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Responsible tourism

The Best Beaches of Sri Lanka need your help – the “Plastic Footprint” movement!

If you could avoid using 40 plastic water bottles on a 10-day tour of Sri Lanka, would you?

 

In 2018, we made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of plastics used on our tours – part of our big plans to become one of Sri Lanka’s most responsible tour operator! (We think it’s a big step made in the right direction and worth shouting about, so do bear with us).

Think reusable bottles!


 

We now request our guests to bring their own reusable water bottles or supply them one, from our own stocks. So if you are booking your Sri Lanka Itinerary with Ayu in the Wild, please do remember to pack one reusable water bottle per person.

If plastic is not disposed responsibly and recycled, the 103 rivers that flow across our beautiful island carries it all onto the Instagram worthy beaches of Sri Lanka.
 

Reusable bottles can make a difference….

 
Booked your tour to Sri Lanka? Here’s how you can help save our beaches
 

 

Will you help save hundreds of species harmed by ocean plastic and be a champion for the plastic footprint movement?

 


 

Contact Email: info@ayuinthewild.com or whatsapp us on +94 777 248 1100

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.
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!

     

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

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

A post shared by Otara Gunewardene (@otaradel) on

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

srilanka wildlife
Wildlife Sri Lanka

Postcards from Wildlife Parks in Sri Lanka

Is Sri Lanka one of the world’s best wildlife destinations outside Africa? We say Yes! Our tiny island has Elephants, Whales, Leopards, Bear, Birds, Primates and more. Plus, it’s a biodiversity hotspot!And it looks like we have friends globally who agree.

Which Wildlife Parks to visit in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is just over three times the size of Kruger NP! There’s no denying it but with over 20 National Parks, Sri Lanka is top of the pick for wildlife in Asia. And why is this so? With two monsoons, a range of climates, altitudes and biodiversity that is usually not found on small islands, Sri Lanka has the right mix. Here are some picture perfect images from our National Parks to help you decide which Sri Lankan wildlife destination to visit.To pick which National Wildlife Park to visit in Sri Lanka, see Highlights of National Wildlife Parks, Sri Lanka

Elephants


wild elephants safaris srilanka

One of Sri Lanka’s most endearing wildlife sightings is to observe elephants in the wild with their young. Herds of matriarch led majestic elephants can be observed regularly in the following NPs:

  • Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks – The ‘Gathering of wild Elephants in the Minneriya National Park has been billed by the Lonely Planet as the world’s 6th greatest animal spectacle and happens from July to August each year.
  • Uda Walawe National Park – Guaranteed sightings of elephants in Asia
  • Wasgomuwa National Park – An uncrowded wildlife park with diverse eco systems
  • Gal Oya National Park – The only park to offer boat safaris to watch elephants on islands
  • Lahugala National Park – Sri Lanka’s smallest wildlife park, lies enroute to the east coast

Things to do nearby:

  • Near Minneriya and Kaudulla NPs – Visit Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya.
  • Near Uda Walawe NP – Explore Ella or safari in Yala National Park
  • Near Wasgomuwa NP – Hike or birdwatching in Knuckles mountains or visit Kandy
  • Near Gal Oya NP – Explore the mountainous homelands of Sri Lanka’s indigenous tribes, the Veddahs
  • Near Lahugala NP – Surf in Arugam Bay or visit Kumana National Park

‘Gathering’ of Elephants in Sri Lanka – by Nat Geo Wild

Leopards and Sloth Bear


leopard safari srilanka

Unlike elsewhere in the world, the Leopard is Sri Lanka’s top predator and roams freely in the wild, making it much easier to spot than even in Africa.

srilanka wildlife tour sloth bear

Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations to photograph the Sloth Bear, especially during the fruiting season from June to September.

Which parks to safari in for Leopards and Sloth Bear:

  • Wilpattu National Park – Sri Lanka’s largest and most beautiful National Parks and Ayu in the Wild’s top pick for a safari in Sri Lanka
  • Yala National Parks – Sri Lanka’s most wildlife rich National Park and the most visited. The scrublands and rocks that reach the coastline are home to over 40+ mammal species, 200+ varieties of beautiful birds, the cheeky Toque Monkeys and Grey Langurs and many amphibians and reptiles
  • Kumana National Park – Great base for semi luxury tented camping in the heart of Sri Lanka’s best wildlife secret that straddles the east coastline.

Things to do nearby:

  • Near Wilpattu NP – Explore Anuradhapura or visit Kalpitiya seas to spot Dolphins.
  • Near Yala NP – Explore Ella, safari in Uda Walawe, Gal Oya or Bundala National Parks
  • Near Kumana NP – Surf in Arugam Bay or do a coastal drive to a beach resort in Paasikudah

Birds


birding tours srilanka
Yala National Park

Whether you’re an ardent twitcher, a serious ornithologist or an amateur birdwatcher Sri Lanka is one of the world’s best birding hotspots. The island is home to 33 endemic bird species and being the last stop for winter migrants, Sri Lanka stands at over 440+ total bird species. Best birding locations in Sri Lanka include;

  • Mannar: Prolific birdlife can be observed on this tiny slip of land with its many lakes and swamps up on the Northern shores of Sri Lanka which is one of the key entry points for winter migrant waterbirds and shorebirds. One of the best spots for Flamingos.
  • Sinharaja Rainforest – Sri Lanka’s last remaining virgin rainforest is best known for the mixed species feeding flocks or the Sinharaja Birdwave – one of the worlds longest studied birding spectacles
  • Horton Plains National Park – The cloud forests of Horton Plains in the Central Highland mountains of Sri Lanka are a phenomenal birdwatching site.
  • Bundala National Park – Just a short drive away from Yala NP, is wonderful especially for migrant shorebirds.
  • Along with the above, a serious twitcher should visit the National Parks of Kumana, Yala and Uda Walawe

Things to do nearby:

  • Near Mannar – Visit the Adams Bridge Islands, visit the Tantirimale historical site and stay en route to Jaffna
  • Near Sinharaja Rainforest – Drive down to the 17th century Galle Dutch Fort, book whale watching on a yacht in Mirissa, enjoy the south coast beaches
  • Near Horton Plains NP – Take a scenic train journey to Ella or Kandy, visit ‘little-England’ the hill country of Nuwera Eliya
  • Near Bundala NP – Visit Yala NP

Primates


primate tours srilanka

Sri Lanka is one of the best primate watching destinations in the world and offers specialized Primate Tours. Five Primates species are found in Sri Lanka – 2 species of Lorises and 3 species of Monkeys; the Purple faced Leaf Monkey and the Toque Macaque which are endemic to Sri Lanka and the Grey Langur.

Primates of Wild Sri Lanka – by Nat Geo Wild

  • Purple faced leaf monkey: Mostly observed in the Sinharaja World Heritage Site, Horton Plains National Park and in home gardens across suburban Colombo. Keep an eye out in Polonnaruwa and Wilpattu NPs too
  • Toque Macaque: The Polonnaruwa World Heritage Site is home to the world’s longest behavioural studies of Primates and a trek with the research staff is a must! They can also be observed in the National Parks of Wilpattu, Horton Plains and the Sinharaja Rainforest
  • Grey Langur: A healthy population lives among the ancient ruins of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa and they can be observed in the wildlife parks of Yala, Wilpattu and Minneriya.

Whales and Dolphins


Blue Whale safaris srilanka

Sri Lanka is the world’s top spot for Blue Whale encounters due to its deep waters and a reef close to its shores/ Sri Lanka’s waters count for 26 of the 86 Catecean species found worldwide including 13 species of Whales and 15 species of Dolphins.

  • Trincomalee: Peak season for Blue Whales is from March to April
  • Mirissa:90% strike rate for Blue Whales from December to April but do make an effort to book a responsible whale watching safari tour
  • Kalpitiya:A fabulous location for super pods of Spinner Dolphins, Brydes Whales and Bottle-nosed Dolphins

Other Wildlife in Sri Lanka not to be missed!


wildlife tour operator srilanka

The presence of large mammals, high rate of endemic species and phenomenal species diversity, Sri Lanka ranks among the world’s prime wildlife destinations. To see which parks to visit in any given month check out Sri Lanka Wildlife Calendar