Sri Lanka - Wildlife Photo Tour 2018
Asian Leopard; Sloth Bear; Asian Elephant; Numerous endemic bird species
Day 1: Arrival in Colombo
Today is set aside as an arrival day in Colombo. After arrival in Colombo International Airport and taking care of passport control and luggage formalities, you will be met by an ORYX representative and driven to your comfortable hotel for an overnight stay (approximately 45 – minutes).
Day 2: Drive Colombo to Wilpattu National Park.
After breakfast and at a time to be advised we drive by air-conditioned coach to Sri Lanka’s largest national park, Wilpattu National Park on the north western boundary of the island. We check into the Wilpattu Safari Camp where we will spend 3 nights of our Sri Lanka photography tour.
After check in and lunch we will depart on our first afternoon game drive in search of Wilpattu’s celebrated residents.
Days 3 & 4: Wilpattu
The next 2 full days of our Sri Lanka photography tour are flexible, as you will be heading into Wilpattu on early morning and later afternoon game drives. We also have to the opportunity to spend the entire day exploring Wilpattu on a full day drive.
Our photographic aim here is to explore this unusual National Park, where the forest is dotted with natural limestone based water pools (known in Sri Lanka as Villus, or tanks). These pools are a micro habitat which hosts various eco systems thus giving us the opportunity to photograph a wide variety of water bird species, and large mammals including Wild boar, Wild Asian Buffalo and Spotted dee.
Common birds seen at Wilpattu are Malabar pied Hornbill, Blue-faced malkoha, Serpent eagle, Crested Hawk-Eagles, Egrets, Purple Heron, Little Grebes, White throated King-fisher, Common King-fisher, Ceylon Sharma, Sri Lanka Jungle fowl, Indian Peacock, Imperial Green pigeon, Emerald Dove, Shikra, Mag pie robin, Black robin, Black headed oriole, Red backed woodpecker, Pigmy woodpecker, Lotens Sunbirds, Fan tail flycatchers, Green – Blue and Chestnut headed bee-eaters.
The major highlight of our Sri Lanka photography tour will be to spot and photograph Sri Lanka Leopard and Sloth bear which are often seen here at Wilpattu.
Overnight Wilpattu Safari Lodge
Day 5: Drive Wilpattu to Habarana (Minneriya National Park)
At a time to be advised and after another hearty breakfast we will depart Wilpattu and drive to Habarana (approximately 2 and a half hours). After lunch, we embark on our first game drive to Minneriya National park, staging ground for the 6th greatest animal spectacle in the world (as per Lonely Planet), the gathering of Asia’s largest concentration of wild Asian Elephants.
As the mid-year drought dries out the water resources, elephant herds from nearby forests led by their matriarchs arrive at Minneriya National Park, in search of fresh grazing and water. By July, the Gathering is in full swing and its usual to see up to 100 pachyderms each evening with their young calves playing on the grasslands and quenching their thirst in the waters of Minneriya.
Day 6: Habarana (Minneriya National Park)
Our morning will be spent photographing the amazing variety of bird species in the 30 acres of forest surrounding Cinnamon Lodge. In the afternoon we will visit Minneriya National Park, where our lenses will once again focus on the ‘gathering’ of the large herds of Asian Elephants. Bird species are numerous on our Sri Lanka photography tour and include Pelicans, large flocks of Asian Open-billed storks as well as the White-bellied Sea-Eagle.
Day 7: Habarana to Sinharaja Rain Forest
This morning and at a time to be advised and after breakfast we will road transfer to the mythical Sinharaja. After check in and lunch we will ‘trek’ and photography in search of birds & amphibians and amongst which many endemic species are seen.
Our lenses will focus on the numerous bird species found at Sinharaja Rain Forest including Brown-capped, Dark-fronted and Orange-billed Babblers, the very secretive Sri Lanka Spurfowl – usually tracked down by its call, Layard’s Parakeet screeching overhead, the migratory Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Green-billed Coucal, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, the scarce Red-faced Malkoha, striking Malabar Trogon – often perched motionless high overhead, Ashy-headed Laughing thrush, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, and several species of Munia, including the uncommon and localized Black-throated Munia.
Among other species are Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Spot-winged and Sri Lanka Thrush, Sri Lanka Drongo, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler and Legge’s Flowerpecker. Possible mammals include Sri Lanka Giant Squirrel and Purple-faced Leaf Monkey.
Day 8: Sinharaja Rain Forest
Morning and evening treks in search of Sri Lankan endemics and rare birds. We will also engage on a night walk during our Sri Lanka wildlife tour, in the area which will give an opportunity to see the Sri Lanka Frogmouth, a truly outrageous bird, while we will do our best to track and photograph the Serendib Scops Owl, the true photographic drawcard at Sinharaja.
Day 9: Sinharaja Rain Forest to Yala National Park
After breakfast we depart by road towards Yala National Park (approximately 5 hours). Our focus for the next 3 nights of our Sri Lanka photography tour is the largest predator in the island and one which takes centre stage at Yala, the Asian Leopard.
After check in and lunch we will head on our first afternoon game drive in search of this elusive predator.
Days 10 & 11: Yala National Park
Over the next 2 days of our Sri Lanka wildlife tour, our main photographic focus will be to spot and photograph the elusive Asian Leopard.
We will also concentrate on other large species including Asian Elephant, Sambar and Spotted deer, Wild Boar, Golden jackal, Hanuman Langur, Torque macaque, Mugger crocodiles and the more elusive Sloth bear.
Among dry zone bird species, we will look out for the Brahminy kite, Serpent Eagle, Crested hawk- eagle, White bellied sea eagle, and the occasional Shikra.
Day 12: Yala National Park
This morning will be spent at leisure and after breakfast we will depart by road back to Colombo. Upon arrival back in Colombo you will be transferred back to the Colombo International Airport and depart to your final destination of choice.