Our travel expert offers advice on where to go for a wildlife safari with a bit of sightseeing in Sri Lanka.
Safaris and sunbathing in Sri Lanka
Q I'll be in Sri Lanka for three weeks next month, and am very keen to try out a wildlife safari that also includes a bit of sightseeing. Is this a good time to go, and can you suggest a couple of tour companies that put together such trips?
A If it is a wildlife safari you are after, the best time to visit Sri Lanka is between November and April: the climate is cool and pleasant and the chances of spotting leopards, jackals or wild elephants are quite high.
Sri Lankan Expeditions (www.srilankanexpeditions.com; 00 94 773 595 411) offers several tours that allow visitors to relax on a beach or tour an area by day and go on wildlife adventures by night. One of their most popular tours includes a few days in Yala National Park in Uva, about 270km from Colombo. Spread over 100,000 hectares and divided into five blocks, the park has one of the highest recorded leopard densities in the world: some 30 big cats in one area. The park is also home to large numbers of elephants, sloths, wild buffalo and mongoose, and is rich in birdlife. The six-night, land-only trip costs from 181,285 Sri Lankan rupees (Dh5,955) per person and includes accommodation (both in hotels and at camp sites, based on two people sharing), all meals mentioned in the itinerary, transport, leopard-spotting treks, and also includes excursions to welll-known historic sites such as the majestic 17th-century Dutch fortress in Galle, and a couple of days at the Amaya Reef hotel, located on the golden beaches of Hikkaduwa.
Eco Team (www.srilankaecotourism.com) organises tailor-made trips around the beautiful Bolgoda Lake (a great site for bird-watching), which is on the outskirts of Colombo. Their six-night package includes a safari in the magnificent Sinharaja rainforest, home to nearly 95 per cent of birds endemic to the country; a day each in Udawalawe National Park and Bundala National Park (famous for its crocodiles); a safari in Yala and a full day of shopping and sightseeing in Colombo (museums, historic sites). Prices start at Rs164,400 (Dh5,400) per person and include all accommodation (based on two people sharing), meals according to the itinerary, entrance fees, and the services of an experienced English-speaking guide.
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