Watch orphaned baby elephants arrive for a feeding at the Elephant Transfer Home in Udawalawe. Take daily safaris designed to optimise your chance of catching a glimpse of some of Sri Lanka’s exotic wildlife. Spend some time soaking up laid-back surf vibes in Arugam Bay. Stay in a well-situated eco-lodge in the Sinharaja Forest Reseve, a World Heritage-listed tropical rainforest that’s home to jackals, big cats, wild boars and Toque monkeys
Explore the diversity of the Sri Lankan wilderness on this 12-day expedition. Travel from shallow waterways thick with mangroves and birds in Kumuna National Park to the dry evergreen forest inhabited by a large elephant population in Wasgamuwa National Park and discover both lush and lofty mountains in Gal Oya National Park and the misty Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
Breakfast Included: 10 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 4
Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Your adventure begins in the town of Negombo, located close to the international airport. You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5.30 pm. Those arriving early can get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and perhaps feasting on fresh seafood. The beautiful surrounding countryside is best explored on a bicycle, which you can rent with help from the hotel reception.
Wasgamuwa National Park
An early start is necessary to catch some animal action later in the day. Check-out of the hotel at 8 am and transfer to Wasgamuwa National Park via Kandy (about 7 hours). Home to wild Asian elephants, sloth bears, leopards, peafowl and more, the park is one of the most biodiverse protected areas in Sri Lanka. Spend some time settling in to your accommodation and perhaps exploring the area around the hotel. In the evening we will climb up into basic 'tree houses' situated just outside of the park to observe wild elephants lumbering back into the forest to sleep for the night.
Wasgamuwa National Park
Spend the day learning about the complex relationship between some farmers and wild elephants in Sri Lanka – and what one organisation is doing to ease the conflict. Project Orange Elephant is run by Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, a local non-government organisation. For Sri Lankans who rely on subsistence or commercial farming, elephant populations can be incredibly destructive. Crop raiding by elephants is commonplace, and farmers who have had their livelihood destroyed often retaliate with violence. With support from The Intrepid Foundation, SLWCS encourages more sustainable farming practises – particularly of crops like oranges that elephants do not eat – to help wildlife and humans coexist peacefully. Take the opportunity to meet some the local farmers and learn about life for both the elephant and human inhabitants that live in the area.
Ampara - Gal Oya National Park
Make the four-hour drive to Ampara and enter the unspoiled splendour of Gal Oya National Park, home to elephants, axis deer, muntjacs, water buffalo, mugger crocodiles and more than 150 species of birds. Unlike the dry forest and low mountain ranges of Wasgamuwa National Park, Gal Oya is set against the massive Senanayake Samudraya Lake and rimmed by mountains that reach an elevation of 900 metres. Arrive and spend some time exploring this lush environment, and in the evening take a cruise to a part of the lake where elephants come for their nightly splash.
Arugam Bay - Kumana National Park
Rise and shine for a morning boat ride on Senanayake Samudraya Lake, Sri Lanka’s largest reservoir. Cruise over serene waters, watching morning light illuminate the tiny islands that dot the water and looking out for elephants, storks and horn bills. Get back on land and transfer to Arugam Bay (2 hours). After three days in the wilderness, the sight of palm-lined beaches is bound to be welcome. Spend some time soaking up the laid-back vibes of this surf town and in the evening embark on a jeep safari through nearby Kumana National Park (formerly known as Yala East National Park). With fewer crowds than some of Sri Lanka’s other parks and an abundance of wildlife, Kumana is the perfect place to search for leopards, elephants, crocodiles and white cobras. Bird enthusiasts will be happy to know it's common to spot wild peacocks and a wide variety of storks.
Arugam Bay - Kumana National Park
Today is book ended by a morning and evening safari drive through Kumuna National Park, both chances to spot animals along the many waterways that slice through the landscape. During the middle of the day you can do as you please. Perhaps soak up some sunshine along the sandy coast or stroll through this cute town. There are plenty of local restaurants serving up both Sri Lankan and foreign fare.
Transfer to Udawalawe (3.5 hours) and check out the work being done at the Elephant Transit Home. Orphaned baby elephants are cared for in this free-to-roam part of Udawalawe National Park, and today you can watch the babies and toddlers arriving for a feeding. Watch these gorgeous creatures from a distance as they sip and munch on proffered food before moving back into the wilds of the park. Spend some time relaxing in Udawalawe town before an evening safari, where you’re bound to spot elephant families on the move.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Make the two-hour drive to Deniyaya’s Sinharaja Forest Reserve and settle into the Rainforest Eco Lodge, your accommodation for this evening. Set among the misty rainforest, these eco-lodges are set on stilts for optimum harmony with the natural environment. Spend the day as you please, either getting a feel for the grounds of the lodge with a walk, or simply relaxing at the bar or restaurant on site. In the evening, enjoy a nature walk through the World Heritage-listed forest, enjoying the tropical surrounds and looking out for beasts like jackals, big cats, wild boars and toque monkeys.
Wake up with a morning walk through the rainforest, keeping a look out for butterflies, multi-coloured Blue Magpies, squirrels, mongoose and more. Make the 2.5-hour drive to Galle. Head to Galle Fort, the fortified city of with plenty of Portuguese and Dutch colonial charm, narrow laneways and stunning promenades. Galle Fort is a wanderer's paradise, and you’ll spend some time exploring it on foot and taking in structures that date from between the 16th and 19th century. With plenty of eclectic cafes and bars, Galle Fort is also the perfect place to grab a Sri Lankan meal with a contemporary twist.
From November to April, there will be the opportunity to join a morning whale watching tour. In the off-season (or if you simply prefer to stay close to shore) perhaps begin your day with a dip in the ocean. There is plenty to occupy you in this charming town, from historical sites like the 17th-century Dutch Reformed Church and the Fort Gates to cute vintage shops, quirky boutiques and art galleries. In the evening, perhaps grab a beer and a meal at one of the waterfront restaurants and watch the sunset over the ocean.
Spend another day at your leisure in Galle Fort before transferring to Colombo (about 3 hours). For your final evening, perhaps head out to sample some of the city's renowned street food. Local delicacies include crispy veggie samosas and kotthu, a tasty dish of sliced roti, vegetables and eggs or meat.
Today your Sri Lankan Wilderness and Wildlife adventure comes to an end. But it doesn’t have to be the end of your journey! A great way to see the city is by tuk-tuk tour such as the one offered by Urban Adventures, which gives you the chance to navigate narrow streets and hit the mains sights with a local guide. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Colombo-tours.