Over the last few years Uditha Hettige and his team have developed such an understanding of not only where to find but also how to find Sri Lanka’s many and varied mammals that they can even show you where all of Sri Lanka’s smaller cat species are hybridising with the good old domestic moggie and how to recognise such hybrids. Needless to say they also know where to find the real thing!
And this is the primary aim of this holiday, Sri Lanka’s endemic mammals, of which there are a goodly number, and the smaller cats which thankfully still occur in the good numbers in Sri Lanka’s many superb protected areas. It is much easier to find Lorises, Civets, and the smaller Cats at night, so on this tour you can expect a rather unusual sleep pattern with nightly excursions of various lengths spotlighting for these enigmatic creatures as well as a reasonable amount of daylight mammal (and general wildlife) watching as well, but rest assured we won’t make it into too gruelling an exercise – there will be plenty of chance to both sleep and relax, and to enjoy Sri Lanka’s excellent cuisine.
Even just up the road from the international airport there are small forest patches where on the very first evening we should find Red Slender Loris, Yellow-striped Chevrotain, and Wetzone Golden Palm Civet; endemics all! We’ll visit the Sigiriya Sanctuary close to the famed archaeological site and here we’ll find Tufted Grey Langur, the dry zone race of Sri Lanka Giant Squirrel and the Grey Slender Loris. Few people ever notice these animals but they are often closer than you might think; a walk around our hotel gardens in Kandy might illustrate this with sightings of the endemic White-striped Chevrotain, Brown Palm Civet, and the impressive Indian Giant Flying Squirrel. In the highland sholas and grasslands of the Horton Plains we’ll find plenty of Sambar and we’ll look for Golden Palm Civet, the highland race of Sri Lanka Giant Squirrel and the Stripe-necked Mongoose. Yala National Park has become exceptionally busy in recent years with traffic jams queueing for big mammal sightings, but we’ll be able to show you mammals such as Asian Elephant, Chital, Eurasian Wild Boar, Golden Jackal, Indian Grey Mongoose, Sloth Bear and Leopard from quieter zones within the park. Night drives outside the park will allow us to meet with the gorgeous little Rusty-Spotted Cat. In nearby Udawalawe National Park we’ll see Ruddy Mongoose, Golden Jackal, Jungle Cat, Indian Flying Fox and Lesser Tube-nosed Bat. The last third of our tour will be spent in the wet zone rainforests of Sinharaja and Kitulgala where troupes of Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys are frequently encountered and where at night we can find the third of Sri Lanka’s endemic lorises, Sri Lanka Red Slender Loris. We’ll also look for the Sri Lanka Yellow-spotted Chevrotain and several unusual bat species – Wholly Horseshoe Bat, False Vampire Bat, Rainbow Bat – and in this area we’ll have the best chance of finding Fishing Cat.
There will be ample daylight time in the field and we can expect to see a wide range of birds, including most of Sri Lanka’s suite of endemic species from the magnificent Ceylon Blue Magpie to the Serendip Scops Owl, and noisy Sri Lanka Mynahs to the cryptic Ceylon Scaly Thrush. Kangaroo Lizards and a rich variety of tree frogs inhabit this green Eden alongside lots of colourful Odonata and a bewildering array of butterflies. Ceylon Birdwings drift up and down the tracks as we photograph Red Helens, Blue Mormons and a whole bunch of species with crazy names such as the Plum Judy, Aberrant Bushblue, Great Eggfly, and the Restricted Demon! There are Clippers, Cruisers, Bluebottles, Sailors and the lovely Five-bar Swordtail too.
Dates and Prices
29th February - 15th March 2024 (16 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Mammals. Also Birds, Butterflies, Odonata, Reptiles and Amphibians.
The minimum is 3 and the maximum is 6.
All flights. All transport, meals and accommodation in Sri Lanka. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature including travel insurance, are not included.
Mammal, Bird, Butterfly, Flower, Reptile & Amphibian and Odonata checklists are available.
For the majority of the tour we’ll stay in excellent modern hotels whose rooms have all the typical amenities one would expect of such accommodation including A/C, Wi-Fi and swimming pools. For the last three nights of the tour we’ll stay in slightly lower standard guesthouses/lodges where there are no swimming pools and for the one night in the Blue Magpie no wifi or A/C either. The first night is at the Golden Star Beach Hotel close to the airport. Then we have three nights at the excellent Sigiriya Village Hotel close to the archaeological site and ideally positioned for our search for mammals. In Kandy we have a night at the Hotel Tree of Life and indeed some of the trees in the ground are very full of life! The Blackpool in Nuwara Eliya is typical of the high quality resorts now available in this elegant hill station. After two nights at the Blackpool we move to the excellent Kithala Resort in Tissamaharama, the gateway to Yala for a three-night stay. We’ve single nights at the Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort and the Blue Magpie Lodge in Sinharaja, and we finish the tour with two nights in the Kitulgala Rest House. All rooms on this tour have en-suite facilities.
Easy for the most part, though occasionally some slippery trails with some uphill sections. We don’t expect to cover many miles in a day, however it is the timing of the excursions that you need to be aware of – we’ll be spending quite a part of the hours of darkness in the field and so sleep may be at less than usual times!
UK direct return flights are from London Heathrow to Colombo. Add-ons are available from various UK airports*. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement
Coastal temperatures average around 27°C, decreasing as we go up into the hills – around 22°C in Kandy and down to 16°C in Nuwara Eliya. Although normally sunny, we should expect some rain in the hills, and occasionally elsewhere.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.