Sri Lanka birding & cultural tour

“Our only 14 day tailor made trip that specialises in both birding and cultural highlights. Run by top Sri Lankan birding expert and qualified tour guide. ”

Highlights

Kitulgala rain forest | Sinharaja Man & Biosphere Reserve | Bundala Ramsar Wetlands | Yala NP | Nuwara Eliya (Highlands) | Hakgala Gardens | Horton Plains | Kandy | Sigiriya rock fortress | Polonnaruwa

Description of Sri Lanka birding & cultural tour

A two week Sri Lanka tour featuring bird watching and cultural sites is an absolute must for discerning travellers and as you’ll be accompanied by a local guide you can expect to learn just as much as you could hope to imagine. Note: Eminent birding and trekking expert Prasanjith Caldera* will organize your tour providing an expert bird watching guide from his team.

Sri Lanka is awash with bird life and is fast-becoming a twitchers’ paradise with well-over 400 different recorded species of birds. In this tour we target to show over 200 birds including all 33 endemic birds to Sri Lanka.

Migrating bird species also make for fantastic images within a camera lens or binocular sights with wintering birds coming from as far north as Siberia in a variety of flocks and in great numbers.

Thanks to Sri Lanka’s convenient shape and size, it’s possible to visit pretty much all of the island’s most important nesting sites over the course of a fortnight however, itineraries are flexible so as to incorporate individual traveller wishes and interests.

As this two week Sri Lanka tour features not only birdwatching but cultural aspects too you can rest assured that you’ll be treated to a history tour like no other stretching as far back as the ancient Chinese traders, some 10,000 years ago.

Some of the characters of the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC are bound to take centre stage as you delve into the history of Sri lanka with Buddhism, Kandy, King Kassapa and the UNESCO site of Sigiriya all notable mentions on any cultural tour of Sri Lanka.

*Prasanjith Caldera is a licensed tourist guide as recognised by Sri Lanka’s official tourist board. He is also a member of Sri Lanka’s Field Ornithology Group, the UK’s Oriental Bird Club and America’s National Geographic Society. Prasanjith has also studied Wildlife Conservation and Management at the Open University of Sri Lanka and worked alongside scientists investigating the rich biodiverse nature of Sri Lanka. Finally, Prasanjith co-composed the audio CD: The Sounds of Sinharaja.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Departure information

This trip can be tailormade at a time to suit you throughout the year. The best time for birding is September to April, when thousand upon thousands of northern winter migrants arrive.
Our top tip:
Best time for birding is September to April, when migratory season kicks in.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Activity level:
Leisurely with early starts.
Accomm:
Small, locally owned guesthouses.
Included:
Half board accommodation, transfers, A/C van or car, expert guide, entrance tickets.
Meals:
For lunch, budget £1-1.50 for great street food.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Tailor made to include any surcharges.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Sri Lanka birding & cultural tour

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

The aim of this tour is to provide a natural package of birding without the use of undesirable and harmful methods such as audio play backs, which are detrimental to both the community of rare birds and tourist industry in the long run.

We do not promote commercial sales aimed at tourists, rather we ensure that our rates are reasonable, and some of money you spend will directly and positively affect people at village level.

We seek to improve the lives of the people who affect & conserve the birding habitats by buying products and service of local guiding etc. If the visitor decides to have no meat products (to avoid health risks & other reasons), we make sure that he gets quality organic vegetarian dishes.

9 Reviews of Sri Lanka birding & cultural tour

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 04 Mar 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The birds were wonderful and I especially enjoyed Kithulgala. My guide was very knowledgeable.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I really appreciated the possibility of designing the trip to my own specification. I was on my own and felt at times it would have been good to have a friend with me as the guide and I had difficulty communicating.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Only in the sense that it was nature focussed.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?



Reviewed on 09 May 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


There isn't really one single aspect we can pick out. The people were so friendly and cheerful, the standard of some of the hotels we stayed in was excellent, others very good. It was a real joy seeing lots of new things and to experience climbing the Lion Rock at Sigiriya; visiting the Temple of the Tooth at Kandy, and Polonaruwa. Obviously to see the elephants in Yala, and our brief glimpse of a leopard along with the other animals was exciting together with our whale watching trip when we had several sightings of a blue whale and hundreds of dolphins. The many species of birds, many of them seen for the first time, was the main reason for choosing this holiday, but generally the whole holiday was memorable and exciting.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go along with the advice given and you will have a worry free very enjoyable trip. Our trip was organised by Prasanjith Caldera, and our guide/driver was Upali Nisanka and we couldn't have wished for a better combination. Upali is incredibly knowledgeable about his country, and pointed out so many things along the way that we learned a great deal. Allow them to lead you, they know what they are talking about.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


When we stopped for lunch en route we called at small local cafes etc., our jeep driver in Yala and Bundala were local people, we stopped at roadside stalls for fruit and small shops for drinks. One of our hotels in particular, the Sigiriya Village Hotel is very conservation minded, as is the Ranweli Holiday Village, and so yes, we did feel that we were making the right impact on the country. Sri Lanka needs the revenue brought in by tourism and to holiday in the manner we did, ensures that the income goes to the local people and not large tourism organisations.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was the most fantastic holiday. I was not that keen on going, but my husband is a very keen birder and he really wanted to go. I am now so glad he persuaded me, and will definitely visit Sri Lanka again, and Prasanjith Caldera will be the person we would want to organise it for us. If you want to try Sri Lanka to see the wildlife and wonderful cultural sites do not hesitate to go with this operartor
I thought the best holiday we have ever been on was a cruise down the River Nile in Egypt, but this one has definitely equalled it.

Reviewed on 15 May 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Most of it was very stimulating. Yala National Park is one of the best parks I have been to, despite the state of the appalling roads that one must use to travel through it.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Sri Lanka and southern India are both excellent venues for those interested in wildlife. We have excellent vehicles, excellent drivers and great guides who knew so much about the flora, fauna, farming practices, local economy and culture that we came away feeling that we had learned a great deal and that most of our questions were comprehensively answered.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think that our holiday ticked all of these boxes and the local people were almost to a person very helpful and friendly.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was a really excellent holiday. We had fun, we were stimulated, we were educated and we made good friends with our locals who showed us their country. We also feel that we had excellent value for money with two locals, a new vehicle, most meals, all entrance fees and other extras included for a very inexpensive daily rate.

Reviewed on 02 Mar 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable was the smiles of all the people in Sri Lanka whom we passed in our bird walks and the children who got all excited and waved and called to us. The most exciting was seeing men up in palm trees collecting sap.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do not have expectations re what you are going to see if you are going for nature. If you are going for culture, you'll be wowed by all the temples.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think it definitely benefited local people as the employees of the hotels were local; the places we stopped at to eat were local; our guide and driver are Sri Lankans; the occasional tips to locals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was great and our guide, Jith, was an incredible birder, funny, and generous. He went out of is way to respond to our needs and wants.

Reviewed on 19 Dec 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


2 weeks birding in Sri Lanka with a truly professional local guide made the entire experience both memorable and exciting. Any true birder would probably be appalled at the idea of returning home relaxed and refreshed - for us the whole point was to return exhausted and inspired, and this we did. We have relaxed and been refreshed since returning home.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Just do it. The operator knows how to put a good programme together. If you think you have a better suggestion it can be accommodated. Be prepared for the early starts which are really necessary (and some late finishes). Take an alarm clock. Sleeping pills will not be necessary. You will enjoy it.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The entire holiday was managed and delivered by local people with none of the frequently experienced evidence of larger multi national companies creaming off profits from the community. All holidays must have a degree of environmental impact but I think we trod very lightly and would hope that the degree of contact with local people had a positive benefit.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was a truly excellent holiday. 200+ bird species (and birding in the rain forest is hard work) as well as an interesting range of accommodation from the sublime to the shall we say 'unusually interesting' gave us a sense of the real Sri Lanka.

Reviewed on 18 Jan 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Our holiday was the birding and cultural tour. The whole two weeks were packed with so many memorable moments. Every day there was something new to experience but we can try and pick out a few highlights. First of all the birds, birds and more birds. My surprise at being got by a leech on the very first day! (Never felt a thing.) Sharing breakfast time at Martin’s Lodge with fabulous blue magpies. Our delight when the clouds and mist disappeared to give us clear views at World’s End. Actually seeing Leopards at Yala (a birthday treat). Beautiful scenery as we’d imagined but even more verdant and colourful and of course we’ll never forget the friendliness of all the people we met.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take leech socks and raincoats. Although Nandana, our guide, did have some socks available. As the national speed limit is only 35mph – 45mph on most roads, it takes longer than you think to get from one place to another. Be prepared to have to tip often so try to have small denomination notes to hand. Eat local dishes – the food is delicious. If you can, spend a little time either side of the tour dates to acclimatise/relax.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. Local tour company and local guides, promoting eco-tourism in a responsible way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The tour was very well organised. Jith is a really nice guy who genuinely has the interests of his clients at heart. We had Nandana as our guide and couldn’t have been happier with his skill, knowledge and enthusiasm. Overall a great holiday; great value, great fun, great experiences and great memories.

Reviewed on 25 May 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hard to choose as so many highlights and memorable experiences. Bundala Wetlands and Yala National Park were brilliant. So many birds and animals, such as Yellow Bittern, Intermediate Egret, various eagles, endangered Lesser Adjutant Stork. We didn't manage to see the leopards, got to the sighting spot a bit late, but everyone else we spoke to, who our guide had taken had seen them. Many Blue Magpies at Sinharaja rainforest. Polonnaruwa Recumbent Budda, a stone carving of magnificence and age. Releasing baby turtles back to the Indian Ocean, hope one or two are still around in two or three hundred years !!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you take a tour with this operator you can trust him implicitly. He will arrange a tour of your own specification, and provide in depth information on his country, its history, archeological sites and relics, birds, flora and fauna, etc. He will provide and organise everything you request, and be available at any hour. There will be no need to be concerned about anything at all. You can have full confidence in his organisation, his staff, kindness, generosity, tact, and his associates. Sri Lankan people are pleasant and kind.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We had local drivers, all local staff where ever we stayed. Local produce used by local people. Apart from the airfare (Sri Lankan Airlines) all our money as far as we could see went totally to local concerns - not to a large tour operator. At National Parks, patrolled by local people, and supervised by scientific research units locally, we had local guides as well as our own guide. Our air-con van and driver drove everywhere at the required 36 mph, and at this speed you can see a lot of the local scenery at ease.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


An excellent holiday. With personal service, our own vehicle at our service to go where ever we pleased, at what ever time we wanted. Our own very pleasant guide who could not have done more for us. Our best ever holiday. Some friends of ours have returned to Sri Lanka several times now, and we can certainly see why. Thoroughly recommend this tour to anyone, as he will organise it to anyone's taste and needs. But superb for all bird watchers.

Reviewed on 24 Apr 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The whole holiday was fabulous! The country is a beautiful place, our guide Jith really knew his stuff so much information about his country, the people, the culture, flora and fauna and the birdlife! We had one week visiting 5 different environments and saw so many birds and animals and lots of different areas of the island and learnt so much.Then we had 5 days at a beach hotel to relax and unwind, wish we could have had longer exploring the rest of the island.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go prepared to see some amazing sights, lots of early mornings to see all the birds with a terrific guide who offers so much for your money!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Local people were used as drivers, guides and jith used locals that he knew for various activities.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a really good holiday, tailored to our specific needs and we had a really good time. I cannot wait to go again and visit the places we didn't have time for and see some more of this lovely country. Jith is a very good guide who cares for his guests, making sure they are happy at all times. The country sells it self, its a beautiful place and so friendly and welcoming and the birdlife is amazing!

Reviewed on 18 Feb 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


This was a first class trip throughout and so no particular moment stood out.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


None. The operator had everything so well organised that travellers should just relax (as much as a demanding schedule permits) and enjoy the experience. The cultural part of the tour did not adversely affect the bird watching side as we saw a great deal en route to and from the palaces and temples. However, learning about the history and culture of Sri Lanka made the whole tour more interesting. The people we met en route were always friendly and helpful.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, very much so. Apart from all the hotels that we stayed at we had a driver and a general factotum who were excellent, we enjoyed a boat trip, visited bakeries for lunch, purchased fruit from wayside stalls, used several local guides, etc. I believe that the way the operator ran this tour would have caused the absolute minimum possible impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


One of the best of very many wildlife tours we have done over the years. The operator really is an excellent organiser and tour leader who does all he can to give his clients a first class tour. Thanks to his determination I also saw many more birds than I had expected.

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