This small group tour is a superb introduction to both the wildlife and beautiful scenery of Sri Lanka. A treat for animal enthusiasts, it provides you with the chance to see elephants and the elusive leopard in the wild in both popular and lesser-visited National Parks, and marine life on the island’s south coast. In the different parks you'll be guided by a naturalist who is an expert in the flora and fauna of their park.

• Chilaw: 2 nights
• Sigiriya: 2 nights
• Kandy: 1 night
• Nuwara Eliya: 1 night
• Yala: 2 nights
• Udawalawe: 1 night
• Deniyaya: 1 night
• Galle: 2 nights

13nights Escorted Small Group Tour
13nights Escorted Small Group Tour

Day 1: UK to Chilaw Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Sri Lanka.

Day 2: Chilaw On arrival in Colombo, travel north to the coastal town of Chilaw, which sits off the main tourist track. There’ll be some free time this afternoon when you can relax. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at your hotel’s restaurant, The Ocean. Approx. journey time: 2 hours, 53 miles. Stay: Anantaya Chilaw (or similar). D.

Day 3: Chilaw Your adventure gets off to a fantastic start today (after a light snack at the hotel) with a visit to the Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary, a unique eco-system of coastal landscapes, mangrove forests and man-made freshwater reservoirs. This is a haven for wildlife, especially bird species, both resident and migratory. Later, return to the hotel for breakfast and some free time to relax before your early start the following day. Approx. journey time: 40 minutes, 31 miles. Stay: Anantaya Chilaw (or similar). B, D.

Day 4 Chilaw to Sigiriya At 4am, the group will travel towards Wilpattu National Park, a real highlight of this tour. The country’s largest national park was cut off for decades before reopening in 2009 giving it a real off-the-beaten-track feel. Although the density of wildlife is lower than that of the country’s southern parks, whatever you do see, you’re likely to be in one of just a handful of vehicles present. Enjoy a four-hour game drive from 6am (packed breakfast provided) before travelling to Sigiriya. Approx. journey time: 4¾ hours, 150 miles. Stay: Amaara Forest (or similar). B, D.

Day 5: Sigiriya This morning is free to relax at your hotel but there’ll also be the chance to visit and climb Sigiriya Rock, one of the island’s true icons, on an optional excursion. We recommend that you only embark on the ascent to the top if you are fit, healthy and do not mind heights as there are many steep steps and narrow walkways. This afternoon, head out on a game drive into Minneriya National Park, one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. Approx. journey time: 1 hour, 25 miles. Stay: Amaara Forest (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: Sigiriya to Kandy There’s a very early start this morning (you'll leave the hotel about 7:30am) as you travel south towards the breathtaking Knuckles Mountain Range of Central Sri Lanka. This massif of mist-cloaked mountains is named for its resemblance to a closed fist. You’ll arrive at the entrance of the park at around 10am and set off on a soft-to-moderate three-hour hike into the hilly landscapes. Following the walk, continue to Kandy. Approx. journey time: 5½ hours, 115 miles. Stay: Cinnamon Citadel. B, L, D.

Day 7: Kandy to Nuwara Eliya Begin the day with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. Following lunch, the group will stop off at a tea factory in Nuwara Eliya. Take a tour of the fields and the factory and learn how they process the tea from plant to packing. Continue on to the pretty town of Nuwara Eliya. Approx. journey time: 2½ hours, 62 miles. Stay: Jetwing St Andrew’s (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 8: Nuwara Eliya to Yala Depart early for this morning’s for a three-hour trek in Horton Plains National Park. Your destination is the renowned World’s End precipice where you can enjoy incredible views. We strongly recommend that only fit, healthy and active guests take on this trek due to its challenging terrain. Continue on towards Yala, with lunch at a restaurant en route. Approx. journey time: 4.5 hours, 106 miles. Stay: Jetwing Yala (or similar). B, D.

Day 9: Yala Today begins with an early morning game drive into world-famous Yala National Park. It is known locally as leopard country as it plays host to one of the world’s highest density of these elusive creatures. Late this afternoon there will be a further game drive in the park. Stay: Jetwing Yala (or similar). B, D.

Day 10: Yala to Udawalawe This morning, head back inland to another national park, Udawalawe. The first stop is the Elephant Transit Home. Although you won’t get to interact with the elephants, this short visit is a great opportunity to see the animals and discover the work that’s done to get them back into the wild. Continue on for an afternoon safari in Udawalawe. Travel south to your hotel which is located approximately 10 minutes away from the entrance of the national park. Approx. journey time: 2 hours, 62 miles. Stay: Centauria Wild Hotel (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 11: Udawalawe to Deniyaya Today the tour continues onwards to your next hotel, a tranquil property that’s located on the outskirts of Deniyaya, a village close to the edge of the beautiful Sinharaja Forest Reserve. This afternoon, head out on a rainforest trek with a knowledgeable naturalist (2-2½ hours). The trails may be wet under foot so be sure to pack suitable footwear. Approx. journey time: 2 hours, 47 miles. Stay: Rainforest Eco Lodge (or similar). B, D.

Day 12: Deniyaya to Galle Following breakfast, begin the journey to the beautiful coastal city of Galle where you'll go on a short introductory tour. Approx. journey time: 2¼ hours, 56 miles. Stay: Lady Hill (or similar). B, D.

Day 13: Galle If you’re travelling between November and April you’ll have the opportunity to join an unforgettable whale-watching excursion from the town of Mirissa (approx. journey time: 1 hour, 29 miles each way). For those travelling between mid-April and October, the morning will be free to explore Galle. Later, travel along the west coast to the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project. Return to Galle for your final evening and a special farewell dinner at your hotel. Stay: Lady Hill (or similar). B, D.

Day 14: Galle to UK Transfer to the airport (approx. journey time 2½ hours, 78 miles) for your return flight to the UK. Alternatively, if you’re extending your holiday with a beach stay, you’ll be transferred to your chosen beach hotel. B.

Stay longer

Sri Lanka beach 3 nights from £368, ref IO0795

Relax after your tour with a short beach stay on one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful golden beaches.

Maldives 3 nights from £482, ref IO0796

Relax in paradise on your chosen Maldivian Island. Snorkel, dive or just dig your toes into the powder soft sand.

Stay longer

Sri Lanka beach 3 nights from £368, ref IO0795

Relax after your tour with a short beach stay on one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful golden beaches.

Maldives 3 nights from £482, ref IO0796

Relax in paradise on your chosen Maldivian Island. Snorkel, dive or just dig your toes into the powder soft sand.


Is this for you?

If you have a particular interest in wildlife then this is the tour for you. There are also a handful of moderate treks, great for those seeking a relatively active holiday.

Good to know

• For guests over 16
• Average group size of 7 guests
• A maximum of 14 guests
• Journey times do not take into account stops or local traffic conditions
• We recommend travelling with no more than one suitcase and one day bag.

What to expect

• A range of safari vehicles, both uncovered and covered
• Bring long sleeves, trousers and sensible shoes for the rainforest
• The Knuckles Mountain Range and Horton Plains treks are recommended only for fit, healthy and active individuals
• A relatively high level of fitness is recommended
• The whale-watching excursion is available seasonally from November to April
• A number of very early mornings, including a 4am start on Days 4 and 6am on Day 6
• Wildlife spottings are not guaranteed
• Compared to the other parks and wildlife reserves visited on this tour, Yala will seem very busy in comparison.

Accommodation on tour

The hotels have been chosen for their proximity to nature. In Chilaw you’ll stay at the beautiful Anantaya Chilaw which is located between a river and the Indian Ocean. In Yala we have chosen the Jetwing Yala, a popular resort that’s located on the beach and just ten minutes’ drive from the entrance to the national park. The hotel in Deniyaya, the Rainforest Eco Lodge, is simple in standard but has an unbeatable location.

Solo travellers

Sole-use room from £3679


Tour dates

2020 Jan 17; Feb 14; Mar 20; Nov 13

Included in price

• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Small groups
• Porterage and guide tips
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
• All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £4365 per person

Sri Lanka Wildlife Tour

Kuoni highlights

This is a true wildlife tour which focuses not on the island’s main sights but its natural habitats and wildlife. It also goes beyond the renowned Yala National Park, with a visit to a bird sanctuary and the once off-limits Wilpattu National Park, rainforest explorations and soft to moderate treks in the Knuckles Mountain Range and the nation’s hill country. You’ll also join a trek into native rainforest and visit a turtle nesting site.

Kuoni highlights

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Escorted Touring 2019/20