Sri Lanka wildlife and whales tour

“Whales in Sri Lanka? Who knew? This company does. With three whale watching trips and six safaris to various national parks, this is a Sri Lankan wildlife extravaganza.”


3 whale watching excursions | 6 game drives in Yala National Park | Expert naturalist guides


Check dates, prices & availability

25 Nov 2016
US $ 3315
excluding flights
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Click here to enquire about or book the 25 Nov 2016 departure
Our top tip:
Bring travel sickness tablets if you are prone. There are long periods on the road and at sea. Also a warm fleece for early morning starts.
Trip type:
Small group tour, max 16 people, min. age 16
Premium hotels for 8 nights. Hotel for whale watching is standard, but great location.
Flights, all breakfasts, dinners, all transport, activities, tour leader.
Breakfasts and dinners provided. For lunch budget £5-8 per day.
Solo travelers welcome, with surcharge for single rooms.
Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sri Lanka wildlife and whales tour


We are very conscious of the environment and try to limit our impact on our surroundings as much as possible. All of our vehicles on this tour are subject to annual eco testing and we monitor this closely in order to reduce our carbon footprint. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and use markets to purchase traditional crafts. We also leave a positive impression by visiting important National Parks like Yala, our entrance fees to which contribute to upkeep of environment, improvement of facilities for wildlife and staff, and conservation projects.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.


Accommodation and Meals:
This trip offers 8 nights in hotels, including 3 nights at Chaaya Wild Yala, on the edge of the national park. All of the hotels we stay in are dedicated to hiring local staff and using freshly sourced produce wherever possible. This helps to benefit the surrounding community by providing employment opportunities and income alternatives where they may be otherwise hard to come by. Where meals are not provided, we suggest that clients spread their commerce to small local businesses and try some authentic food.

Local Craft and Culture:
There are plenty of opportunities to engage with local culture on the several visits to towns and villages. Ahangama, for example, is located on the south coast, here there is a tea factory which we are given a tour of and there is the opportunity to purchase tea and other souvenirs, which supports the local economy. Similarly, there is the optional excursion to Cinnamon Island, where clients can see how the spice is produced and processed.

We have financially co-sponsored a local Tsunami relief project, which has enabled 25 families to be rehoused and for two schools to be equipped with toilets, running water and outdoor swings. In collaboration with a German operator and the village temple, we have helped towards 10 large water tanks and an eye clinic in a remote village with a donation of 200 pairs of glasses. We also assisted a principal agent of Unicef in development of day care and education of school children of the estate sector labourers in the hill country.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

Reviews of Sri Lanka wildlife and whales tour

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 14 Apr 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There were many, but it had to be finally seeing a Leopard in the wild, it was not without its stress as there were too many jeeps trying to populate a very small space but eventually we were lucky and had wonderful views as an adult female came down to drink at a waterhole.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

It is extremely hot in early April, ensure you use plenty of sunblock, and be
prepared for very early mornings, and quite tiring drives and boat rides, in the end though it is worth it.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

yes, but I was concerned that we were taken to two events that exploited us, one was the stilt fishermen, and the other a Turtle hatchery. The fishermen was blatant tourist exploitation, and I resented being treated like a fool. The turtle hatchery claimed to be a conservation concern, but was not. They were using turtles and turtle eggs to attract tourists. The turtles themselves looked awful, longing for the sea that they could clearly hear

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was a wonderful trip, providing many new sightings, Sperm, Bryde's and Killer Whale, and of course the Leopard. The country was wonderful, and beautiful. The people very friendly. Our guides were very attentive. I would definitely recommend to any one to go to Sri Lanka, it was excellent, and we have the perfect reason to go back, as we never did see Blue Whale!

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your feedback and the concerns you have raised over certain aspects of your trip. We have investigated these as clearly they are a concern to us as well. The turtle Hatchery you visited was an optional excursion and we have been looking at the release data and discussing the practices here with our local leaders and operator. Historically the local population have used Turtle eggs to supplement their diets and this has been a practice that has been going on for hundreds of years, the aim of the hatchery is to facilitate the release of Turtle after they have been dug up and the nest disturbed. There is a large amount of conflicting data and whether the hatchery actually encourage s the disturbance of nesting sites for the Local population to remove the eggs and be paid by the hatchery. I will personally be going to visit this in November and we will make a decision then. As to the stilt fishermen being a blatant tourist attraction I am sorry you felt this way again it’s an ancient practice and I have been there at 6am in the morning and the only tourist in sight and they are there and its an iconic element of this coastal stretch. I am glad there as so many other positive aspects to your trip with us and that you had some spectacular wildlife sightings there is always something else on the list to see like the Blue whale.

Reviewed on 11 Apr 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing what I went to see - leopards and whales!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

They need to know that there's an early start every morning of the vacation and not much free time for R&R.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Not really ...

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It promised things that it didn't provide - e.g. naturalist / knowledgeable person(s) about Sri Lankan wildlife - and that affected my enjoyment of this vacation.

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