• Asian Elephants

SRI LANKA – ISLAND ESCAPE

NEW

29 Aug - 9 Sep 2021

12 Days / 11 Nights

Sri Lanka is an island paradise that's embraced by golden beaches and turquoise-blue waters. This biodiversity hotspot has cool mountains, ancient lakes and forests teeming with endemic birds, reptiles, and mammals such as leopard, elephant and sloth bear.

This ancient land has a vibrant culture, magnificent archaeological sites and monuments, old-world cities to explore and friendly people offering warm hospitality.

Price:

USD$5,500 per person (twin share).
USD$550 Single supplement is available
Minimum 6 guests, maximum 11

Sloth Bear

It's an incredibly exciting destination for a photo voyage. We begin the adventure in the fishing town of Negombo, before moving into the heart of Wilpattu National Park for our wildlife safari. We will track elephant, leopard and sloth bear before we make our way to the country's "Cultural Triangle" to see ancient cities, temples and an epic national park where elephants congregate in great numbers. The city of Kandy is next – there's a more frenetic pace here that we can capture on slow shutter speed! Then we'll venture up into the misty highlands to see tea pickers in action, take one of the most scenic train rides in the world and wonder at stunning waterfalls. Our voyage finale is the southern coast visiting the second largest blowhole in the world, endless stretches of beaches before making our way to the UNESCO World Heritage-Listed Galle Fort.

Sri Lanka

Contact Michael Snedic directly
on +61 408 941 965

Includes:

  • Service of highly trained English speaking licensed naturalist guide with speciality in photography, nature and wildlife
  • Accompanied by Michael Snedic, professional Australian wildlife photographer and tutor
  • All road transfers in an air-conditioned coaster with ample space and comfort for the group
  • Accommodation as listed
  • All meals (note some lunches are 'on the go' so more like a picnic box)
  • Bottled water, refreshments, and snacks throughout the tour
  • Park entry fees and permits

Exclusions:

  • International airfares
  • Visas
  • Drinks (other than those provided in the vehicle)
  • Tipping
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Any pre or post tour requirements
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance (compulsory)

Guests in Sri Lanka

Itinerary:

Note: The daily programs can be subject of changes.

Visit Encompass Africa's VIRTUAL itinerary

Day 1 : Negombo

Upon landing at the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will be given a warm Sri Lankan welcome with the words “Ayubowan” by our Naturalist Guide and escorted to our vehicle.

Thereafter we will transfer to our nearby hotel in Negombo where we will check in and spend the remainder of the day at leisure after along flight.

Our hotel, ideally located by the beach, will give us a beautiful view of the setting sun and we can witness some beautiful tropical sceneries with the traditional catamarans heading out to sea.

Dinner and overnight stay in Negombo as a group at Goldi Sands Hotel in standard rooms with dinner and breakfast/brunch included.

Sri Lanka 3

Days 2 - 4 : Nochchiyagama

Early morning we will head to the Negombo Fish Market, which will be a great insight into daily life for Sri Lankans in this coastal area.

Negombo is a fishing town where most of the locals hail from fishing families by centuries of descent. Currently, over 2,000 boats including traditional outrigger canoes called ‘oru’ in Sinhalese, catamarans and larger mechanised motor boats operate from Negombo harbour. The harbour is best visited early in the morning, when it is a hive of activity. Fishermen can be seen taking fish from their nets, vendors within the market bargain and trade and a variety of different fish species including herrings, sardines, snappers, breamers, croakers, groupers, parrot fish, sprats, catfish, mullets and shellfish such as prawn and crab are stored in all parts of the harbour. A short drive away from the main fish market, is the fruit and vegetable market where local produce from all parts of the country and some imported food items are sold here which include a variety of local spices. Adjacent to the market, you can see fish being dried in the sun on the beach.

Return back to the hotel for a quick brunch, and checkout.

Thereafter we take a 4-hour journey through the countryside to reach Wilpattu National Park.

Here we will switch to a safari jeep and go through a jungle track to reach Wilpattu Safari Camp, our home for the next 3 nights.

We will be welcomed at the camp and check into our tents after a brief camp safety briefing and welcome from the host.

Lunch will be served at camp.

By around 15h00 we regroup and hop onto our safari jeep and embark on our first game drive to Wilpattu National Park.

Popularly dubbed as ‘the land of the lakes’, Wilpattu National Park is famous for watching wildlife within its picturesque villus and dry evergreen forests. It is Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest national park which re-opened in 2010 after being closed for nearly three decades due to the civil war. Wilpattu is one of the top spots in Sri Lanka for watching Leopard and Sloth Bear. Other larger animals seen regularly here include Elephant, Jackal, Mugger Crocodile, Sambar, Spotted Deer and Buffalo are among the larger animals regularly encountered.

The park closes at 18h00 so we will get back to camp around dusk or just after.

Dinner is served and afterwards, we can head out on a night drive through the park buffer zone and village tracks with a spotlight in search of rarities such as the Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat and the Eurasian Otter, all best seen during this time of year and come out after dark. If you are truly lucky you might come across a prowling leopard.

Afterwards, we return to camp for a night of good night sleep.

Hornbill

YOUR NEXT TWO DAYS... will be spent on full day game drives in Wilpattu National Park.

Your morning breakfast will be provided packed and taken into the park.

Lunch will be served at the designated picnic site and served freshly delivered from the camp.

The full-day safaris enable you to get the most out of your Wilpattu experience, and spending time at water holes, and patiently reading the tracks and waiting, listening to alarm calls are all part of the game to get the perfect leopard sighting. Your naturalist guide, as well as jeep driver with their years of experience and instinct, will work tirelessly throughout to get the best sightings possible for you.

Return back to camp at dusk for dinner and rest.

Day 5 : Habarana

After our morning safari and breakfast, it's time to check out.

We will head towards Habarana.

Along the way, we visit a local village and tour in tuk tuks. We are then taken to a nearby lake where we load into boats and head to a little village. Here, we meet a local family and enjoy a walk around their property before joining the women in the kitchen to learn how to cook coconut roti.

The best part is we get to eat what we make and a full lunch is savoured from our banana leaf plates.

Afterward, we bid the family goodbye and head onwards to Habarana. It's only an hour drive so we will arrive before sunset.

We will check in to Cinnamon Village for three nights with all meals and activities included.

After dark, either before or after dinner (depending on your preference) we head out to an isolated park about 30 minutes’ drive from the hotel for a unique night walk which will bring us closer to the “Elves of the Forest” the secretive Slender Loris*. One of the most iconic wildlife experiences on the island, these almost “alien” like creatures are in fact primates and strictly nocturnal. They feed on small insects, reptiles and even birds and are seen at night in this location regularly. These are one of the most enigmatic creatures in the Sri Lankan wilderness and along with this, you might also get a glimpse of other rarities such as the Mouse Deer of Chevrotain, the Fishing Cat and much more, which your naturalist guide will keep an eye out for.

Sunset fisherman

*The red slender loris is a small, nocturnal strepsirrhine primate native to the rainforests of Sri Lanka. If you are into wildlife, this will fascinate you - the Loris is #6 of the 10 focal species and #22 of the 100 EDGE mammal species worldwide considered the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered.

Day 6 : Habarana

t's an early morning start as we head to Pidurangala, and climb the rock to witness a stunning backdrop which is excellent for photography (decent level of fitness required).

Pidurangala is a massive rock formation located next to the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress. The area has been occupied for over two thousand five hundred years by Buddhist monks who took residence in the caves around the site. The rock came into prominence when King Kassapa (477- 495AD), built Sigiriya, and moved the monks living around the Sigiriya Rock to a newly refurbished and enlarged temple and monastery complete at Pidurangala. The climb to the rock is a pleasant one, where you are surrounded by lush forest, and can hear the beautiful songs of birds. The summit has a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and a great view of Sigiriya at eye level.

We head back to our hotel for lunch and some time out.

Afterward we head towards the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, which is one of the most significant archeological sites in ancient Sri Lanka.

Polonnaruwa took its place in history after King Vijayabahu I defeated the invading Cholas and moved the capital from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa. It is renowned for its well-preserved 12th-century ruins and impressive stone culture. Exploring Polonnaruwa, which is today a UNESCO World Heritage site, one can see Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas and the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.

Sri Lanka 2

Enjoy the sunset over the majestic Parakrama Samudra the massive lake built by King Parakramabahu the Great.

Thereafter we return back to our hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 7 : Habarana

It's another early morning so we can climb Sigiriya before it gets too hot. This allows us to explore and photograph the ancient Rock Fortress.

Rising dramatically from the central plains, the enigmatic rocky outcrop of Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka's single most dramatic sight. Near-vertical walls soar to a flat-topped summit that contains the ruins of an ancient civilisation. Top of this rock contains ruins of an ancient palace complex, built during the reign of King Kasyapa (477AD – 495 AD) and surrounding rock is the Royal Garden. Ruins of various chambers, stairways and pools can be seen at the top of this rock. There is a stone stairway leading from the base to the top of the mountain. About half way to the top, there is a giant pair of lions paws which is in fact are the remains of a huge head of a lion whose open mouth served as the entrance to the royal palace. Surrounding the palace complex are the ruins of a garden complex consisting of two moats and various pools, some with water fountains still functioning after 1500 years.

Thereafter we return back to the hotel for a late breakfast.

Spend the next few hours at leisure.

After an early lunch , head towards Minneriya or Kaudulla National Parks by 14h00 for a safari to witness the Great Elephant Gathering. (We will visit the park where the large elephant herds are known to be at this time.)

Kinhfisher with fish

The Gathering of Elephants, which is ranked among the world’s top wildlife viewing spectacles runs from June – October each year. Each afternoon, around 150 - 200 individual elephants come out of the forest in to the open to graze on the fresh green pasture by the water’s edge at Minneriya and Kaudulla national parks. You have excellent opportunities here to observe the social dynamics of the Asian Elephant as the large bulls in musth compete among each other and seek the females within the herd, while young calves with carefree abandon get up to their mischievous antics often to the displeasure of its alert mothers within the herd. Water birds such as Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Woolly-necked Stork along with raptors such as White-bellied Sea Eagles and Grey-headed Fishing Eagles are abundant around these large man-made lakes.

Return back to camp at dusk for dinner and a decent night sleep.

Day 8 : Kandy

After an early breakfast, we will checkout and head towards the city of Kandy. Along the way we stop to visit the Ancient Cave Temple of Dambulla.

Dambulla Cave Temple, which is famous for its rock paintings and is among the best-preserved monastic temple cave complexes in Sri Lanka. Dambulla’s origins as a place of worship dates back to the reign of King Valagamba in the 1st century BC, who took refuge in these caves when driven out of Anuradhapura by Chola invaders. Once he regained the throne, the king had the interior of the caves transformed into magnificent rock temples. More paintings and statues were added over time by later kings.

Afterward head towards Kandy, and visit the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic.

This sacred temple was built in the 16th century AD and is located adjacent to the Royal Palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy and overlooks the expanses of the Kandy lake. Referred locally as the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is the most revered site in the country. This temple complex houses the sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha, and with strong political sway to who holds possession of the tooth, as it was believed that the possessor of this sacred relic had the right to rule the country.

Lunch will be served at a select restaurant in Kandy. We then head to our accommodation, the beautiful Simpsons Forest Hotel.

If time permits we can explore the hotel's very own spice garden.

Sri Lanka has been famous for centuries for its trade in spices and spice gardens. A visit to one of these herb and spice gardens provides a visitor with a firsthand experience on how these amazing treasures are grown and prepared. Some of the herbs and spices grown here can include Sandalwood, Margosa, Cocoa, Citronella, Almond, Jasmine and Coconut and spices such as cloves, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron are grown in these gardens.

Return back to camp at dusk for dinner and a decent night sleep.

Train to Kandy

If time permits we can explore the hotel's very own spice garden.

Sri Lanka has been famous for centuries for its trade in spices and spice gardens. A visit to one of these herb and spice gardens provides a visitor with a firsthand experience on how these amazing treasures are grown and prepared. Some of the herbs and spices grown here can include Sandalwood, Margosa, Cocoa, Citronella, Almond, Jasmine and Coconut and spices such as cloves, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron are grown in these gardens.

Return back to camp at dusk for dinner and a decent night sleep.

Day 9 : Ella

We have an early breakfast, check out and head with a packed lunch to the Royal Botanical Gardens for a guided tour.

The Royal Botanical Gardens is the largest of Sri Lanka’s botanical gardens with over 4,000 different species of plants and is regarded among the finest in Asia. The origins of the Botanical Gardens date to 1371 when King Wikramabahu III took to the throne and kept his court at Peradeniya near the Mahaweli, where the gardens were reserved exclusively for Kandyan Royalty. Some of the highlights when visiting these unique gardens would be the Orchid collection, walking through a stunning avenue of Royal Palm Trees as well as a giant Javan Fig Tree on the great lawn. Another key feature of the gardens is the large collection of medicinal plants and spices.

Afterwards we head to Peradeniya Railway Station where you will hop on a train which will take us on a very scenic ride through the highlands*

One of the best ways to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the central highlands is to travel by train from Kandy through to Ella. The train stations in Peradeniya and most of the towns in the highlands were built during the time of the British, where minimal changes have been made to the buildings giving it a distinct old world charm. The train journey takes you through the back of small towns where you can see the local people go about their day to day work and through the mountain ranges providing beautiful views of the tea fields, patches of cloud forests, numerous streams and waterfalls.

Asian Leopard

Upon reaching Ella, late afternoon, we meet our guide and transfer to our hotel, Ella Mountain Heavens for two nights with all meals included.

*Please note train ride cannot be guaranteed due to popularity. It may be possible but on a different day. The final itinerary will detail arrangements closer to the time of travel.

Day 10 : Ella

Early morning we head towards Haputale, and load into tuk tuks that take us up to the scenic Liptons Seat View Point.

Lipton’s seat is one of the best observation points of the surrounding landscapes and is located on the top of the Poonagala hill which is close to the Dambetenna tea factory. This place gets this name after the famous tea planter Sir Thomas Lipton who was said to have used this spot to observe the surrounding region of his tea plantations. From the Lipton’s view itself one gets an astounding view of areas such as the Handapanagala lake, Chandrika tank, Udawalawe Reservoir and the Wedi Hiti Mountains, as well as the Hambantota Harbour on the southern coast.

Thereafter we head down and visit the Dambetenne Tea Factory. A visit to the hill country will not be complete without a visit to a tea factory and estate. You can stroll through the beautifully manicured tea fields and thereafter head to the tea factory where the magic of converting raw leaves into black tea happens. An art developed during the British colonial period, some machines used date back over 100 years. The creation of black tea is an art form which has remained relatively unchanged for over a century.

If time permits and the Bungalow is open, we will visit the Adisham Bungalow.

The Adisham Bungalow is a monastery of the Sylvestro Benedictine monks and is a delightful site to visit near Haputale. This large stone building was initially built by Sir Thomas Lester Villiers in 1931 who was a tea planter and later sold in 1961 to the Benedictine monks. The novice monks are trained for a period of a year at this monastery. The building has a unique old-world charm which is brought out by the antique furniture and architecture. There is a welfare shop which sells jams and other fresh produce made by the monks.

The charming St Andrews Church was said to have been built by a gentleman named James Andrews in 1875, who worked at Sherwood Estate as well as Richard Wylie from Pita Ratmale Estate. The atmosphere of this little parish seems timeless and peaceful.

Thereafter we return to Ella and enjoy lunch back at the hotel to savour those views!

Asian Elephants

Afterwards we continue towards Demodara where we ride on a tuk tuk once again to reach the Nine Arches Bridge.

Close to Ella is the famous Nine Arch Bridge, which is a beautiful example of English engineering and design and built entirely out of solid rocks, bricks and cement without the use of steel. The bridge was commissioned in 1921 and is still used to date by trains that travel from Kandy through to Ella.

You will also pass and be able to photograph the spectacular Ravana Falls. This is in close proximity of the legendary cave which is considered a place there Sita (from the Indian saga the Ramayana) was hidden by the Lankan Demon King Ravana.

Afterward we can explore the busy market scenes in Ella, which are great for photographs of typical Sri Lankan life and colourful items for sale.

After dusk we return back to our hotel.

Dinner and overnight.

Day 11 : Galle

We enjoy breakfast and our mountain views and then pack up and check out. Today we're bound for the south coast and Galle. It's a 4 - 4.5 hour drive and we may stop along the way for some photographic opportunities.

vUpon reaching Galle, we head into the historic Galle Dutch Fort where we check in to our accommodation, the fantastic Fort Printers.

After a quick break, we'll venture out on foot for a tour of this historic fort, learning of its intricate past and photographing the wonderful architectures and local life. There is a heady mix of religions and culture and most fascinating is how this fort is its own micro-economy in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic setting.

We then enjoy our final dinner together as a group at the hotel. Nightlife here is rather fun so we can take a stroll and photograph the fort's buzz.

Day 12 : End of Itinerary

Good morning! Can you believe the tour has come to an end. We highly recommend an early rise so you can head out and capture the morning light on Galle Fort.

Enjoy breakfast at your leisure and be ready at the agreed time to transfer back up to Colombo. We can even stop in Colombo for a walk around the city because most flights are late evening! Guests can be dropped off at the airport or we can relax for the afternoon utilising facilities of a wonderful hotel to freshen up before our long haul flights home.

We trust you absolutely loved our Island Escape: Sri Lanka Photo Voyage.

Bookings and Contact:

To ask any questions you may have regarding this very unique photographic adventure, or to book one of the limited places, please contact Michael via the contact form or call +61 408 941 965

NB - COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL INSURANCE IS COMPULSORY WHEN BOOKING THIS PHOTO TOUR

Encompass Africa

Would you like a FREE copy of my new Ebook?

Download Button

ebook The Art of Wildlife Photography by Michael Snedic

You have Successfully Subscribed!