|Destinasjoner :||Sri Lanka|
|Aktivitets nivå :||Other|
The group flight arrives into Colombo Airport today where our local guide will be waiting to meet us. Land Only clients should be at the airport ready to join the group transfer to Ahangama on the south coast of the island - please refer to the joining instructions for further information. Sri Lanka's road network has improved greatly over the last few years, and the 'deep south' (as it is often known) is now accessible within around 3 hours from Colombo. The coastline's coconut groves and tall palms give way to magnificent views of the sea as we approach Ahangama. Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
Shortly after sunrise we depart for the harbour, where we board a small, privately chartered boat for today's whale watching excursion. Accompanied by excellent crew and a naturalist guide, we spend the morning searching the Indian Ocean for whales and other cetaceans. The vessel is fitted with radar and GPS which helps to increase our chance of success. Blue whales, the largest animals that have ever lived, typically frequent these waters between November and April. They are huge, reaching up to 30 metres in length and weighing as much as 160 tonnes. We may also be lucky enough to encounter Sperm whales, Brydes whales and large pods of Spinner or Bottlenose dolphins in the surrounding waters. After spending the morning at sea, we return to the harbour and our hotel in Ahangama. Later this afternoon we have a guided visit to Galle to discover the historical fort, a fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by the Dutch in 1663, the fort is a maze of cobbled streets crammed with cafes, boutique shops and beautifully restored colonial houses. Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
This morning we transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest, the last undisturbed area of rainforest in Sri Lanka. This biodiversity hotspot harbours a number of endemic species. Canopy trees reach heights of up to 45 metres and bird species number 160 and counting. Amongst the insects, amphibians and reptiles are mammals such as Sambar, Barking deer and Wild boar. Purple-faced langurs usually congregate in groups of 10 or more and are fairly common to see amongst the trees. Around 15 leopards are known in this area but sightings are very difficult to come by due to the dense vegetation. This afternoon we take a walk to discover Sinharaja and its many inhabitants, accompanied by our naturalist guide. Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
Wake up to birdsong and get ready for another day in the forest. Sinharaja covers a narrow sliver of land 21km long and 3.7km wide, covering an area of roughly 11,187 hectares. Within this area 43% of all the species recorded in Sri Lanka can be found. Our naturalist guide will take us on a wildlife walk to discover the many trails and abundant diversity here. Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
This morning we leave the rainforest and travel further inland to Udawalawe National Park, which lies on the boundary between Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones. Udawalawe is one of the best parks in Sri Lanka to see elephants with around 600 animals in the park who can be seen roaming in herds of up to 50 - the highest concentration of wild elephants anywhere in Sri Lanka. The Udawalawe Reservoir is at the centre of the park and makes a stunning backdrop amongst the otherwise lightly vegetated area. For this reason wildlife watching in the national park is relatively easy. Aside from elephant families feeding in the grasslands, we may encounter Sambar deer, Spotted deer, Water buffalo, Wild boar, jackal and mongoose on this afternoon's game drive. Accommodation: Nil Diya Mankada (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
This morning our 4WD safari vehicles are waiting to take us back into Udawalawe for a second game drive within the park. Game drives typically last for 3 hours, depending on sightings, and are always accompanied by a naturalist guide. In the afternoon we visit Udawalawe's famous Elephant Transit Home (ETH), situated just 5km from the park entrance. The transit home is run by the department of Wildlife Conservation and supported by the Born Free Foundation. It provides a safe environment for orphaned elephants, who are typically looked after at the home until they reach the age of 4, at which point they are old enough to be released back into the wild. Our visit will co-incide with feeding time at ETH, where the juveniles are given bottled milk by a team of park rangers and the noisy specatacle can be witnessed from the viewing platform. Accommodation: Nil Diya Mankada (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
After breakfast we depart for Tissamaharama and Yala National Park, a drive of around 3 hours. On arrival in Yala we check into our hotel and then around 3pm head out in 4WD jeeps for our afternoon game drive. Yala is Sri Lanka's most well known national park, famous for having a higher concentration of leopard per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world. Located in Sri Lanka's lowland dry zone in the south eastern corner of the country, Yala National Park is extensive, covering some 97,881 hectares across five 'blocks'. Yala's vegetation primarily consists of dense secondary forest, semi-arid thorny scrub, brackish lagoons and mangroves since the park borders the coastline. With this diverse habitat comes a huge array of wildlife, including elephant, Sloth bear, Spotted deer, Water buffalo, Sambar deer, Wild boar, langur and macaque. Bird counts are also high, with over 215 species recorded, including thousands of migrating waterfowl. Our game drive this afternoon will last around 3 - 4 hours, before we return to the hotel to freshen up and have dinner. Accommodation: Kithala Resort (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
Wildlife tends to be at its most active during the early morning and to take advantage of this we have a morning game drive in Yala, returning to our hotel for a rest and lunch afterwards. Our naturalist guides will focus on Yala's diverse wildlife and birds, with our game drive lasting around 3 hours. After lunch we transfer around 3.5 hours to Talalla, a quiet and remarkably undeveloped beach. Traditional fishing boats rest on the sand in front of a backdrop of palm trees - this is postcard worthy, and in our opinion, one of the most picturesque beaches in Sri Lanka. Accommodation for our two night's here is in a lovely resort with direct access to the beach. Set in tropical grounds with hammocks and a freshwater swimming pool, our open-sided cabanas let you drift off to sleep listening to the waves and wake up to birdsong! We have marked this property as a 'comfortable hotel' but please note the rooms are not air conditioned. Instead our quirky cabanas - with alfresco showers - have sides that are open to the elements, so as well as the overhead fan there is plenty of breeze from the ocean. There is still privacy in the form of retractable blinds and all rooms have a safe to store belongings. This property will no doubt be a highlight of the holiday due to its lovely setting! Accommodation: Talalla Retreat (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
Today is free to enjoy all of the facilities at Talalla Retreat - swim in the sea, walk on the beach, take a dip in the pool, drink a fresh coconut juice, swing in a hammock or join one of the daily yoga lessons (at extra cost). Alternatively if there are enough people interested we can organise a second whale watching excursion to take place this morning. By having the opportunity to go whale watching again we maximise our chances of having the most favourable weather and sea conditions. Please note that this optional excursion will involve transfers to/from Mirissa where all of the whale watching boats depart. Accommodation: Talalla Retreat (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
This morning we check out and make our way to Colombo airport where our holiday comes to an end. Flight inclusive clients travelling with Sri Lankan airlines will usually leave Sri Lanka in the early afternoon, arriving into London this evening. Flights with Etihad Airlines tend to depart much later in the evening and won't arrive back into London until Day 12 of this itinerary. Land Only clients should check with our customer operations team before booking their own flights to ensure they can be dropped at the airport in time. Alternatively, an additional nights accommodation can be organised near to Colombo Airport if you would like to fly home on Day 12 of the itinerary. **
* 10 days land only / 11 days flight inclusive * Travel by private bus, boat and 4WD * 9 nights in comfortable hotels and eco lodges * All breakfasts and 9 dinners are included * Whale watching season: November to April
All breakfasts and 9 dinners are included. These are provided at the hotels we are staying in and usually consist of a buffet with local and international options. Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the island’s heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to simply as ‘Rice and Curry’; this is the staple dish in most restaurants and usually consists of assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as various pickles, ‘sambols,’ and a handful of tiny poppadum’s – all using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic. The abundance of fresh seafood and fish will ensure that cuisine is a highlight of the trip. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Sri Lanka the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat/gluten or dairy-free. Please be prepared for this as you may need to bring such supplies from home. Spicier food can be avoided and lots of the hotels will serve Western options alongside local cuisine.
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