SRI LANKA - BIRD-WATCHING TOUR

 

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

January 7th - 20t  2018  (13 nights)

Price :   £1850 per person sharing a twin/double room.  Single Room Supplement £350

‚ÄčFor 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 200-250 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  January 7th – 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  January 8th – 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.

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   

 

 

Chestnut Backed Owlet and Serendib Scops Owl

Day 3 - January 9th -  WORLD HERITAGE KANDY CITY


There will be the option of a pre-breakfast bird watching excursion this morning. After breakfast we’ll start to make our way towards Kandy. The drive from Kitulgala to Kandy will be approximately 2½ hours depending on stops. We are arriving at our hotel in Kandy for lunch.

After lunch we will do a leisure bird watching walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy. This will also be a very interesting excursion for tropical flora, mammals and butterflies. 

Accommodation – Suisse Hotel, Kandy

Day 4 - January 10th - NUWARA ELIYA (HIGHLAND)

An early morning visit to the Royal Forest National Park is an exciting prospect, last year we found Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Crimson-backed Goldenback, White-rumped Shama and Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher.

After breakfast we then 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 5 - January 11th  – 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 6 - January 12th   - 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

Day 7 - January 13th  - YALA NATIONAL PARK

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

Day 8 - January 14th  – BUNDALA RAMSAR WETLAND

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!

Day 9 - January 15th  – UDAWALAWA NATIONAL PARK

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 – Grand Udawalawa Safari Hotel, Udawalawa or similar

   
                    Jeep Safari in Udawalawa

Day 10 - January 16th  - SINHARAJA RAIN FOREST (endemic birds)

This morning we are heading off to Sinharaja Man & Biosphere Reserve (rain forest). On the way we will visit the Udawalawa Elephant Transit Home (http://www.bornfree.org.uk/animals/asian-elephants/projects/elephant-transit-home/visiting-the-eth/)

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 11 - January 17th  – 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.  Ceylon Hill-Mynas call loudly and clearly from exposed positions while Ceylon 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

Day 12 - January 18th   -  SINHARAJA RAIN FOREST Day 12

After breakfast we are driving along the beautiful south coast beach to Mirissa with birding in Sinharaja village before we leave. We arrive late afternoon at the coastal Paradise Beach hotel, a spendid setting.

Accommodation – Paradise Beach Club, Mirissa

Day 13 –  January 19th - WHALE WATCHING

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 Club, Mirissa

Day 14 - January 20th - Transfer to Colombo Airport for departure

This can take up to 4 hours.

GENERAL NOTES

1. a).  Tour Price  – 1850 GBP per person including the whale-watching pelagic ( minimum 6 people - max 10 people). Single supplement £350

 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 / One whale-watching cruise / Sri Lanka bird check list and evening bird log.

3. Price excludes    – Air fare / visa fee / lunches / other personal expenses / 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 Sinaharajah) 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 £2 - £3 per day for lunches -  both breakfasts and dinners are usually quite substantial and you will often not need to eat very much at lunchtime.

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