Sri Lanka : Jan 09—25, 2018
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Sri Lanka boasts breathtaking, highly diverse forests with a colorful, exotic avifauna and an endemicity rivaling none in the region; some of its beaches are recognized as among the best in the world. A 2,500+ year history with a vibrant Buddhist culture complements splendid tropical birding, great cuisine, and an amazing culture with friendly people.
This small, beautiful island in the Indian Ocean has a lot more to offer than just its 34 endemic bird species. Our comprehensive itinerary will give us the best opportunity to see most, if not all, of the Sri Lankan endemics, in addition to a number of more wide-ranging species. The hugely diverse forests host an array of gorgeous colorful tropical birds and some truly wonderful mammals, reptiles, and exotic butterflies. Outstanding local guides will assist us with crucial local information about finding some very special birds. The island’s long colonial history results in some great mixtures of cultures and excellent cuisines, and all with a backdrop of some extraordinary landscapes from the moss-covered rhododendron forests of the Horton Plains and the globally important rainforest of Sinharaja to the Wilpattu National Park with its high density of Leopards.
Our exploration of the island starts in the northwest where we visit the largest and oldest park of the island, Wilpattu. The best sighting in this gorgeous park will most probably be of a large cat, the Sri Lankan Leopard, which occurs in good numbers; we have a real chance of coming across one of these beauties in daylight conditions! The tropical rainforest of Sinharaja is an internationally acclaimed gem with many endemic birds such as the recently discovered Serendib Scops-Owl, the shy Red-faced Malkoha, the outstanding Sri Lanka Blue-Magpie, or the superb Sri Lanka Spurfowl. In the Sri Lankan highlands, the gorgeous scenery and the far-stretching tea plantations built in historical colonial English architecture will amaze us. In the Horton Plains and the nearby Botanical Gardens, we will search for Pied Thrush, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White-eye, and Kashmir Flycatcher.
We round up the tour with some “must see” historical sites such as the Kassapa Lions Rock, an area dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high, which was the palace of a former king who decorated it with colorful frescoes. Here we will also search for the powerful Shaheen Peregrine Falcon.
We end our tour with some delightful birding on a visit to the bird-rich mudflats of Bundula National Park, where thousands of wintering Palearctic waders and other waterfowl gather.
Excellent hotels in some truly idyllic locations that include some gorgeously preserved English colonial style mansions; delicious cuisine; travel by air-conditioned minibus; easy to moderate terrain with some optional hikes in the forests; white beaches, blue seas, and tropical climate.