The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Our Wildlife of Sri Lanka tour will put you in the hands of experts. The chauffeur-guide who will take you to some of Sri Lanka’s most enchanting landscapes will have a speciality in wildlife and we will use expert guides whenever necessary as befits the relationships built up during a 20-year history as the leading specialist operator in Sri Lanka tailor-made holidays. On this tour you will discover why Sri Lanka was heralded as the finest safari destination outside Africa. Its attractions might be subtler, but our mix of endangered leopards, swimming elephants, camping under the stars, baby marine turtles, rainforest birds and whales and dolphins on the open seas makes this a tour to remember. Throw in some great hotels, good food, and a finale on a tropical beach or two and you have all the trappings of a memorable wildlife-based holiday. Red Dot champions Sri Lanka’s natural landscapes and sustainability is at the core of everything we do. So go safari with Red Dot, in a way that only Sri Lanka can offer. And remember, all of Red Dot’s itineraries can be customised any way you wish, both in terms of accommodation and duration.
Travel from the airport to the north-west coastal town of Chilaw, a journey of not much more than an hour. If you arrived on an early-morning flight, you can rest for a few hours and then visit the nearby Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary, a rare eco-system of coastal landscapes, mangrove forests and freshwater reservoirs. This is a haven for wildlife, especially bird species.
Taking a half or full day’s excursion in Wilpattu national park is an inviting way to set your wildlife holiday in motion. Wilpattu is one of the oldest and quietest Sri Lanka national parks and one of the most beautiful – a place to relax and enjoy the surroundings ahead of the pleasures to follow. Leopard spotting will be your chief target, but you may also see some of the other approximately 30 species of mammals in the Wilpattu National Park which include elephants, water buffalos, jackal, sloth beer, deer and monkeys.
Journey to the Knuckles Mountain Range, which lies east of the hill-country capital of Kandy. Named after its resemblance to the knuckles of a clenched fist, Sri Lanka’s “misty mountains” attract few tourists. Trek beside tea plantations and paddy fields, through dense forests and rural villages, listening to the soothing sounds of rushing rivers and cascading waterfalls. You might see barking deer, mouse deer, wild boar, giant squirrel and monkeys.
Today head further east to an even more remote part of the island – Gal Oya National Park. Your tranquil eco retreat for two nights is spread across a 20-acre forest edged by Gal Oya National Park and the Senanayake Samudraya, one of Sri Lanka's largest lakes. This lake is home to large herds of elephants: take an evening boat safari and, as the sun begins to set, watch elephants swimming between the tiny islands that are scattered across the reservoir.
You can begin the following day with a unique experience – meeting the Veddas, Sri Lanka’s aboriginal people. This area is one of the last remaining homes of the Vedda people, whose traditional lifestyles face tension with the mainstream way of living. On this nature walk with Gal Oya’s Vedda chief you will see hunting weapons; witness how they gather honey, and listen to songs sung in their indigenous language. A unique insight into a declining culture. Finish your day with a late-afternoon game drive in the park, which contains elephants, water buffalo, deer, crocodile and numerous species of birds.
Yala National Park is one of the island’s largest and most popular parks and is home to the greatest variety of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. It boasts one of the world’s densest leopard populations, but don’t expect to see them prowling through the park in their thousands – there are still fewer than fifty in this area. Yala also houses elephants, sloth bear, sambar deer and spotted deer, wild boar, crocodiles, monkeys and buffalos, as well as a wide variety of different birds. Early morning or dusk safaris are ideal times to visit, when the animals come out to the waterholes.
Note: You can choose an upmarket camping option in Yala should you prefer. Live in the wilderness for two days, listen to the sound of bird call echoing through the trees, dine on traditional Sri Lankan cuisine and go on game drives twice daily into the park. The companies we use have experienced naturalists and follow strict eco-friendly policies.
As you begin to join the south coast, stay near Rekewa so after night fall you can visit the Turtle Conservation Project in Rekawa to witness the amazing process of marine turtles nesting. Globally, all seven species of marine turtles are endangered – out of these seven, five species come ashore to nest in Sri Lanka. The ‘turtle watch’ is an incredible opportunity to observe the remarkable nesting ritual of this endangered animal without interfering with its natural breeding habits. Take a beach break on your second day.
Leave the wilderness of the Deep South behind and journey to Sinharaja, Sri Lanka’s last remaining stretch of virgin rainforest. Prepare to be astounded as you trek through this mysterious jungle, which is so unlike the rest of the island it is hard to believe you are still in Sri Lanka. Overrun with startling exotic colours, Sinharaja is teeming with life from top to bottom. Make your way through this muggy wilderness (leech socks recommended today!) with the strange, musical accompaniment of gushing waterfalls, babbling streams and rustling leaves.
Beach time – and your options are extensive as you spend your final three days relaxing on the golden sands of the South Coast or Galle Coast and soaking up some sun. Set off from Mirissa Harbour on your second morning in search of whales and dolphins – the waters around Sri Lanka’s southern coastline are home to sperm whales, spinner dolphins and even the mighty blue whale. Go snorkelling, sailing, sea kayaking or take a surfing lesson, or visit Galle Fort.
Located 20 minutes from the Wilpattu National Park, The Ibis is a rustic styled bungalow that offers comfortable accommodation in two bedrooms with all modern facilities that overlook the nearby lake.
One of the island’s secret escapes, Rangala House is a converted tea estate bungalow in the Knuckles Mountain Range, which provides a majestic backdrop for this property. Rangala House faces the luminous, tea-covered hills of the Dukwari Estate and has a pool set amidst abundant tropical foliage and birdsong.
Gal Oya Lodge is a tranquil eco retreat made up of several bungalows and villas spread across a 20-acre forest. The property is edged by Gal Oya National Park and the Senanayake Samudraya, one of Sri Lanka's largest lakes. This is an escapist choice for wildlife lovers.
An atmospheric wildlife hotel with well-appointed cabanas on the fringes of Yala game park which is highly regarded by upmarket package tourists and by independent travellers.
Buckingham Place is an appealing boutique hotel on a five-acre estate overlooking the tranquil Rekawa lagoon in the deep south. This is a peaceful spot in a relatively undiscovered part of Sri Lanka, a stylish 11-roomed hotel contemporary in design with tasteful interiors.
Rainforest Edge, perched above the rolling hills of Waddagala, offers one of the most restful panoramas in Sri Lanka. From this appealing eco and ayurveda property, you can gaze upon rolling tea plantations, studded with tea bungalows and factories. Rustic style in harmony with nature is the essence of its appeal, an isolated, pollution-free environment without discomfort.
Mosvold Villa is a 12-bedroom boutique villa fronting a secluded beach in the fishing village of Ahangama on the Galle Coast. This is surfing territory, a convenient drive south from Galle’s 17C Dutch Fort. Rooms have twin or double beds and are tastefully furnished with sea views.
Red Dot selects only the best accommodation in Sri Lanka, in its particular price range. Please suggest which of the three categories might most appeal to you. (You can tick more than one box).
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