fish Eagle, White bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Lesser Adjutant, Black necked Stork and a variety of herons, egrets and waders.

Accommodation – Hibiscus Garden Hotel, Tissamaharama or similar - this is a most beautiful hotel with a superb swimming pool - don't forget your swim-wear!


Early morning before breakfast we will go for a short bird watching walk around the hotel area.

After breakfast we are driving around the Udawalawa area. We will be checking into the hotel for lunch time. After couple of hours rest we are heading off for our second bird watching jeep drive, this time in Udawalawa national park. This safari will be 3 to 4 hours.

Accommodation – Centauria Hotel, Udawalawa or similar

                    Jeep Safari in Udawalawa

Day 9- SINHARAJA RAIN FOREST (endemic birds)

This morning we are heading off to Sinharaja Man & Biosphere Reserve (rain forest). 

Sinharaja world heritage rain forest is the last remaining significant primary forest patch on the island. It is home to most of the endemic flora & fauna species. This is the single most important site in Sri Lanka in terms of endemic birds and an excellent place to encounter spectacular mixed feeding flocks of birds.

Accommodation – Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja village

Day 10  – SINHARAJA RAIN FOREST (endemic birds)

This day is set aside for exploring Sinharaja rain forest site in the heart of the wet zone.  The park’s extensive bird list includes most of the country’s endemics and we have a good chance of seeing the majority of them, although some are easier to find than others. The ground-dwelling Sri Lanka Spurfowl requires stealth and sharp eyes, whereas roving flocks of Ashy-headed Laughing Thrushes and Orange-billed Babblers are much more obliging.  Sri Lanka Hill-Mynas call loudly and clearly from exposed positions while Sri Lanka Hanging-parrots shriek past.

Highlights – Green billed Coucal (E), Red faced Malkoha (E), Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (E), White faced Starling (E), Orange billed Babbler (E), Ashy headed Laughing Thrush (E), Legge's Flowerpecker (E), Sri Lanka Myna (E), Sri Lanka Spur Fowl (E), Serendib Scops Owl (E), Brown capped Babbler (E), Scaly Thrush (E), Spot-winged Thrush (E), Sri Lanka Drongo (E) to name just a few endemics.

Accommodation – Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja village



Malabar Trogon and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie



Ticklle’s Blue Flycatcher and Red Faced Malkoha


Our second full day in this wonderful area will be taken up searching the tracks and trails for any of the endemic birds we have missed and to obtain good views of any other species we may have missed. Butterflies are abundant here, we may encounter the huge Birdwing Butterfly as well as many of the smaller and colourful species.


After breakfast we are driving along the beautiful south coast beach to Mirissa with birding in Sinharaja village before we leave. We arrive early afternoon at the coastal Insight hotel, a splendid setting. There may be time to visit the wonderful Kiralakala Marshes where a host of waterfowl, raptors and other species await us.

Accommodation – Paradise Beach Hotel , near Mirissa


Morning Dolphins, Whales and Sea birds watching cruise in Mirissa deep sea. Regular sightings include large pods of Spinner Dolphins and Blue Whales just few miles offshore.

Whale Watching Tour at Trincomalee deep sea, Sri Lanka - Marnix, Tom, Joke Bo and Danielle

Afternoon, we take a welcomed leisure afternoon at the beach resort.

Accommodation –  Paradise Beach Hotel, near Mirissa 

Day 14 - Transfer to Colombo Airport for departure

This can take up to 4 hours.


1. a).  Tour Price  – 2250 GBP per person does not include the whale-watching pelagic (£60 optional extra)  ( minimum 6 people - max 10 people). Single supplement £370

 2. Price includes - accommodation in double/twin-bedded en-suite rooms in medium-quality hotels/lodges all ground transport including airport transfers in a comfortable air conditioned bus / Entrance fees for all sites and national parks / jeeps for safaris / whale watching cruise/ Breakfast and Dinner/  expert birding and wildlife guide service / unlimited bottled water / Sri Lanka bird check list and evening bird log.

3. Price excludes    – Air fare / visa fee / lunches / other personal expenses / Whale watching cruise/ Tips for locals

Sri Lanka can be hot and humid at this time of the year and expect a little rain at times. We shall break up most days into two excursions with a midday break when the heat is most intense.

Walking - Mostly short and easy, but the going can be more moderate at times along some forest trails. Sturdy waterproof walking shoes or boots are recommended. A reasonable level of fitness is required.

 What to wear - Casual cotton clothing, sunglasses and hat; long sleeved lightweight cotton shirts and trousers for evenings to protect against insects (in fact long-sleeved shirts and long trousers are recommended whenever we are in the rainforest, especially Kitulgala and Sinharaja) as well as waterproof clothing.

 Tipping: This is optional and 10% for good service is considered reasonable. However, many hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge, making additional tipping optional. For carrying your bags to your room, 100+ rupee suffices (little less than 1 euro - anything less than 100 is considered an insult!!). For your driver or guide normally Rs.1000 per day (around 6 euro) is recommended (only if you are happy with his services). You can consider something more for your guide’s effort of showing rare birds and animals. 

Allow £5 - £8 per day for lunches -  both breakfasts and dinners are usually quite substantial and you will often not need to eat very much at lunchtime.


or call us on 01935-426152, International +44 1935-426152

Latest Trip Reports

  • Sri Lanka 2020 : Monday, February 3, 2020 - Sunday, February 16, 2020

    It was another successful tour of this magical and bird-rich island, we saw all of the 34 endemic species of birds in our total of 248 species. We also saw over 50 species of butterflies, 21 mammals and a dozen or so reptiles. This beaut...

    View Report
  • Sri Lanka 2019 : Sunday, February 3, 2019 - Saturday, February 16, 2019

    We had a great time touring this wonderful, scenic country. Our bird-watching experience exceeded our wildest expectations, the food, the people and our accommodation were all first class. A truly wonderful adventure, we saw nearly 250 s...

    View Report
  • Sri Lanka 2018 : Sunday, January 7, 2018 - Saturday, January 20, 2018

    What a fabulous place to go birding!  A beautiful verdant country with terrific scenery an abundance of wildlife and very friendly people.  This, our second tour produced 240 species of birds, around 40 butterflies and 26 mamma...

    View Report
  • Sri Lanka 2016 : Monday, January 11, 2016 - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

    The WINGSPAN inaugural tour of Sri Lanka was a complete success in terms of finding excellent local guides, good accommodation, the best routes and of course the best places to see the huge variety of wildlife. It was a fantastic re...

    View Report