Jump to content

Sri Lanka the island of Kingfishers


Recommended Posts

March 2016


A short trip to Sri Lanka 


Day 1 Fly to Dubai

Day 2 Fly Dubai to Colombo & drive to Sinharaja forest reserve (Rainforest Eco Lodge)

Day 3 Rainforest eco lodge area

Day 4 Drive to Yala NP (Cinnamon Wild hotel)

Day 5 Safaris in Yala NP

Day 6 Morning Jeep Safari to Bundala NP Afternoon Safaris in Yala NP

Day 7 Drive to Uda Walawe NP (Kalu’s Hideaway hotel) Afternoon drive in Nat Park

Day 8 Morning & Afternoon in Uda Walawe NP then drive to Balapitiya (The River house Hotel)

Day 9 Drive to Airport & fly back to UK


Yala Nat Park is reputed to have the highest Leopard population density in the world


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sri Lanka March 2016

Day 1  

Fly UK to Dubai Emirates on A380.


Day 2 Dubai to Sinharaja Sri Lanka


Fly Dubai to Colombo.  It was good to find Colombo airport was a lot better organised that India airports.  

Our driver/guide picks us up at airport & advises drive to hotel will be 4-5 hours. The road winds up into the hills turning into single track. After about 6hours a very narrow & steep track winds its way to lodge, only to find it is the wrong lodge.

The place we need to be is on other side of NP and a long drive round. The landscape is very green with lots of Tea plantations about. Eventually arrive after 9hour drive. This is 32hours after leaving home so very tired.

We are staying at Rainforest Eco Lodge near Sinharaja NP. Accommodation at Rainforest Eco Lodge is in converted old shipping containers.


Facilities include Loo, Shower, Sink & even a kettle. Set in deep jungle area. Dinner at 7pm a short walk away. The restaurant is a glass walled building high up above forest.  It will be nice to see view in daylight tomorrow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 3 In the hotel grounds & nearby  

Today we go for an early morning birding walk along paths & tracks near the hotel.  We see a good selection of birds and it’s great to be out in the cool of the morning.






Later we go on a guided walk into the rainforest, tracking down to a river where we spot lizards and frogs.







Now we have a few hours to relax in our room but it gets very hot later in the day inside the shipping container.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today’s drive is with the brilliant Walter again, it’s an approximate drive of around 5 hours. We stop near Uda Walawe for a meal. The restaurant looks basic but food is extremely good. Shortly after leaving Uda Walawe we have a puncture. I Help Walter changing the wheel and see old tyre is nearly bald, I ask Walter where he will have to go to get a new tyre but he replies he will just get this one repaired!


Today we start to notice the sheer number of Kingfishers about. On telephone wires, by pools, on riverbanks, more than we have seen in any other country. We count over 50 in 8 days 


 A very poor photo of Stork Billed Kingfisher 



White Throated Kingfisher 



Eventually after 7 hours we arrive at Cinnamon Wild Hotel in Yala just as it is going dark. The room is a very nice bungalow in grounds but only 50 metres from lodge.  Dinner in upstairs restaurant is very good, a buffet with a choice of English, Italian and Sri Lankan food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 5 Yala

At last it is Yala National Park today.  When we arrive at the entrance gate there is pandemonium as there about 100 jeeps with drivers buying tickets and waiting for the 9am gate opening time. 

There is a interesting little pond just by the gate with a section of birds on it




Pond Heron made a catch 


We wait at least an hour to get into the park but soon lose the other jeeps as they turn onto various tracks in park. A National Park ranger joins us in our jeep; apparently it is just random as to who has a ranger assigned to them.



muddy Samba Deer 



Spotted Deer 



Water Buffalo enjoying the sun 






Ruddy Mongoose


Chestnut Headed Bee-eater



Red-wattled Lapwing 





Birdlife is extensive, as well including Oriental darters, Yellow -wattled Lapwings, Red -wattled Lapwings and numerous different Kingfishers  

We drive back out of the park at 12 and return to the hotel for lunch.

Walter and the same guide drive us back into the park in the afternoon and we drive around until NP closes at 6pm (we have a different Nat Park ranger who is obviously very tired and goes to sleep!). Soon we are very fortunate to see a beautiful leopard and amazingly we are the only jeep about. Next day we will see how lucky we are to be the only jeep at this sighting.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 6 Bundala & Yala  

Today we are driven to the gate at Bundala National Park and then transfer into another vehicle with guide to go into the park. This park is mainly about spotting birdlife but we do see Tufted grey langur monkeys. Birds seen include Painted Storks, Asian Openbills, Spot Billed Pelican.  




Great Thick-knee 





Spot Billed Pelican 



At 3pm we drive into Yala for another game drive. A leopard is seen at 3.15 pm asleep on a rock by roadside – the guides are quick to tell each other and soon there are about a dozen jeeps vying  to get the best spots for their clients to see the poor leopard, although the leopard doesn’t seem too put out by his popularity.  


We go back to same place at 5.45 pm and the leopard is still there but finally gets up and runs off down the track to get away from Jeeps, there is only so much camera clicking he can take. It is a beautiful animal.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep, you were really lucky to see that leopard without any other jeeps! When I was there, when we saw a leopard it was a massive traffic jam like your last picture only the vehicles were solid on both lanes. I barely caught a glimpse. I love your leopard photo!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Thanks for this excellent post and trip report @NSY


The shorebird in the photo below the Great Thick-knees is a Yellow-wattled Lapwing.  Great shot of it kneeling backwards.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 7 Yala to Uda Walawe

Time to move on to another park, this time it is Uda Walawe National Park.


We check-in to Kalu’s Hideaway which is run by the famous Sri Lankan cricketer Romesh Kaluwitharan .  After leaving our baggage in our room and a quick freshen up we leave for the park in the trusty jeep with Walter and our guide.


Malabar Pied Hornbill 



Lesser Adjutant 


Wooley Neck Stork 



Indian Star Tortoise


Look at me like that in a few years & I will eat you



Golden Jackalls






We see Asian Elephants one with a very young calf and Samba and Spotted deer.  Also on this foray we spot Lesser Adjutant, Woolly necked stork & Crested Serpent Eagle .




Link to comment
Share on other sites

You had a lot of really good sightings!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 8 Uda Walawe to Balapitiya


Even the Leopard is leaving 



Sunset in Sri Lanka 


Today we have another long drive with Walter (approximately 6 hours) through some very busy towns and then onto Sri Lanka’s only dual carriageway.


River House hotel


Hotel gardens 


We stay at The River House a very plush boutique type hotel with six rooms. The hotel is set on the banks of Madhu Ganga River and we have good views across the river from our room.  The room is upstairs with a massive four poster bed and lots of antique furniture. There is a plunge pool/Jacuzzi on the terrace.  It’s a fantastic place to relax after our trip.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 9 River house

This is going to be our lazy day.  Breakfast in our room and then we wander around the grounds seeing which birds we can identify.  It’s beautiful and peaceful.



 Black Hooded Oriole (I think from the parts seen)



 Ceylon Small Barbet ?



Black Hooded Oriole



Hotel room balcony


Day 10 River house to home  

An early start at 4am for a 4 hour drive with Walter to airport, we are sad to go, Sri Lanka has been a wonderful country to visit and we will miss Walter too – he has been a brilliant guide and the holiday has been made all the more memorable due to his company and help.


So we fly back home, Emirates Colombo to Dubai. The incoming flight is an hour late and we also lose some time on the flight.


Once we get to the gate at Dubai its only 14mins to gate close time for the next flight and it’s in a different terminal!  We think there is no chance of catching our next plane but there is a guy waiting as we come into terminal with a sign ‘Manchester’ and shouting for passengers. There are about 12 passengers bound for Manchester off the Sri Lanka flight and he escorts us through the terminal taking short cuts and a train to the next terminal.  We go straight to front of the line for security and to the gate.  This says ‘closed’ but staff wave us through and on to board the plane. Pilot then announces ready to push back but just waiting for a few bags. Well done Emirates!  We never thought we would catch the flight never mind our bags.

We settle back for the last leg, Dubai to Manchester on an A380.


112 birds seen

7 Endemic seen

Edited by NSY
forgot last notes
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for this wonderful trip report! Really enjoyed reading it and seeing your lovely photos.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really nice trip report, and plethora of great sightings. Sri Lanka is an excellent location where nature and culture is prolific throughout the country. And some folks says there are also great beaches :huh: ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy