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Sri Lanka's Tropical Flora

Tour Code: LKA05

A 13-day celebration of Sri Lanka's tropical flora and botanical gardens.

13 days from £2695(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2195 SRS: £695 + an optional 3-day extension


Sri Lanka is a lush, verdant country with a stunning flora, and it is said that almost anything placed in the ground will grow within days! Sri Lanka is rich in endemic species, as well as myriad additions to its native flora from all corners of the world. Starting in Colombo, we’ll make a circuit to Sigiriya in the centre of the country back round to the Sinharaja Forest via Kandy and from there back to Colombo searching for native orchids, specialist plants of mangrove communities, fruit trees and tea plantations, spices, an avenue of Coco-de-mer palms, cloudforest, ferns, balsams and epiphytes! Endemic birds, colourful butterflies, famous temples and a warm friendly people add yet more interest to this tour to a delightful island.

  • Mangrove Fern & Mangrove Palm, coastal lagoons
  • Sodom’s Apple, Tiger’s Claw, & Drypetes spp in semi-deciduous forests
  • EM>Vernonia wightiana/EM>, EM>Osbeckia octandra/EM> & EM>Exacum trivernium/EM> among endemics
  • Visit Temple of the Tooth, Kandy & famous rock fortress, Sigiriya
  • Mango, Breadfruit, Guava, Teak, Cocoa & Rubber trees
  • Delicate Bamboo Orchids, ferns, reptiles & birds, Sinharaja forest
  • Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-crested Bulbul & Paradise Flycatcher among rich bird life
  • Tea estates & spices, interesting vegetables, ground orchids & beautiful Kapok trees
  • Tree ferns: EM>Cyatha crinita/EM> & EM>C. walkeri/EM>, plus endemic rhododendrons, Horton Plains
  • Led by expert local naturalist guide

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Comfortable tourist hotels with private facilities.

Plumeria obtusa (Rowan McOnegal)

Plumeria obtusa (Rowan McOnegal)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Colombo

Day 2 Muthurajawela Sanctuary

Day 3/4 Sigiriya

Day 5/7 Kandy

Day 8/9 Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains

Day 10/11 Sinharaja Forest

Day 12 Return Colombo

Day 13 Fly London

From a casual inspection of a map it may appear that the tropical island of Sri Lanka is a mere adjunct of southern India; in reality there are many differences between the two countries, not least the stunning flora and fauna which demonstrate more affinities with South-east Asia than with the Indian subcontinent. Sri Lanka is a lush, verdant country in which plant growth flourishes; indeed it is often said that almost anything placed in the ground will grow within days! This attribute was fully exploited by the various colonists occupying the island over the centuries, and each in turn added to the diversity of species through their ornamental and commercial introductions. In this way an extraordinary flora has developed, rich in unique endemic species but also augmented by a myriad of additions from all corners of the world.

For many years our holidays have enabled hundreds of clients to enjoy the wonderful birdlife and natural history of Sri Lanka but this tour is the first to celebrate the island’s flora, including not only native orchids and rare endemics but also trees and plants grown for their fruits or vegetables, and the oddities from around the globe which form the collections in Victorian botanical gardens. This will be a holiday for everyone with a love of the botanical world but, along the way, we will also encounter many of the endemic birds, colourful butterflies and more than a glimpse of Sri Lankan culture.

We fly first to the capital, Colombo, and following a morning of relaxation after the overnight flight, begin the tour with a visit to the coastal lagoons of Muthurajawela Sanctuary to observe a complex mangrove community which includesEM> Acrostichum speciosum/EM>, the Mangrove Fern, and Nypa fruticans, the Mangrove Palm.

Leaving the coast, we drive inland to the famous rock fortress of Sigiriya where we spend an interesting two days investigating the semi-deciduous forests which surround this imposing monolith. The vegetation here comprises many flowering plants including EM>Calatropis gigantea/EM> (Sodom’s Apple), EM>Capparis zeylanica/EM>, EM>Cassia fistula/EM>, EM>Crataeva adansonii/EM>, EM>Ochnalanceolata/EM>, EM>Martynia diandra/EM> (Tiger’s Claws) and tree species such as EM>Drypetes spp/EM>., EM>Manilkara hexandra/EM> and EM>Diospyros ebanum/EM>. Energetic tour members may also wish to scale Sigiriya rock to see the remains of the one-time capital city or simply to enjoy the breathtaking views.

From Sigiriya we then drive into the ‘Hill Country’ to historic Kandy, once the capital of an autonomous kingdom until captured by the British in the 18th century. During three days of exploration we will see many of the characteristic fruit trees of Sri Lanka such as Mango, Guava, Breadfruit and Jack, plantations of Teak, Rubber, Cocoa, and of course Tea which now represents the major industry of the hill region. Peradiniya Botanical Gardens, occupying a picturesque setting near the city, spans 147 acres and contains a staggering variety of plants including an avenue of Coco-de-mer Palms, the National Herbarium, a native orchid house and many other attractions. A noisy roost of several thousand Flying Foxes also adds to the exotic background for our visit! Whilst in Kandy we will also have the opportunity to see the famous Temple of the Tooth, beside Kandy Lake, and to attend a performance of traditional dancing which includes spectacular fire-walking!

Ascending higher into the hills, passing one tea estate after another and through stunning scenery, we eventually reach the hill capital Nuwara Eliya where we will be based for two nights. Situated at an elevation of 2,000 metres, the air is cooler here and pine trees grow beside the very British golf course and race track! A day excursion will take us across Horton Plains, a place of exceptional beauty and wilderness fringed by a cloudforest of peculiarly stunted, lichen-covered trees. A number of endemic birds and lizards occur on this great plateau and the vegetation is as unique as the location, containing countless species peculiar to the Sri Lankan Hill Country.

Passing through yet more wonderful scenery, we descend next to the hot plains, stopping along the way to examine the typical flora and vegetation of different altitudes, including the interesting montane forest at Thanamalai which boasts many orchids, ferns and balsams among its ground vegetation. We stay for two nights close to the internationally renowned Sinharaja Forest. This world biosphere reserve is a quite remarkable reservoir of all that is unique about Sri Lanka. Most of the island’s endemic bird species may be found in the reserve, whilst a significant proportion of the insects, reptiles and trees in Sinharaja are also peculiar to the island, and the flora is equally exceptional. Delicate Bamboo Orchids and pitcherplants grow beside the main track into the forest and closer inspection of the vegetation will reveal an extraordinary wealth of species including masses of epiphytes, ferns and orchids.

After our foray into this unforgettable forest, we return to Colombo for our flight back to London, or join our exciting extension in search of Blue Whales.

Sigiriya rock fortress (Rajan Jolly)Murals at Sigiriya rock fortress (Rajan Jolly)Hotel Sigiriya (Rajan Jolly)Performance of traditional dancing at Kandy (Rajan Jolly)Hill Country (Rowan McOnegal)Chirita moonii  (Jenny Wilsher)Aponogetum jacobsensii (Jenny Wilsher)Rhododendron zeylanicum (Jenny Wilsher)Cannonball Tree (Jenny Wilsher)Thevatia peruviana, Yellow Oleander (Jenny Wilsher)View from Mihintale (Rowan McOnegal)Terminalia sp. (Rowan McOnegal)Poinsettia (Rowan McOnegal)Plumeria (Rowan McOnegal)Coconut Palms (Rowan McOnegal)Plumeria obtusa (Rowan McOnegal)Sightseeing at Horton Plains waterfall (Rajan Jolly)Mangrove Swamp (Rowan McOnegal)Ficus religiosa (Rowan McOnegal)Horton Plains waterfall (Rajan Jolly)Rhino-horned Lizard (Rajan Jolly)Anardcardium occidentale, Cashew (Rowan McOnegal)Artocarpus heterophyllus, Jackfruit (Rowan McOnegal)Sea Lily (Rowan McOnegal)Screwpine (Rowan McOnegal)Mussaendra frondosa (Rowan McOnegal)Hibiscus (Rowan McOnegal)Hakgala Gardens (Rowan McOnegal)Horton PlainsArundinaOncidiumOncidium
D.W.
Surrey
We have had a wonderful holiday. Our local guide was wonderful - the knowledge he has, not just about the plants, but about the birds and butterflies is outstanding. He also gave us a great insight into the Sri Lankan way of life and its politics - which we found very interesting. The cooking at the Magpie Lodge was first class...The vehicle used was very comfortable, always spotlessly clean and our driver was excellent, we felt very safe with him. He also had extensive knowledge of the birds and was quick to spot them.
M.E.
Ross-Shire
Dammi and Tiran were first class! I especially appreciated Tiran's specialised botanical knowledge and his happy nature. Very glad we had two guides.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Sat 17th March 2018 - Thu 29th March 2018

3

£2695

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2195 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Blue Whales extensionMore info

Sat 16th March 2019 - Thu 28th March 2019

YES

£2695

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2195 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Blue Whales extensionMore info

Visiting: Sri Lanka

Detailed tour map

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Tour Extensions

If you wish to prolong your holiday we offer the following extensions.

Blue Whales extension

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Rajan Jolly
Operations Manager

Email Rajan

01962 733051

Tour Focus

Wild flowers

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

We have had a wonderful holiday. Our local guide was wonderful - the knowledge he has, not just about the plants, but about the birds and butterflies is outstanding. He also gave us a great insight into the Sri Lankan way of life and its politics - which we found very interesting. The cooking at the Magpie Lodge was first class...The vehicle used was very comfortable, always spotlessly clean and our driver was excellent, we felt very safe with him. He also had extensive knowledge of the birds and was quick to spot them.
D.W., Surrey