The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
The Sri Lanka Wildlife and Beach tour is fairly self-explanatory – an itinerary designed for those who can’t decide between exploring the vast array of wildlife Sri Lanka has to offer, or relaxing the island’s beautiful tropical beaches. The tour begins and ends with some of Sri Lanka’s most tranquil and spectacular coastline and is filled with plenty of opportunities to spot the country’s most sought after animals, including: jeep safaris at Wilpattu National Park, the island’s largest yet little-visited park; trekking through the remote Horton Plains, which is a haven for birdlife; heading out to sea in search of whales and dolphins on the north-west and south coasts. This itinerary is available with Simply Red, Classically Red or Luxury Red properties and, as always, we can tailor the tour in any way you choose.
From your pick up at the airport transfer straight to Kalpitiya on the north-west coast (approximately three hours away) for the first three nights of your holiday. Kalpitiya offers beaches untouched by mass tourism, picturesque lagoons and a wide range of water-sports including kite-surfing and windsurfing. The waters around Kalpitiya are home to dolphins, whales, sting rays and marine turtles: go on a whale and dolphin watching expedition or snorkel around the coral reefs and spot plenty of colourful tropical fish. Relax on the quiet beaches and enjoy some spectacular sunsets.
Today you have a short journey deeper into Sri Lanka’s north-west region, moving away from the beaches towards your base for Wilpattu National Park. Your accommodation is in one of the most remote areas of the island and is surrounded by untouched wilderness, providing a blissfully tranquil atmosphere. Spanning 131,000 hectares that stretches from the coastline to the north-central province, Wilpattu is one of Sri Lanka’s largest and oldest wildlife parks and has a wide range of different natural habitats, from the coastal belt and lakes to scrublands, open grassy plains and thick forest. Numerous species of animal are found here including most of the ‘big game’ found in Sri Lanka: elephant, Sloth Bear, water buffalo, Spotted Deer and the elusive Leopard. The water bodies in the park attract many different types of bird – Painted Storks, White Ibis, cormorants, kingfishers and Whistling Teals to name a few – as well as crocodiles and water monitor lizards. As it is positioned away from the common tourist trails, Wilpattu is unspoiled and peaceful – an entire day of safari can pass without another jeep being encountered.
Today journey to the central town of Kandy for your stopover night as you move from the remote north-west region to the rolling hills of the tea country. OZO Kandy offers scenic views of Kandy Lake and is an ideal stopover for those taking the rail journey into the hill country due to its prime position just five minutes from the train station. It is also moments from the Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka’s most revered temple which is home to the sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. Visit the temple at dawn, midday or dusk to see one of the mesmerising religious ceremonies (poojas).
Rise early to take the train to Nuwara Eliya, a town nestled at the foot of a mountain which still retains much of its old colonial character. The train ride from Kandy into Sri Lanka’s hill country is one of the most picturesque rail journeys in the world: wind your way into the hills, climbing uphill to 6,000 ft above sea level, and watch the dramatic highlands unfold beneath you. The landscape is as varied as it is beautiful: pass verdant tea plantations, deep gorges and gushing waterfalls all framed by majestic mountain peaks. Spend the next day exploring nearby Horton Plains National Park, an area of wide grassy plains interspersed with small clumps of forest that is home to Leopards, deer, monkeys and a rich array of birds, including many endemic species. Set off early in the morning to avoid the midday mist and walk to World’s End, the point at which the plateau comes suddenly to an end with a dramatic 1000m sheer drop.
Travel south to spend one night at Uda Walawe in Sri Lanka’s southern-central region. Home to around 500 elephants which roam in herds of up to 100, Uda Walawe is undoubtedly the best place in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants throughout the year. Go on a half-day jeep safari in search of these mighty creatures as well as Leopard, Sloth Bear, Water Buffalo, deer and mongooses, and the Monitor Lizards and crocodiles which hide in the Uda Walawe Reservoir.
Spend the last few days of your holiday relaxing on Sri Lanka’s stunning south coast. If you can drag yourself away from the tranquil golden beaches, head along the coastline up to Mirissa, a lively beach town which has a beautiful bay and offers a host of water-sports including surfing, snorkelling, sailing and sea-kayaking, as well as boat excursions out into the ocean in search of whales and dolphins. The waters around Sri Lanka’s south coast are home to Sperm Whale, the mighty Blue Whale and acrobatic Spinner Dolphin. Reserve one night for visiting the Turtle Conservation Project in Rekawa, where you can witness marine turtles nesting. All seven species of marine turtles are endangered, so projects like this are hugely important for the creature’s protection. Five of the seven species come ashore to lay their eggs in Sri Lankan sand, and the ‘turtle watch’ is an rare chance to observe this incredible animal up close without interfering with its natural breeding ritual.
Located in the buffer zone of Wilpattu National Park, 10 minutes from the park entrance, Wilpattu Safari Camp offers 4 large tents on an all-inclusive basis and includes two game drives, all meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Palagama Beach is a tiny village in itself that spreads across acres of secluded private land in the north-west fishing village of Alankuda. This is an escapist area of wild beaches, sand dunes, and coconut palms. Guests have a choice of staying in one of three colourful wooden cabanas or one of two more spacious houses.
Centrally located in Kandy town, OZO Kandy offers 122 stylishly-designed rooms with fantastic amenities for an affordable price.
The Grand Hotel is the focal point of Nuwara Eliya, the largest and most popular town in the highlands. Once the 19C residence of a British governor, this Grand Old Dame of the Highlands seeks to attune its regular stream of package tourists to its sense of unhurried, old-time grandeur.
Kalu’s Hideaway is the brain child of the former Sri Lankan cricketer Romesh Kaluwitharana. This comfortable and welcoming eco lodge sits on a five-acre garden edged by the Walawe River. Kalu’s Hideaway has 14-rooms and is an ideal, keenly-priced location from which to explore the jungles of Uda Walawe.
The Last House, so called because it was Geoffrey Bawa's architectural swansong, is positioned on an idyllic strip of land - lagoon on one side, beach on the other - on the outskirts of Tangalle. It has long been one of best villas in the south coast and also operates as a small boutique hotel. Few villas have a better beach.
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