Sri Lanka wildlife tour

Description of Sri Lanka wildlife tour

Explore the diverse and wonderful country of Sri Lanka in search of Blue Whales (100% success rate), Asiatic Elephants (100% success rate) and Leopards (at least one seen every time we enter Yala and Wilpattu National Parks on our past safaris).


Sri Lanka is fast becoming one of the best wildlife watching destinations in Asia. Home to huge populations of leopards, sloth bears and Asiatic elephants as well as a mind boggling array of bird species (many endemic) and some incredible endemic mammal species too. It has also become a top whale watching destination in recent years with a new population of blue whales being discovered here. This tour explores a couple of Sri Lanka’s largest national parks and offer great chances to see leopards, Asiatic elephants, water buffalo, sloth bears as well as many of Sri Lanka’s large mammals. But we also delve deep into the rainforests of Sri Lanka’s oldest protected area, the incredible and diverse Sinharaja Forest. Here it is possible to see 24 of Sri Lanka’s 26 endemic bird species as well as purple-faced langurs, giant squirrels and many species of reptiles. But the wildlife watching doesn’t end there as we also head off the southern coast of Sri Lanka and to a very rich whale watching area. Here you have the chance to see up to 10 different species of whale and dolphin on this expert guided, full board wildlife watching holiday. We have perfected this itinerary over the years and have a great success in finding leopards (100% to date) and one seen every time we enter Yala and Wilpattu National Parks as of April 2013, we also regularly find endemic bird species such as Serendib owlet and Serendib frogmouth as our local guides know their common roost locations. And since we started conducting whale watching we have a perfect success rate (100%) of seeing blue whales on our previous tours and we don’t put this down to chance. We also make sure that the whale watching boat we use for all our excursions is accredited by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and they abide by international whale watching guide lines. We are determined to make sure that the whale watching here is done in a way that means that there can be whale watching here for decades to come and that the whales do not suffer. This is a true wildlife exploration of this incredible and diverse country.

Price Includes:

Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned vehicles with an excellent local driver for all transfers. We use two brilliant full time guides; first a professional zoologist will escort you on all your excursions and also a very knowledgeable English speaking local guide who will also act as driver for all transfers. Your zoologist escort is an expert in Sri Lankan as well as Indian Subcontinent wildlife (predominantly mammals) as well as their biology and behaviour and will be able to help you identify the different species as well as interpret you what behaviours you are seeing. One of the joys of having a zoologist escort is that you will not miss these sightings as well as being able to search out some of the harder to see species that sometimes elude other safari goers. For our safaris and jungle walks we use some of the best and most knowledgeable local guides as well as our zoologist and for our whale watching trips from Mirassa we use the only certified and accredited whale watching boat in Mirissa. With years of experience in finding the whales and dolphins of the area, they know the exact areas the whales usually locate and their ability to spot whales at distance is phenomenal to see. All the excursions including jeep safaris, guided walks and whale watching trips as well as sightseeing entrance fees are also included. We have tried our best to include as much wildlife watching time in the field as possible and include more as standard than any other tour operator around. A comprehensive species list (which states the relative chances of seeing animals based on past tours) is included in the pre-departure pack. There is also a reference book library available for your use throughout the trip as well as some documentaries on blue whales which are available to watch throughout the tour.


Season – late November to mid April.
This time of year is the winter and typical dry season for Sri Lanka, this is a very good time to visit the national parks of Yala and Wilpattu as the temperatures are quite comfortable. However for the maximum chances of seeing leopards and other elusive wildlife in Sri Lanka would be when it starts to get a little hotter; towards the end of March and into April, however be aware that this is not the best time to see blue whales off the Mirissa coastline. So we recommend the beginning of March for this itinerary.

Why Choose This Tour:

• Whilst the standard itinerary below states 2 days each in Wilpattu, Sinharaja, Yala and Mirissa we are very flexible to add in days in locations and of course take days off if you wish. Whatever your budget we will look to add as much time in the field as possible.
• We not only use local expert guides with years of experience in finding mammals, birds as well as spotting the blows of whales at distance. We also interpret and add to your understanding of the movements and behaviours of all of the animals we see here. We also use a professional zoologist who has experience working with and terrestrial mammals as well as studying whales and dolphins all over the world, this all helps us in interpreting the behaviours we see as well as identifying the species in the area.
• If requested we can bring equipment such as a hydrophone (to hear the whales under the water) and also an underwater camera which will attempt to film the whales and dolphins underneath the waves.
• If requested we can also bring with us equipment like camera traps and night vision gear to help us get footage and sightings of hard to see animals after dark.
• With the help of the zoologist escort you can also have snorkelling trips along the coral reefs close by to Mirissa.
• We use the only certified and accredited (by the WDCS) whale watching operator in Mirissa and as a result we make sure that every time we go out on the water we are abiding by the international whale watching guidelines and regulations. These are set up to help protect the whales and the boats and also lead to the sustainability of the whale watching industry and most importantly the whale population.
• We are also involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of a new whale watching protocol for Sri Lankan operators. I was recently (May 2012) invited to a conference at the Sri Lankan High Commission in London to help promote and discuss the sustainable development of whale watching in Sri Lanka. It shocked me that I represented the only tour operator there.
• All the above reasons give this tour a perfect success rate (100%) of seeing blue whales on our previous trips.
• We also have a 100% success rate of seeing leopards and Asiatic elephants every time we enter Yala and Wilpattu National Parks.
• We have an unrivalled network of experts and guides all over Sri Lanka that are able to find and observe animals like leopards, Asiatic elephants, water buffalo, Sri Lanka green pit vipers, Sri Lankan blue magpies, Serendib owls, fishing cats, red slender loris, yellow-spotted mouse deer, jungle cats, rusty-spotted cats and hundreds other endangered, rare or endemic species throughout this magical land. Whether it is Yala, Udawale, Sigirya, Wasaguma, Wilpattu, Sinharaja and many other wildlife watching locations you want to visit we can arrange it. Please inform us if you wish to add a Sri Lankan extensions to this itinerary below and we can provide an excellent wildlife watching itinerary and quote for you.
• Unlike many tour operators we are willing to run this tour for a single person (on request).


We travel to a few different locations around Sri Lanka and explore 4 very different ecosystems, firstly Wilpattu on the north east coast and this is a very open wetland forest, we then head to the tropical hill forest of Sinharaja for some of the best birding in South Asia and then we head to the coastal plains and forests of Yala and the highest concentration of leopards in the world. We then head to the coast and the continental shelf just south of the village of Mirissa and into one of the most reliable locations for blue whale watching in the world.

Fitness Level:

Whilst most of the itinerary is based from a jeep and boat, there is a full day of walking in Sinharaja and this walking can be strenuous as it is hilly and the weather may be hot. We would require a good level of walking fitness and the ability to walk in high humidity and heat for over an hour.


When you book onto the tour we will send you a comprehensive pre-departure pack which will include a full packing list of recommended equipment. But here is a brief outline of the basics: We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope (although the ocean spray can be a problem on the boats) as well as appropriate clothing; which should be light and airy clothes for warm weather as well as a waterproof coat as it may rain whilst on the boat. Insect repellent is handy as there can be mosquitoes about during the evenings and nights. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day. Also if you have your own mask, snorkel and fins they are always good to have as the snorkelling is great.

Minimum Age: 16 Years Old.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sri Lanka wildlife tour


We promote the use of environmentally friendly and sustainable practises throughout the tour. We do however understand that Sri Lanka is a poor country which has only just started to take advantage of some of its incredible natural beauty (particularly the whale and dolphin populations). As a result some of the boats are not as clean as we would hope, but like anything they need the money in order to improve facilities and the money only comes with increased tourism and donations. We are monitoring this improvement and will be making enquiries into why improvements have not been made when we feel that they have the resources to do so.
We donate annually (depending on how many tours and how many guests we have taken to see blue whales) to the WDCS with a view to increasing knowledge and protection for cetaceans around the world. We are also involved in the development and implement of a set of regulations and guidelines which will make the whale watching whale friendly and sustainable. We also make sure that every time we go out on the water that we abide by the international whale watching guidelines and regulations. These are in place to make sure that the whale watching is safe for the whales and for us.
We also make notes of other boats we see which are in breach of basic environmentally friendly rules and report such boats to the authorities.
We also donate money to sloth bear leopard, elephant and Sinharaja conservation projects and contribute data and valuable information to their causes.
At the end of each we offset our carbon footprint (based on the number of tours we have completed and the number of passengers we have taken with us), with the Carbon Trust.

Wildlife Promise:

The wildlife is of course of the upmost importance to us on this tour and all other tours run by us. All pictures and videos which we take of wild leopards are handed over to the national park authorities as well as some of Sri Lanka’s leading wildlife researchers, for their ongoing studies. This helps to keep tabs on the individuals in the area and further understand the behaviour of the species; as the Sri Lankan leopard is still far from understood completely, every sighting is invaluable to conservation and research efforts. We also actively campaign against poaching and the illegal fur trade worldwide; we are also keen to report any abuse of the environment or wildlife that we see to the local authorities.
We strictly adhere to the international guidelines regarding whale and dolphin watching. These guidelines details the distances that boats of various sizes are allowed to the animals and how loud engines can be etc.
Where we see whale watching boats breach these rules (whether we are on that boat or not) we report the act to the boat management team as well as the local authorities. We also make our feeling known to the skipper of the boat if we are on the boat and ask him to move further away from the animals.
We also keep a record of all the marine life we see on each tour and record the environmental factors, this data is used by ourselves but also given to the researchers who work out of Mirissa. All the information collected in invaluable as the knowledge of this Indian Ocean population of blue whales is very little understood. We also donate our pictures to the researchers to aid in their photo identification studies.


The local community benefits from this tour purely by being employed to find the wildlife in the national parks and on our whale watching excursions. In many of the areas we visit here (including Wilpattu and Mirissa the wildlife watching industry is still in its infancy and as a result the facilities may not be up to most western standards. As a result we always look to improve the facilities and are always making suggestions and contributing to the local suppliers. This is done with a sustainable and environmentally frame of mind and we hope that within the next 10 years, Wilpattu is a popular and well run as Yala and the whale watching in Mirissa can rival that of Canada, Baja and South Africa.
Wilpattu National Park was left unprotected and closed for tourists during the conflict with the Tamil Tigers and as a result the local people lost a valuable part of their economy without any tourists visiting the park, so we aim to continually and sustainably build this industry back up in Wilpattu.
We are also working in conjunction with the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) in order to make sure that the future whale watching industry is regulated and monitored. This will ensure the long term survival of whale watching here and therefore add in job security and allow for long term development of local communities which is then centred around whale watching and eco-tourism.
By using a professional zoologist and local guides, the guides get an extra perspective of the importance of monitoring the whales and understanding their behaviour. We also regularly help to educate local people by sending information packs about whales and dolphins to schools on an annual basis.

Popular similar holidays

Sri Lanka holidays, tailor made

Sri Lanka holidays, tailor made

Independent tailor made holidays to Sri Lanka

From £1975 15 days including UK flights

Sri Lanka family holiday

Sri Lanka family holiday

A fabulous family holiday including the best of Sri Lanka

From £1255 - £1825 15 days excluding flights

Sri Lanka highlights holiday

Sri Lanka highlights holiday

An exciting mix of culture, nature, wildlife and beaches

From £1728 14 days excluding flights

Sri Lanka tour & beach holiday

Sri Lanka tour & beach holiday

Tropical island paradise with cultural tour

From £2125 15 days including UK flights

Convert currencies