Our experts say
For such a small island Sri Lanka is home to a staggering array of wildlife, and much of this can be seen up close in the country’s beautiful national parks.
We have specially designed this itinerary to get you off the beaten track, away from the crowded touristy safaris, and to give you a select range of wildlife experiences – from setting camera traps and doing boat safaris on the reservoir at Gal Oya, to hiking on the high grasslands of Horton Plains, and spotting leopards in Wilpattu National Park.
Remember, this is just a suggested itinerary - your own holiday can be tailored to your preference of budget, duration, locations and experiences.
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Day 1: Take to the skies!
Fly from wherever you are to Sri Lanka. From the UK the best option is overnight with Sri Lankan Airlines.
Day 2: Welcome to Sri Lanka!
We will be waiting to greet you on your arrival in Colombo. Meet your chauffeur guide who will be with you for your entire trip in Sri Lanka. Your first stop is a nearby hotel on the coast near the seaside town of Negombo, where you can freshen up and relax after your journey. Settle in to laid-back Sri Lankan life or pop out to the nearby beaches and markets.
Day 3: Drive to Kalpitiya & take a boat ride in Wilpattu National Park
Today’s interesting journey up north to Wilpattu National Park starts with a three-hour drive to Kalpitiya, after which you can hop in the boat for a beautiful ride across the lagoon to your hotel or camp.
Day 4: Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is one of the best places for wildlife in Sri Lanka, and in recent years we have heard more reports of leopard sightings here than in the more popular (and busier) Yala. Today you can have as many as three daily game drives inside the park, but the best times for wildlife spotting is generally early morning and late afternoon.
Day 5: Onwards to Sigiriya
Enjoy a final safari inside the national park before setting off on the two-hour drive to Sigiriya. Check into your hotel and relax.
Overnight in Sigiriya
Day 6: Go back in time at Sigiriya
Get up early to avoid the crowds climbing the spectacular Sigiriya rock, and explore the ruins of this fascinating and incredibly beautiful 5th century citadel. The painted frescoes in the caves are stunning.
Later on we will take you for a game drive in Minneriya National Park, where elephants gather together to drink by the ancient royal reservoir. If you’re lucky you might also catch a glimpse of a sloth bear or a leopard.
Day 7: To the Hill Country – Nuwara Eliya
Today’s six-hour drive to Nuwara Eliya can be broken up with a train journey through the hill for the final part – the trip from Kandy from Nuwara is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, passing through green hills, forests and tea plantations.
Today you can also visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy and also stop at a tea plantation.
Day 8: Day trip to Horton Plains National Park
Head out of town today for a walk in Horton Plains National Park, a beautiful area of grasslands and cloud forests. High in the hills this is a completely different side of Sri Lanka to what you have already seen. Watch out for herds of sambar deer.
Day 9: Drive to Gal Oya National Park
From Nuwara Eliya it’s a 3.5 hour drive to Gal Oya National Park on Sri Lanka’s eastern coast. The huge reservoir here is a very special place for wildlife, and the only national park in Sri Lanka where safaris are done by boat. Here you can see wild elephants swimming across the lake, and various other animals coming to the shore to drink. You can enjoy an evening safari on the reservoir after checking into your hotel, the wonderful Gal Oya Lodge.
Day 10 - 11: Explore Gal Oya National Park
Spend a couple of days enjoying the serenity and beauty of the Gal Oya Lodge and surrounding areas. There are plenty of activities organised by the hotel, including bird walks of various lengths, a morning walk up Monkey Mountain, and setting up camera traps in the evening as part of the lodge’s animal monitoring program. Or try a jungle cooking class, foraging for food and learning how to cook local dishes with the chef.
Day 12: Drive to Negombo
Start your journey home with the 6.5 hour drive to Negombo, an interesting seaside town close to the airport for the next day’s flight home.
Day 13: Fly home
Check out of your hotel before 12 noon, and we will drop you at the airport for your flight home.
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Sri Lanka, Indian Subcontinent
Our 'Sri Lanka Leopards & Wildlife' itinerary includes: accommodation, daily breakfast, transfers & drives in AC vehicle with English-speaking chauffeur guide, wildlife safaris, activities and sightseeing as indicated. Excludes international flights.
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