Into The Wild
Your holiday begins as soon as you land at the Colombo International Airport! It is modern but friendly, and the airport officials here are warm and helpful. After the airport formalities are complete, our designated chauffeur will greet you with a trademark Sri Lankan smile and guide you to an air-conditioned vehicle for your passage to Colombo. The ride usually takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour. The commercial capital of the country, this metropolis is advancing at a steady rate and you’ll see a mix of the old and the new as you reach its city limits.
Upon reaching Colombo, we’ll check in to your hotel. The rest of the evening is yours to unwind and do as you please, after the long flight to the island. A one-of-a-kind adventure-filled day awaits you tomorrow! An early night’s rest will ensure you’re ready for what’s in store.
Arise and tuck into a hearty breakfast this morning! You can select from local favourites or continental fare, depending on what you’re in the mood for. Thereafter, we’ll check out of the hotel and make our way to Udawalawe for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The ride there will take approximately 5 - 5½ hours, but we assure you it is well worth it.
Upon reaching Udawalawe, you’ll check into your hotel and have an opportunity to get a bit of rest. Towards late afternoon, you’ll get on a safari jeep and set off into the depths of the Udawalawe National Park.
The Udawalawe National Park straddles the boundaries of both the Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces. Developed to offer sanctuary to the local wildlife displaced during the building of the Udawalawe Reservoir along the Walawe River as well as to protect the reservoir’s catchment, today it offers a world-class island safari experience to visitors from across the globe. Extending over a massive area of 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq. mi), the reserve was established as a national park in the year 1972. Previously, the area had primarily been used for a form of agriculture known as shifting cultivation or ‘chena’ farming locally. The farmers inhabiting the area were gradually relocated after the initiation of the park. A vitally important habitat for many species of water birds as well as the Sri Lankan Elephant, Udawalawe National Park has much to offer and is recognized as the third-most visited wildlife park in Sri Lanka.
After the safari experience, we’ll head back to your hotel. You’ve got the rest of the night to yourself. The sights and sounds from the park will surely be recollected as you drift off to sleep.
Breakfast is important! Perhaps more so today than other days, considering the adrenaline-filled day you’ll be encountering soon. After savoring your breakfast meal unhurriedly, we’ll check out of the hotel and head towards Tissamaharama in the South.
Before leaving Udawalawe, however, we’ve got a special place to visit!
The Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home is unique. A facility housed with the Udawalawe National Park; it was established in the year 1995 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation. It was set up with the primary focus of rehabilitating orphaned elephant calves from the wild, with the intent of releasing them back into the wild after proper rehabilitation. The Sri Lankan elephant is now recognized as an endangered species and their survival in natural habitats is increasingly threatened by human activity. Elephants in the wild are killed frequently, upon being recognized as a threat to human habitation, orphaning many elephant calves in the process. As of early 2009, the number of elephant calves cared for at the facility totalled 39. Once they are deemed strong enough to survive in their natural habitats, they are gradually released into the wild. By the year 2008, a total of 65 elephants had been rehabilitated and released.
We’ll continue the journey to Tissamaharama, thereafter. The journey will take us around 1½ - 2 hours. Once we reach Yala, we’ll check into the hotel and you’ll have ample time to relax and unwind a little. You’ve got the Yala safari experience coming up towards late afternoon!
The Yala National Park is world-renowned as a top wildlife spot and for its distinct safari experience. It is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka, and is also the second largest natural reserve across the island. With a history extending over 100 years, Yala is one of the best places to spot the Sri Lankan leopard, the Sri lankan elephant, and the sloth bear. You’ll get to see all of them in their natural habitat, all within a single reserve. One of the highest concentrations of leopards in the world is said to be centered here. The evening leg of the safari affords a different experience. You’ll have a better chance of spotting a leopard tomorrow morning, for that’s when they come out in search of water and prey. In addition to the leopard, Yala National Park is also home to a whopping 40 other mammals and in excess of 200 bird species.
As the sun begins to set and the safari experience winds down, you’ll head back to the hotel. The night is yours to rest and recuperate after the adventure-packed day you took in. An early night’s rest will help you prepare for what’s in-store tomorrow!
Arise, and after an early breakfast and we’ll head off to the Yala National Park once more! There’s plenty more to see here.
Yala is vast. A total of 1268 sq. km to be exact. There’s a lot you’ll see today, that you wouldn’t have last evening. The terrain here is mostly scrub, light forest, grassy plains and brackish lagoons. You’ll get to see elephants, crocodiles, aquatic birds, snakes, buffaloes and monkeys, up close, as your 4WD vehicle makes its way through the park. Yala is also well-known for its population of Sri Lankan Leopards. They’re not easy to spot, however. But it is in the morning hours that they’re the easiest to spot. So you’re in with a good chance of spotting the elusive leopard in its natural habitat! The safari experience is rich, regardless. For there’s so much to see here, and the island safari experience is certainly distinct from what one might encounter in the African continent.
We’ll proceed to the Bundala National Park next, for a safari experience with a difference. The journey will take us approximately 30 – 45 minutes.
Much less visited than nearby Yala National Park, Bundala has its own charm and is far more laid back. It is one of the top spots for bird enthusiasts. The Bundala National Park is a crucially important wintering ground for migratory water birds arriving on the island. It extends across an area of 3,698 hectares and is known to harbour around 197 bird species. Of them, the most famous visitor here is the Greater flamingo. They can be seen migrating here in large flocks. You’ll also get to spot crocodiles, wild boar, mongeese, monitor lizards, monkeys and the Sri Lankan elephant. The park is open all year-round, allowing wildlife enthusiasts from across the globe to experience wildlife even during the wet season.
You’ll head to your hotel, thereafter. A quiet and restful evening might be the best option, after the adventure-packed day you’ve had.
You’ve got another adrenaline-filled day ahead of you! So a hearty breakfast is in order. Choose from the local breakfast option or a continental spread, depending on what you are in the mood for. After breakfast, we’ll check out of the hotel and make our way to Lunugamvehera National Park for a unique safari ride. The journey will take us between 45 mins - 1 hour.
Lunugamvehera was declared a national park in 1995, with the purpose of protecting the catchment of the Lunugamvehera reservoir as well as to provide sanctuary to local wildlife. It extends over a massive 23,499 hectares, comprising mostly dry evergreen forests. The park is unique as it is home to 21 fish species, 12 amphibians, 33 species of reptiles, 83 bird species, 43 mammals and nearly 200 species of water birds. It is a critically important habitat for water birds and elephants. The safari experience here is quite distinct to what you’ll see elsewhere in Sri Lanka. Lunugamvehera also serves as an important corridor for the passage of elephants between Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park. The migratory period, rarely seen, is a life-changing experience.
We’ll head to the beachside town of Tangalle, thereafter. The ride there will take approximately 2 - 2½ hours. We’ll check into the hotel once there, and you’ll have ample time to rest and relax.
Towards late afternoon, we’ll visit the Rekawa Turtle Conservation Project for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Located 10km east of the town center of Tangalle, the Rekawa Turtle Conservation Project is home to one of the most important sea turtle nesting sites in Sri Lanka. The site is visited by five different turtle species, who lay their eggs in the sand here each night all year-round. Extremely rare species such as the Hawksbill and Leatherback Turtles are some of the visiting species. You’ll get a chance to join local turtle watching volunteers who patrol the beach in order to protect the mother turtles and their eggs. The experience also affords a chance for you to gather more information about the conservation project through the locals, and also to spot baby turtles making their way to the ocean. It is something you will not soon forget!
Head back to the hotel, thereafter. You’ve got the evening to do as you please. Unwind and enjoy a hearty meal for dinner, before getting a good night’s rest.
Breakfast is vitally important! Savor a breakfast comprising either local favorites or continental staples, in an unhurried fashion. We’ll check out of the hotel, thereafter, and head to the sunny beachside town of Unawatuna.
The journey to Unawatuna will take us between 2 - 2½ hours. The drive stretches along the coastline, allowing us to see the stilt fishermen in action en-route.
A phenomenon unique to the island, stilt fishing has been a tradition here for many decades. It is said that the practice developed along the coastal belt after World War II. It is an awe-inspiring sight, to see fishermen acrobatically perched on wooden poles while they fish. This is a common sight in these parts at dawn, noon, and dusk. You’ll see them primarily along the Southern coastal towns of Koggala, Kathaluwa and Ahangama. Take in the unique experience of seeing them fish, up close, and learn how to do it yourself by speaking with one of the stilt fishermen.
You’ll arrive in Unawatuna, after passing through a series of idyllic beachside towns. Check into the hotel here and relax until late afternoon. You’ve got a special experience awaiting you: the iconic Galle Fort with a local guide by your side.
It will take approximately 20 - 30 minutes to reach Galle from Unawatuna. The magnificent Fort can be seen in the distance, growing in stature as you near it.
The old and the new sit comfortably together at the Fort, as you will see from the newer, and now the main entrance to the complex. Your guide will take you through the network of religious places, shops, restaurants, museums, and houses on the inside of this iconic fortification, while recounting stories of its deep colonial influence; its religious, historical and architectural significance islandwide; the passage of daily life here; and the effects of, plus the recovery from the Tsunami in 2004. Your guide will take you through the Fort’s best-known sites as well as a few hidden pockets of culture only known to a few. The space is vast. 150 acres of exploring potential in total! As the sun recedes in the distance, you’ll take a seat along the edge of the fort to take in what is undoubtedly one of the best sunsets on offer across the island.
You’ll head back to the hotel, thereafter. A smile will remain on your face as you recount the experiences you’ve had today. A delicious meal and a good night’s rest will prepare you for what’s in store tomorrow!
Unlike other mornings, there’s no time for breakfast at the hotel today! After a quick cup of either tea or coffee, with a packed breakfast in hand, we’ll head to the town of Mirissa for a once-in-a-lifetime whale watching experience. It will take between 45 mins - 1 hour to get there from Unawatuna, and reporting time at Mirissa Harbour is 06.30.
You’re off on an adventure to catch a glimpse of the Blue Whale and Sperm Whale! The majestic blue whale, the largest creature on earth, swims in these waters. You’ll find no other place in the world where it is possible to see these giants so close to shore. Your whale watching guide is a veteran and he will guide you through the experience of whale watching here in Sri Lanka, the marine life found in these parts, the conservation efforts, and he’ll help you take in the beauty of these creatures in the wild as they were meant to be seen. You’ll have to be mindful though, that you’re not allowed to snorkel or swim with the whales unless prior permission is sought. This can only be obtained on special request, but we are unable to guarantee approval ourselves. You will forever be changed once you spot these creatures. It is a life-changing experience.
As you head back to shore, the special nature of the experience you’ve had will slowly sink in. You’ll head to the hotel, thereafter. As night approaches, the memories from your whale watching experience will come back to you in waves. A smile will adorn your face as you get to sleep.
An early start is in order for the day ahead! Tuck into a hearty breakfast, selecting from either local or continental options. We’ll head to Kanneliya Forest Reserve, thereafter, to explore its dense rainforest vegetation with your wildlife tracker/host.
The journey to Kanneliya will take approximately 45 minutes.
Just 35km from Galle, the Kanneliya Rain Forest presents a stark contrast from the coastal topography and terrain of Galle, Unawatuna and Mirissa. You’ll embark on a morning walk with your host, and the adventure will take you through dense vegetation underfoot with a thick canopy of tropical tree tops overhead. The canopy is home to scores of monkeys, snakes and chameleons. The sight and sound of birds chirping and fluttering from branch to branch above, as you plod along the jungle floor bed, will make you realise just how far into the wilderness you’ve trekked. We’ll stop for a moment’s rest and enjoy a few light refreshments right next to a waterfall and a gurgling stream. The forest runs across and through nearly 80 villages. Your host calls one of them his home. Here, he will treat you to a local lunch prepared by his wife. You’ll get to see her culinary skills on display as she goes about preparing your lunch. The highlight of this experience is getting to savour your home-cooked lunch in the shallows of a lake. A one-of-a-kind meal surrounded by nature!
We’ll head to the hotel, thereafter. The rainforest experience and the scrumptious local lunch will no doubt linger in your mind long after this day. A smile will overcome you as you recollect the day’s events, as you drift off to sleep.
It is your last day on the island. After a hearty breakfast from a choice of either local favourites or continental fare, we’ll head to Colombo. The journey will take approximately 2 - 2½ hours. The capital of this island paradise has much to offer, and we’re set to take it all in unhurriedly.
Colombo is increasingly gaining popularity as a commercial hub that seamlessly combines contemporary amenities with colonial charm and sites of historic significance right in the heart of the city. The city tour will ensure you experience, close up, the sights, sounds and smells of this distinct city. As you make your way through the different parts of Colombo, you’ll experience such highlights as the Gangarama Seema Malakaya Temple, the National Museum, the Old Parliament Building, Independence Memorial Arcade & Independence Square, Beira Lake, Odel’s flagship shopping store, Cinnamon Gardens, Laksala (a state-owned handicrafts emporium), the Lighthouse, Clock Tower & Colombo Harbour. Colombo is refreshingly different to its South Asian counterparts, and you’ll witness this first-hand on this city tour.
Depending on when your flight departs, you can opt out of a few of the above sights. It takes around 1 to 1½ hours to get to the airport from here.
As your island holiday draws to a close, the memories from over a week’s worth of experiences will surely be recollected. Recall them fondly with your chauffeur as you drive to the airport and maybe write and let us know how you felt throughout.
We’ll certainly miss having you in Sri Lanka, but we do hope that you come back soon. There’s plenty more to see and do within our shores!
Knowledge and expertise can make your holiday more canker free and fun filled.