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SRI LANKA PHOTO TOUR

This photo tour combines photography for endemic birds, exciting mammal photography with Leopards and likely Sloth Bear and a pelagic trip to look for the largest mammal in the world, the Blue Whale.  It features Sinharaja Rainforest for lowland endemics such as Sri Lanka Blue Magpie and Red-faced Malkoha, Yala and Kumana National Parks for jeep safaris for Leopard (highest concentration of Leopards in the world), Sloth Bear and other birds and mammals. A pelagic trip to look for and photograph Blue Whale, Dolphins and birds and some time in the highlands to target more endemic birds such as Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon and Yellow-eared Bulbul.  Accommodation ranges from comfortable to luxurious four star hotels including 3 nights at beach hotels.  The people of Sri Lanka are very friendly and it’s a relaxed location for a wildlife photo tour.  One where you can be in the park photographing Leopards and endemic birds and an hour later relaxing at a beach hotel. The extension features more jeep safaris in Wilpattu National Park and a visit to the top shorebird location in Sri Lanka, Mannar.   We will have an excellent Sri Lankan wildlife photographer with us as well as our tour leader.

Maximum photographers: 6.

Cost and Logistics

$6,950 with a $800 single supplement, $6,450 for a non-photographer.  Cost includes all lodging, meals, transportation within country, drinking water, guiding, instruction and entrance fees.  It does not include flights to arrive in Sri Lanka, drinks other than water, tips and items of a personal nature such as laundry and phone calls.  Extension cost is $3,450 with a $400 single supplement, $3,250 nonphotographer.

Itinerary

March 24th – Arrival at Colombo airport, transfer to a nice hotel in Colombo.    

March 25th – After a bit of bird photography in the garden we will transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest.  After checking in to our lodge we will have an afternoon visit to the National Park.  This part of Sri Lanka still holds virgin forest which holds all of the endemic lowland species.  Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Magpie, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill and many more.   A nice lodge just outside the park.   

March 26th – We will have a full day in the park today.  We have a good chance of photographing some endemic night birds at their roosts here including Serendib Scops Owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet and Sri Lanka Frogmouth.  We will take lunch at a location with feeders which attract a variety of birds including Barbets, Bulbuls, Hornbills and Blue Magpie.  After a full day in the park, we will return to our lodge just outside the park. 

March 27th – We will have one more morning photographing the birds of Sinharaja such as Crimson-backed Flameback, Plum-headed Parakeet and Long-billed Sunbird, then we will check out of our hotel and head down to the south coast. We will do a bit of bird photography when we arrive in the afternoon.  We stay at a lovely lodge on the water in Mirissa.   

March 28th – This morning, we will have a boat trip to photograph Whales, Dolphins and Birds.  This is one of the best locations in the world for whale watching as the continental shelf is just a couple miles offshore.  The depths plunge quickly to over one kilometer.  We have a good chance for Blue and Sperm Whales and several species of Dolphin.  Birds we will be on the lookout for are Bridled Tern and White-bellied Sea Eagle.  We will then return to our lodge and transfer to the Yala area, in the afternoon we will do some bird photography at a lagoon.  We will then settle into our comfortable chalets near Yala National Park.

March 29th and 30th – We will spend two days in Yala National Park with morning and afternoon game drives.  Yala Has the highest concentration of Leopards in the world, this is due to the absence of other big cats along with large prey populations of Chital and Sambar Deer.  Other mammals we will be on the lookout for include Asian Elephant, Golden Jackal, Wild Water Buffalo and Sloth Bear.  Birds include Green and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and the beautiful Indian Peafowl.  Lodge: Nice chalets near the park.  

March 31st – One more morning safari in Yala National Park, then we will check out and head to Kumana National Park.  The birds and mammals of Kumana are quite similar to Yala National Park.  The beauty of this park is it’s much less visited than Yala.  There are also large numbers of Leopards, Chital Deer and Asian Elephants here.  After finishing our safari we will end up at a beautiful lodge on Arugam Bay Beach. 

April 1st – We will be up early for another safari in Kumana National Park.  As far as birds it’s very good for the striking Malabar Pied Hornbill, Painted and Black-necked Storks and raptors such as Grey Fish Eagle and Crested Hawk-Eagle.  In the afternoon we will return to our lodge on the bay and we can enjoy the beach and pool or do some shorebird photography. 

April 2nd – We will have another morning safari at Kumana with the Leopards, Elephants and Birds, then check out, we have about a five-hour transfer to our hill station town of Nuwara Eliya.  If we have time, we will check out the botanical gardens which are rich in birds.  We stay in a lovely hotel here. 

April 3rd – We will spend the full day photographing at Horton Plains National Park.  Sambar Deer is the most common mammal here, but it’s also a good location for Leopard, Toque Macaque, and the endemic Purple-faced Langur and Grizzled Giant Squirrel.  The scenery is stunning here, those interested in landscape photography will be in their element.  All six of Sri Lanka’s highland endemic birds are here including Sri Lanka Woodpigeon and Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush.  We will return to our lovely hotel in Nuwara Eliya in the late afternoon.

April 4th – Morning visit to a local park and the botanical gardens.  These locations are good for Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White-eye and other interesting birds such as the local race of Indian Blackbird.  Then we will transfer back to our hotel near the airport in Colombo. 

April 5th – Transfer to the airport for your return home or continue on our extension.    

Northwest Extension

Cost: $3,450 with a $400 single supplement, $3,150 for a nonphotographer spouse/companion. 

Itinerary:

April 5th – After a bit of morning bird photography in the hotel garden we will transfer to a lovely lodge outside of Wilpattu National Park.  We will have an afternoon jeep safari in the park.  This is another good park for Leopards, Asian Elephants and the 3 species of deer.  It’s the largest national park in Sri Lanka.  We will stay in a nice hotel outside the park.

April 6th – We will have a morning safari in Wilpattu.  Two threatened species, the Lesser Adjutant Stork and the Spot-billed Pelican can usually be found here.  Then we check out and head up the northwest coast to Mannar.  Mannar Island is the premier shorebird location in Sri Lanka with thousands of birds wintering here.  There can be huge flocks of flamingos, ducks, terns, gulls and sandpipers.  We stay in a comfortable hotel in town.

April 7th – We have a full day of bird photography at Mannar.  One of our top targets here is the Crab Plover, a large unique shorebird.  Other shorebirds we have a good chance to photograph include Pied Avocets, Eurasian Curlews, Great Thick-Knee, Terek and Curlew Sandpipers, Great Knot and many more.  The island is a good location for raptors such as White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy and Black Kites and Peregrine Falcons.  We return to our hotel in the evening.

April 8th – Morning around Mannar, it’s a good spot for open country birds such as Indian Roller and Hoopoe as well as all the waterbirds.  Then we will check out and head back to Wilpattu National Park in time for an afternoon game drive.  We stay in a very nice lodge outside the park.

April 9th – Morning and afternoon game drives in Wilpattu.  This is considered the best location to see and photograph Sloth Bear in Sri Lanka.  Wilpattu is dry forest interspersed with many small lakes.  Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill are two of the common endemic birds.  It’s also a good location for raptors such as Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk-Eagle and the occasional Brown Fish Owl.  We return to our lodge in the evening outside the park. 

April 10th – One more morning game drive at Wilpattu.  It’s also a good location for reptiles such as huge Mugger Crocodiles and Monitor Lizards.  As always, we will be on the lookout for Leopards.  Then we will check out and return to a nice hotel near the airport.  If time allows a bit of bird photography in the garden in the afternoon.

April 11th – Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.

Guilherme Battistuzzo

Guilherme Battistuzzo

Guilherme Battistuzzo is a full time nature photographer, birding guide and biologist living and working out of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is regularly near the top of the list each year for number of birds seen in Brazil and in 2016 he was named one of the top 15 bird photographers to follow on Instagram by Audubon magazine.

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