A recreational activity enjoyed worldwide, Sri Lanka contains a plethora of interesting bird species to offer visiting birdwatchers. Some of these are covered below. As a bird watching enthusiast, you might like to add all or many of these to your list depending on your birding experience in Asia. The prospective ‘life bird' list includes the Sri Lanka endemic species and some migrant residents, including the species endemic to both India and Sri Lanka, species mostly restricted to Asia, and some migrants from North India and Central Asia. Most migrant birds utilize what is known as the ‘Central Asian Indian Flyway’ when on their migration routes from India.
A total of some 455 varieties of birds have been reliably recorded to date in Sri Lanka. 225 species endemic to the South Asian region have been recognized, of which 33 species are endemic to Sri Lanka , including the newly discovered Serendib Scops-owl Otus thilohoffmanni .There are also 53 species in the country which are endemic to India and Sri Lanka.
Commonly the resident species among these can be found on a tour at any time of the year. But for birdwatchers who are also absorbed in watching North Indian and Central Asian migrants in Sri Lanka it is advantageous to tour during the northern winter when the migrants are in Sri Lanka. In the non-migrant season monsoon rains on some days may hinder the experience.
Around fifteen species of nocturnal birds can be discovered in Sri Lanka, and looking for them is usually a high priority for visiting birdwatchers, especially because among them there are two species of owls endemic to the country and some regional endemics. As a result, birding in Sri Lanka is a vital part of birding tours. Most of these species can be found in more than one special site to find them in.
There are about 20 species of pelagic birds annually migrating to the coastal waters of Sri Lanka. This includes remarkable species from the Indian Ocean such as Barau's Petrel, Swinhoe's Storm Petrel, Jouanin's Petrel etc.
Bundala National Park and Kumana National Park are famous for bird-watching.
For the ardent hiker, there is an array of opportunities awaiting in Sri Lanka 's diverse and luscious hill country. The stunning area of Belihuloya , positioned in the hill country of Sri Lanka , provides a fantastic base from which to try out a wide variety of hiking and trekking tours through jungle, across paddy fields and up mountains. The abundant rivers and waterfalls in Sri Lanka are another central attraction that allows hikers and trekkers to enjoy a refreshing dip en-route! In the same area the enigmatic and Horton Plains National Park offers some outstanding hikes in an uncommon environment, set apart by forest patches, grasslands and some high-altitude vegetation.
The best features consist of the gripping drop of 880 metres at World's End and the beautiful Baker's Falls. When climbing the infamous Adam's Peak Wilderness Sanctuary (Sri Pada), its best to kick off your climb at night in order to arrive at the top in time for a magical sunrise when the mystical shadow of the peak is perfectly cast across the clouds. It is one of those truly irreplaceable moments that will live on in your memory long after you recover from the rigorous hike!
The striking area of Bandarawela, in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka and the nearby town of Ella are renowned for their many walks, including Little Adam's Peak, Ella Rock and the Namunukula Mountain Range. If you happen to be in the Kandy locality, make sure you explore the beautiful Knuckles Mountain Range. The region stretches a remarkable 155 sq km, with five major forest formations, a wide variety of rare and endemic flora and fauna and some breathtaking mountain scenery. It is a real utopia for hikers, offering frequent trails that wind across clear rivers, through closely packed forests, past tumbling waterfalls and sumptuous tea plantations, and alongside terraced paddy fields and colourful Kandyan home gardens.
A hiking tour in Sri Lanka would be imperfect without a visit to the fascinating Sinharaja Rainforest where a multitude of trails can be tailor-made to meet the specific interests/fitness levels of the group.
In spite of its small size Sri Lanka takes in pride in having one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world whether in plants or animals and is included among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. Out of ninety-one species of mammals located in Sri Lanka Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes invoves the majority of the attention of wildlife enthusiasts. Nonetheless the rarest mammals of Sri Lanka are the red slender Loris, Toque Macaque, and Purple-faced Langur, who according to IUCN clarifications are endangered due to habitat loss.
In the meantime, the ocean around Sri Lanka is home to large families of cetaceans including the mighty blue whales, sperm whales and sprightly dolphins. In total, 26 species of cetaceans rule the waters surrounding the country, making it one of the best locations for whale and dolphin watching.
Gargantuan elephants, atypical amphibians and birds found in the country are the pride of the Sri Lanka’s wildlife. The island features nearly 433 bird species of which 233 are inhabitants of Sri Lanka and holds 20 endemic species while another 80 species have developed distinct Sri Lankan qualities, compared to their cousins in Indian mainland.
Although less illustrious, Sri Lanka has one of the richest diversity of amphibians in the world, containing over 106 species of amphibians of over 90 of which are endemic. Sri Lanka has also been long asserted to have the highest density in the world of amphibian species with a high concentration in the Sinharaja Rainforest.
Yala National Park and Wilpattu National Park are rife for safaris.
Whale Watching in the downsouth coast of Mirissa, has been the most prevalent attraction among tourists who visit Sri Lanka, since 2009. Mirissa is the contiguous point to where blue whales are populated because it has the suitable environmental conditions to live in. It was recently reported that five types of whales including blue whale, bryde's whale, sperm whale, killer whale & pilot whale, and four kinds of dolphins namely spinner dolphin, bottle nose dolphin, stripped dolphin, Risso's dolphin were identified.
The energetic and charming dolphins are known to put on a show while some of the more stately, oldest and largest sea creatures such as, the humpback and the blue whales, will casually glide past you, when you embark on a whale/ dolphin watching excursion off the Southern, Eastern or the West coast of Sri Lanka. The best locations for whale watching are Dondra Point (accessible from Galle, Hikkaduwa and Mirissa) and Trincomalee while the sea off Kalpitiya abounds with plenty of dolphins.
When the whale watching season in Mirissa is in full swing and many local and foreign tourists gather to the Mirissa harbor, The Sri Lanka Coast Guards increase their awareness in monitoring the employment of Sea Mammals Observation, Regulation and Control Regulations.
In order to confirm that the regulations are obeyed by boat operators and tourists engaged in whale watching, the members of the ‘Rohana Coast Guard’ base have been scrutinizing whale and dolphin watching activities in Mirissa since last year. The coast guards also verify that the boat operators; crew and the tourists follow the safety precautions and regulations before and during their tour of observation.
The most renowned place for surfing in Sri Lanka, is Arugam bay on the East Coast which also had the honour of hosting the 2004 National Championships.
The East is speckled with numerous good surf breaks which contour both the North and South coasts from Arugam Bay.
A ten minute tuk-tuk ride towards North would get you to ‘Whiskey Point’, a well- loved surf spot where even beginners can explore their surfing skills.
South from the Bay lies what is known as ‘Elephant Rock’ and ‘Peanut Farm’. Both are isolated beaches and can be reached within ten minutes by tuk-tuk.
Heading on a little further South (45 minutes by tuk-tuk) will get you to ‘Okanda’, a beautiful surf point immersed in jungle, located near the entrance of the ‘Kumana National Park’.
Surf lessons and boards can be easily arranged upon request.
Somewhat a new concept in Sri Lanka, the most popular Hot-Air Ballooning sites in Sri Lanka are at Sigiriya, Dambulla & Uda Walawe. The Hot Air Balloon ride lasts for approximately an hour. The total Ballooning experience is approximately 3- 4 hours. Best times for hot-air ballooning are for sunrise and sunset, with weather conditions playing a substantial role in this excursion. A favourite amongst romantics, it is a one-of-a-kind experience to enrich your trip.
Often represented as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean', Sri Lanka offers stellar Scuba-Diving and Snorkelling tours. A legion of tropical fish, gloriously colourful coral reefs and mysterious ship wrecks can be explored at several locations off the south coast of Sri Lanka .
Hikkaduwa , Weligama and Kirinda provide astounding snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. In the west of Sri Lanka, head to ‘Bar Reef' (Sri Lanka's largest reef, easily accessible from the Puttalam district town of Kalpitiya , spanning an impressive 3 nautical miles in length and 1 nautical mile in breadth). But the country’s glittering jewel, Pigeon Island Pigeon Island , off Nilaveli (just north of Trincomalee ) is a paradise of turquoise-coloured waters and ample fish and coral life make it the greatest underwater experience.
All underwater activities you choose to engage in are conducted by well-trained and qualified UDI and PADI instructors to ensure your absolute safety and enjoyment.
During the monsoon seasons, west coast diving and snorkelling is generally rife from November to April whilst the east coast waters are at their calmest April – September.
Kalpitiya is one of the leading destinations for kite-surfing in Sri Lanka – it is the definitive experience for anyone looking for adventure water sports surrounded by breathtaking scenic beauty. Sri Lanka has been steadily gaining appreciation for the sport within the international kite-surfing community primarily because of what Kalpitiya has to offer. Instructors and equipment are on offer for beginners and experts alike. With a sprawling stretch of land, Kalpitiya guarantees your own space. The best time periods for kite-surfing are between the months of May-October with daily winds averaging at 20- 25 knots peaking around 30 knots all day.
Kitulgala is one of the most prominent spots for white-water rafting. Displaying clear, fresh waters jetting in torrents, it has delighted many an adventure enthusiast. The Kitulgala White Water Rafting spans for approximately 90 minutes, stretches for 6.5km with five rapids graded 2 and 3. The Rapids with their own individual characters are fittingly named: Head Chopper, Virgin’s Breast, Butter Crunch, Killer Fall and the Rib Cage. Considering modern rafts are equipped with safety gear, White Water Rafting at Kitulgala would suit even kids over 10 years in age.
Sri Lanka ranks as one amongst the world’s top three destinations for destination weddings overseas. Celebrate your day in the form of a traditional Sri Lankan wedding or opt for a quiet ceremony by the beach. The location opportunities are endless ranging from choices between jungles, hot-air ballooning, river-boating, beaches, tea plantations, private islands, and so on. We can help you decide on the most perfect spot to host your perfect day!