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Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – In the Company of Naturalists

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

14 Days

Prices Start from

£5,405pp (ex. flights)

Embark on a wildlife journey of Sri Lanka’s varied national parks. Spotting leopard in lush jungles, seeing the forest through the eyes of expert guides, whale watching and lake swimming elephants – Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Crested eagle eagle preying in Sri Lanka National Park. 1

Wilpattu

One of the oldest, largest and less visited, national parks, Wilpattu is home sloth bear, leopard, birdlife and elephant.

Elephant, Gal Oya National Park, Sri Lanka 2

Gal Oya

Gal Oya Lake, Sri Lanka’s largest inland body of water, is home to swimming elephants, prolific bird life and chattering mammals.

Whales, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka 3

Whale Watching

Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to see a myriad of marine wildlife.

Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka 4

Yala

With experienced guides and a sensitive approach to leopard viewing, time here is memorable and rewarding.

Why we like it

What other destination can offer whale watching one day and elephants and leopard sightings the next? This holiday to Sri Lanka takes in four national parks – all home to a varied collection of wildlife, allows time to explore by foot or bike and finishes on the coast. Dotted with leisurely wanderings through ruined ancient cities and staying in hotels offering a sense of place, this holiday suits the most curious traveller with a fascination for nature and wildlife.

Explore our suggested itinerary

Sri Lanka on your wishlist? Talk to our experts about tailoring this trip for you.

  • Day 1

    Colombo (The Wallawwa)

  • Day 2

    Colombo - Wilpattu National Park (Leopard Trails)

  • Day 3

    Wilpattu National Park

  • Day 4

    Wilpattu National Park - Sigiriya (Vil Uyana)

  • Day 5

    Sigiriya

  • Day 6

    Sigiriya - Gal Oya National Park (Gal Oya Lodge)

  • Day 7

    Gal Oya National Park

  • Day 8

    Gal Oya National Park

  • Day 9

    Gal Oya - Yala National Park (Kulu Safaris)

  • Day 10

    Yala National Park

  • Day 11

    Thalpe, Galle (The Why House)

  • Day 12

    Thalpe, Galle

  • Day 13

    Galle - Colombo

Day 1

Colombo (The Wallawwa)

On arrival, you’re met and driven to the stylish Wallawwa Hotel, located just 30 minutes from the airport.

Day 2

Colombo - Wilpattu National Park (Leopard Trails)

Driven the three hours to Wilpattu National Park – home to birds, sloth and, if lucky, leopard.

Day 3

Wilpattu National Park

Spend the day based at your camp, enjoying game drives with expert guides within Wilpattu National Park.

Day 4

Wilpattu National Park - Sigiriya (Vil Uyana)

After a final game drive you’ll be driven to the Cultural Triangle and Vil Uyana, near Sigirya, stopping to climb up the impressive giant rock fortress of Sigiriya.

Day 5

Sigiriya

From here explore the former Sri Lankan capital of Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park. Minneriya is well known for the elephant population and migration during the summer.

Day 6

Sigiriya - Gal Oya National Park (Gal Oya Lodge)

Driven to Gal Oya National Park, home to a lesser visited region of Sri Lanka and particular worthwhile for birds, lake safaris and elephants.

Day 7

Gal Oya National Park

Spend a peaceful day discovering hidden Vedda villages, birds and spotting elephants while travelling on the lake by boat.

Day 8

Gal Oya National Park

Day 9

Gal Oya - Yala National Park (Kulu Safaris)

Leave the peace of Gal Oya behind for a more exciting safari, in search of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard.

Day 10

Yala National Park

Full day of leopard safaris, exploring with the specialist camp guides. Time can also be spent walking from the camp or canoeing on local rivers. Yala is a diverse and fascinating park.

Day 11

Thalpe, Galle (The Why House)

After a final game drive you’ll be driven to the south coast. Home to The Why House and long stretches of beach.

Day 12

Thalpe, Galle

Spend two days relaxing and visiting Galle. Galle is home to stylish restaurants, historical architecture and fort walls. This part of Sri Lanka, between the months of November – April offers the perfect opportunity for whale watching.

Day 13

Galle - Colombo

Depart Galle today for the airport and onward travel.

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Gray Langur in Pottuvil, Sri Lanka 308758148
Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's National Parks

Sri Lanka is home to some of the most beautiful and unexplored National Parks in this part of the world. The island’s diverse zones ranging from dry plains to wetlands, combined with two annual monsoons and a wide range of altitudes, gives Sri Lanka a range of biodiversity normally found across an entire continent. Get off the beaten track and visit remote national parks such as Gal Oya and Wilpattu and explore the home of leopard – Yala.

Elephant, Gal Oya National Park, Sri Lanka
Gal Oya National Park, Sri Lanka

Gal Oya

Gal Oya National Park is surrounded by a wealth of small lakes and scattered with islands, making it the perfect environment for wild elephants to roam and crocodiles to bask. Gal Oya Lake is the only national park in Sri Lanka where you can view elephants swimming from your safari boat. Birding is prolific and rewarding.

Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Leopard in Yala National Park

Leopards

As Sri Lanka’s only large predator, the leopard thrives in the countries national parks. With a population up to 800, Sri Lanka offers a real chance of spotting this elusive and endangered cat. Good guiding with a sensitive approach is how to view leopard, offering a positive impact and support to conservation efforts.

Whales, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Marine Wildlife

The waters of the Indian Ocean are one of the worlds best spots to see blue whale and easily done just off the south coast of the island. In addition to this magnificent mammal, Sri Lanka is also home to up to ten different whale species including humpback, sperm, and of course a plethora of dolphins. Add to this the sea turtle population, with five of the seven sea turtle species being regularly found along the coast. Where else in the world could you see leopard and elephant one day and blue whales the next.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Kulu Safari Yala £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Tented Camps

Kulu Safaris offer comfortable accommodation with a minimal ecological footprint while experiencing a definitive wildlife experience.

View Property

Gal Oya Lodge £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Gal Oya Lodge offers environmentally responsible tourism from a nine roomed wildlife lodge, set on 20 acres of private forest. There is two bedroom villa perched at the highest point of Gal Oya Lodge, which has the most breathtaking views and works well for families. Gal Oya National Park is remote and less visited than other national parks in Sri Lanka, however, the journey here is well worth the effort. With the largest lake in Sri Lanka and wildlife viewed by unique boat safari, the lodge and untouched surroundings are unlike anywhere else in Sri Lanka.

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Why House £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Boutique

Why House offers a tranquil hideaway set amidst a rural rice paddy. The stunning beaches of the south coast and the UNESCO town of Galle are just a 15-minute drive away.

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Vil Uyana £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Wilderness

Surrounded by paddy fields and forest, Vil Uyana has 25 individual villas on stilts. Connected by wooden walkways and decked with wooden floors, each villa has a pitched rattan and bamboo ceiling and a sloping thatch roof made of coconut palms. In-villa dining is available here, while a small spa offers a range of treatments.

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Leopard Trails Wilpattu Campsite £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Leopard Trails is an experienced mobile camping company that operates a campsite within the buffer zones of Wilpattu National Park. Leopard Trails prides itself on providing an adventurous camping holiday amidst the wilderness without having to give up modern-day comforts and personalised service. 

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The Wallawwa £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Boutique

The Wallawwa is a small, boutique hotel 15-20 minutes drive from Colombo international, in the peaceful Sri Lankan countryside. A charming former old manor house, the Wallawwa is set in elegant gardens and built with columns, courtyards and verandas. The rooms look out on to a central courtyard with a pond, there is a super restaurant serving Asian food, a spa and a large swimming pool. The Wallawwa is a perfect start and/or end to a Sri Lankan itinerary.

View Property

Start planning your trip


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We had the most amazing holiday. Thank you to all at Steppes and a huge thank you for our surprise meal at Ministry of Crab. We are so grateful.

Sri Lanka

It was all very last minute from us so Kate did a great job in responding to a change in dates and negotiating a good deal.

Sri Lanka

Kate Hitchen's help in organising this trip was excellent. She was very knowledgable and tailor-made our trip to suit our three teenage children.

Sri Lanka

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
Price
From £5,405 Per person

When to travel

Sri Lanka in January

Sri Lanka benefits from generally good weather all year round and experiences a tropical climate with the best and most popular to visit being during our winter months, from January to April.

Sri Lanka in February

Visit the Southern and Western coast of Sri Lanka to experience the hot and humid climate in coastal areas or visit the mountainous regions for cooler temperatures with less humidity.

Sri Lanka in March

In Northern and Central Sri Lanka, temperatures will start to rise, and these regions will become more humid with March being generally a dry month for Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka in April

Overall, April is a very good time to visit Sri Lanka, with most of the island experiencing high temperatures and lots of sunshine, all before the first monsoon rains of the year begin in the South.

Sri Lanka in May

From May to August, the country experiences the first of its two annual monsoon seasons in Southwest Sri Lanka. Therefore, during these months it is best to visit Northeast Sri Lanka including Batticaloa and Passekudah.

Sri Lanka in June

Rainfall with continue in the South during the monsoon season whereas in Northern Sri Lanka, June is one of the best times to visit this area with a warm climate and high temperatures throughout.

Sri Lanka in July

In Northern Sri Lanka, the months of June and July are particularly good times to travel to the area, with minimal rainfall, particularly high temperatures and long days of sunshine.

Sri Lanka in August

Throughout the country, you can expect excellent climate conditions. August is an ideal month for those wanting to experience both the Northeast and Southwest regions of the island, typically quite unusual due to Sri Lanka’s monsoon seasons.

Sri Lanka in September

September will start to see the end of the monsoon season in the Southwest and whilst rainfall and thunderstorms are less frequent, are still likely across the region.

Sri Lanka in October

Prior to the monsoon season, rainfall is likely throughout the country and can sometimes be unpredictable, meaning disruptions in travel are likely.

Sri Lanka in November

From November to February, Northeast Sri Lanka will experience one of two annual monsoon seasons. Whilst most days will experience rainfall, it is a great time to travel to experience the lush, green countryside.

Sri Lanka in December

Due to the monsoon in the Northeast, it is best to visit the southwest coast of Sri Lanka prior to the second monsoon reaching this area in May. Experience high levels of sunshine, perfect for Sri Lanka’s beaches.

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?


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