While you will see big mammals on this trip, there are myriad smaller animals in Sri Lanka that are equally as compelling. These creatures range from butterflies and beetles to scorpions and spiders that make up most of the island's ecosystem. George McGavin, entomologist and BBC natural history presenter will shine a light on these species to provide a fascinating and alternative insight into this beautiful and exotic island.
VIP Meet and Greet at Colombo Airport
You will be met as you disembark from the plane by an airport representative who will escort you to a nearby lounge. You will be served drinks and a small snack while your luggage is collected from the carousel. Please note you will either meet your chauffeur guide in the airport lounge or will be taken to meet him in the parking area outside the terminal. There is the chance to change money inside the airport where you will get a better exchange rate than in the hotels.
Sri Lanka's sprawling capital buzzes with an effervescence and ebullience not seen anywhere else in the country. Drawing on its colonial past, it now combines ancient, colonial and modern influences in a swirl of cultures, colours and aromas particular to Sri Lanka.
Drive from Colombo to Horathapola (Road Journey).
Morning nature walk
After a leisurely breakfast this morning, George McGavin will give a short talk on the endemic species of Sri Lanka. You will then take a nature walk, guided by George and a member of the Horathapola Estate team. During the walk you will hear the gleeful chatter of countless bird species from barbets and woodpeckers, drongos and flycatchers. This first nature walk will introduce you to some of the most common insect species from butterflies and bees to ants and dung beetles. You will pass through the coconut plantations and learn how coconuts are farmed and end up on our supermarket shelves. The walk is an ideal opportunity for meeting and chatting with friendly locals. There is an option for a bullock cart ride before continuing on to Madulkelle.
The drive between Horathapola and Madulkelle today will take approximately four hours. A packed lunch will be provided by the hotel. On arrival spend the rest of the day at leisure. Take a dip in the pool and enjoy the glorious views.
Guided walks with George McGavin
You are immersed in nature, let the chirping of the birds wake you up to the most spectacular views imaginable. Rolling green valleys and stunning landscapes keep changing through the course of the day. If you are an early riser, catch the sunrise over the sensational Knuckles Mountain Range. Take a relaxed stroll around the property as you make your way through to the beautiful colonial styled, elegantly furnished planter's estate house for your breakfast this morning.
After breakfast, George McGavin and the lodge naturalists will take the group on an exploration of the surrounding countryside. The walks will be adjusted to suit the overall ability of the group and will be assessed on the day. There will be opportunity to stride out on a more challenging hike and this can be arranged locally through the lodge. We recommend the hike to Campbell Waterfall, approximately four hours or for an easier option we recommend the mini World's End trek, only two hours from the lodge.
The Knuckles Mountain range which surrounds the Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge is a truly unique ecosystem compared to the rest of Sri Lanka's central hills. More than 120 bird species have been sighted here including endemic species such as the Yellow-Fronted Barbet, Dusky-Blue Flycatcher, Ceylon Lorikeet, Ceylon Grackle, Yellow-Eared Bulbul and Layard's Parakeet. Other wildlife you may experience during your explorations is the rare White Sambhur, barking deer, mouse deer, giant squirrel and star attractions such as elephant and leopard. In addition to this, thousands of unique and diverse species of fauna and flora are also available here.
Return to the lodge this afternoon for a refreshing dip in the pool and a rest before meeting for dinner this evening. George McGavin will be on hand to discuss the discoveries of the day.
Drive from Madulkelle to Gal Oya National Park (Road Journey)
The drive from Madulkelle to Gal Oya will take approximately four hours. A packed lunch will be provided by the hotel.
Hidden away on the East Coast, the Gal Oya National Park lies well off-the-beaten-path and is somewhat mysterious even to the locals. 30 years of civil war on this side of the island stopped tourism in its tracks and Gal Oya is only now emerging as a major wildlife destination. In fact, we would argue that this unique national park is one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets! Made up of mostly dry-zone forest and grassland, the park is a biodiversity hub, with some flora dating back to the Jurassic period. Sloth bear and leopard have been occasionally spotted within the park, but sightings are rare. You are more likely to come across the park’s larger residents: the Asian elephant. It is also a fantastic spot for bird watching.
On arrival in Gal Oya, spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Nature walks and discovery with George McGavin
Accompanied by Gal Oya's head naturalist and George McGavin, start out on walking trails to explore the incredible ecosystem of this unspoilt eastern corner of the island. The walks offer a number of possible routes through the trees and around the nearby lake to observe a wide range of species. During your stay, visit Gal Oya National Park, home to herds of elephants, deer, jackals, mugger crocodiles and leopards. Take a night-time jeep safari and use spotlights to find nocturnal wildlife.
Join the lodge naturalists on an evening walk, setting up camera traps as part of an ongoing animal monitoring program. The data will be collected and shared with the group to analyse to see what wildlife has been recorded.
Later this afternoon, spend time at leisure enjoying the swimming pool or take a bicycle from the lodge and cycle down to the reservoir accompanied by a lodge naturalist. George will be on hand to discuss the day's discoveries with a short workshop on bug anatomy. Traps may be set in order to take a closer and longer look at different bugs.
Nature Walks with George McGavin
Today you continue exploring the biodiversity of Gal Oya National Park with George McGavin.
Alternative optional activities payable locally are the morning boat safari and meeting the Veddha. These are led by local guides.
Take a boat safari to spot wildlife from the water. It’s a unique way to immerse yourself in the animals' habitat. With a little luck you could spot elephants swimming between islands or bathing at the lake’s edge. Spend two to three hours here before returning to the lodge for lunch.
Visit one of the last remaining communities of the Veddha, the forest-dwelling, indigenous people of Sri Lanka. Discover and learn about local nature as a local Veddha brings the forest alive, explaining his tribe’s use of medicinal plants, ancient hunting grounds and cave dwellings. It’s a fascinating insight into how the hunter-gatherers lived in the jungles of Gal Oya. Along the way you are sure to spot all sorts of flora and fauna. Return to the lodge this afternoon. Spend the rest of the day at leisure or join George for a short workshop on bug anatomy and try your hand at macro photography. Meet for dinner this evening.
The drive today from Gal Oya National Park to Sinharaja Forest Reserve will take approximately six hours. This is a long drive but there will be plenty of comfort stops taken enroute. Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant and is payable locally. On arrival at the Rainforest Eco Lodge, spend the remainder of the afternoon at leisure before meeting for dinner this evening.
Today after breakfast, embark on the trails from the lodge accompanied by George McGavin and the in house naturalist. The flora and fauna that you will encounter today will blow your mind!
This tropical rain forest believed to be home for almost 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic wildlife is a veritable treasure trove bursting with various species of flora and fauna. The high diversity of vegetation within the reserve has made it a favourable sanctuary for various species of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, fish, amphibians and plant life; all co-existing within the ecosystem.
The larger mammals are the elephants, leopard, sambar, fishing cat, rusty spotted cat, barking deer, mouse deer, jackal and wild boar and the commonly seen endemic purple-faced langur and the Toque macaque, a reddish brown monkey. The smaller mammals include porcupine, otter, three types of squirrels; civets, rats, bats and even the very rare pangolin. Some of the reptiles are python, green pit viper, the hump-nosed viper and rough-nosed horned lizard.
Suitable clothing and footwear play a very important role in enjoying the great outdoors. They help you to have a comfortable walk with minimum physical effort or discomfort. Leaches are a common phenomena in the moist forest and adjacent habitats. You may avoid any unpleasant encounter with them by being properly prepared and dressed.
The drive today will take approximately five hours to central Colombo. Comfort stops will be made enroute with a longer lunch stop. Lunch is payable locally and is not included in the cost of the tour.
This evening the group will gather for a farewell supper.
Duration: 10 Days
Departs: 26 October 2019
Tour Expert: George McGavin
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Terms & Conditions Prices based on per person double/twin share. Prices may fluctuate if surcharges, fees, taxes or currency change. Offer is subject to availability. Please check all prices, availability and other information with your travel consultant before booking. Bookings must be made direct with Concierge Traveller. Package cancellation fees apply. All savings and bonus nights (if applicable) are included in the advertised price. Offers may be withdrawn without notice and are not combinable with any other offers unless stated. Local city taxes may apply.
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