WildOceans Sri Lanka - Blue Whales, leopards and elephants
AT A GLANCE
Whale, dolphin & mammal tour: whales & dolphins, mammals, birds, other natural history, snorkelling, culture & photography.
Colombo (Sri Lanka) – Wilpattu NP – Habarana – Trincomalee - Colombo
Tropical, warm to hot.
2*- 4* hotels, all rooms with private facilities, morning whale-watching trips in local boats, ground transport by minibus and jeep.
Blue, Sperm, Bryde’s and Eden’s Whales, dolphins, Leopard, Sri Lankan (Asian) Elephant, birds, butterflies etc
WildOceans are delighted to offer this excellent revised holiday run by our good friends Chas and Sue Anderson, well known for putting the Maldives, then the Seychelles and also Sri Lanka on the map in cetacean terms. They are now also offering wildlife cruises in Indonesia (including Komodo Dragons) and yet another new programme, to the Solomon Islands. Sri Lanka is arguably one of the best places in the world to see Blue Whales, but has very much more to offer as well. Chas predicted and discovered this now popular Blue Whale hotspot, so you will be travelling with the expert. In addition, our small groups and exclusive-use boats mean more time on the water (typically twice as long as most other operators) and uncrowded views of the whales and dolphins that we encounter. Add looking for Leopards and wild Elephants, plus other mammals, lots of birds, butterflies and dragonflies, friendly people and great food and you have the recipe for a superb natural history holiday.
Off the coast of Sri Lanka in spring Blue Whales are found in abundance, together with Sperm Whales, Bryde’s and the recently described Eden’s Whales as well as a great variety of dolphins including Spinners, Bottlenose, Indo-pacific Bottlenose, Spotted, Striped and Rissos! We have also previously seen false Killer and Short-finned Pilot Whales plus Longman’s Beaked Whale too. During previous years we see Blue Whales on most of our days on the water, with an average of 2-10 animals per day and encounters lasting up to an hour each time. Our itinerary includes three full morning trips out to sea (4-6 hours, including packed breakfasts) to make the most of the calmer conditions usually found earlier in the day. Our vessels are a pair of 20’ local boats with a partly shaded deck (but no w.c.), with just four people in each, giving plenty of room.
We will depart from the beach directly in front of our hotel. Blue Whales are normally encountered within an hour of leaving, sometimes within minutes and if conditions are good we may venture further out for Sperm Whales too. Other in-water marine life that we might encounter include Manta Rays, Sunfish, Tuna, Flying Fish, any of five species of sea turtle, and perhaps even a Whale Shark. Over 40 species of tropical seabird have been recorded, and we can expect to see 10-15. Our whale watching will be based from a 4* beach hotel, the Chaaya Blu, which also has a PADI dive-centre. Boasting an infinity pool, two restaurants and a bar. There will be time to relax and enjoy the facilities after the morning’s whale and dolphin watching, as well as some optional visits to other wildlife, cultural and historical sites. For those of you more keen, you may extend your holiday and have an extra three days with the whales!
But even before the whale watching starts we can expect some wonderful terrestrial wildlife experiences. We begin this tour with a visit to Wilpattu National Park for Leopards, plus other mammals, reptiles and birds, butterflies and dragonflies. Then on to Habarana, one of the best places to see wild Sri Lankan Elephants (which may become a full species in time!). For a splendid combination of whales and land-based wildlife this tour is hard to beat!
Day 1: Arrive Colombo, and transfer to nearby hotel (Tamarind Tree). Remainder of day at leisure, optional birding in the gardens and grounds. Meet for pre-dinner drinks (D & B).
Day 2: Drive to Anuradhapura. En-route stops for lunch, birds and other wildlife. Overnights Palm Garden Hotel (B,L & D).
Days 3-5: Wilpattu National Park; exploring the area in search of Leopards, birds and other wildlife. An afternoon will be spent visiting some of the ancient sites of Anuradhapura.
Day 6: We transfer to Habarana, check into the Cinnamon Lodge Hotel. Afternoon Elephant and wildlife drive (B,L & D).
Day 7: In the morning we visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and then onto Trincomalee and arrive at our next hotel (B & D).
Days 8 – 10: We have three days of whale-watching planned, subject to sea conditions and weather, which are normally very good. In the afternoon there will be opportunities for birding and sightseeing for those that wish. You may also extend your holiday by having an extra three days in of whale-watching in Trincomalee, with the additional possible option for strong swimmers to even join Blue Whales in the ocean!
Day 11: We head back towards Negombo, and overnight at the Tamarind Tree Hotel again. (D & B)
Day 12: Morning transfer to airport for homeward flights.
Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.
Dates: 23rd March – 3rd April 2019
Guide: Charles ‘Chas’ Anderson
£3069 per person sharing a twin room
£750 single supplement
Price includes: Transfers to/from Colombo airport, hotel accommodation as described with meals as shown, three whale-watching excursions (six if on the extension), other excursions as described, naturalist guides and ground transport including game drives, national park and whale-watch permits.
Price excludes: Flights UK - Colombo (available from £599 including current pre-paid taxes and fuel surcharges), visa (currently US$35-40), whale-watching ‘swim-with’ permits for the optional extension £70pp, travel insurance, vessel fuel surcharges if levied, other meals, drinks and other items of a personal nature.
23rd March – 3rd April 2019