Wildlife watching tours - bird watching holidays -
culture tours for independent travellers and groups
Sri Lanka Junglefowl © M O'Dell
Sri Lanka Blue Magpie © Tony SawbridgeDark-fronted Babbler © M O'DellSerendib Scops Owl © C KitchinYellow-eared Bulbul © Tony SawbridgeChestnut-backed Owlet © I NewtonSri Lanka Grey Hornbill © J Thomas

Endemic Birds of Sri Lanka (9 days) SLK008

Tour ref. no. SLK008
Duration: 7 nights (9 days taking into account flights which are payable directly)
Colombo – Kithulgala – Nuwara Eliya & Horton Plains – Sinharaja – Colombo
  • Our target – all of Sri Lanka’s 33 endemic birds
  • See the stunning Sri Lanka Blue Magpie and Red-faced Malkoha at Sinharaja
  • Sri Lanka Spurfowl and Green-billed Coucal can be difficult, but we know where to look!
  • Admire the blue-shouldered Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush in the highlands at Horton Plains
  • Search for the not-so-dull Dull-blue Flycatcher in the hills
  • Sightings of Serendib Scops Owl (first seen as recently as 2001) and Chestnut-backed Owlet


Tour focus: Sri Lanka’s endemic birds – around 33 of them, depending on which list you work from!  Explore Kithulgala from a comfortable base, with chance of numerous endemics – Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Serendib Scops Owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Junglefowl and many more.  Moving on in search of highland endemics will take you to Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains.  Your guide will seek out Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Thrush, White-eye, Bush-warbler and Whistling Thrush. At the next location, the lush lowland rainforests of Sinharaja, there will be another chance to catch up with most species; expect flocks of Orange-billed Babblers and Ashy-headed Laughingthrushes as well as Green-billed Coucal, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Spot-winged Thrush, White-faced Starling, Legge’s Flowerpecker and the rather elusive Sri Lanka Thrush.   We can’t list everything here but we are sure you’ll revel in the island’s high level of endemism.


Itinerary and price

Day 1: Flight to be organised by you

For help with your flight arrangements and to receive a no obligation quote, you can complete the enquiry form on our website or call 0800 280 8947 to speak to a flight advisor at StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, a leading retailer of airfares and worldwide flights.

Day 2: Colombo – Kithulgala
Meals: Dinner Arrive Colombo (likely to be early afternoon).  Your Sri Lankan guide will be there to meet you and will remain with you throughout the tour. From the airport you’ll drive (approx. 3 hours) to Kithulgala.  Check in at your lodge/hotel and with any time remaining you’ll explore the tranquil forests and Kelani river at Kithulgala, an area famous as the scene for the 1957 award-winning film The Bridge over the River Kwai. For birders and naturalists this area has biodiversity galore!  Many endemic birds are seen including the comical, colourful Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot and the skulking, less colourful Green-billed Coucal.  Here you can also see the endemic Chestnut-backed Owlet and the rare Serendib Scops Owl, only recorded for the first time in 2001. Have dinner and relax for the evening.
Day 3: Kithulgala
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Take advantage of the best hours for birding, nice and early in the morning with the time of breakfast arranged to fit around you exploring.  Other endemics to be found include Yellow-fronted Barbet, Layard’s Parakeet, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler,  Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Brown-capped Babbler and Spot-winged Thrush along with many more exciting species such as Malabar Trogon, Crimson-backed Flameback, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Lesser Yellownape, Orange Minivet, Lesser Hill Myna and Crested Treeswift.  Birding will either be along Kithulgala's quiet forest trails, for example in Makandawa Rain Forest which is accessed by crossing the river (if river levels permit) or in habitats accessed via a hanging bridge and around the local villages.  Either a hot or a packed lunch (all lunches are payable directly unless stated otherwise) can be ordered (depending on the birding) and the search for endemics will continue in the afternoon.  Return to your hotel/lodge for dinner and relax for the evening.
Day 4: Kithulgala - Nuwara Eliya (Highlands)
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Spend the early morning birding around the hotel (no entrance fee required), then after breakfast drive to Nuwara Eliya in the hills.  The plan will be to arrive around lunch time which should allow ample time to visit Victoria Park in the town.  In the winter months birdwatchers can catch up with a number of sought-after species here; Kashmir Flycatcher, Pied Thrush, Indian Blue Robin and Indian Pitta are usually top of the list and endemic species reside here too including Dull Blue Flycatcher, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White-eye and Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler.  In addition a roadside location will be visited for the shy Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush.
Day 5: Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Taking a packed breakfast with you today, a very early start is recommended this morning to reach Horton Plains National Park as it opens.  You'll drive through Sri Lankan tea estates above 2000 metres till you reach extensive areas of superb montane forest, the home of the endemic Sri Lanka Thrush, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Sri Lanka White-eye and Yellow-eared Bulbul.  With luck you may also see the highland race of Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, known as the 'Bear Monkey', and the highland race of Toque Macaque. Birding can be incredibly good by the roadside.  It isn't necessary, but for those who wish to stretch their legs and enjoy the view, you can consider following one of two trails to World's End or Mini World's End.  These trails are popular with tourists so some birders may want to give them a miss.  However, the trails pass through wonderful forest habitat and you'll see more of the endemic birds on the way.  An incredible view awaits, subject to the level of cloud and mist. Other species that occur locally are Sri Lanka Swallow, Hill Swallow, Black Eagle and Legge's Hawk Eagle.  Horton Plains is a truly wonderful and most memorable place. You'll return to Nuwara Eliya around lunch time.  Then later in the afternoon it will be possible to enjoy some roadside birdwatching or if you wish, visit to the nearby Hakgala Botanic Gardens (optional so entrance fee is on direct payment) where it is possible to see the highland race of Toque Macaque and some of the endemic birds.
Day 6: Nuwara Eliya - Sinharaja
Meals: Breakfast and dinner After breakfast you will journey on to Sinharaja.  Sinharaja World Heritage Site and National Park is the last remaining significant primary forest area on the island, home to many species of endemic flora and fauna.  For the remainder of the day you'll explore village areas outside of Sinharaja National Park where many of the local endemic species can be seen, including Green-billed Coucal, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot and Layard's Parakeet.
Days 7 and 8 : Sinharaja National Park and surrounding area
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Sinharaja National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Nature Reserve offers great birding. You'll start seeing several endemic species along the track to the main Park entrance, so it may well be worth walking here at some time during your stay.  Otherwise the journey up the track is short 30 – 40 minute bumpy ride by 4WD to reach the entrance gate.  Note:   It is difficult to predict the weather here, so your guide will be flexible.  One entrance fee per day is included in the price and usually days locally involve time inside the National Park but also exploring the best habitats outside too.  Speak with your guide to plan lunch as it may be possible to have lunch (payable directly) at Martin's Lodge (just outside the National Park entrance).  It is a good location for lunch, as the undercover dining area offers protection from inclement weather and you can bird watch at canopy level with views across a forested valley.  Should you wish to enter the National Park twice in one day the second entry would be payable directly, but this shouldn't be necessary with all the wonderful habitat and birds to experience outside the National Park. One of the most interesting and colourful spectacles Sinharaja has to offer is the mixed species flocks of foraging birds, a phenomenon commonly found in rainforests.  Studies of many such flocks revealed that some were made up of over 40 species including 12 endemics. Almost 95% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds occur at Sinharaja and these include Serendib Scops Owl, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Layard’s Parakeet, Green–billed Coucal, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Black-capped Bulbul, Sri Lanka Drongo, Orange-billed Babbler, Spot-winged Thrush, Sri Lanka Thrush, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, White-faced Starling and Sri Lanka Swallow. However, birding here can be challenging, as with many dense forest habitats. A high percentage of Sri Lanka’s endemic mammals occur here too and these include Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Toque Macaque and Layard’s (Flame-striped) Jungle Squirrel to name a few.  As with birding, mammal watching in dense forest can be equally if not more challenging.
Day 9: Sinharaja - Colombo
Meals: Breakfast The time you leave today will depend on the time of your flight.  You can expect the journey to take around five hours.  With an evening flight it will be possible to enjoy a few hours birding locally around village areas.    Chestnut-backed Owlet occurs here and you may even see Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, while those interested in invertebrates may enjoy the giant millipedes! Note: The airport has a wide range of reasonably-priced souvenirs to purchase from several stalls and most will take US$ or Sri Lankan Rupees.  Be prepared to discuss the prices! Tour ends Note: There are various ways to extend this tour. Price per person: 2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) US $ 1195 4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) US $ 945 Single room supplement US $ 200 Hotel upgrades are available. Please note: There is a supplement for the period 15th December to 10th January inclusive and we can supply this on request. Price is based on the following hotels:
Place Hotel name No. of nights
Kithulgala Kitulgala Rest House or Plantation Hotel, Standard Room 2
Nuwara Eliya Lake View or Leisure Village Hotel, Standard Room 2
Sinharaja Rock View Motel, Standard Room  3
Price includes
  • Accommodation in the above mentioned hotels with meals as listed (breakfast and dinner)
  • Services of an accompanying birding driver/guide from Day 2 till the end of Day 9 drop at the airport
  • All mentioned transfers by air-conditioned vehicle including the transfer to the airport on Day 9.
  • Entrances to the National Parks and gardens mentioned in the itinerary
  • Adequate bottled water from the vehicle - any water ordered at hotels /lodges is payable directly
  • Local tracker to search for Serendib Scops Owl and Sri Lanka Thrush inside Sinharaja when required
  • Tips for hotel staff (except the porters who carry your luggage who you should tip directly), jeep drivers and local trackers
  • All currently applicable taxes
Price excludes
  • Any international airfare
  • The tip for your guide at the end of the tour
  • Meals not specified
  • Tourist visa and travel insurance
  • Camera fee (where levied, though this is often included in the entry ticket)
  • Any additional taxes levied on the tourism sector in future
  • Any expenses of personal nature such as hard/soft drinks, laundry, phone/fax calls, tips etc.
  • Any item not mentioned in the price includes section
  • Any increase in the entrance fee to National Parks or Sanctuaries in the future. The price is based on the current entrance fee
  • Cost incidental to any change in the itinerary/stay on account of flight cancellation due to bad weather, ill health, roadblocks and/or any factors beyond control

How to book

The booking of this itinerary is with Wild About Travel Limited and our booking terms and conditions apply. In order to protect your payments we operate a trust account in accordance with the requirements of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.

Please contact Jo Thomas at Wild About Travel (jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk) / 01480-370593 to register your interest and request a booking form.

To confirm your booking please complete the booking form and send a 25% deposit by £ sterling cheque * payable to Wild About Travel Trust to the Wild About Travel Office, 27, Reeve Way, Godmanchester, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 2PH, UK. The balance payment would be due 40 - 60 days (to be confirmed at the time of booking) prior to your travel dates.

* Note: Where a price is given in another currency you can pay in £ sterling. We will use the Lloyds Bank exchange rate at the time of making the deposit payment and the balance payment to convert the figure to £. If you would prefer to make a payment by internet banking please let us know and we can supply you with the bank details.


We can advise on appropriate flights and timings that you may wish to book, but we do not organise or arrange flights on our customers’ behalf. You will need to make your own flight arrangements directly with a flight retailer or the airline concerned.

For any help or advice please call or email Wild About Travel and we would be happy to assist.
Tel: +44 (0)1480 370593 Mobile: +44 (0)7817 574235
Email: jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk
Wild About Travel Limited is a company registered in England and Wales.
Reg. no. 5522066. Registered Office: 27, Reeve Way, Godmanchester, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 2PH, UK