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Birdwatching in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a island of the Indian subcontinent, shaped like a teardrop falling from the southern end of India, situated between longitudes 79º 39E and 81º 53E and latitudes 5º 54N and 9º 52N. It`s 433km long from north to south and only 224km at its widest. Its area of 65,610sq km is about the same size as Ireland. Today Sri Lanka is considered one of the most bio-diverse areas in South Asia. Recent scientific evidence indicates that many of the plants species in the southwest of the country have a Deccan-Gondwana ancestry. On a global scale, Sri Lanka has been declared as one of the world’s 25 different hotspots in biodiversity.
Birds of Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka has a total list of over 435 species of birds. Out of these, 235 are resident and these include the most important 33 species that are recognized as endemic to the country. Most of the resident species are shared with the Asian mainland. A further 198 species have been recorded as migrants to the country. The majority of these migrate to Sri Lanka during the northern winter and are present from about August/September to April/May. In contrast, pelagic species of seabirds like Shearwaters, Petrels, Storm-Petrels etc migrate to Sri Lankan waters from southern oceanic islands during the southern hemisphere`s winter. Of the migrants, about 100 species regularly visit the country. The rest are occasional visitors and vagrants.

The central hill country raises a little south of the center of the island and is surrounded by a coastal plain. The flat north-central and northern plain extends from the hill country all the way to the northern tip of the island and the region is much drier than the rest of the island. The highest mountain is Pidurutalagala 2524m, which rises above Hill region in Nuwara Eliya. Mahaweli Ganga is the longest river in Sri Lanka (335km).
Sri Lanka is a tropical country in that, there are distinct dry and wet seasons. There is two monsoon seasons. From May to August south-west monsoon brings rain to the south and west coast regions and the central highlands. The north-east monsoon season from October to January brings rain to the north and east. The averages annual rain fall is 2500mm. Average temperature of 27c in Colombo and low-lying coastal regions and Nuwara Eliya average temperature is 16c.
Sri Lanka has a population of nearly 20 million and population density of some 280 people per sq km. Sri Lanka a creditable literacy rate is 95% and life expectancy for men 72 years and for women 76 years. The 3 major ethnic groups living here, the Sinhalese are constitute about 74% of population. Tamil are 18% of population and Muslims about 7% of population. English is widely used in Sri Lanka, but Sinhala and Tamil are both national languages.

Electronic map of Sri Lanka

Tour I
9 day birdwatching tour to Sri Lanka.


Day 1.
Arrival Colombo and posed to Kitulgala.
Dinner. Overnight Sisirs River Lodge, Kitulgala (Non A/C).
Day 2.
Morning visit to Kitulgala Rainforest. Grey Hornbill, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Orange-billed Babbler, Green-billed Coucal, Brown-caped Babbler, Sri Lanka Swallow, Sri Lanka Spurfowl and more. Evening birding around Kitulgala.
Breakfast and Dinner. Overnight Sisirs River Lodge, Kitulgala (Non A/C)

"Black-tailed Godwit"

Day 3.
Early morning we drive to Sinharaja Rainforest. Red-face Malkoha, Blue Magpie, Legge's Flowerpecker, White-faced Starling, Sri Lanka Myna, Leyard's Parakeet, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Ceylon Lorikeet), Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Black-capped Bulbul and more. Evening visit to Sinharaja Forest.
Breakfast and Dinner. Overnight Martin's simple Lodge, Sinharaja. .

"Blue Magpie"

Day 4 and 5.
Morning and evening visit to Sinharaja Rainforest looking for Serendib Scops Owl, Yelow-fronted Barbert, Spot-winged Thrush, Scaly Thrush and more
Breakfast and Dinner. Overnight Martins simple Lodge, Sinharaja.

"Crested Serpent Eagle"

Day 6.
Early morning drive to Tissa. Sri Lanka Wodshirke (Common Woodshrike), Crimson-fronted Barbert, Grey Hornbill and more. Breakfast and Dinner. Overnight Peacock Reach Hotel, Tissa.

"Crested Serpent Eagle"

Day 7.
Early morning drive to Nuwara Eliya. Whistling Thrush, Sri Lanka White-eye and more.
Breakfast and Dinner. Overnight Four Season Hotel, Nuwara Eliya.

"Black-headed Yellow Bulbul"

Day 8.
Early morning visit to Horton plans. Whistling Thrush, Sri Lanka White-eye, Yellow-eared Babbler, Sri Lanka Bush-warbler and more.
Breakfast and Dinner. Overnight Four Season Hotel, Nuwara Eliya.
Day 9.
Morning birding around Nuwara Eliya. Return to Colombo and end of tour.

9 Days tour price is: 2 pax US$920 per person double room. 4 pax US$735 per person double room.
US$120 single supplement.
Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Transport with A/C car or van (Jeep rental when required), accommodation on half board basis (Breakfast and Dinner), entrance fees to parks and guide fees.
International transportation, Travel insurance, Visas and items of personal nature (lunch if desired).
The above birding itineraries are based on what are essentially popular routes for birders. It can be shortened or extended.
Birding season: November to April.
All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time six (6)weeks.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
Nature trails in Sinharaja Horton plain, Kitulgala etc. are moderate.
Walking boots, rain gear, binoculars, scope and field guide.

Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Chandima.   

Birding guide Chandima Jayaweera, your local Birdingpal guide
Fifty year old Chaminda Jayaweera also known as Jaya has had extensive experience of more than twenty years as a tour guide. His specialty is birdwatching tours. He is also well versed in mammals, dragonflies and butterflies and an enthusiastic wildlife photographer too. He has undergone many training session with eminent Sri Lankan wildlife photographer Gehan de Silva Wijeratne. Jaya is a qualified bird watching tour guide who is licensed by the Ceylon Tourist Board. He has also followed the Certificate Course in Wildlife Conservation & Management conducted by the Open University of Sri Lanka, Diploma on Waterfalls in Sri Lanka conducted by Lanka Council on Waterfalls and is an active Life member of the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL).
During his long career, Jaya has worked with Professors Sarath Kotagma (Dept of Environment and Science, University of Colombo), Jeremy Gray (ERM Dept, University College Dublin, Republic of Ireland) and M T Sivajothy (Dept of Animal and Plant Science, University of Sheffield, UK). Professor Caroline Harcourt of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge has commended Jaya highly as a birdwatching tour guide in Sri Lanka. Jaya also conducted photography tours in Sri Lanka for well known UK wildlife photographers David Hosking FRPS and Martin Withers FRPS.


05th Dec to 18th Dec 2010. Jayaweera was the best! Very polite, knowledgeable & helpful. We felt very safe with him & he looked after us very well. We would recommend him to everyone. He passion is wildlife & birds and he knows every single bird in Sri Lanka. He was great company & we`ve thoroughly enjoyed having him as our Driver Guide. Robert & Sarah Harvey-UK
19th Dec 2010 to 09th Jan 2011. Jayaweera was helpful, resourceful and knowledgeable. He is having very good knowledge of birds and wildlife. Stephen and Jane Cotton-UK
Jan and Feb 2011. Thank you for guiding us for 2 weeks in Jan and Feb 2011. Your knowledge and expertise made all the difference to our holiday. We don't really think of ourselves as "birders" because we are interested in all aspects of natural history and culture, so your wide-ranging interests matched ours very well. You were always very patient with us, if we couldn't see something or recognise something we'd seen plenty of times before. You were enthusiastic without being obsessive. You also piloted us round Sri Lanka roads without incident and proved capable of achieving things in hotels, that the hotel staff seemed unable to do. No water in your room? Leave it to Jaya! Our thanks. Stephen and Jane Cotton-UK

Some facts about Sri Lanka.

Known as Ceylon before 1972 and as Taprobane (in ancient times), is an island country in South Asia, located about 31 kilometers (19.3 mi) off the southern coast of India and home to around twenty million people.
Because of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia. It has been a center of Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times. The Sinhalese community forms the majority of the population. Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island form the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include Moors, Burghers, Kaffirs and Malays.
The country is famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, coconuts and rubber.
The natural beauty of Sri Lanka's tropical forests, beaches and landscape, as well as its rich cultural heritage.

More facts about Sri Lanka.

Guide books and CD’s recommended:

A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka
by John Harrison
A Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka
G.M. Henry, Thilo W. Hoffmann (Editor); Deepal Warakagoda (Editor); Upali Ekanayake (Editor)
Bird Sounds of Sri Lanka
D Warakagoda - Drongo 2000

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Last update 20/02/2014