What could be better than heading for the tropics and exploring one of the world's most enchanting island paradises? Join us on a two-week mainly birdwatching tour in search of Sri Lanka's thirty or more endemic birds plus Indian Elephant, Leopard - and more!
It would be difficult to think of a more perfect destination for birdwatchers to escape the winter blues than the beautiful tropical island of Sri Lanka. For despite lying so close to the southern tip of India, this Indian Ocean paradise has been isolated from the rest of Asia for so long as to have evolved more than 30 species of endemic birds. We should see most, if not all, of them on this classic Sri Lanka tour: from Legge's Flowerpecker and the comical Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot through to Sri Lankan Junglefowl and the gorgeous Sri Lankan Blue Magpie. And with the help of our team of local guides, we will again hope to find the recently described Serendib Scops Owl at its day roost, as we have done with all our recent groups.
Sri Lanka's appeal runs much deeper than this however, for the one-time island of Ceylon also has many specialities shared only with southern India. Among them such delights as the peculiar Sri Lankan Frogmouth, the red-chested Malabar Trogon, Yellow-browed Bulbul, and the animated Loten's and Purple-rumped Sunbirds.
A visit to Sri Lanka is even more welcome during Europe's winter months - not just so we can enjoy some unseasonable sunshine and warmth, but because this bewitching tropical isle is also a winter retreat for large numbers of birds from farther north. Here we may thrill to the likes of Pintail Snipe, Blyth's Reed and Green Warblers, Kashmir Flycatcher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Indian Pitta and the sought-after Pied Thrush. And with our return to Yala West National Park in 2012, we should encounter some fine mammals during our stay, with Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel, Asian Elephant, Leopard and even Sloth Bear possible. This is also a wonderful trip for anyone wishing to see Sri Lanka's abundant and exotic butterflies, with their many appealing English names.
Sri Lanka is not only a very beautiful island, but its generally excellent tourist infrastructure allows birdwatchers and naturalists to explore prime habitats whilst, in the main, staying at some extremely good hotels. Those that wish to will be able to enjoy a little sightseeing at Kandy, with its famous 'Temple of the Tooth', and also pay a visit to a tea factory in the hills. Our finely-honed itinerary is designed to enhance your chances of seeing all the island's endemic birds plus a wide cross section of the birds typical of this region of the Indian sub-continent.
We will be accompanied throughout our tour by our good friend Dammithra Samarasinghe, an experienced Sri Lankan birdwatching and wildlife guide employed by our specialist local agents.
February: Peter Kennerley & local guides
November: Brian Small & local guides
The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London-Colombo; all accommodation, meals, surface transport (including 4WD in the parks, as necessary), entrance fees and permits, tips, airport taxes, map, bird and mammal checklist, and services of the leaders.
The price excludes travel insurance, drinks & other personal expenses. [Note: Entry visa issued free of charge to British passport holders and certain other nationalities on arrival at Colombo airport.]
These trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.
Accommodation: At comfortable tourist hotels but more rustic and remote at Blue Magpie Lodge, where rooms are simply furnished. All rooms with private facilities throughout.
Meals: All included in the price. Food is good. Dinners usually at the hotels. Some breakfasts and some lunches will be picnics.
Walking: Mostly short and easy, but the going can be moderate at times along some forest trails. Sturdy waterproof walking shoes or boots, with stout soles and good grip required.
Ground Transport: By minicoach or minibus, switching to 4WD vehicle in some of the National Parks.
Insects: The usual tropical nuisances are present in Sri Lanka. Mosquitoes: Sri Lanka lies within the malarial region of southern Asia. Away from the north of the island (which we do not visit on our tour) however, NaTHNaC assess the current risk of malaria as very low in Sri Lanka. As areas of risk can change, it is essential that you consult your doctor for advice before you travel. See also the NaTHNaC website. Bring insect repellent.
Leeches: expect to encounter leeches in the forests of the Wet Zone where, although harmless, their presence can be distracting! We recommend that you bring with you a pair of 'leech socks', which will prevent leeches reaching the skin on your feet and lower legs. These are available from the Oriental Bird Club and The Travelling Naturalist bookstore website. Insect repellent applied to your footwear can be effective in keeping them at bay, but the effect is of course quickly lost if boots become wet or muddied.
Numbers: Max. 12 clients