Wildlife watching tours - bird watching holidays -
culture tours for independent travellers and groups
Sri Lanka Junglefowl © M O'Dell
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill © C KitchinSerendib Scops Owl © C KitchinChestnut-backed Owlet © I NewtonSri Lanka Blue Magpie © Tony Sawbridge

Sri Lanka’s Endemic Birds (12 days) SLK111

Tour ref. no. SLK111
Duration: 10 nights (12 days taking into account flights which are payable directly)
Colombo – Kithulgala – Sinharaja – Udawalawe NP – Nuwara Eliya – Horton Plains – Kandy – 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 jungle-hut 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.  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 Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Spot-winged Thrush, White-faced Starling, Legge’s Flowerpecker and the rather elusive Sri Lanka Thrush. 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 White-eye, Bush-warbler and Whistling 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 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.  Other endemics to be found include Layard’s Parakeet, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Black-throated Munia and Spot-winged Thrush along with many more exciting species such as Malabar Trogon, Crimson-backed Flameback, Lesser Hill Myna, Crested Treeswift and Mountain Hawk Eagle.  Either a hot or a packed lunch (payable directly) 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 - Sinharaja
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Spend the early morning birding around the hotel (no entrance fee required), then after breakfast drive to Sinharaja National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Nature Reserve.  You should reach the first visitor centre in approx. 3 hours and your guide must acquire your permits from here.  The itinerary is priced for a stay at Rock View Motel. There is great birding inside Sinharaja National Park, but also outside.  The track to the main Park entrance offers some superb birding opportunities including several endemics so it's good to walk that at some point or it will be a short 30 – 40 minute bumpy journey by 4WD to reach the entrance gate.  Note:   It is difficult to predict the weather here, so your guide will be flexible.  The entrance fee is payable each time you go into the Park and at some point many will find it beneficial to have lunch just outside the entrance at Martin's Lodge (payable directly), especially if the weather is inclement.  Birding is great around the lodge too! 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 5: Sinharaja
Meals: Breakfast and dinner You’ll be able to enter Sinharaja Forest Reserve once today, or, depending on the success of yesterday afternoon and this morning, you may prefer to walk down to the end of the track towards the visitor centre where birding can be extremely productive.  Endemic species may include Green–billed Coucal, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Red-faced Malkoha, Layard’s Parakeet, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon and you may even see Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher if you are lucky!  Your guide will suggest where best to have lunch (payable directly). Night at Rock View Motel.
Day 6: Sinharaja
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Spend the whole day birding.  We have factored in another visit inside Sinharaja National Park, with a half day to explore down the track from the National Park entrance.  Chestnut-backed Owlet occurs here and those interested in invertebrates may enjoy the giant millipedes!  A visit to a local property to search for the elusive Sri Lanka Spurfowl is also included today. Night at Rock View Motel
Day 7: Sinharaja - Udawalawe
Meals: Breakfast and dinner You can do some early morning birding outside of Sinharaja National Park before commencing the journey to Udawalawe (approx. 3 – 3 ½ hours).  Check in at your hotel and in the afternoon take the short drive to reach Udawalawe National Park and enjoy a jeep safari.  Many endemics occur here, though several are quite tricky to see as you are birding from the jeep most of the time.  Crested Hawk Eagles sit in prominent trees – seemingly everywhere - and the Park is home to several pairs of White-bellied Sea Eagle, another species easily seen here.  The arid scrubland is home to Black-headed Munia, Blue-faced Malkoha, Marshall’s Iora, Indian Pitta, Jerdon’s Bushlark, Malabar Pied Hornbill and the widespread and rather pretty Orange-breasted Green Pigeon.  While taking in the birdlife you will most certainly encounter herds of Asian Elephant and perhaps Golden Jackal, Wild Boar and a mongoose or two.  Golden Palm Civet, Rusty-spotted Cat, Fishing Cat, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Asian Palm Civet, White-spotted Chevrotain (Mouse deer) are all present but more difficult to see.  Return to your hotel for a one night stay.
Day 8: Udawalawe - Nuwara Eliya
Meals: Breakfast and dinner After breakfast you will drive (approx. 4 ½ - 5 hours) to Nuwara Eliya.  There are lots of excellent birding sites in the vicinity including Victoria Park  which you will visit today where you may see Kashmir Flycatcher, Pied Thrush, Indian Blue Robin and the endemic Sri Lanka White-eye, to name just a few.  There are other places to check for the endemics too, including waterfalls and a golf course!  Today locally you should see Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White-eye and Orange-billed Babbler.  Night at a hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
Day 9: Nuwara Eliya - Horton Plains - Nuwara Eliya
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Located on the highest of three peneplains (horizontal lands formed by erosion to create an area resembling a plain), the not-to-be-missed Horton Plains National Park is another great place to look for highland endemics and the montane race of Purple-faced Leaf Monkey is often seen on the journey.  Endemic birds in the Park include Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Sri Lanka Thrush, Dark-fronted Babbler and Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush which is best looked for at dawn and dusk.  Other species include Hill Swallow.  You'll return to Nuwara Eliya by lunch time and enjoy more local birding in the afternoon.  Return for a second night to your hotel.
Day 10: Nuwara Eliya - Kandy
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Today you’ll drive (3 hours) to Kandy.  During your brief stay you’ll visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya, a few kms to the west of the city.  Species to look out for include both Yellow-fronted and Crimson-fronted Barbets.  Yellow-browed Bulbul is also likely along with White-rumped and Scaly-breasted Munias.  For anyone interested in culture, and if time permits, you could visit the Temple of the Tooth (expect the entry to cost $10 per person) and watch a dance performance (approx. $7 per person) in Kandy (both on direct payment).
Day 11: Kandy - Colombo
Meals: Breakfast and dinner Today you’ll start your journey back towards Colombo.  You could if you wish add in a visit to Udawatta Kelle Forest Reserve and if you decide to do this the entrance of approx. $6 will be on direct payment.  You’ll enjoy birding on the way as directed by your guide.  The drive should take around 4 ½ hours.  Your driver guide will say farewell this evening.
Day 12: Colombo
Meals: Breakfast Enjoy breakfast (served from 0700 hours).  Today we have arranged for a transfer from your hotel to the airport for your international flight home.  Note: The airport has a wide range of reasonably-priced souvenirs to purchase from several stalls and most will take US$ or Sri Lankan Rupees.  Be prepared to discuss the prices! Tour ends Prices for different hotel categories, the names of hotels and a list of inclusions/exclusions are shown below. Note: Yala can easily be included - see SLK113. From Kandy you could visit other cultural sites including Sigiriya Rock World Heritage Site and an excellent area for birds – see SLK114 for details.  Alternatively you could include Whale Watching from Mirissa.  Please email us for details.   Price per person for mid budget accommodation: 2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) US $1600 4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) US $1250 Single room supplement US $ 250 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 Plantation Hotel or Kitulgala Rest House, Standard Room 2
Sinharaja Rock View Motel, Standard Room 3
Udawalawe Niwahana Hotel, Standard Room  1
Nuwara Eliya Lake View or Leisure Village Hotel,  Standard Room  2
Kandy Nature Walk Resort, Standard Room 1
Colombo Euro Star Hotel, Standard Room  1
  Price per person  for standard+ accommodation: 2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) US $1800 4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) US $1400 Single room supplement US $ 275 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 Plantation Hotel or Kitulgala Rest House, Standard Room 2
Sinharaja Rock View Motel, Standard Room 3
Udawalawe The Grand, Deluxe Room  1
Nuwara Eliya Lake View or Leisure Village Hotel,  Standard Room  2
Kandy Hotel Suisse or Thilanka, Standard Room 1
Colombo Tamarind Tree, Standard Cottage  1
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 11
  • All mentioned transfers by air-conditioned vehicle including the transfer to the airport on Day 12.
  • Entrances to the National Parks and gardens mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guide at Udawalawe National Park and experienced tracker to search for Serendib Scops Owl and Sri Lanka Thrush inside Sinharaja and a visit to a local property for Sri Lanka Spurfowl
  • Exclusive jeep safaris to the National Parks
  • All currently applicable taxes
Price excludes
  • Any international airfare
  • Meals not specified
  • Tourist visa and travel insurance
  • Camera fee
  • 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