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Best Accommodation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Best Beach Villas with Oomph!

Exploring a tiny island like Sri Lanka that packs in a whopping amount of must-do’s and must-see’s can be quite tiring. Mountain treks, wildlife safaris, Ceylon Tea experiences, train rides, temples, meeting artisans, bird watching in rain forests, cooking like locals and more!

We think you deserve a little downtime to just do nothing at our favourite beach villas. They do add that extra holiday “oomph” into your beach stay.

 

1.    That perfect 4 bedroomed Villa in Galle

Picturesque views framed by high ceilings and large shuttered doors. The spectacular Indian Ocean just beyond the villa’s infinity pool. This is a place for long, lazy evenings basking in tropical warmth. It’s even great for a family getaway.


 
 

2.    Luxury by the Balapitiya Sands – A 10 bedroomed           Villa

Just spectacular. Golden sands and rolling waves. The luxury of pastel hues, minimalist décor and the sound of waves hitting the boulders by the sea. And those sunsets you won’t easily forget.


 
 
3.    Two hidden gems by the Tangalle Beach

Light, breezy mornings with local fishermen pushing their catamarans along uncrowded soft sand into the seas off Tangalle. The oomph is in its classic style that screams modern yet cozy. Here’s a villa where discreet service and perfect luxury mingles. Warm waters just right for a swim in season. You wouldn’t want to leave. 2 Villas adjoining each other with a maximum capacity of 20 pax.


 
 
4.    Style! Style! Style! – Beach Fronted Villas in Mirissa

Perfectly located, spacious and oozing with style! The four individual villas in this beautiful beach front is given a massive dose of oomph with a 40-meter salt water pool with 24-hour access! A quiet getaway beach but with easy access to lively café’s, the best whale watching spots, spotting turtles. We think it’s great for couples or for families.


 
 
5.    An idyllic 9 bedroomed beach getaway, so close to the        Galle Fort

Think pam trees hanging over a quiet beach. The tranquil sound of waves. Extensive gardens, high beamed ceilings and stone bathrooms. A beautiful secluded beach property perfect to explore everything mystical in Galle. Oh the oomph in those stunning outdoor bathrooms, so perfect for your warm weather holiday!


 
 

Contact Ayu in the Wild holidays to add that extra oomph into your holiday or talk to us about our best tours to Sri Lanka!

 

Highlights of Sri Lanka

Colours of Galle Fort, Sri Lanka – A photo blog

A Fort with colours, art and delicacies with the perfect concoction of a colonial and local touch. The Galle Fort is a must-see place on the island – even for a few hours, where a vibrant mix of Sinhalese, Muslims, Portuguese and Dutch settlers mingle harmoniously within the embrace of its colourful brick walls.

 

Through the colonial coat of arms enters the colourful tuk tuks. Bringing a bizarre clash of culture and colour.

The old gate to the Galle Fort


 

The old-world charm infused with modern day delicacies inside quirky restaurants.

Quirky restaurants


 

A colourful fusion of beadwork necklaces that can jazz up white cotton or linen – a staple dress code on our tropical island.

Bead-work that jazz up white cottons


 

Striking bags made out of recycled materials – bold statement pieces that show you care .

Bags made out of recycled materials


 

These remnants of a century unfolding a million stories are now displayed as attention seekers that invite you to meander through open doors to stores and cafes.

Remnants of a century


 

One off décor culturally exclusive to the Galle fort in style and colour.

Out of the box decor


 

Ceylon-stone jewellery – that distinct colour and sparkle from generations old stores that dot the Galle Fort.

Ceylon stone jewellery


 

Street cafes that double up as galleries bringing colour and character.

Street cafes that double up as galleries


 

Sri Lanka’s mask heritage. So old, so dramatic, so vibrant.

The mask heritage of Sri Lanka


 

Varied hues of shawls and scarves. A radiant shield from the tropical climate.

The varied hues of the tropical climate – Scarves and shawls


 

Countless tones which change with the passing hours and season. The Galle fort offers a rich and varied palette not in just material but in its hues at sunrise and sunsets, the ocean that surrounds the Fort walls and in the tones and shade of its people. So worth a visit!
 

__________________________________________________________________
 
Talk to Ayu in the Wild Holidays Sri Lanka, for a guided tour of the Galle Fort
 
www.ayuinthewild.com
info@ayuinthewild.com

tailor-made itinerary

What does luxury mean to you?

Is it a chartered flight for aerial photographs or a trek up an unknown mountain with views over endless Sri Lankan rice paddies? Is it 5 stars of a small luxury boutique hotel or alfresco dining under a night sky of a million stars?

 

Trek up an unknown mountain

 

When we launched Ayu in the Wild many, many moons ago, we set out to redefine luxury travel in Sri Lanka. Our boundaries were the unusual and off beat. The authentic and life enriching. Connecting the inner you with our beautiful outdoors.

Connect with the beautiful outdoors

 

The luxury of cooking and tasting typical Sri Lankan sambols made in the home of a rural farming family after an incredible walk through their farm. A look into a whole new world you never knew existed.


Trek through a barely trodden path up a mountain with absolutely no one in sight, help out the mountain farmers to till the soil and then enjoy the most sumptuous meal ever. Local flavours, crisp air, just you up a mountain with simple farmers. You could even do a night of fly camping if that’s your style. Luxury outdoors!

The luxury outdoors of a humble sugar cane farmer

 

We do love the luxury of putting our feet up in some beautiful hotels that dot the landscapes of our island but just for a few nights try waking up to the sounds of the untouched wilderness. Camping deep inside one of Sri Lanka’s best wildlife parks, bathe in a river flowing with fresh water. The safari drives are as equally exciting as watching the wildlife that lap up the waters on the river bank. Luxury wildlife!

Luxury widlife

Get creative! Learn the colours of Sri Lanka while painting masks that are traditional to the island or be a part of Sri Lanka’s rhythm from its native dance to the beat of its drums. Get closer to the islands craft and livelihoods – from pottery to a household brass foundry to a cottage industry rubber factory. Luxury Experiential travel!

Up close and personal with a humble potter

 

A cottage industry rubber factory

 

Explore the island’s iconic cultural sites – Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Anuradhapura, with locals who will take you back in time thousands of years when Kings and their Kingdoms etched an indelible mark on our history. Luxury in the Cultural Triangle!

 

Enjoy Sri Lanka’s finest accommodation

 

Look beyond the thread count of luxury linen and scented baths. Immerse yourself with the people, places and experiences that makes Sri Lanka so unique. So authentic. So luxuriously real.

Why choosing a local tour operator matters

SRI LANKA – WHY CHOOSING A LOCAL TOUR OPERATOR MATTERS

Wondering which tour operator to choose for your Sri Lanka holiday?
Here’s a close look at 7 reasons why choosing a local matters.


Locals can help you travel deeper. They have a deeper connection (quite literally) with remote, rural communities that often open doors to unique local experiences that others don’t even know exist.

The Brass foundry experience is so fun – a hidden gem we curated in a simple village



Your Little Black Book! An owner-run local company is like your own ‘little black-book’, where the team has the luxury to travel frequently, get to know the newest hotels, the newly opened backroads, routes that are off the guide books, latest treks and where the seasonal wildlife has moved. It can make such a difference to how your tour gets designed.


Companies run by locals can make experiences more meaningful as they (and their Guides) know the cultural nuances, those quirky traditions and deep rooted rituals and beliefs, inside out.

Play village games with rural kids of Sri Lanka



A dash of ‘oomph’ to your bespoke holiday in Sri Lanka : can only be tailor made by people who love the challenge of constantly innovating. When your holiday includes local immersive experiences that guests wouldn’t find by themselves, it can be so different to any other tailor-made tour of Sri Lanka.


Giving back 100% to Sri Lanka : Responsible local tour operators in Sri Lanka will always ensure that Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans benefit most from your tour. Ensure that 100% of what you pay stays right here in Sri Lanka as your tour should benefit the country’s economy. Always ask if the money you pay for your tour is transferred to an account in Sri Lanka or elsewhere in the world.

Encouraging simple rural village folk to make a living



Independent : Local tour operators not affiliated to any particular group of hotels can make unbiased recommendations choosing the most appropriate from among the best, the newest or the ones with great stay-pay offers to suite each guest.


Local touch for the global traveler : Bespoke experiential holidays curated by small locally owned companies where the team is well traveled – in Sri Lanka and globally,  can stay true to being completely local, but with those discernible professional touches loved by the global traveler.

Visit a sugar cane factory


 

We would love to share some wonderful personal experiences in this beautiful biodiversity hotspot coloured by roots that go thousands of years deep. To us, its home.

 

Warm regards,

Chamintha and Rajindra Jayasinghe
Founders and Chief Explorers
Ayu in the Wild Holidays

 

Birdwatching in Sri Lanka
Birding trip reports

OUT AMONGST THE BIRDS, IN SRI LANKA

An Ayu in the Wild Naturalist’s thoughts on bird watching – 12-15 Dec, 2017 in Udawalawe National Park, the Wetlands of Tissamaharama and Yala National Park

Asian Brown Flycatcher

I was on the lookout for our endemics. But, who would ever think an Asian Brown Flycatcher flitting around catching insects among rubber trees at a quarter to noon would get the cameras out?!

12 DECEMBER 2017 – Udawalawe National Park

It was their first time in Sri Lanka.

The road from Negombo to Udawalawe was a great introduction to the island with the cities, suburbs and rural villages all lined with lush green made lusher by the recent rains that lashed Sri Lanka. Rural women tapping rubber trees to extract latex was intriguing for these guests from the built up commercial hub of Singapore. It made them very excited for the island adventures that lay ahead.

The ETD for the safari at Udawalawe National Park was at 2.30 pm.

Just after we entered through the gates, the contact call of a Yellow-eyed Babbler alerted us and the short whistling notes that we first heard was the sign that it was not a Prinia.

Close by was a dead tree and on it, an uncommon breeding resident Black-winged Kite devouring a mouse, while its partner looked longingly at the meal of small prey.  Kites hover and Eagles don’t and my guests spent the next hour hoping to spot an Eagle to compare this unique behaviour of Raptors.

Black-winged Kite

Elephants never fail to excite guests. Today was no exception with a herd of around 6 feeding, leisurely. Even the solitary males were unperturbed. It was a great opportunity to explain how to identify between males and females by their body structure.

Elephants at Udawlawe National Park

The sun was casting a fabulous glow on the beautiful Udawalawe National Park and the sunbathing Buffaloes were loving it! Overhead, a flock of Rosy Starlings flew under clear skies and perched silently on a ‘Maila’ tree (Bauhinia racemosa) enjoying this warm weather open country they visit on their long winter migration season.


Sunbathing Buffalos

Comparing the footprints of Jackals and Jungle cats inside the Park was the perfect end to an evening that set the tone for three days of bird watching in Udawalawe and Yala – a lovely experience with this family from Singapore.

 

13 DECEMBER 2017 – Yala National Park

The morning’s visit to the Elephant transit home was rewarding, seeing the baby elephants being fed and fighting for more!

The guests were excited for their first visit to the famed Yala NP but couldn’t resist photographing the nomadic Sri Lankan gypsies setting up their mobile camp by a river and fortune telling around town.

Sri Lankan gypsies camping

The ‘Bat-Tree’ near the impressive Tissa Lake was another photo worthy moment.

Fruit Bats on “the bat tree”

On our way to Yala we stumbled upon the elusive Collared Scops Owl. What a terrific start to the day! Our Ayu in the Wild Logo, commonly known as the Indian Scops Owl, sleepily gazing from the hollow of a ‘Burutha’ (Chloroxyon swietenia) tree, probably after its days fill.

Collared Scops Owl

Sharp at 2.30 pm we entered the Yala NP. Have you ever heard the sound of clattering mandibles of a flock of Painted Storks fishing? Our guests said they’ve never heard such a racket, as they observed the communal feeding of these pink feather-backed Storks side by side with a flock of Eurasian Spoonbills.

Eurasian Spoonbills and Painted Storks fishing together

A Malabar Pied Hornbill’s presence was betrayed by the loud, shrill cackling call – the females could be identified by the white ring around the eyes.

Malabar Pied Hornbill

A Black-naped Hare may not be the exciting sight, a hare giving birth to its litter was a definite tick on my checklist. Wishing her well, we left the park as the sun bowed out for the day.

Hare giving birth to a litter of two

 

14 DECEMBER 2017 – Wetlands of Tissamaharama and Yala National Park

I love these wetland bird watching walks.

A female Purple-rumped Sunbird looked ready to lay its eggs in a nest hanging from an ‘Andara’ (Dichrostachys cinerea) tree. A few minutes later, a distressed call from the male confirmed this.

Purple-rumped Sunbird in its nest

A flock of Oriental White-eyes were seen feeding on nectar but unfortunately took flight as I rustled some leaves. An alarm call of a palm squirrel distracted me and revealed a Shikra probing over for its lunch.

Oriental White eye

Shikra

On our second safari inside Yala, the sound of a gentle whistling took us to see not one but two pairs of Lesser Whistling-ducks swimming around a water hole.

A noble doe scaring off a Crested Hawk-eagle to save a frog was quite the spectacle for our guests!

Crested Hawk – Eagle

We decide to be detectives for the day and followed the newly etched cone shaped bird prints on the sand of the beautiful Common Hoopoe and eventually the track led us to one of my favourite birds.

Common Hoopoe

The evening was exciting. A false alarm by an overzealous Deer about an imaginary lurking predator set off an entire herd of Spotted Deer on a frenzied dash. A few water holes away about 15 full grown buffalos emerged from the muddy waters paying absolutely no heed to the submerged crocodile who eyed them and wisely, moved on to something its own size.

Will keep you posted when I’m next out amongst the Birds.

Senior Naturalist –  Ayu in the Wild

 

 


FAQs about Bird Watching tours with Ayu in the Wild

  • Are the Naturalists experienced?
    • Both our main bird watching Guides have traversed the length and breadth of the island and are experienced in field and scientific research.
  • Can we speak with the Guides before booking a tour?
    • Yes, we could arrange it at a convenient time for our Guides and for you – as they are mostly on the field and not in office.
  • Is it a private tour or a group?
    • Almost all of our bird watching tours are private tours but we can organise a small group tour too. Our ratio is 1 bird watching leader to a maximum of 6-8 pax.
  • What’s included into the tour cost?
    • An English speaking experienced Naturalist to lead the tour
    • Accommodation and meals as noted on an itinerary
    • Entrance tickets to National Parks
    • Cost of safari jeeps
    • Private luxury vehicle with an English speaking Chauffeur
    • A comprehensive bird check list for each guest. 
  • On the Road
    • You will be in a comfortable luxury Vehicle (Van/Car/SUV) and your English speaking chauffeur and your Guide will coordinate everything for you
  • Food
    • All accommodation can cater to varying food allergies or special requirements (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free). You don’t need to eat curries at every meal!
  • Insects, Malaria and Vaccinations
    • Sri Lanka is malaria free. We do recommend that you consult your usual GP or Travel Clinic for up to date information on vaccinations required. Use a repellent containing 20%-30% DEET to prevent mosquito bites. Citronella Oil is a great natural remedy for preventing mosquito bites but ensure you are not allergic to it.
  • Beyond birding
    • Well the Rough Guides has described us as a tour operator that can get you under the skin of the island. With our wide network of local contacts and curated authentic local interactions, we call them our ‘immersive luxury’ experiences.
Birdwatching in Sri Lanka

Bird Watching in Sri Lanka, what to look for!

So it’s December! And we’re twitching to tilt our Sri Lanka Blog to resemble more a bird blog than anything else. More so because our Ayu in the Wild Naturalists are logging in their incredible trip reports. The 33 endemics are out there in numbers and the migrants have winged their way to our island to buff up the species count.

 

Here’s what to look for to spot these 8 out of 33 endemic birds of Sri Lanka!

 

  1. Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill

Its call will betray its presence for sure. Quite grotesque looking but we love these endemics, especially their brilliant partnership whilst nesting. The female confines herself in a tree cavity during nesting season, admirably plastered with the male’s and the female’s beaks leaving a narrow hole for the male to send through food. Can be seen spotted close to Sigiriya on day 2 of Ayu in the Wild Holiday’s 14-day birding tour across Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill

 

  1. Sri Lanka Green Pigeon 

The sight of a flock numbering hundreds close to the last remaining water holes during the dry season is incredible. On day 4 on tour, deep inside the thick foliage you are likely to hear the beautiful courtship song of the male which our Guides will pick up for you.

Sri Lanka Green Pigeon

  1. Greater Crimson – backed Flame back

Out bird watching in Yala National Park on day 8 with Ayu in the Wild Holidays, this shy bird although not rare is definitely a worthy sight. Usually seen snooping around trees for its daily fix of worms and beetles by using its powerful beak to generate sounds resembling the vibrations of a jack hammer and confusing its prey.

Greater Crimson – backed Flame back

  1. Brown capped Babbler

Spotted hanging around in small flocks this tiny endemic with the demure call is extremely active making bird photography a challenge to say the least!

  1. Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

The gorgeous blue and chestnut plumage and the fact that they hang around in pairs or more allows for guaranteed sightings of this exotic bird in the Sinharaja rainforest on day 10 with Ayu in the Wild Holidays. This stunning endemic is not illusive or shy in the least.

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

  1. Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler

Even though the bird is not rare or threatened a keen eye and sensitivity to different calls of birds is required to track this bird. Its unusual nest made with moss, ferns and grass roots is quite a sight as well!

Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler

  1. Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot

The bird that sleeps like a bat is seen around Sri Lanka from Hill country to mid country backyards. Always seen devouring juicy fruits before anybody else has a chance to pluck them. Incredibly interesting treks around Kitulgala on our birding tours yields quite a few chances to spot this bird.

Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot

 


Contact us at Ayu in the Wild holidays for your Bird watching tour this season!

Best beaches in Sri Lanka

Instagram worthy romantic beaches of Sri Lanka

Dreamy beach getaways on an island with your significant other where each hour of the day is a different hue of Instagram worthy beaches! What could get better?

Think luxury villas with discreet service, spa resorts and some of the best beach hotels in Sri Lanka where you awake to sweeping views of a turquoise, warm Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka certainly hits the sweet spot.

Where in the world is Sri Lanka?

Well, this speck of an Island where you are spoilt for choice between doing nothing by the beach and packing everything in from wildlife to 2500 year old culture to adventure and tea experiences, is just a 4 to 4 ½ hr flight from Dubai and Singapore. Check out flight deals to Sri Lanka on Sri Lankan AirlinesEmiratesSingapore Airlines and Qatar. Here’s an island which Emirates Woman picked as one of five romantic island getaways from Dubai!

Ayu in the Wild staff picked out their guide to 8 of the most romantic beaches in Sri Lanka.

  1. Negombo beach

Travel time – 20-minute drive from the airport, 45 min. drive from Colombo city.

Negombo Beach Boats

Photo Credits – Indi Samarajiva via Flickr

Oh those sail boats on this Instagram perfect beach along the west will take your breath away. This beach remains fabulous most of the year. Quintessentially, a fishing town, Negombo is worth a night or at most two and is so, so close to the Airport.

Take a boat ride on the lagoon, walk through local markets, observe the traditional fisherman at work or take a peak into locals making toddy. That’s only if just lounging on the beach is not your thing.

 

  1. Jaffna Casuarina beach

Travel time – 3 hr drive from Anuradhapura, 3 hr train ride from Anuradhapura and a 2-hr flight from the BIA International Airport Charter Flight from Cinnamon Air where an Ayu in the Wild Chauffeur will pick you on arrival.

Casuarina Beach

Photo credits – Suthersan Suthakaran via flickr

Tours to the unexplored North of Sri Lanka beckons travelers to Jaffna after many decades.  The choice of accommodation is just right for this uncrowded region; a few hotels and some private villas tastefully furnished. Casuarina beach about 40 minutes away from the railway station leads to calm shallow water which you can wade in for miles as it’s protected by a reef. This beach is so untouched you can see the surprise in the locals eyes!

Wondering about other things do in Jaffna? We love Jaffna food! Try curries to the freshest sea food and a myriad variety of Mangoes. November to March in Jaffna is great for bird-watching or explore the beautiful Delft Island with remains of a Portuguese fort and wild ponies on the loose. Walk through local markets or absorb the rhythms, fervor and faith inside Nallur Kovil and finally climb up the Jaffna fort walls and capture that Instagram worthy sun set. Just perfect for 2 to 3 days!

 

  1. Nilaveli Beach Trincomalee

Travel time – 2 hr drive from Anuradhapura and Sigiriya and 45 min flight from the BIA International airport.

The turquoise east coast calm waters and white sandy beaches best visited from April to September makes Nilaveli perfect for a romantic holiday by the beach. (Hint: Best Instagram worthy picture is when the sun is out and the Dolphins and Whales make an appearance)! Highlights of Trincomalee are the old Fort Fredrick, the Koneshwaran Kovil and snorkelling at Pigeon Island.

Don’t forget those spur of the moment visits to see fishermen pulling their nets in at small coves of beaches and visits to the tiny local markets that Ayu in the Wild always throws into each tour!

  1. Arisimalai beach Pulmudai

Travel time – 6 hr drive from the airport, 2 hr drive from Trincomalee beach, 3 ½ hr drive from Jaffna and a 50-min flight from the BIA airport.

Secluded, off beat and almost off the map. Certainly not your usual pick of the best beaches in Sri Lanka as there is no accommodation nearby. Yet, this tucked away beach in the deep north-east coast off Trincomalee is one of those random picks where you can take a couple of beach chairs or a mat, pack in some snacks, lunch and sunscreen and spend a quiet few hours on a calm beautiful beach. The Thiriyaya Vatadage though in ruins still remains one of those unique places to visit in and around Trincomalee and can be coupled with a visit to Arisimalai.

  1. Tangalle

Travel time – 4 hr drive from the airport, 1 ½ hr drive from Galle and a 1 hr drive from Udawalawe.

Private beaches! Need we say more? Tucked in far away from crowds, those quiet, quiet sandy strips bordering the deep waters of the southern beaches in Tangalle spells the ideal atmosphere for intimacy. Best visited between December and April. Tangalle has yet to hit the Instagram worthy list of beaches (and we hope it stays that way to keep crowds at bay)!

Book the holiday specials with Ayu in the Wild at the super, super luxury Anantara and Aman Resorts or unique stays at Eco Lodges and explore the beauty of a temple upon a 200-meter-high rock, meet the rural people of the South for authentic local experiences and take guided safaris to Udawalawe and Yala National Parks, bird watching safaris in Bundala National Park and Kalametiya bird sanctuary.

  1. Paasikudah

Travel time – 1 hr drive from Polonnaruwa, 2 hr drive from Sigiriya and a 30-min. Daily flight from the BIA International airport. An Ayu in the Wild Chauffeur will pick you on arrival and whisk you off to your luxury beach resort.

Serene beach of Paasikudah

Iconic, luxury, high- end accommodation in Sri Lanka dots this east coast beach, and miles and miles of crystal blue waters will lure you to….just do nothing. A perfect foil to the excitement of our guided tours in Sri Lanka’s incredible World Heritage Sites of the Cultural Triangle, a short hour or two away.

If you must take a break from the lazy days of summer sun, here’s our top pick of Instagram pictures worth taking in Pasikuda Sri Lanka;-  ride jet skis, take in a morning of water sport, a spa treatment in the luxury resorts or spend a fun morning out on a Yacht.

  1. Kalpitiya

Travel time – 3 hr drive from the airport. 1 hour 30 minutes to Wilpattu National Park and 2 hours to the World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura.

Kalpitiya Highlights

A scenic drive along the west coast with the inviting waters of the Indian ocean on one side and farmlands and salterns on the other gets you to Kalpitiya. Best visited from November to April. Luxury accommodation in Kalpitiya adds to the aura of this romantic hideaway in Sri Lanka.

Uncrowded beaches, great beach side dining, and boat safaris to go deep into the sea to photograph the friendly bottle-nosed dolphins and Whales. Here, is your instapassport post card from the world kind of place!  For that touch of adventure on tour, book a privately guided safaris in Wilpattu National Park are just a 1 ½ hr drive away

  1. Mirissa beach 

Travel time – 1 hr drive from Galle, 3 hr drive from the airport and a 2-hr train ride from Colombo.

Whale watching on a private yacht from Mirissa

Yes, Mirissa  made it to Sri Lanka’s Most Instagrammed Places! And with reason. Intimate boutique villas that redefines luxury. Private luxury villas where the worlds rich and famous holiday, discreetly. Sun dappled and moonlit beaches makes Mirissa definitely a romantic beach escape with so much to do, if you can bear to be away from a stroll along the beach under the purplish hued orange skies.

Visit the eclectic Galle Dutch Fort with its cobblestoned alleyways, take a Cinnamon walk with a traditional Sri Lankan lunch for two and that unique experience launched by Ayu in the Wild a private safari on your own luxury Yacht to photograph Blue Whales, guided by a marine mammal specialist between November to April.


Contact us at Ayu in the Wild, holidays for tailor-made itineraries to make your beach stay extra special.

what to do in Sri Lanka

Top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka

  1. Those train rides are something else!

    Epic train rides in Sri Lanka

Reach the unreachable with an epic train journey through misty mountains, majestic waterfalls, spooky tunnels and tea swathed mountains. Be awed by the 9 arches bridge in Ella or the humble tea plucker gazing at you closer to Kandy. Or opt for the coastal route where the rhythm of the train merges with the wafting breeze of this Indian Ocean island.

  1. Visit the ancient rock citadel of Sigiriya.

Bloomberg’s latest wonder of the world is nothing short of a skyscraper. Hike up the face of the Lion Rock to see the remains of a 14th century rock palace, climb down marveling the complex irrigation and construction.

  1. Cycle ride through crumbled ancient civilizations

    The ancient library found in Polonnaruwa

Way before Machu Pichu are some curious and amazing Stupas, rock carved Buddha statues and University Complexes that housed thousands. Pedal through these historic world heritage sites and learn tales of the past with Ayu in the Wild’s knowledgeable guides.

  1. Trek the misty paths by foot

At the heart of the hill country feel the cold breeze, breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the distant sound of a lapping stream, watch the creation of clouds with mist around you and find a trekking adventure tackling the steep moss laden steps of the mountain.

  1. Explore the wild island that’s only just over three times the size of Kruger National Park.

    Leopard at Yala national park

Easily one of the best Biodiversity Hotspots in South Asia, here’s an island where you can safari to learn about (and photograph) a myriad of wildlife from Lichens to Leopards. Trek with our Edu-Guides to see the beauty and richness of the fauna and flora at Horton Plains or enjoy a wonderful bird watching holiday. An island that’s one of the best for safaris in Asia with the many blocks of Yala National Park being billed as best game parks outside of Africa.

  1. Canoeing, Sailing or White-water rafting.

Water adventures that take you off road! Canoe gently along a river, sail in Mirissa, Paasikuda or Trincomalee or go white water rafting along the adventure packed Kitulagala area. The beauty of this islands 103 rivers and 1340 Km coastline will awe you.

  1. Chill out or go snorkeling at the tropical beaches

    Whale watching on a private yacht

Stop dreaming of spending a day by the beach and come to Sri Lanka the Island that has a beach at every end! Just do nothing or pack it all in; snorkeling, sailing, whale watching on a yacht, surfing, deep sea diving or even Ship wreck diving!

  1. Real camping deep inside a national park

Experience authentic African-styled wildlife camping. Private safari camps with full on service team in the midst of the National Park, where you are the first out on safari to spot leopards, elephants and bears. Nothing like it!

  1. Take a closer look into Sri Lanka’s traditional lifestyles

    Pottery by a local artisan

Join Ayu in the Wild to get insider access into the authentic Sri Lankan lifestyle. Meet local artisans who create wonderful things from brass and clay in their tiny villages homes. Cook-like-the-locals, enjoy a homestay, sit down to a meal with a farming family, walk through spice estates, taste the many tastes of Ceylon Tea. Oh, the list is endless!

  1. Witness the largest Asian Elephant gathering in the world

    Elephants at Asia’s largest gathering

    Witness the largest annual gathering of the Asian elephant. Ayu in the Wild’s insightful guides will tell you all about their behavior, how moms and babies interact and why they meet here on the banks of the beautiful Minneriya tank. This spectacle has put Sri Lanka on the map as one of the top safari vacations in Asia.

     


     

    Contact Ayu in the Wild holidays to add on more unique experiences or talk to us about our best tours to Sri Lanka!

     

Responsible tourism

Sri Lanka tours with a purpose – Classrooms in the Wild

Off the beaten track and into Classrooms in the Wild. Join Ayu in the Wilds attempt to educate rural children to become future conservationists. It’s about how these kids can play a major role in building a sustainable livelihood for them and the communities they live in.

 

Kids enjoying a game of cricket with our guests

Our initial efforts have paid off, and these Cricket and Soccer crazy barefoot kids have moved on from playing with deflated soccer balls and remnants of farm tools to playing cricket with actual bats and balls, while interacting with our guests have given them incredible confidence in using simple English words during their games.

Photo time! Kids from Singapore and the UK posing with rural kids

Here’s how your tours helped give back to these rural kids in Sri Lanka as part of our ‘Classrooms in the Wild’ outreach initiative.

1
An Ayu in the Wild guide opened their eyes with fabulous insights into how important Elephants are to preserving habitats and how these amazingly intelligent animals must cohabitate with humans in rural Sri Lanka. It helped the kids understand the ‘Human-Elephant’ conflict that rages around their rural farmlands from a different point of view.

Ayu in the Wild guides presentation on the importance of elephants

2
We believe travel is a truly life changing experience. Taking the kids on their first ever safari (although they live just a few miles away from the famous Minneriya National Park) made them realize the importance of conservation. That wilderness habitats are essential to keep elephants away from their parent’s farms. That, elephant babies need safe habitats to thrive.

Kids on safari to understand elephants and their behavior

The Gathering helped the kids understand the nuances of wild elephant behavior and how these National Parks with large herds of elephants can bring in incredible tourism revenue to the country only if the safaris are done in a responsible manner. We live in hope that someday these kids will also become strong advocates of banning elephant back safari rides which are promoted by many adults in their communities

Kids enjoying themselves on safari.

3
Many rural kids in Sri Lanka do not have access to good English education – and this stifles their future. With poor access to the internet, no access to English newspapers and a library that was broken into by rogue elephants, these kids stand very little chance of improving their English language skills. Except, during the weekly English class done by the Village Headman voluntarily and when interacting with foreign guests. A visit to a rural village, packed with fun and games with these primary school kids from the village, is an experience our guests truly never forget! Nor do the kids.

Guests playing games with the kids

English books that our guests have so generously given have been a great teaching resource to the voluntary teacher and to these adamant learners to explore the language. If you ever join our tours – do please consider bringing English Language Teaching Resources (eg: flash cards etc). It would really help. Ayu in the Wild does not encourage any cash donations.

Guests helping the kids read and learn

A touching gesture by one of our guest families, Jo and Chris Harrison, who went that extra mile to compile these beautiful photo books of their unforgettable times playing with the rural children. No doubt, the photobooks will be leafed through by the entire village for years to come! Thank you Jo and Chris!

Photo book – an incredible gesture done by our guests as a gift to the rural school kids.

4
The world is big and full of possibilities. Our latest endeavor is to show these kids the world beyond what they know, exposing them to more career opportunities.

Presentation by Cinnamon lodge on career options within the hotel

Ayu in the Wild hosted a day of fun, inspiration and career guidance for these kids – partnering with the staff of Cinnamon Lodge Habarana to give the kids their first EVER glimpse inside a 5 star Hotel.  The kids spent a day interacting with the Hotel’s staff from Chef’s to Naturalists to Service staff – some, from the vicinity of the kid’s village homes. The hands on experience into how a 5 star kitchen operates was the hit of the day  – especially when they tasted their own pasta creation, learnt how to thicken a sauce and saw the wonderful potential of making chillie ice-cream! It truly inspired the kids to think beyond their farms and rural lifestyles and realise that they too could aspire to careers in the tourism industry – if only, they strove to improve their English language skills!

Rural kids enjoying a game at the Hotel after an insider’s look into a 5 star Kitchen

“Classrooms in the Wild is just in it’s infancy! Yet, it’s been one of our most fulfilling achievements as owners of Ayu in the Wild. Each year, we try to inspire these rural kids with some unique experience that will give them a new perspective of our world”

Chamintha and Rajindra Jayasinghe
Owners – Ayu in the Wild

 

Rural kids  after their first ever 5 star experience hosted by Ayu in the Wild and supported by the staff of Cinnamon Lodge Habarana

Someday, we hope these children can become advocates to help natural habitats survive, and influence more regulated and responsible tourism which will be the catalyst to sustainable livelihoods within their rural communities. The Junior Ranger Holidays are part of our efforts to raise funds for our goal.

 


 

Join Ayu in the Wild Holidays on an experiential holiday, that truly gives back.

Highlights of Sri Lanka

Architectural Marvels of Sri Lanka

Discover the story of a nation’s brilliance with some unique architectural experiences on offer in Sri Lanka. From challenging irrigation systems devised by Kings, to novel monsoon architecture of a brilliant 20th century Sri Lankan architectural maestro. Here’s a Guide to just 5 of the best examples of architectural mastery Sri Lanka has nurtured throughout the years.

1    Yala National Park – challenging irrigation systems

Deers of Sri Lanka

Man made water tanks in Yala National Park, a haven during drought

Yala, the most visited wildlife destination in Sri Lanka, prior to National Park status was a farming land under the rule of a visionary Singhalese King during the 1st century BC. In the art of successful farming he built large tanks to store water, each tank filled by the spill waters of the one above it through superior irrigation skills in a time of manual labor and zero automation. Throughout the years, the jungle took over, making the king’s masterpiece a haven during the drought to the animals that call this luxuriant wildlife Sanctuary, home. Learn more fascinating facts on tour with the Natural History Guides of Ayu in the Wild.

2   The Royal Palace in Polonnaruwa

Cultural Triangle

Polonnaruwa Royal Palace

Central Air conditioning in the 11th century? This 7 storey palace was built to be several degrees cooler within it’s incredibly massive walls to beat the scorching heat of Polonnaruwa. King Parakramabahu 1 certainly was a master of Sri Lankan principles of architecture designing his Palace with 2m to 3m thick walls, a predominantly wooden structure and a Pagoda style roof with approximately a 1 to 2 feet gap between the upper and lower roofs. On a privately guided tour with Ayu in the Wild glean more insights into the layout, art and architecture of more paragons in Polonnaruwa.

Srilanka Culture

Polonnaruwa is a wonderful example of ancient construction technique

3   Heritance Kandalama Hotel – the masterpiece of Geoffrey Bawa

#heritancekandalama bound with the spirit of nature For more details visit: www.aitkenspencehotels.com

A post shared by Heritance Hotels & Resorts (@heritancehotelsandresorts) on

Right there among the many ancient Sri Lankan Kings stands the 20th century brilliant mind – the ingenious Geoffrey Bawa the most famed architect of Sri Lanka. His modern day mastery at creating a harmonious relationship with the environment through monsoon architecture makes him Royalty in Sri Lanka’s architectural heritage. The Heritance Kandalama Hotel is an astonishing belvedere built into the rocky outcrop with no earth moving machinery used, blurs the distinction between the natural and the man-made with an ambience of luxury and sophistication. Kandalama Hotel is one of Ayu in the Wild’s top picks for luxury accommodation in the Cultural Triangle and an excellent base for visits to the Dambulla Cave Temples and a safari in Minneriya National Park.

4   Local Village Huts.

Local experiences Sri Lanka

A lovely example of a wattle and daub local house in Sri Lanka

Away from the beaten track and blessed with lakes, fertile soil, natural beauty and abundant wildlife live simple Sri Lankan folk: unpretentious, humble but functional. Their homes are models of vernacular architecture. Local village huts are built with adobe (wattle and daub) walls and roofs of woven coconut fronds ideal to tropical climates, these huts are built with a mechanism that absorbs the cool moisture at night and let it out during the day when its warm. Each one creatively built with an unwavering sensitivity to the environment. Visit these earthy havens with Ayu in the Wild and interact with local farmers and rural kids – an incredible experience on your tour of Sri Lanka.

5  Sigiriya Palace.

Sigiriya Srilanka

Sigiriya Lion Rock

A marvelous feat built through fear gave rise to an ancient skyscraper. Built on top of a 600-foot rock lies the palace ruins of a fugitive king. Along with a remarkable network of subterranean water channels made out of terracotta pipes and unplugged bubbling fountains amidst Asia’s oldest pleasure gardens. The phenomenal idea of converting each drop of rain to a symphony of water through gravity and pressure gave rise to one of the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. Privately guided tours by the Guides of Ayu in the Wild to the Lion Rock in Sigiriya is an awe inspiring lesson on architecture, fugitive Kings, battles and victories of the 5th Century.

 


 

Immerse yourself in the exquisite architecture all around this stunning island with our “Inner You –Outdoor Sri Lanka” Tours by Ayu in the Wild. Contact Email: info@ayuinthewild.com or whatsapp us on +94 777 248 1100

Responsible tourism

Those Elephants, your Carbon Footprint and our Ozone Layer!

Does the Ozone layer ever come to mind when planning your next summer or winter holiday? It should! Because, little things matter a lot to the environment.

Wilderness walks can be as fun as a traditional safari!

And it’s not just you and I that suffer with climate change. Every creature on earth does, but you and I have a choice. Here are 6 responsible travel tips that Ayu in the Wild adapted into our tours, which you as a traveller can use to protect the only layer that keeps our world healthy. Enquire about our Low Carbon Footprint Tours

  • Green Accommodation:

    Book Eco lodges and hotels with organic farms or ones that “buy local” because the further the food travels the more nitrous oxide is produced by the engines that bring them to you!

A remote and beautiful Eco lodge surrounded by trees

Sri Lankan meal cooked by using fresh, home grown produce.

  • Eco miles :

    From using hybrid vehicles for our tours, to carefully planning out a tour that doesn’t call for a detour = minimize unnecessary mileage = low carbon travel plan! That’s what a responsible tour operator should do.

Home grown and picked – no use of carbon emitting machinery

  • Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!

    How many plastic water bottles do you think we purchase for each tour? Ayu in the Wild chose to recycle all water bottles at recycling centres at Kandy, Colombo and within the cultural triangle. Ask our Chauffeurs to take you to the recycling stops in the World Heritage Sites of Kandy and Dambulla to drop off used water bottles.

Villager using plastic bottles to grow fresh produce.

  • Walking safaris and Nature Treks:

    Minimize jeep safaris for its obvious environmental dangers, we curate hikes, nature treks, bush walks etc. to see animals. Our guests love them!

Nature walks are fabulous with Ayu in the Wild’s interesting guides.

  • Traditional insect repellent :

    Avoid all aerosols and choose traditional, eco friendly remedies to repel insects and mosquitoes. Citronella oil is an excellent mosquito repellent, while salt water, soapy water and Leech Socks are great when trekking in rainforests.

  • Mobile campsites :

    Stay in mobile tented campsites that are set up just a day prior to your arrival deep inside the jungle. Showers and camping toilets are set up in separate tents. Large cooler boxes are used to store food which are cooked just before each meal. When you leave, the camp is dismantled. One of the eco-friendliest methods of camping rather than permanently set up campsites.

Mobile campsites with the right amount of luxury that does not intrude on the environment.

Are you a ‘with-nature’ kind of traveler? 


Book with Ayu in the Wild Holidays if you are looking for a Low Carbon Footprint Tour and choosing a responsible tour operator matters to you. We think of everything!

Culture Srilanka
Highlights of Sri Lanka

The sheer brilliance of the ancient Kingdom of Polonnaruwa

If you find the architecture of the Pantheon in Italy intriguing, cycle through Polonnaruwa with Ayu in the Wild, for some incredible insights into the medieval Kings’ brilliance that turned an ancient capital into a magnificent World Heritage Site.

The royal palace in Polonnaruwa

Cycle to the kings seven storey palace with its intriguing drainage system and private pool. Learn from our guides how the King planned it to be built several degrees cooler.

Cycle around Polonnaruwa

Tour the King’s religious sites that are today, architectural marvels where ornamentation was the order of the day, and what manual labour achieved surpassed any brilliance of modern machinery. Here lies the grandeur of Sri Lanka’s Royal Kingdoms in a city of monasteries, domes reaching to the skies, the most elaborate moonstones on the island,  sculptures and carvings of Gods and Dwarfs.

Cultural triangle

Magnificent temples at Polonnaruwa that dominates this city of monasteries, after Anuradhapura fell into ruin

Explore the impressive ruins, in-scripted stone tablets that weighed tons and were brought from hundreds of kilometers away. Then there’s the meticulously carved statues of Gal Viharaya. Gigantic figures hewn from granite, testimony to the reign of the legendary King Parakrama Bahu.

Stone Inscriptions

Hewn out of granite rock, the Gal Viharaya houses gigantic figures, this one an incredible 46 feet

Get familiar with the 10th century teaching hospital. This ancient medical school within the “Alahana Pirivena” monastery conducted abdominal and chest cavity open surgeries with sterilized equipment.

While in awe with primitive surgery an Ayu in the Wild guide will tell you all about how the equipment was sterilized. The astonishing, ancient ayurvedic doctors also specialized in treating nerve issues. Patients were dipped into special baths filled with herbal oil.

 

Alahana Pirivena monastery

Take a peek into an old shepherds cave that is now home to dozens of monkeys – the film locations for Disney’s Monkey kingdom. If you ever wondered if Polonnaruwa would be interesting for kids on holiday in Sri Lanka, there’s your answer. The entire cycle tour of Polonaruwa is like a guided tour of scenes off the movie! From an ancient human kingdom to a modern day monkey kingdom Ayu in the Wild Holidays makes sure Polonnaruwa is covered.

Castle rock film location of Disney s Monkey Kingdom


 

Explore Polonnaruwa and complete the cultural triangle on your family holiday with Ayu in the Wild Holidays Sri Lanka, a responsible tour operator.

Sigiriya with kids
Highlights of Sri Lanka

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka – 7 tips to get you to the top and back!

Here are Ayu in the Wild’s 7 tips for climbing the ever famous Sigiriya Lion Rock, part of the cultural triangle in Sri Lanka!

Sigiriya SriLanka Steps

Sigiriya Sri Lanka

 

1.
It’s 1236 steps to the top! Comfortable clothing and shoes or sandals with a good grip are a must! Even though you no longer need to be fleet footed to avoid boulders laid as enemy traps many centuries ago by the 5th century King.

2.
Carry plenty of water with you! Ayu in the Wild always keeps a stack of bottled (iced) water in the vehicle as the water fountains set up 1500 years ago, do work, but are not for drinking off them!

3.
Read about it’s history or better still trek in the company of our best guides in Sigiriya, so you get those little insider details of history, culture, the king’s guards and how the king found his way in the dark using glowing white quartz.

Guided Sigiriya

Guests explore Sigiriya


 

4.

If you’re on a family holiday keep your kids interested with an Ayu in the Wild guide who will make them think of scenes off the Jungle Book as you weave through the maze of steps!

5.
Best time to climb Sigiriya? Early morning treks are best (think 7 am starts!). It helps to avoid the harsh sun, the crowds and great for photography. It’s the best time to avoid any wasps too.

6.
Leave about 2 to 2 1/2 hrs to climb to the top and back. With plenty of stops to catch your breath. Don’t miss the 5th century “Facebook” – the “mirror wall” and the unmissable views right at the top.

7.
Apply sun block but watch your hats! The sun and wind play a ferocious game up there.

Exciting Sigiriya

Sigiriya

 


Join us at Ayu in the Wild Holidays  with a tailor-made itinerary for a truly exceptional climb up the 1500 year old rock!

Take a look at our Guest reviews…Responsible Tour Operator

 

Birdwatching in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Bird Watching Tour – the Endemics

This 14 day bird watching tour in Sri Lanka with time to explore areas off beat and bird watching at night, is perfect for those looking for a more private birding experience with experienced and flexible Naturalists. This tour of the island’s avian fauna and natural history covers all climatic zones of the island, and offers a chance to spot over 250 species and a richer experience of diverse species habitats and elevations.


Yellow-eared Bulbul

Birding Tour Itinerary

Day 1  
Anuradhapura: On arrival, you will be met at the Airport and transferred to Anuradhapura (depends on time of arrival). Afternoon  – An introduction to the Birds and birding sites of Sri Lanka and some leisurely birding to spot Lesser Whistling-Ducks, Brahminy Kites, Pheasant-tailed Jacana  and more around the hotel and lakes in Anuradhapura. *Or option to take a moonlight tour of the Sacred City.
Overnight: In a heritage hotel set within the Sacred City in Anuradhapura. (Meals: dinner)

Day 2
Sigiriya/Habarana: Morning –  birding around the lakes of Anuradhapura will get us up close with Spot-billed Pelicans, Little and Indian Cormorants, the Kingfishers and even the Indian Pitta. After breakfast, we transfer to Sigiriya/Habarana where in the afternoon we explore the surrounding forests of Sigiriya for the Ceylon Grey Hornbill and a selection of Woodpeckers. *Option to visit Dambulla Cave Temple
Overnight: In a 3-4 star Hotel in Sigiriya/Habarana. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 3
Sigiriya/Habarana: Today we explore the birding around the dry mixed evergreen forests around Sigiriya Rock and small lakes in search of the resident and migrant species of the Peregrin Falcon,Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Ceylon Woodshrikes, Oriental Scops Owl, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Blue-faced Malkoha, Ashy and Grey-breasted Prinias and more. *Option to climb the Sigiriya Lion Rock and/or a privately guided safari to observe the behavior of Elephants in the wild
Overnight: In a 3-4 star Hotel in Sigiriya/Habarana. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 4
Kandy: Transfer to the World Heritage Site of Kandy to a unique off-beat boutique bungalow where you will spend the day searching for endemics along a tributary of Sri Lanka’s longest river the Mahaweli. One of the most bird rich hidden escapes on the island. We visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya to search for the beautiful Alexandrine Parakeet, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Rose-ringed and Plum-headed Parakeets *Option to take a guided visit to the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Overnight: In a 4 star Hotel in Kandy. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler

Day 5
Nuwera Eliya: A transfer to Nuwera Eliya at the crack of dawn will leave us adequate time for some wonderful birding off beat through tea laden hills to search for Hill Country birds, before visiting the Victoria Park in our quest to spot the Kashmir Flycatcher, Pied Thrush, Forest Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Yellow-Eared Bulbul, Indian Blue Robin among others.
Overnight: In a 3-4 star Hotel or Bungalow in Nuwera Eliya. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 
Nuwera Eliya: We must reach the cloud forests of Horton Plains amidst the mist at dawn, with packed breakfasts to try our luck to tick off the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler and Sri Lanka White-eye, among many others during a wonderful day of trekking.
Overnight: In a 3-4 star Hotel or Bungalow in Nuwera Eliya. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 7
Tissamaharama: Visiting Surrey Estate en-route to see if we could chance upon the Wood Owl, we then transfer to Bundala National Park for the Waders, Garganey, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Curlew Sandpipers, Marsh Sandpiper, Watercock, Small Pratincole, Yellow-Wattled & Red-Wattled Lapwing, Oriental Skylark, Ashy-Crowned Finch-Lark and more.  This full day of birding ends with an overnight in Tissamaharama – which will be our base for the next 2 nights as we explore two National Parks, the wetlands and paddy fields.
Overnight: In a Resort Hotel in Tissamaharama. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 8
Tissamaharama: Morning at leisure or option to explore the wetlands near  Tissamaharama  for water birds, Terns, Gulls, the the Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Yellow Bittern, Black Bittern, Brahminy Kite, Shikra, Streaked and Baya Weavers. An afternoon safari inside wildlife rich Yala National Park is our chance to observe the Painted & Black-Necked Stork,  the Plovers such as the Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Little-Ringed Plover and Kentish Plover, Great Thick-Knee, Brown Fish Owl, Rosy Starling and a host of other species that dot the Park amidst, Sambur, Leopard, Elephant, Sloth Bear, and Giant Squirrels.
Overnight: In a Resort Hotel in Tissamaharama. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 9
Udawalawe: Transfer to Udawalawe, where on a jeep safari we have a great chance to spot Raptors due to the open spaces. There’s also excellent chances to spot the Malabar Pied Hornbill and search for the Jungle Prinia, Forest Wagtail, and Blyth’s Pipit, Sirkeer Malkoha and the Changeable Hawk amidst the semi evergreen forests that are home to large herds of Asian Elephants, Spotted Deer, Grey Langur and Toque Macaque. Nature treks in the surrounding areas today or early am tomorrow yield even more avian species.
Overnight: In a tented camp on the borders of Uda Walawe. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 10
Sinharaja: The Sinharaja Rain Forest area becomes our base for the next 3 nights – a prime birding site where, 70% of Sri Lanka’s endemics out of the 33 endemics and over 150 species can be added to a guest’s bird count. We explore the surrounding area of our overnight accommodation for some lovely species including, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Orange and Small Minivets to name a few.
Overnight: In a beautiful Eco Lodge overlooking the rain forest area. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Small Minivet (Male)

Day 11
Sinharaja: A day of trekking in the morning and afternoon inside the World Heritage Site of the Sinharaja Man and Biosphere Reserve is our chance to look for the Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Ceylon Hill-Myna, Ceylon Blue Magpie, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Ceylon Spurfowl, Ceylon Junglefowl, Red-Faced Malkoha,  Chestnut-Backed Owlet and many more, especially if you chance upon the mixed-species feeding flock.
Overnight: In a beautiful Eco Lodge overlooking the rainforest area. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 12
Sinharaja: An entire day of birding in the Sinharaja Rainforest with morning and afternoon treks adds to the highest chances of averaging a total bird count of over 250 species as part of this top bird watching tour in Sri Lanka.
Overnight: In a beautiful Eco Lodge overlooking the rain forest area. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 13
Kitulgala: Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, we transfer to the lush tract of forest in Kitulgala, where across the river lies the Kelani Valley Forest Reserve. The long drive to get here is worth the effort just in case we’ve missed our chances in the Sinharaja Rainforest, to try our luck for a glimpse of the Chestnut-backed Owlet, Green-billed Coucal, and the Serendib Scops Owl and possibly to tick off the Red-faced Malkoha and Blue-faced Malkoha, the Gold-fronted Leafbird, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher,  Spot-winged Ground-thrush, Legge’s Flowerpecker, and much more.
Overnight: In a riverside Hotel in Kitulgala. (Meals: breakfast, lunch)

Day 14
Departure:  Morning – we do our last outing to total up our bird count to over 250 species and leave after a quick lunch for drop off at the Airport. *An overnight can be arranged if required
(Meals: breakfast and a snack)


Crested Hawk Eagle

Crested Hawk Eagle

Specialist Guides

This is one of the best bird watching tours in Sri Lanka, showcasing our rich biodiversity and endemism spread across the 5 climatic zones. Hosted by Naturalists specialized in birding and experienced in field and scientific research, these resourceful and flexible Guides have a keen sense of bird behaviour and will ensure that birders have opportunities to explore off beat and at night to ensure key species are observed while guests gain deep insights into the island’s avian fauna and natural history.

Birds of Sri Lanka

Indian Roller

Enquire for Prices or shorter tours

  • Prices vary based on Deluxe or Value accommodation.
  • Accommodation noted above is for a Deluxe Tour. Most convenient accommodation for ease of bird watching will be included into any tour.
    • Minimum: 2 pax (Can be tailor made for group tours )
  • Special Discounts for birding tours led by the Nature Travel Network Tour Leaders or tours booked by it’s Contributors and affiliated photographers.

 

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

Inclusions

  • English speaking experienced Naturalist on tour.
  • Accommodation and meals as noted.
  • Entrance tickets to National Parks, safari jeeps and tickets to Sigiriya.
  • Private luxury vehicle with an English speaking Chauffeur.
  • Comprehensive bird check list for each guest. 

Map of Birding Tour with Ayu in the Wild –The Endemics

Birdwatching

Birding tour Map

Extensions to the Birding Tour with Ayu in the Wild:

  • Culture – A moonlight tour of the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, Guided trek to the Summit of the Lion Rock in Sigiriya, Guided insights to the traditional Poojah at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Other Wildlife – Whale and Dolphin watching on a Yacht guided by an Author on marine mammals
  • Local community interactions with rural farmers to observe their lives and livelihoods
Birds of Sri Lanka

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Birdwatching in Sri Lanka

Best places for bird watching in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination for bird watching with an incredible 33 species of endemic birds and 441 species of birds recorded on the island!

Sinharaja Rainforest

  • Our Naturalists would not miss an opportunity to linger longer in this beautiful rain forest. It is the last remaining virgin rain-forest in the island where, a day out on safari can yield 29 of the island’s 33 endemic birds. 

Singharaja forestBlue Magpie – The Bird Wave, a mixed species feeding flock can be observed between November to March inside Sinharaja

What can you see inside Sinharaja?
Some of the noteworthy species could include: the Oriental Honey Buzzard, Ceylon Spurfowl and Junglefowl, Ceylon Woodpigeon, Red-Faced Malkoha, Green-Billed Coucal, Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo, Serendib Scops-Owl, Chestnut-Backed Owlet, Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, many species of Eagles including; Rufous-Bellied Eagle, Shikra, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle and Mountain Hawk-Eagle; Yellow-Browed Bulbul, Himalayan Black Bulbul, Spot-Winged Ground Thrush, Ceylon Scaly Thrush, Ceylon Rufous Babbler, Ashy-Headed Laughing Thrush, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Indian Paradise Fly catcher, Ceylon Blue Magpie, White-Faced Starling, Ceylon Hill-Myna and more

Horton Plains National Park and the Kitulgala Forests 

  • If ticking off the 33 endemics of Sri Lanka is on your bucket list, then these are two must visit birding hot spots in Sri Lanka.

Birding can be wonderful along the borders of Sanctuaries and Rainforests

What can you see inside Horton Plains and Kitulgala?
Waking up before dawn can certainly reward you with sightings of the Yellow-eared Bulbul, Ceylon Scimitar-babbler, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, and Sri Lanka White-eye to name a few in the Horton Plains cloud forests, Sri Lanka’s most visited National Park. In Kitulgala, across the famed river is a lush rain forest which is home to the Chestnut-backed Owlet and Serendib Scops Owl, while you may also spot the two species of Barbets: Yellow-fronted Barbet and Ceylon Small Barbet, and Green-billed Coucal, Layard’s Parakeet, and the Ceylon Rufous Babbler.

RAMSAR Sites of Mannar and Bundala National Parks 

  • Sri Lanka Migrant hotspots where hundreds of winter migrants arrive for feeding during October until April. Mannar is a great location to photograph Flamingos, Water birds and Shorebirds and is a less frequently visited spot on the main birding routes.

 

Sri Lanka

Flamingos

What can you see inside Bundala?
A morning safari in Bundala is one of the highlights of any birding tour in Sri Lanka. Sandpipers and Plovers abound among Crocodiles and migrant shorebirds. Curlew Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers and Common sandpipers, Pacific Golden Plovers, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers mingle in the marshes and lakes with Common Redshanks, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Black Bitterns and Yellow Bitterns.

Kumana, Yala, Wilpattu and Uda Walawe National Parks and Sigiriya Sanctuary:

  • A walk around these National Parks is almost as good as a safari inside them for spotting migrants as well as endemic birds of Sri Lanka. Most of our tours with specialist Naturalists would include treks in the borders surrounding these birding hot spots.
Sri Lanka bird watching

Brown Fish Owl


Enquire about private birding tours from Ayu in the Wild Holidays. Email: info@ayuinthewild.com or WhatsApp us on +94 777 248 1100

Whales and Dolphins
Blue Whales, Dolphins and Diving Sri Lanka

103 Rivers Make an Ocean – A Photo Blog

There lies a land in the Indian Ocean where 103 rivers nourish its warm tropical seas. Take a look at this photo blog of Sri Lanka, an island so bestowed by nature, that in a day you can spot Leopards, Elephants and Blue Whales.

Whale Watching Srilanka

Whales of Sri Lanka

The rich nutrients that flow from the hills through farmlands and estuaries meandering through rivers into Sri Lanka’s surrounding narrow continental shelf, make it one of the best places to observe whales and dolphins incredibly close to shore.

Dolphin watching

Dolphins of Sri Lanka

Trincomalee and Mirissa are fantastic for Blue Whales at different times of the year, while Kalpitiya is one of the best for super pods of Dolphins.

Responsible Dolphin watching

Dolphins at Kalpitiya

Dolphins of Srilanka

Dolphin Watching SriLanka

Sri Lanka is also famed for being one of the best wreck diving destinations in the world.

Shipwreck diving in Sri Lanka

Shipwreck Diving

Shipwreck diving srilanka

Lives in a Shipwreck

Incredible World War II Ship wrecks that dot the seas off Colombo, Trincomalee, Vakarai and Batticaloa make stunning homes for marine life.

Marine Life Sri Lanka

Observe the different Eco systems

Holiday Activities in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Marine Life

The seas are this beautiful island’s testimony to mysterious eco systems left to explore by our maritime heritage. Let’s preserve this experience for future generations and respect marine wildlife by booking responsible blue whale tours in Sri Lanka.

Responsible Tour operators

How to choose a responsible Blue Whale watching tour in Sri Lanka

  • Above all, responsible whale watching tours in Sri Lanka are those where the animals are not spooked – either by getting too close to them nor by the noise of engines.
  • Choose Yachts and small boats steered by experienced and professional crew.
  • Check if the onboard experience is pleasant and secure for guests (vessels must be equipped with life jackets, life rings, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, GPS, toilets and provide breakfast, tea and coffee, water, sea sickness tablets).
  • Passenger numbers on each tour must be below the maximum carrying capacity on board. 
Mammals of Sri Lanka

Responsible Dolphin Watching


Let’s celebrate the enchanting oceans of Sri Lanka by booking a responsible Whale and Dolphin watching safari.

If spending 5-7 hours on a commercial whale watching boat with 40 people on board is not your thing, Ayu in the Wild offers Whale Watching on board a private catamaran yacht from Mirissa, with guiding by the acclaimed author on marine mammals). A truly unforgettable experience.

Enquire: info@ayuinthewild.com

Natural History Holidays

Natural history holidays that are so different

Sri Lanka, is where history stumbled upon nature.

A tiny Indian Ocean island, so naturally enticing, that it’s vastitude enfolds you. From the deep blue cetacean rich oceans, to the wildlife rich emerald forests and lakes mirroring fireball sunsets, Sri Lanka is the doorway to every hue of nature you could possibly imagine.

beautiful sunsets in srilanka

Fireball Sunsets

Take a journey of true discovery through some stunning Natural History Holidays that lets you rekindle an inborn connection with nature. Where a safari is not about ticking off a species list but about knowing a land called Sri Lanka, where 2500 years ago a nation was born of Kings and Royalty.

5.30 Am #Mihintale

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Learn how in Mihintale, just east of Anuradhapura, the implored preaching of a Buddhist Monk convinced a King in 247 BC  to renounce the pleasures of animal hunting and designate the surrounding jungles as the world’s oldest designated wildlife sanctuary, where all creatures enjoyed the right to life.

Sigiriya Srilanka

Surrounded by nature in the heart of the Cultural Triangle

Be captivated in the dry zones of the Cultural Triangle with stories of battles and legend of Hanuman tales all entrenched amidst thick jungles. You will learn about a time, long, long ago when the tree was revered as the source of life, where leaves, roots, sap and boughs were the medicine, kitchen utensils and tools for everyday life akin to today’s modern science and technology.

Local interaction

Traditional kitchens where delicious curries are cooked in Sri Lanka

Accommodation that’s so unique

Stay where the silence of nature envelopes you in an incredible selection of Eco-Lodges in Sri Lanka, built respecting vernacular architecture which let the outdoors in, but with all the right comforts you need on holiday. Where coffee and me-time in the wilderness is all you yearn for.

Tree huts Sri Lanka

Natural History for kids

Show kids the fun and nostalgic way to admire the universe. Stargazing and outdoors under dusky skies with our Guides during that time of day where everything and everyone winds down. It will illuminate their tiny minds of the enormous picture nature created with a million worlds.

camping Sri Lanka

Monkeys at night

Can you be a with-nature kind of traveler?

Our Guides are special. Their love of the island and pride in their history make them such engaging hosts, able to convey with ease their intimate knowledge of whatever their specialty may be, be it wildlife, history, geography, ecology or conservation. To experience Sri Lanka with them is to truly travel with locals, who’s deep respect for the environment and enthusiasm to leave it untouched, is infectious.

We do not promote Elephant back safaris and elephant orphanages like in Pinnawela. We believe that intrusive safaris that get too close to animals and break every rule in our National Parks to chase after Leopards, is also wildlife crime. We’ve been incredibly humbled that our guests have concurred with us and been patient safari go-ers.

Ayu for Sri Lanka is our ethos where responsible travel comes first and we believe it’s a special kind of traveler that mirrors our ethos. Those who love to travel deeper with insightful itineraries and get insider access. After all, we are all voices for wilderness and for nature.


 

Enquire about Natural History Tours curated by Ayu in the Wild Holidays Sri Lanka, for a chance to rekindle an inborn connection with our natural world. Far away from the world, as you know it. Email: info@ayuinthewild.com or WhatsApp us on +94 777 248 1100