Wildlife vacation in Sri Lanka, private departure

“Great value, tailor made wildlife vacation to see the islandís plethora of birds, elephants, whales, leopard, buffalo, and more birds. With chauffeur guide and wildlife expert.”

Highlights

Elephants at Minneriya/Kaudulla National Park | Kitulgala | Bird watching in Kelani Valley Forest Reserve, Victoria Park and Bundala National Park | Nuwara Eliya | Horton Plains National Park | Uda Walawe National Park | Elephant Transit Home at Uda Walawe | Tissamaharama | Yala National Park | Whale watching (Nov-April)

Please feel free to contact the Help Desk team if you need any advice on your vacation plans. We're always happy to help!

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Our top tip:
Bring plenty of small notes for tipping and donít be shy of putting your hand in your pocket. This is a big tipping culture and a little goes a long way.
Trip type:
Tailor made for individuals, couples, families and small groups.
Included:
Flights, accommodation, half board 11 nights, air conditioned car with chauffeur guide, park entrance fees.
Accomm:
Small family run guesthouses, hotels and villas.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Wildlife vacation in Sri Lanka, private departure

Environment

Sri Lanka has diverse habitats and a great variety of indigenous wildlife and plant life. To help maintain breeding populations of some of the more vulnerable animal species endemic to the island, conservation projects have been started and we encourage travelers to visit some of these projects to support their conservation work.

The Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering and protect threatened species in the wild. We are an active supporter of Born Free and its animal welfare campaigns, and we encourage all travelers to be aware of potential animal exploitation while on their vacations.

Elephant Transit Home
The Elephant Transit Home (ETH) in Uda Walawe National Park is an excellent way of seeing baby wild elephants at close quarters in their natural environment (supported by the Born Free Foundation - see below).

This conservation project takes in baby wild elephants that have been separated from their mothers and cares for them until they can be returned to the wild. The young animals spend their days roaming freely in a section of the park, being observed at a distance by a few members of the ETH staff. They are fed at three-hour intervals in a specially constructed feeding yard, and this is the only time that they can be seen by tourists, who watch from a viewing platform separated from the yard itself. At no point can the tourists have physical contact with the animals. The sight of feeding time is very popular with local and foreign tourists alike as the elephants are enthusiastic, relaxed and full of character, unlike the elephants at Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, which we do not promote or visit following adverse reports from Travelers' Animal Alert (see below).

Born Free Foundation
The Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering and protect threatened species in the wild. Born Free's Travelers' Animal Alert campaign works around the world to generate a greater public awareness of animal suffering and exploitation, encouraging the public to report animal 'attractions' they encounter both in the UK and abroad, and to promote the philosophies of the Born Free Foundation.

Throughout the world there are hundreds of thousands of wild animals exhibited in zoological collections, performing in circuses, dolphinaria and magic shows, or used as photographic props. While some establishments do appear to provide the animals with adequate conditions, many do not and these continue to thrive due to the support of the tourism industry.

Travelers' Animal Alert is about being a compassionate traveler, alerting Born Free of captive animal suffering around the world. Incorporating complaints received from concerned members of the public returning from vacations in both the UK and abroad, Born Free hopes to tackle the growing problems associated with captive wild animal welfare.

We are an active supporter of Travelers' Animal Alert and we encourage all travelers to be aware of potential animal exploitation while on their vacations. In order to help Travelers' Animal Alert, we promote the following guidelines as a provider of responsible tourism:
- Promote Travelers' Animal Alert in our customer travel documents and on our website.
- Pledge not to promote any exploitative animal 'attraction' through our company literature or website.
- Encourage all our vacation service providers not to promote any activity that involves animal exploitation.
- Encourage our staff and customers to look out for captive animal exploitation and report any suffering to Travelers' Animal Alert.
- Actively encourage compassionate and responsible tourism.

Community

Through our Sri Lanka wildlife vacations we actively encourage responsible and sustainable travel to Sri Lanka. By working on our Sri Lanka vacations closely with our associate company in Sri Lanka and other partner organisations, we are endeavouring to promote cultural exchange, social awareness, self-employment and self-development.

Sri Lanka wildlife vacations guides
We only employ English-speaking Sri Lankan chauffeur guides who are all licensed by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board. Experienced guides for trekking, safaris and other specialist activities are hired locally and have extensive knowledge of their chosen area of expertise.

Sri Lanka wildlife vacations accommodation
We actively promote small family-run guesthouses that employ local workers, or in the case of larger hotels, locally owned establishments.

Sri Lanka wildlife vacations restaurants
We encourage travelers to eat at traditional restaurants, roadside eateries, street vendors and market stalls in order for them to enjoy and experience authentic Sri Lankan food.

Sri Lanka community-led projects
The Asian Tsunami highlighted the plight of coastal communities in Sri Lanka and our initial projects were targeted at Sri Lankan individuals and communities devastated by the tsunami (please ask us for details). However, many other communities away from the coast also lack essential materials and services and our objective is to offer long-term support to such Sri Lankan individuals and communities. By channelling all donations received by Forgotten Village Sri Lanka (an independent charitable organisation) into community-based projects on the island, we hope to provide sustained assistance to these communities in their endeavour to improve their lives. We make a contribution to Forgotten Village Sri Lanka for every vacation booked.

7 Reviews of Wildlife vacation in Sri Lanka, private departure

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Reviewed on 20 May 2017 by

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


We are used to spending time with elephants on the African savanna and were wonderfully surprised how great the elephant viewing was in UdaWalawe and Yala NPs. Seeing wild elephants against a background of lush forest and wild flowers was a photographic wonder.

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


Read up on what you want to see and then take advice from your tour operator. We went with TikaLanka who were honest and helpful which resulted in a great and memorable two week trip. We plan to go back soon with the same company.

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


Tourism is a double edged sword. We felt our tour operator advised us well on local accommodation and provided a great guide whose knowledge of wildlife was superb. There are some real conservation problems we observed with so many jeeps chasing leopards in Yala and too many boats chasing whales in Mirissa. This is where the tourism is out of control. These things are out of the control of a single tour operator, and generally we were impressed with a strong responsible ethic of our tour operator.

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


Fantastic

Reviewed on 14 Apr 2017 by

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


Seeing so much great wildlife and landscapes. Spectacular.

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




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


Yes, locals benefitted, made sure to tip as per the guidance sent before out vacation, this made sure locals benefitted - guides, rangers etc.

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


Superb.

Reviewed on 12 Feb 2017 by

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


Seeing Blue Whales

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


Don't pack too much as there are many lovely things that you may wish to buy to bring home, plus laundry is swift and cheap. Take good binoculars for wildlife spotting.

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


It benefited local people because we purchased goods from them. We were aware of not using Air Con between 5 -8pm to conserve electricity in some places.
We supported conservation by visiting the Elephant orphanage and the Turtle Hatchery and leaving a donation.

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


Brilliantly organised with lots of variation in hotels and places to see. Safe and friendly driver/guide.

Reviewed on 07 Feb 2017 by

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


Most exciting part is always arriving in a new country and taking in the different culture, weather, sounds etc. Other exciting moments were seeing whales in Mirissa, releasing turtles on a beach whilst the most memorable moments were the peace and tranquility staying at Sinharaja Rest and the sheer beauty of the Maldives.

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


Dont take too many clothes! When it says its hot, it means it!

In discussion with our driver we changed the turtle experience as it was going to mean a very long drive at night and because of the weather forecast it was likely we would not see turtles. Instead we went to a turtle clinic closer to Mirissa where we had close contact with the turtles. We found Yala a horrific experience in respect of how the drivers behaved. I would never recommend anyone to go there. In retrospect we would have liked to have done more cultural activities rather than concentrating on wildlife but we had limited time and chose to go the Maldives for our final days. While we dont regret that at all, we should have taken a longer vacation to try and fit a little more in eg tea plantation.

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


Its always hard to tell and I have very mixed feelings about this. Tourism is clearly a major industry for Sri Lanka and supports many people however I always feel guilty about the amount we spend in areas where people have very little.

To be honest I dont know enough about this to answer but would be very interested to hear more about it.

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


Fantastic!
Tour op to respond to Q2 and Q3 - 07/02/2017

Read the operator's response here:

We are disappointed that your jeep safari experience in Yala was unsatisfactory. We have a very good local jeep safari provider which only employs responsible drivers sensitive to the needs of the animals. Unfortunately, due to Yalaís increasing popularity, there are a number of other companies that behave inappropriately towards the wild animals in the park and we have made complaints to the local authorities through our jeep safari provider. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the National Parks authority to police the behaviour of licensed jeep drivers and we have approached our colleagues in Sri Lanka to impress upon the National Parks authority of the urgent need of affirmative action in this regard.

As noted, tourism is a major industry in Sri Lanka and supports many people. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, which is the leading authority on travel and tourism worldwide, tourism accounted for 11.1% of Sri Lankaís total GDP in 2014 and it is forecast to increase by over 6% per annum by 2025. Our vacations directly contribute to Sri Lankaís economy since we use locally managed and owned guesthouses and hotels, employ local Sri Lanka Tourist Board-licensed chauffeur guides, and run our operation from our own office in Kandy staffed by Sri Lankans. Also, we encourage our customers to visit conservation projects such at the Elephant Transit Home at Uda Walawe, a project supported by the Born Free Foundation, and the Turtle Conservation Project at Rekawa.

Reviewed on 19 Feb 2016 by

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


Visiting the wildlife reserves, Udawalawe being the best of them all. Fantastic
photographic opportunities especially the birds.

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


Be prepared for some early morning starts, dawn is the best time for wildlife watching.

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


Supported conservation definitely and we believe it benefited local people to a degree.

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


Excellent

Reviewed on 19 Aug 2015 by

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


Most memorable aspects of the vacation was enjoying the diferent culture/way of life in Sri Lanka. The people were lovely, very friendly and welcoming. The birdwatching and jeep safaris at Udawalawe were excellent and seeing the Leopard and Sloth Bear at Yala were very memorable. And who can forget our fantasic guide, Anura.

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


If a wildlife based trip, do your reseacrh and buy a book/guide or two. Also if poss book to go at the best time of year. We had to go in the school summer vacations which is not ideal but it was still very good. I recorded over 140 species of birds.

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


Yes, tourism provides jobs via local employment. Many of the hotels had policies re saving water etc.

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


I woudl rate it as very good/excellent.

Reviewed on 29 Mar 2015 by

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


Being at Mihintale on a Poya day was a great experience, seeing a historic site still attended and used as part of Sri Lankan culture, vibrant and busy with people celebrating family and practicing their faith.
The walk at dawn over Horton Plains to the beautiful World's End.
And you can't beat the Elephants.

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


Do your research and discuss what you want out of your vacation with John. He is very knowledgeable and helpful.

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


I think pretty much everywhere we stayed, ate or shopped was locally owned/run so hopefully we benefited the locals.
We were less environmentally friendly as we had a car and driver to ourselves but it was really the only practical way to get around for us.
We visited the born-free supported Elephant Transit home rather than Pinnewala and hopefully, by spending a considerable time visiting several of the national parks showed support for the conservation of these areas for wildlife.

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


Amazing - exceeded our expectations.

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