Wildlife holiday in Sri Lanka, private departure

“Great value, tailor made wildlife holiday to see the island’s plethora of birds, elephants, whales, leopard, buffalo, and more birds. With chauffeur guide and wildlife expert.”


Elephants at Minneriya/Kaudulla National Park | Kitulgala | Bird watching in Kelani Valley Forest Reserve, Victoria Park and Bundala National Park | Nuwara Eliya | Horton Plains National Park | Uda Walawe National Park | Elephant Transit Home at Uda Walawe | Tissamaharama | Yala National Park | Whale watching (Nov-April)

Description of Wildlife holiday in Sri Lanka, private departure

Marco Polo decided Sri Lanka as ‘undoubtedly the finest island of its size in the world’ and that description remains accurate today! This lush, tropical paradise was known to Arab traders as Serendib – hence the word ‘serendipity’, meaning discovery by happy accident – and for a small island, it has much to offer visitors interested in nature and wildlife.

Sri Lanka’s very own Big Four are here – leopard, sloth bear, elephant and blue whale – and this 15-day trip includes all the highlights of this environmentally diverse country. Sri Lanka’s 86 species of mammals, more than 400 bird species and colourful array of flowering plants and trees are all found within its 21 National Parks and in the surrounding Indian Ocean, which is alive with mighty blue and sperm whales, as well as large pods of dolphins.

The itinerary below is just a suggestion. We can also tailor make wildlife holidays to Sri Lanka and you can enjoy using our online holiday planner to piece together your own itinerary at your leisure. Explore and plan your route, excursions and activities from the comfort of your armchair, and also select the style of accommodation that appeals to you most.

The best time to come to Sri Lanka is between the main rainy seasons. Thanks to its position just north of the equator, the island enjoys an almost constant temperature throughout the year, but rainfall varies widely. In the south, southwest and Hill Country, the best time to visit is from November to April, after the southwest monsoon is over. However, the north and east are affected by the northeast monsoon during this period and are dry but hot from April to September. The Hill Country remains a lot cooler throughout the year.

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.

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Departure information

Our tailor made Sri Lanka holidays can be arranged at any time to suit you, and adapted to your requirements as necessary although we do not offer trips for under 10 days.
Our top tip:
Bring plenty of small notes for tipping and don’t be shy of putting your hand in your pocket. This is a big tipping culture and a little goes a long way.
Trip type:
Tailor made for individuals, couples, families and small groups.
Flights, accommodation, half board 11 nights, air conditioned car with chauffeur guide, park entrance fees.
Small family run guesthouses, hotels and villas.
Our partners behind this holiday promote inclusivity on all their trips and across their business and we are all committed to ensuring travellers face no discrimination on any part of the trip they control.
Dietary requirements:
We can cater for vegetarian and vegan diets.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Sri Lanka has diverse habitats and a great variety of indigenous wildlife and plant life. To help maintain breeding populations of some of the more vulnerable animal species endemic to the island, conservation projects have been started and we encourage travellers to visit some of these projects to support their conservation work.

The Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering and protect threatened species in the wild. We are an active supporter of Born Free and its animal welfare campaigns, and we encourage all travellers to be aware of potential animal exploitation while on their holidays.

For instance, we do not promote or visit Pinnewala Elephant ‘Orphanage’ following adverse reports from Travellers’ Animal Alert, the global animal welfare campaign of the Born Free Foundation we support, and some of our own customers who visited independently.

Also, we no longer visit the Turtle Conservation Project at Rekawa after feedback of the unprofessional and potentially harmful actions of local rangers as well as the irresponsible and insensitive behaviour of some visitors.

In addition, we no longer visit the Elephant Transit Home (ETH) at Uda Walawe since it was found that some handlers were mistreating the elephants. The Born Free Foundation has rescinded its endorsement of the rehabilitation centre until practices are improved and return to the standards expected by international best practice guidelines. Born Free is currently in negotiation with the ETH and hopefully we will be able to return there in the future.

Please contact us for more details.

Born Free Foundation
The Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering and protect threatened species in the wild. Born Free's Travellers' Animal Alert campaign works around the world to generate a greater public awareness of animal suffering and exploitation, encouraging the public to report animal 'attractions' they encounter both in the UK and abroad, and to promote the philosophies of the Born Free Foundation.

Throughout the world there are hundreds of thousands of wild animals exhibited in zoological collections, performing in circuses, dolphinaria and magic shows, or used as photographic props. While some establishments do appear to provide the animals with adequate conditions, many do not and these continue to thrive due to the support of the tourism industry.

Travellers' Animal Alert is about being a compassionate traveller, alerting Born Free of captive animal suffering around the world. Incorporating complaints received from concerned members of the public returning from holidays in both the UK and abroad, Born Free hopes to tackle the growing problems associated with captive wild animal welfare.

We are an active supporter of Travellers' Animal Alert and we encourage all travellers to be aware of potential animal exploitation while on their holidays. In order to help Travellers' Animal Alert, we promote the following guidelines as a provider of responsible tourism:
- Promote Travellers' Animal Alert in our customer travel documents and on our website.
- Pledge not to promote any exploitative animal 'attraction' through our company literature or website.
- Encourage all our holiday service providers not to promote any activity that involves animal exploitation.
- Encourage our staff and customers to look out for captive animal exploitation and report any suffering to Travellers' Animal Alert.
- Actively encourage compassionate and responsible tourism.

The Impacts of this Trip

Through our Sri Lanka wildlife holidays we actively encourage responsible and sustainable travel to Sri Lanka. By working on our Sri Lanka holidays closely with our associate company in Sri Lanka and other partner organisations, we are endeavouring to promote cultural exchange, social awareness, self-employment and self-development.

Sri Lanka wildlife holidays guides
We only employ English-speaking Sri Lankan chauffeur guides who are all licensed by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board. Experienced guides for trekking, safaris and other specialist activities are hired locally and have extensive knowledge of their chosen area of expertise.

Sri Lanka wildlife holidays accommodation
We actively promote small family-run guesthouses that employ local workers, or in the case of larger hotels, locally owned establishments.

Sri Lanka wildlife holidays restaurants
We encourage travellers to eat at traditional restaurants, roadside eateries, street vendors and market stalls in order for them to enjoy and experience authentic Sri Lankan food.

Sri Lanka community-led projects
The Asian Tsunami highlighted the plight of coastal communities in Sri Lanka and our initial projects were targeted at Sri Lankan individuals and communities devastated by the tsunami (please ask us for details). However, many other communities away from the coast also lack essential materials and services and our objective is to offer long-term support to such Sri Lankan individuals and communities. By channelling all donations received by Forgotten Village Sri Lanka (an independent charitable organisation) into community-based projects on the island, we hope to provide sustained assistance to these communities in their endeavour to improve their lives. We make a contribution to Forgotten Village Sri Lanka for every holiday booked.


13 Reviews of Wildlife holiday in Sri Lanka, private departure

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 27 Aug 2019 by

If I had to name one (memorable) part it would be seeing "the gathering" - 150+ elephants in one place was awe inspiring. Or perhaps seeing three leopards in one day or the sloth bears. Then there is the food.....wow Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Jun 2019 by

The country, scenery, wildlife and locals are amazing and our guide was particularly fantastic. Read full review

Reviewed on 02 Apr 2018 by

There were lots of memorable moments, here's the top few in terms of wildlife: Kaudulla National Park Safari (~200 elephants on grasslands by lake). Mirissa Whale & Dolphin Sea Safari (7 Blue Whales & a pod of ~100 Spinner Dolphins)... Read full review

Reviewed on 28 Feb 2018 by

The highlight was when an elephant came alongside our jeep and visiting the Elephant Transit Home where we saw young elephants being fed. Sri Lanka is very diverse with spectacular scenery and beaches, as well as lovely people. Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Feb 2018 by

...the beauty and tranquillity of the upper hill country especially at sunrise, getting so close to birdlife at the national parks that we could almost reach out and touch and walking around Galle Fort in the evening after the day trippers had left. Read full review

Reviewed on 24 Oct 2017 by

The wildlife and the food was amazing. Read full review

Reviewed on 20 May 2017 by

Fantastic...Seeing wild elephants against a background of lush forest and wild flowers was a photographic wonder. Read full review

Reviewed on 14 Apr 2017 by

Seeing so much great wildlife and landscapes. Spectacular. Superb. Read full review

Reviewed on 12 Feb 2017 by

Seeing blue whales was the most memorable. Brilliantly organised with lots of variation in hotels and places to see. Safe and friendly driver/guide. Read full review

Reviewed on 07 Feb 2017 by

Other exciting moments were seeing whales in Mirissa, releasing turtles on a beach whilst the most memorable moments were the peace and tranquillity staying at Sinharaja Rest and the sheer beauty of the Maldives. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Feb 2016 by

Visiting the wildlife reserves was the most exciting part of the holiday, Udawalawe being the best of them all. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Aug 2015 by

The bird watching and jeep safaris at Udawalawe were excellent and seeing the Leopard and Sloth Bear at Yala were very memorable Read full review

Reviewed on 29 Mar 2015 by

Amazing - exceeded our expectations. Read full review

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