On this 2-week Sri Lanka itinerary by Tell Tale Travel you will get the chance to see the larger animals who live or journey around the tiny island of Sri Lanka, including elephants, dolphins and whales. We've designed this tour to give you several experiences in different areas. Best taken November to May. Contact us to discuss pros and cons of travelling at other times of the year.
Designed for wildlife enthusiasts with two whalewatching trips included as well as a separate dolphin watching trip, as well as lots of land-based animals. This trip is 'Tell Tale light' trip — it is still a soft adventure, taking you away from the tourist trail, but it's less immersive, for example there are no stays in private homes (which many of our itineraries include). This trip is topped off with eco luxury by the sea, in an area of Sri Lanka unlike any other, with pristine nature. We've included meals where we feel it is best on the itinerary and not in areas where you can easily find local meals and support the local economies. Use the tips in your Tell Tale pack as well as assistance from your personal driver and local guides to find great places to eat which suit your interests and budget. We have put a lot of thought and care into designing this itinerary, however, we are happy to customise.
Fly from the UK to Colombo with a choice of airports including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Day 2 You'll be met at the airport and driven south. The newish 'expressway' takes you through Sri Lanka's lush interior; we like to spend the journey spotting snowy-white egrets and peacocks. You'll arrive at the coast just past Galle, a historic town. Arrival at boutique inn and settle into your spacious room, sit back on the verandah and enjoy the views of the deep blue sea. The pool is lovely and affords great views! You may even spot some of the stilt fishermen Sri Lanka is famous for (the ones here are genuine). The food is delicious here, but if you'd like to go out for dinner, just let your driver know. There are some excellent seafood restaurants in this part of Sri Lanka.
Day 3 breakfast includedUp early! You will be driven to nearby Mirissa for a boat trip to look for whales and dolphins. By nature, blue whales are rare, however, Mirissa is one of the best places to spot them and we work with the best in the business who also view them in a responsible manner.
The boat ride can be a little bit bumpy, but worth it if you see some of the magnificent blue whales — uniquely, there is a pod which lives off the coast of Mirissa all year around (rather than the whales in the rest of the world, passing through on a migration). They are pygmy blue whale Balaenoptera musculus brevicaudam which reach 24 metres when fully grown. They like eating tiny crustaceans, mainly krill, which are in abundance here. They're joined by migratory whales, if you're lucky you will be able to spot up to 10 types of whales and dolphins.
In the afternoon, you'll go to Galle for a walk around the historic Dutch fort with our expert guide. The 'living fort' is well preserved, walking on the ramparts gives you a good perspective, and seeing the old law courts in use makes history seem alive. No elephants or egrets in the fort, but you can find out all about the deep blue sea at the maritime museum. We recommend exploring the fort at your leisure afterwards, it's a great place for little cafes and restaurants. Your driver will wait for you and take you back whenever you like.
Day 4 breakfast Up early again and off to Mirissa for more whale and dolphin watching. Then time for lunch and a swim in the ocean. In the afternoon, you'll be taken to a small tea estate for a walk around (this is a low lying tea estate, different from those in the hill country), before you visit Koggala lake for a boat trip to see life on the little islands including a temple and a cinnamon smallholding. The birds become more active as the heat of the day disperses.
Day 5 breakfastTime to head off for some elephant encounters. You'll be driven to Uda Walawe park which is home to many of these gentle giants living free. You'll visit the Elephant Transit Home, an initiative to introduce orphaned elephants back into the wild, you'll get there just in time to watch them being fed, which always produces some funny moments. Then it's onto your hotel.
Day 6 breakfastSafari in Uda Walawe national park to see elephants. There are over 250 elephants roaming the park and if you're lucky enough to see one swim across the reservoir, it is a memory you'll cherish forever. Uda Walawe is also an excellent place for spotting birds, particularly water birds and birds of prey.
Day 7 breakfastPack up and drive northwards to stay near Sri Lanka's famous 'rock fortress', Sigiriya. You are welcome to stop at points of interest along the way, although we recommend making the journey in better time if you can, so you have time to have a quick dip in the pool at the end of the day.
Day 8 breakfast
Early morning visit to Sigiriya. This rock is said to be home to a palace in ancient times. Climbing the rock using the steps is achievable for most moderately fit people, from ages 5 to 75, but you can explore the ancient gardens, marvel at the irrigation system and visit the museum without doing so. Afternoon at leisure or your driver can take you to nearby Dambulla to visit the famous caves, or a small reforestation initiative we like to support.
Day 9 breakfast
See elephants of a different kind today. You'll head to the ancient capital city of Anuradhapura for some 'classic' sightseeing. One of our favourite temples is decorated with hundreds of elephants, demonstrating how they have been revered since ancient times. Anuradhapura is home to a sacred bodhi tree, grown from a sapling of the tree in India under which according to legend, the Buddha reached enlightenment. It is also the oldest tree in the world with a written history.
Day 10 breakfast, dinnerJourney to Kalpitiya, a unique peninsula on Sri Lanka's west coast, north of Colombo. The coastal scenery here is quite unlike most of Sri Lanka, drier and less humid (and certainly different to the southwest beach overdevelopment). Your driver will take you to the northernmost tip of the peninsula, where you will say goodbye to him and take a short speedboat trip across a lagoon to the Dutch Bay resort, fringed by mangrove forest. While few people knew of the island just a few years ago, there is archaeological evidence that it was quite populated during Dutch times. The nature is really pristine. Settle into your beautiful chalet, and spend the afternoon by the pool or sit on your private deck, you may have some colourful visitors of a feathery persuasion.
Day 11 breakfast, dinnerEarly morning boat trip to see dolphins. The area is famed for its spinner dolphins. See if you can count them all! There are also whales, but they are harder to find here. These boat trips are with the local fishermen/boatmen. Kalpitiya is very much a developing place.
Day 12 breakfast, dinnerTake a magical boat trip along hidden channels through dense forest at the edge of the Wilpattu national park. This is a fantastic wild animal reserve and home to leopards and elephants, but because it's so dense the animals are hard to spot. You will see plenty of birds in the serene mangroves and if you are lucky, a wild elephant. The nomadic fisher folk who live on the small islands say they sometimes see elephants swimming in the sea. You'll get off the boat at another ancient tree - this time a 900-year-old baobab, before the boat journey back.
Day 13 breakfast, dinnerDay at leisure, float in the large salt water pool and spot wildlife in the trees. If you are feeling more active, it is also possible to arrange extra activities whilst you're here (pay at resort). This includes visiting Wilpattu for a jeep safari.
Day 14 breakfastTransfer from Dutch Bay to Colombo airport and fly back. Depending on flight timings and the day of the weeek, you may be able to stop on the way in the Marawila area, known for batik. A great way to support this local industry and they make fantastic lightweight souvenirs!
This two-week private tour costs from £2,195 per person*, based on two adults sharing a private tour. Prices include flights from the UK to Colombo, accommodation, activities/excursions, dedicated chauffeur-driven vehicle days 2-10 and private transfer from Dutch Bay on Day 14, and meals where specified. *Price applies as advertised on most bookings, but travelling at certain times, particularly Christmas, may involve extra costs. Early booking is advised.
Please allow approximately £50pp for government entrance fees (payable at the office on the days). Other costs for activities such as jeeps, guides and boats are included.