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Sri Lanka's Mammals

Tour Code: LKA09

This 14-day tour specifically goes in search of Sri Lanka's mammals - some endemic, and many nocturnal or elusive. In particular, we will enjoy the 'Elephant Gathering' at Minneriya, probably the largest Asian Elephant gathering in the world. An optional 3-day extension to Sinharaja Forest for avian endemics is also available.

14 days from £3295(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2795 SRS: £695

No tour summary is currently available. Please read the detailed description or download the tour itinerary.


All included in the price.


A simple but comfortable guesthouse in Nuwara Eliya; 3 or 4- star tourist hotels in Sigiriya, Kandy and Yala. On the Sinharaja extension we use a simple lodge. Rooms throughout have private facilities.

Sloth Bear (Ian Williamson)

Sloth Bear (Ian Williamson)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart UK.

Day 2/5 Sigiriya, with local excursions to Minneriya NP, Dambulla and Polonarruwa.

Day 6/7 Kandy.

Day 8/9 Nuwara Eliya (and Horton Plains).

Day 10/12 Lunugamvehera and Yala National Parks.

Day 13 Drive Colombo; fly UK.

Day 14 Arrive UK.

The delightful tropical island of Sri Lanka is renowned as a natural history destination par excellence. Many thousands of years of isolation have helped shape a unique fauna and flora which displays an extraordinary level of endemism despite the island’s proximity to the Indian mainland. Naturetrek has enjoyed many years of association with this gem of an island and our programme includes tours which focus on birdlife, whale-watching and botany, but this new holiday will be devoted to Sri Lanka’s special mammals. These include the largest concentrations of Asian Elephants in the world, endemic primates, deer, Leopard and many other fascinating species.

In searching for them our travels will take us into many of Sri Lanka’s top wildlife habitats, from atmospheric mist-clad highland forests to magnificent game reserves where Asian Elephants, Water Buffalo and deer graze the margins of numerous lakes under the baleful gazes of giant Mugger Crocodiles awaiting their chance to seize the unwary. Many of the island’s mammals, such as the ubiquitous Indian Palm Squirrel and troupes of Toque Macaque, are conspicuous and easy to observe, but others are retiring and nocturnal. In order to look for them, on this tour we will be doing a number of night walks and night-drives.

Amongst our tour targets will be such endemics as the Grizzled Giant Squirrel, Toque Macaque and Purple-faced Leafmonkey, plus Slender Loris, Sloth Bear, Rusty-spotted, Jungle and Fishing Cats, Leopard, Asian Elephant, Wild Boar, Sambar, Spotted Deer, White-spotted Mouse Deer, Water Buffalo, Indian Flying Fox and Stripe-necked, Ruddy, Indian Grey and Brown Mongoose.

Sigiriya, beneath the world-famous rock fortress which towers above the surrounding forests and countryside, will be our initial base. A 4-night stay here will allow us to witness the huge assemblies of up to 300 Asian Elephants that occur annually at this time in the nearby Minneriya-Giritale Sanctuary, where a guaranteed water supply draws them in the dry season. Other mammals found in the park include Sambar and Spotted Deer although, with luck, rarer creatures such as Rusty-spotted and Jungle Cats may occasionally be seen. This region also contains a number of interesting historical sites such as the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, famed for a large reclining Buddha, and the magnificent cave frescoes at Dambulla. We will absorb the history and wildlife of these iconic places by day, then return after nightfall to look for the endemic Slender Loris, an endearing but rare inhabitant of this region, and possibly also the endangered Indian Pangolin.

Our next destination is Kandy, the former capital of an autonomous kingdom and a city steeped in history. Here we will visit Peradeniya Botanical Gardens where among hundreds of plants, flowers and orchids is a large roost of Indian Flying Foxes. From Kandy we will then drive through numerous picturesque tea estates as we move higher into the hill country to reach Nuwara Eliya, a popular hill-station resort in colonial times. Two nights in this airy town will give us a full day to explore the Horton Plains, Sri Lanka’s highest and most isolated plateau. This is a fascinating and spectacular place, a mixture of open grassy expanses and patches of forest festooned with epiphytes, from which, on clear days, it is possible to see the distant summit of Adam’s Peak. Here we will hope to find the extremely handsome endemic Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, the subspecies here being the long-coated, highland form known as the Bear Monkey. Tennant’s Giant Squirrels also inhabit the trees, as do the smaller endemic Dusky Palm Squirrels, while in the open plains we may see a distant herd of Sambar Deer. This is also a splendid location for seeing endemic birds and there are also rare endemic lizards to look for.

Finally, a wonderfully scenic drive takes us from the hills to the south coast. There we will enjoy a comfortable 3-night stay at Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s best known wildlife sanctuary. Here we are likely to see Asian Elephant, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Golden Jackal, Tufted Grey Langur, mongooses, crocodiles and a stunning profusion of colourful birds on our daily wildlife drives. We will also look for Leopards, for which Yala is particularly famed. Whilst in India they are elusive, wary of Tigers, here they are the top predator, and are often to be seen draped across the branches of a tree or atop a track-side boulder! Sadly, Yala will be our final stop on this mammal odyssey, but for tour members wishing to extend their stay in Sri Lanka we recommend a post-tour extension to the World Biosphere reserve of Sinharaja Forest, home to a unique set of flora and fauna including most of Sri Lanka’s endemics.

Sigirya Hotel (Tom Mills)Sigirya Hotel (Tom Mills)Sigiriya Rock (Tom Mills)Land Monitor (Lance Tuckett)Ruddy MongooseAsian Elephants gathering, Minneriya National Park (Tom Mills)Asian Elephants, Minneriya National Park (Tom Mills)Asian Elephants, Minneriya National Park (Tom Mills)Asian ElephantWhite-bellied Fish-eagleDambulla Cave Temples (Tom Mills)Dambulla Cave Temple (Rajan Jolly)Polonnaruwa (Tom Mills)Polonnaruwa Buddha statue (Rajan Jolly)Temple of the Tooth, KandyHorton Plains National Park (Rajan Jolly)Ceylon Whistling Thrush (John Young)Rhinoceros-horned Lizard, Horton Plains National Park (Rajan Jolly)Purple-faced Leaf Monkey highland form (John Young)Sambar, Horton Plains National Park (Rajan Jolly)Grizzled Giant SquirrelChaaya Wild Hotel, Yala National ParkChaaya Wild Hotel, Yala National ParkChaaya Wild Hotel, Yala National ParkIndian Ocean, Yala National Park (Tom Mills)Changeable Hawk-eagleDusky Palm Squirrel (John Young)Grey Slender LorisLeopard (John Young)Leopard (John Young)Leopard (Lance Tuckett)Purple-faced Leaf Monkey wet zone form (John Young)Toque MacaquesRusty Spotted Cat (John Young)Grey Langur (David Allison)Water BuffaloWild Boar (Lance Tuckett)Asian Elephant, YalaSri Lanka Junglefowl (David Allison)Sloth Bear (Ian Williamson)Sloth Bear (Ian Williamson)Yala sunset (Lance Tuckett)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)Birdwatching with Naturetrek Guide (Karen Malte Nielsen)Elephants (Karen Malte Nielsen)Elephants (Karen Malte Nielsen)Elephants (Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)Sigiriya (Karen Malte Nielsen)Birdwatching with Naturetrek Guide (Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)(Karen Malte Nielsen)Bee-eater (Karen Malte Nielsen)Oriental Darter (Karen Malte Nielsen)Sloth Bear (Karen Malte Nielsen)Sloth Bear

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Fri 5th July 2019 - Thu 18th July 2019



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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £2795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Sri Lanka

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