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Sri Lanka - Blue Whales & Leopards

Tour Code: LKA06

A 10-day holiday in search of Blue Whales off Sri Lanka's south coast, as well as the Leopards and other wildlife of Yala National Park.

10 days from £2595(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2095 SRS: £495 + an optional 3-day extension

The delightful tropical island of Sri Lanka is now regarded as one of the best places in the world to see Blue Whales between the months of November and April. This unique wildlife holiday begins with three days of whale-watching excursions from the south coast of the island where small numbers of Blue Wales are reliably found in the deep water just a few kilometres offshore. After observing the Blue Whales, and other cetaceans such as Spinner Dolphins, we conclude the tour at Yala National Park, one of the finest reserves in Asia where the resident Leopards frequently oblige visitors by offering viewing opportunities and a wealth of wildlife includes Indian Elephants, wild Water Buffalo, Spotted Deer, Sambar, crocodiles and many species of birds.

  • The most reliable place in the world to see Blue Whales?
  • Other cetaceans include Spinner Dolphins & Bryde's Whale
  • Leopards in Yala National Park
  • Plus Spotted Deer, Indian Elephant, Water Buffalo & crocodiles
  • Fabulous butterflies & reptiles including giant Water Monitors
  • Superb birdwatching
  • Very comfortable tourist hotels with swimming pools
  • Enjoy a wonderful selection of tropical fruits
  • Extend holiday to include additional cultural & wildlife sites, eg. Sinharaja Forest
  • Expertly guided by a top Sri Lankan or British naturalist


All included in the price.


Comfortable tourist hotels; all rooms have private facilities.

Leopard (Merissa Whale-watch)

Leopard (Merissa Whale-watch)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London.

Day 2 Arrive Colombo; transfer Mirissa

Day 3/5 Whale-watching excursions from Mirissa.

Day 6/8 Yala National Park.

Day 9 Colombo.

Day 10 Fly London.

The Great Whales are a source of wonder and fascination to most of us land-based humans, as we struggle to comprehend their alien, unfettered existence roaming the mysterious depths of the world’s oceans. Indeed, we seem to possess a seemingly insatiable desire to savour the experience of being close to these magnificent creatures and, wherever feeding or breeding imperatives bring numbers of whales to congregate in a particular area, there will invariably be local boatmen taking visitors to enjoy a few precious moments sharing the ocean with these leviathans. The largest of all the cetaceans, indeed the largest of all mammals, the Blue Whale has always been something of an enigma, a true ocean wanderer living a pelagic lifestyle which rarely brings it with any predictability close to land. Gradually, however, scientists are beginning to gain some understanding of the enormous migrations undertaken by Blue Whales and one discovery has been their regular appearances close to the south coast of Sri Lanka between November and April. It is this annual event that we will be taking advantage of during this new tour in a country that has long been a Naturetrek favourite.

Arriving in the capital, Colombo, we head south, skirting the towering escarpments of the central Hill Country before travelling through a landscape of palms, rice paddies and roadside ponds to the Indian Ocean coast where we stay for four nights at a comfortable resort hotel. Doubtless the excellent amenities of the establishment will be a welcome diversion during our spare time, but each morning we will undertake a whale-watching cruise from a nearby port. During these 4-hour excursions we will sail up to 12 kilometres offshore and, whilst seeing wild creatures can never be guaranteed, we expect to have multiple sightings of Blue Whales.

Never a gregarious creature, the sightings are usually of single animals, or perhaps a cow and calf, but it is possible to encounter as many as 10 whales during these outings and the expertise of the captain will be an important element in finding our quarry. Despite averaging 25 metres in length and reaching a weight in excess of 100 tons, Blue Whales can be surprisingly elusive, but in these calm waters the mighty 9-metre-high blow is often the first indication of their presence near the surface. Whilst concentrating each day on observing Blue Whales, other smaller cetaceans are also likely to entertain us. These may include Bryde’s and Pilot Whales, and Bottlenose, Pantropical Spotted, Striped and Spinner Dolphins, the latter regularly appearing in pods of several hundred individuals. Although the occurrences of Blue Whales in Sri Lankan waters have been known to researchers for many years it is only now that opportunities exist for visitors to see these impressive animals and, in recent years, our Naturetrek groups have been rewarded by close encounters, often of numerous individuals, in this most idyllic of settings.

After this ultimate in whale-watching experiences we return to dry land to seek another highly impressive mammal in Yala National Park. In recent years diurnal Leopards have been a regular attraction in this superb reserve and we will travel by jeep for full-day game drives, with the possibility of suddenly coming upon a Leopard adding an exciting frisson to every visit. Wildlife abounds in Yala and each drive is likely to produce sightings of Indian Elephant, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Sambar, mongooses, crocodiles and lizards as well as a stunning profusion of colourful birdlife. No visit to Yala ever disappoints, but it is the sight of a somnolent Leopard draped across the branches of a tree or padding along a track before disappearing into the undergrowth that creates a memory to last a lifetime. During the final three days of the tour we will be staying at a very comfortable hotel just outside the park and with no fences to constrain the inhabitants it is by no means unusual to see a Wild Boar wander through the grounds or even to find an elephant browsing in the garden!

Yala is a magical place and a perfect venue in which to complete a tour that combines the best of Sri Lankan wildlife, both marine and terrestrial, with the most comfortable of accommodation. It will be with some reluctance that we will finally depart from here and return to Colombo for a return flight back to colder climes; but, for those unwilling to leave, we offer an extension to Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the largest and most important lowland rainforest in Sri Lanka, and home to so much of the island's endemic flora and fauna.

Whale-watching vessel, MirissaWhale-watching vessel, MirissaSpinner DolphinSpinner Dolphins (Anne-Marie Kalus)Blue Whale fluke, remoras attached (Paul Cottis)Blue Whale off MirissaBlue Whale (Paul Cottis)Blue Whale off MirissaBlue Whale spout (Paul Cottis)Blue Whale (Anne-Marie Kalus)Bue Whale (Anne-Marie Kalus)Striped Dolphin off MirissaYala National Park entrance (Rajan Jolly)Chaaya Wild bedroom, Yala National ParkChaaya Wild dining area, Yala National ParkChaaya Wild, Yala National ParkBlack-headed Ibis, Yala National Park (Rajan Jolly)Yala National Park (Rajan Jolly)Malabar Pied HornbillLeopard, Yala National ParkEurasian Spoonbill (Rajan Jolly)Toque Macaque (Barbara Lovell)Black-winged Stilt (Rajan Jolly)Eurasian Thick-knee (Rajan Jolly)Asian Openbill (Rajan Jolly)Asian Elephants (Rajan Jolly)Marsh Mugger Crocodile (Barbara Lovell)Chestnut-headed Bee-Eater (Rajan Jolly)Leopard, Yala National ParkLizard sp. (Rajan Jolly)Painted Stork (Rajan Jolly)Dammithra Samarasinghe, one of our naturalist guides (Rajan Jolly)Lizard sp. (Rajan Jolly)Leopard, Yala National ParkLeopard, Yala National ParkChangeable Hawk-eagle (Roger Parker)Peacock (Barbara Lovell)Leopard (Anne-Marie Kalus)Toque Macaque (Anne-Marie Kalus)Leopard (Anne-Marie Kalus)Greater Thick-knee (Anne-Marie Kalus)Indian Flapshell Turtle (Anne-Marie Kalus)
Mr & Mrs L.
Both Upul and Saman were attentive, friendly, flexible, knowledgeable and great senses of humour which made the trip most enjoyable.
It was well organised and our two very good guides ensured that everything ran smoothly.
Fantastic wildlife plus some interesting cultural visits. Upul and Saman were both lovely, patient and knowledgeable guides.
Susanthe was amazing - so knowledgeable and also very accommodating of personal requirements. A really nice guy. Couldn't have asked for better. Fantastic holiday, from initial enquiry to return home service has been perfect.
Mr & Mrs S.
Rhondda Cynon Taff
This was my first wildlife holiday with an organised group. I cannot fault it in any way - the guides and drivers etc. in Sri Lanka were very accommodating and made us all feel like a team. I cannot imagine how this could be improved.
One of the best holidays I've had - will need to return to Sri Lanka. We were fortunate enough to see in excess of 30 blue whales, and the other wildlife (including leopards) were most obliging.
Mr & Mrs S.
Without a doubt it was absolutely the best holiday we have ever had. The group was lovely and the two leaders Nick and Dhammi were superb. I was lucky enough to see several Blue Whales on my birthday and my birthday cake wish to see leopards too was amply rewarded. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone at Naturetrek who worked together to make it such a memorable 50th birthday holiday for me. It was a long saved-for trip of a lifetime and worth every penny.
Wildlife great - saw lots of Blue Whales and a Leopard...many birds and other animals.
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Sat 18th November 2017 - Mon 27th November 2017



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: £2095 More info

Room sharing options: Female sharing is available More info

Tour extension: Sinharaja Forest Reserve extensionMore info

Sat 23rd December 2017 - Mon 1st January 2018



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: £2295 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Sinharaja Forest Reserve extensionMore info

Visiting: Sri Lanka

Tour Extensions

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

Sinharaja Forest Reserve extension

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Rajan Jolly
Operations Manager

Email Rajan

01962 733051

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Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

Both Upul and Saman were attentive, friendly, flexible, knowledgeable and great senses of humour which made the trip most enjoyable.
Mr & Mrs L., Hertfordshire