Tailor-Made Holiday

Sri Lanka Wildlife - On Safari

Explore the wild corners of Sri Lanka in the company of Naturalists

14 days

from £3,900pp (excluding flights)

Spotting leopard in lush jungles, discovering hidden temples a la Indiana Jones and whale watching off the south coast, Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts, young and old.

  • Track leopards from the comfort of a private vehicle at Wilpattu and Yala.
  • Spend time in the company of expert naturalists learning about the island's ecosystems.
  • Boat safari at Gal Oya National Park, home to swimming elephants.
  • Walk with a Village Chief through the jungle and learn about the indigenous tribes.
  • Hike towards Ella Rock for stunning views across the Knuckles Mountain Range.


On arrival in Sri Lanka, spend a restful night at the Notary House before starting your journey to the peaceful Wilpattu National Park where you check-in to Leopard Trails Camp. After an al fresco lunch, venture out on a game drive into the verdant jungle, home to sloth bear, colourful birds and the elusive leopard. What sets Wilpattu apart from other parks is the peace, space and tranquillity away from other safari vehicles. 

Cultural Triangle

The journey continues into the cultural heart of Sri Lanka, to visit some of the UNESCO heritage sites. Cycle around Anuradhapura, climb to the top of Sigiriya for a view to the Indian Ocean and enjoy a home-cooked lunch at a local village. In the evening, walk the night trail in search of the loris. You may also encounter the Eurasian otter, mouse deer, palm civet, collared scops owl and fishing cat.

Gal Oya

Gal Oya National Park is surrounded by plenty of water and little islands making this the perfect environment for the wild elephant to roam. Spend time with the excellent in-house naturalists at Gal Oya Lodge and visit the Wildlife Research Centre in the grounds. The lodge team are actively monitoring the species surrounding the lodge, which include mouse deer, water monitor, and the endangered thick-tailed pangolin. They have exciting camera trap imagery that they will share with you. 

Hill Country 

A complete change of landscape is discovered as the journey moves north-west to the town of Ella. The air is cooler in this hill climate. This is a perfect hiking destination. Rise early to avoid the warmer temperatures later in the day and enjoy clear views of the valley and surrounding hills. Walk with a local farmer who will guide you to Ella Rock. Aside from trail hikes, Ella offers a fabulous tea experience.  Spend time in the company of a tea manager and meet the local tea pluckers before partaking in a tea tasting session.

Elephants and Leopards of Sri Lanka

Leaving the hills behind, start the descent towards Yala National Park. Visit the Udawalawa Elephant Transit Home enroute to see an interesting project that helps orphaned calves survive in the wild. Spend two nights in Yala with three jeep safaris. Spend time looking for the leopard in Yala but also escape the crowds on day two by visiting the Bundala National Park, a place where the land, sea and wetlands meet. The picturesque lagoons are a wintering site for many of the island’s migratory birds.

Unesco Galle Fort 

Galle Fort is a must see. Expect cobbled, fortified streets that have seen over 400 years of history, from Arab merchants to adventurous Portuguese and the industrious Dutch. Colonial homes are contained in an impressive rampart surrounding. Whilst in Galle you are a stone’s throw away from the largest mammal on earth. 

Whale Watching

One of the best places in Sri Lanka to see the blue whale between December and April is off the south coast. During a stay in Galle, travel an hour along the coastline to Mirissa Harbour to board a private catamaran.

Kaneliya Rainforest Reserve

Another fantastic excursion, close to the town of Galle, is to explore Kaneliya Rainforest Reserve. On foot visit this impressive rainforest with your wildlife tracker.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 3900 £ 650

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fast Track at Colombo Airport
On arrival at Colombo airport you will be met by our representative holding a sign with your name on it. From there you will be fast-tracked through immigration and escorted to the Silk Route Lounge. Take time to relax with a cup of tea whilst your baggage is brought to the lounge.

Sri Lanka's sprawling capital buzzes with an effervescence and ebullience not seen anywhere else in the country. Drawing on its colonial past, it now combines ancient, colonial and modern influences in a swirl of cultures, colours and aromas particular to Sri Lanka.

Drive from Colombo to Makandura (Road Journey)

A journey of approximately one hour.

Relax after a day of travelling.

You will be staying at The Notary House, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Cycle around the Village
The Notary House has a few simple bikes. Set off on a small cycling adventure either independently or take somebody from the Notary house to show you the way. Pass through lush paddy fields and enter Dikkale Forest Reserve. The trail is approximately eight kilometres, but the routes can be tailored to suit your needs.

Drive from Makandura to Wilpattu National Park (Road Journey)

The drive to Wilpattu will take approximately four hours.

Wilpattu is the largest national park in Sri Lanka, and is fairly unknown still to tourists due to being off limits during the civil war. It has the largest sloth bear population in the country, and leopard sightings are possible, although the exact numbers are unknown. Wilpattu means 'Land of Lakes' and is named due to the large number (nearly sixty) of natural lakes spread across the national park.

Meet the ranger at the check in lounge. Receive brief details about the park and the safaris.

Have a relaxed lunch and then embark on an afternoon safari in Wilpattu National Park.

Afternoon Safari in Wilpattu
Afternoon game drive in Wilpattu National Park with your naturalist-guide.

You will be staying at Leopard Trails Camp Wilpattu, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Full Day Spent in Wilpattu National Park
Spend today exploring the national park on a full day safari. Travel from the camp, which is located at the border of Wilpattu National Park, into the park itself. Start early, usually before sunrise, as this is when the wildlife is at its most active and gives the best chance of memorable animal encounters. By using smaller, open jeeps, not only is there the chance to explore the less accessible parts of the park, but also plenty of space for taking photographs. Breakfast and lunch will be provided at one of Wilpattu's scenic locations.

You will be staying at Leopard Trails Camp Wilpattu, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Morning Game Drive
Take a morning game drive in the national park before heading back for breakfast.

Drive to Sigiriya

On the way to Sigiriya, you may like to stop to explore Anuradhapura and Mihintale. The driving time is approximately three hours.

Sigiriya is a large stone and ancient rock fortress in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos), which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. It is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.

You will be staying at Water Garden, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Visit to Sigiriya Rock
Explore the ruins of the ancient city of Sigiriya with your English speaking guide. Climb up this rock column, which is surrounded by verdant royal gardens. Arrive at the entrance by 7 am to avoid the crowds and be amongst the first few visitors at the site. Sigiriya consists of 1,200 steps. The tour takes approximately two and a half hours.

Bird Trail with Vil Uyana
This evening take part in bird trails -Sigiriya bird trail and Nagala bird trail. Go in search of nocturnal species, especially the Loris. You will be provided with a red light emitting headlamp to help you search. Other nocturnal encounters include the Eurasian Otter, Mouse Deer, Palm Civet, Collared Scops Owl, Indian Nightjar and Fishing Cat.

You will be staying at Water Garden, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Drive from Sigiriya to Gal Oya National Park (Road Journey)

The drive from Sigiriya to Gal Oya will take approximately four hours.

Hidden away on the East Coast, the Gal Oya National Park lies well off-the-beaten-path and is somewhat mysterious even to the locals. 30 years of civil war on this side of the island stopped tourism in its tracks and Gal Oya is only now emerging as a major wildlife destination. In fact, we would argue that this unique national park is one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets. Made up of mostly dry-zone forest and grassland, the park is a bio-diversity hub, with some flora dating back to the Jurassic period. Sloth bears and leopards have been occasionally spotted within the park, but sightings are rare. You are more likely to come across the park’s larger residents: the Asian elephant. It is also a fantastic spot for bird watching.

The Gal Oya team are committed to conservation. During your stay visit the Wildlife Research Centre.

You will be staying at Gal Oya Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Boat Safari
This morning take a boat safari in the Gal Oya National Park. Search for wildlife including crocodile, deer, elephant and many rare and endemic species of bird. You may be lucky enough to see elephants swimming between islands or bathing at the lake's edge. Take a picnic breakfast at a remote island within the park itself.

Evening village walk with Veddha chief
Gal Oya Lodge is neighbour to one of the last remaining communities of the Veddha - the forest-dwelling, indigenous people of Sri Lanka. This evening the village Chief will accompany you on a walk through the jungles of his ancestors. Learn about local nature as he brings the forest alive by explaining his tribe's use of medicinal plants, ancient hunting grounds and cave dwellings, while providing a fascinating insight into how the hunter-gatherers lived in the jungles of Gal Oya.

You will be staying at Gal Oya Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Drive from Gal Oya National Park to Ella (Road Journey)

The scenic drive to Ella will take around three hours.

On arrival relax at your bungalow and take in the cooler air.

You will be staying at Nine Skies, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Little Adams Peak
For a leisurely hike head to Little Adams Peak. This can be easily done on your own. The hike itself takes about one hour and the views of the valley and surrounding hills are stunning. The best time to do this is early morning when the skies are clear and the morning air is fresh and cool.

Climb Ella Rock
A more challenging trek will take you to Ella Rock. The walk will take you along the railroad tracks and onto a hanging metal bridge - those with vertigo should not look down! The trek continues past a eucalyptus forest. The climb can be a bit steep, so you need to be in good shape. The views from the top of Ella Rock are stunning, especially on a clear day. It is best to start this walk at 05.45 hours. Local farmers will guide you along the way, they only speak a bit of English.

Meet Salinda Madugalle - A Tea Planter
Salinda Madugalle began his career in 1977. He was a planter for over 30 years and has consulted for other tea estates. Salinda will show you around the tea estates as they exist now, and take you on a walk down the memory lane of the life of a tea planter. Meet some locals plucking tea and later join Salinda for a private tea tasting experience at Santani.

You will be staying at Nine Skies, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Drive from Ella to Yala National Park (Road Journey)

Depart from the tea hills after breakfast for Yala. The drive today is approximately three and a half hours.

Yala covers an area of approximately 500 square miles and is located in the south eastern corner of the island. Its northern boundaries border the Lahugala Elephant Sanctuary and it has the added bonus of being on the sea. The terrain ranges from open parklands to dense jungle. Watering holes, small lakes, lagoons and streams provide water for the animals and birds. Notable inhabitants are the leopards, sloth bears, diverse birdlife, sambar deer and mongoose.

You will be staying at Kulu Safari Yala, full board

Day 11

Morning and Afternoon Game Drives
Today you will explore Yala National Park by 4WD. You will have morning and afternoon jeep game drives into one of Asia's finest wildlife reserves, accompanied by an experienced naturalist. The park's undulating terrain is home to a large number of elephants, but it is the thriving leopard population that garners the most attention. After each day's morning drive, return to your accommodation for a delicious lunch. Have time to relax before heading out again in the afternoon for further exploration. Return in the early evening, as night falls, keeping an eye out for the nocturnal animals as they emerge.

You will be staying at Kulu Safari Yala, full board

Day 12

Morning Game Drive at Bundala National Park
Take a morning game drive today in Bundala National Park, famous for its birdlife.

Transfer from Yala to Galle

Later you will be driven to Galle, approximately four and a half hours.

Galle is considered the most important town in the south and has managed to retain its colonial atmosphere. The Portuguese, Dutch and British have all made their mark on this interesting port and it is well worth spending time exploring the town within the fort walls, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

You will be staying at Fort Bazaar, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Early Morning Whale Watching Trip
Depart your hotel this morning at around 6am for a whale watching excursion. The tour begins at the harbour in Mirissa which is around a 30 minute drive away.

Depending on the time of year, choose to join Sail Lanka for Whale Watching or visit the Rainforest.

Hiyare Rainforest Reserve
One of the best kept secrets of Southern Sri Lanka the Hiyare reserve is a 600-acre rainforest. A paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, it is only a 15-minute drive away from the Southern coastal town of Galle. In comparison to other wildlife parks in the country, Hiyare is much more serene and tranquil but boasts an eco-system that includes a natural lake and diverse variety of plants, birds, insects as well as deer and porcupine. The trek through the forest reserve itself can be quite an adventure, as the only ways through the forest is by foot or paddle boat. Birds are the dominating species in the area. It is home to 118 bird species, among which 13 are endemic to which includes the Sri Lankan Green Pigeon, Ceylon Rose, Two-spotted Threadtail and Black Ruby Barb. The walk would be around four hours but if you needed it to be shortened that would also be possible.

You will be staying at Fort Bazaar, bed and breakfast

Day 14

Bid farewelll to Sri Lanka and proceed to the airport.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Vil Uyana

Vil Uyana

Surrounded by paddy fields and forest, Vil Uyana has 25 individual villas on stilts....

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Kulu Safari Yala

Kulu Safari Yala

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

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Leopard Trails Camp Wilpattu

Leopard Trails Camp Wilpattu

Leopard Trails is an experienced mobile camping company that operates a campsite within the buffer zones of Wilpattu National Park....

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Gal Oya Lodge

Gal Oya Lodge

Gal Oya Lodge offers environmentally responsible tourism from an eight bedded wildlife lodge, set on 20 acres of private forest....

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Fort Bazaar

Fort Bazaar

The Fort Bazaar is a stunning boutique spa hotel in the heart of colonial Galle, with original coral walls and an atmospheric central thoroughfare....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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