Nature, Bird Watching & Walking

For the ‘birder’ the choice sites are the forests of Sinharaja and Horton Plains. For family enjoyment the National Parks of Yala, Bundala and Uda Walawe are more easily accessible. The amazing abundance of over 400 varieties of birds in Sri Lanka is attributable to the tropical climate and wide range of natural habitats, from mountains to lowlands to dry plains and lush forests. Our experts can arrange a personalized tour and advise you on the ideal tour of Sri Lanka to capture all varieties of bird combined with the highlights of Sri Lanka’s sightseeing.

Key areas for walking in Sri Lanka:

Ella Adam’s Peak East Highlands

One of the best views in Sri Lanka is through the Ella Gap to the Kirinda Lighthouse on the coast 1000m below. The surrounding hills of tea plantations, past temples and waterfalls, offer walks which can be gentle (45 mins.) or demanding (day-long) – take your pick. Ella can be reached by road or rail. For the more energetic there is an adventure park with paragliding, canoeing, rock climbing, abseiling, etc. just south, towards Wellawaya.

Horton Plains

In the south/central hill country, a windswept plateau, 2000m high. Wonderful quiet walks amongst scarlet rhododendrons, skirting crystal-clear streams. The stunted shrubs and trees are draped in lichens and moss, giving an eerie appearance. In the forested areas you may see the Nillu shrub, which flowers once every 5-10 years. Early morning is the best time to walk, but you may need trousers and a sweater. As the day warms up, you’ll need a hat. In the centre of the valley lies Dickoya reservoir – a stunning sight . Many luxurious plantation bungalows that surround the lake will be taking guests by 2005.

World’s End

Well-defined paths circle you round from Horton Plains office gate to World’s End and back via Baker’s Falls – nearly 10km. World’s End view with its abrupt drop of 880m is spectacular – if you catch it. By 10am the mist is too thick to see other than a white wall. Hat, sunglasses, water and sun-screen are a must.

Trekking Guides

It is easy to hire guides for planned walks. Many guest house owners in the hill country will provide, or will volunteer themselves to guide you off the beaten track, through paddy fields, past waterfalls and small villages and share their wide knowledge of local flora and fauna. The managers of Ceylon Tea trails Bungalows and Kirchhayn Bungalow are Boutique Sri Lanka's favourites.

The tropical climate endows an abundance of natural plant life, much of it endemic to Sri Lanka.

Plantations

Some crops are grown commercially in plantations, e.g., coconut, tea, coffee, rubber, spices, mahogany, others for home consumption, e.g. passion fruit, mangoes and bread-fruit. Stay in one of the Heritage Homes - Horathapola enjoy learning about your environment from your host.

Food

Around organic farmland like Paradise Garden Resort, Kitulgala and Galapita you will see every vegetable and fruit imaginable, including the Kithul tree, whose sap and milk becomes the local brew of Arrack. The treacly sediment left is mixed with buffalo curd to make a popular dessert rather like Greek yoghurt.

Flowers - are everywhere. Visit the wetlands, take a river boat amongst the mangroves for a few hours to admire a profusion of blossoms of every hue, or to party at night with friends and a bottle or two. The national flower – the lily – can be seen in many varieties, and frangipani, known locally as Araliya is used to decorate temples and often associated with death.

Coconut

Though not native to Sri Lanka, it has been established since the early 19th century and is an important part of the island’s economy. Every part of the coconut is valuable –

  • The fibrous husk, coir, is spun into ropes, doormats and fishing nets;
  • Coconut milk is used daily in sweet and savoury dishes
  • Sap – or toddy – is distilled to become arrack.
  • When boiled down, the resulting treacle is used to sweeten tea, make fudge or mix with buffalo curd.
  • Grated coconut is used in many dishes.
  • King coconut milk is sweet and refreshing and is attributed with many therapeutic properties.

Birdwatching

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The amazing abundance of over 400 varieties of birds in Sri Lanka is attributable to the tropical climate and wide range of natural habitats, from mountains to lowlands to dry plains and lush forests. On a point of academic argument, there are either 26 or 23 endemic species in Sri Lanka, largely confined to the rainforests of the hill zone.

The best time of year for sightings is November-April, particularly February and March, after the migrants (198 species) have arrived.

Best time of day for observation is early morning, except for the people-friendly “Townies”, like the black house crows, common mynah, sunbirds, parakeets, etc.

For the ‘birder’ the choice sites are the forests of Sinharaja and Horton Plains. For family enjoyment the National Parks of Yala, Bundala and Uda Walawe are more easily accessible.

Places to stay with excellent Birdlife:

Rainforest of Kitulgala and Sinharaja

Most of the endemic birds are here, north and south of Ratnapura.

Ceylon Paradise Flycatcher (males with long showy tails) Blossom headed parakeets Ceylon blue magpie – beautiful but raucous

Remember why this is rainforest and pack a waterproof. Take time to really enjoy this unique rainforest and its sounds for a few days by staying close by at the luxurious Boulder Gardens.

Horton Plains and Hakgala

Windswept high grasslands interspersed with forest. Home of mountain endemics such as:

Dull-blue Flycatcher Brahminy Kite Crested Serpent Eagle
Sri Lanka Woodpigeon (endangered) Black Eagle Mountain Hawk Eagle

This is high altitude – bring a sweater or fleece. The Dickoya Plantation Bungalows provide an authentic and colonial overnight experience.

Yala National Park

500 square miles of ‘Dry Zone’ in South East, best explored with a guided jeep. The park is closed in September due to mating season as it is only fair and safe to leave the animals in peace. If the monsoon is light, October / November are a super time to see the cubs at play.

Yala is the only reliable region to see endangered Black-necked Stork, Sri Lanka’s biggest bird, at marshy edges of lakes – only a handful of breeding pairs remaining.

Other birds observed here include:

Spoonbill Brown-capped babbler Bittern families Shore birds
Painted stork Green bee-eater  
 

Cinnamon Wild is a “must” to enjoy the Park by day and night. For further details on Yala, click here.

Lahugala Park

A smaller conservation area NE of Yala. The elephant corridor of Lahugala is home to many water birds.

Bundala NP and Winawela Wewa Bird Sanctuary

Wetland sanctuaries on the South Coast, comprising beach, lagoon and scrub. This is the place to see flamingos – up to 2000 at a time – plus jungle fowl, egrets, spoonbills and lapwings. A great day trip from the Southern beaches or Cinnamon Wild.



Uda Walawe National Park – 119 sq. miles

This south/central region is the most family-friendly, accessible park, and is said to most resemble an African game park. Jeep safaris enable you to see deer, wild boar, jackals and the hundreds of elephants whilst seeking out the bird life:

Black-capped purple kingfisher Black-winged kite Oriole
White-bellied sea eagle Crested serpent eagle Egrets

Cormorants and herons

Other birds include:

  • Spot-bellied pelican
  • Wagtails
  • Robins
  • Babblers
  • Wood sandpiper

 

 

...are some of the 100 or so species living here.

Viharamahadevi Park

This oasis in central Colombo is home to a sufficient variety of birds to give the urbanite a satisfying taste.

For the 'birder' the choice sites are the forests of Sinharaja and Horton Plains. For family enjoyment the National Parks of Yala, Bundala and Uda Walawe are more easily accessible. The amazing abundance of over 400 varieties of birds in Sri Lanka is attributable to the tropical climate and wide range of natural habitats, from mountains to lowlands to dry plains and lush forests. Our experts can arrange a personalized tour and advise you on the ideal tour of Sri Lanka to capture all varieties of bird combined with the highlights of Sri Lanka's sightseeing.
Consultant Helpline: (0094) 11 2699213 (Overseas) or click here to email our consultants

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