Excluding international flights
Chance to see all 4 wild cats in Sri Lanka
Great chance for Slender Lloris
Look for Mountain Leopards in Hortons Plains
Elephant gathering in Gal Oya
Yala and Wilpattu safari looking for all 4 wild cats found in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka wildlife holiday visiting Wilpattu, Sigirya, Hortons Plains, Gal Oya and Yala for a leopard safari. All these locations, as well as the time of year we are travelling, have been specifically designed by Allan Blanchard to give us a chance to see all 4 species of wild cats on this amazing island. These are Leopard, Jungle Cat, Rusty-Spotted Cat and Fishing Cat. Without a focus on buffer areas at night outside of the main national parks the chances to see the smaller wild cats is pretty much zero. To add to the excitment of this tour, we also look for the Grey Slender Lloris in Sigirya (chance for fishing cat here also!), Mountain Leopards in Hortons Plains and the chance to see Asian elephants swimming between islands in the stunning Gal Oya national park. We finish with a Leopard safari in Yala on the quieter Kataragama side of the park – where the largest Leopards in Asia can be found.
Best time to visit -JUL
Safari Style -Bespoke Wildlife
Arrive in Colombo and transfer to Wilpattu
We will help our clients with their choice of international flights so we can arrive into Colombo in the morning or early afternoon and get straight on with the wildlife by transferring north to Wilpattu national park. Overnight at Leopard Trails in a deluxe tent.
Morning and afternoon jeep safaris plus night time buffer zone drives
Wilpattu national park is not just one of the best places to see leopards in Sri Lanka it is also less busy than Yala national park and has a high concentration of the small cat species in the surrounding buffer areas and lakes/tanks found close to rural villages. Small cat species often live quite close to human settlements because it is the crops they plant which attract the many different species of rodents. Because these lesser cats are much more nocturnal in behaviour we have to adapt our approach to maximise our chances of seeing them.
Final morning safari and private transfer to Sigiriya. Night walk for Slender Lloris
We will have time to enjoy one final jeep safari in Wilpattu before transferring to the stunning Jetwing Vil Uyana located on the outskirts of Sigirya. When we visited in April 2022 we were amazed at how regular then sightings of Slender Lloris was here, so as much as this is a luxury property in a beautiful location surrounded by water and nature, it is the wildlife we are here for. They do also have recorded sightings of fishing cat on the property. Night time walk for Slender Lloris with expert local guide. Photo Credit Chaminda Jasasekara
Various activities can be organised in Sigirya followed by second night walk
Of course many people like to climb Sigirya rock at dawn to get the stunning views of the surrounding forest. The climb is not too difficult if you don’t mine heights (medium fitness required) but there is not a huge amount to see at the top. There are also other surrounding temples and Buddhist monuments which can be arranged on request. We will enjoy a second night time walk for the Slender Lloris and we will drive to some nearby water tanks to try for fishing cat. Photo Credit Chaminda Jasasekara
Private transfer from Sigirya to Horton Plains
The secret is out now that Mountain Leopard sightings (considered by some as a separate sub species in Sri Lanka) are being seen more and more in Hortons Plains. This was particularly the case in the last couple of years where a bold female with two cubs often came right out by the park directors bungalow.
We view the wildlife and wilderness experience at Horton Plains as something to be enjoyed as a total experience and not just focused on the Leopards; which are still pretty elusive due to their secrative nature. That said, to hear the alarm calls of the resident Sambar Deer and then position yourself to see if a Leopard will emerge, definitely gets the heart racing. Overnight at Jetwing Warwick Gardens. Photo Credit Indika Nettigama
Two full days looking for Mountain Leopards
Two full days of vehicle based safaris in Horton Plains. Because we are at over 2000M altitude we see completely different types of trees and plants here and the location is incredibly atmospheric when the mists roll in and you go from seeing stunning mountain ranges to ‘pea soup’ in a matter of moments. Good chances for Purple Faced Monkeys, Sambar Deers and a few of the endemic high altitude birds. Very early morning and staying in the park until it closes to maximise our chances for Leopard.
Descend from the hills to Gal Oya national park. Night time walk
Its a beautiful drive down from the hill country to the stunning Gal Oya Lodge. We base ourselves here because the much publicised ‘elephant gathering’ does not occur as it did in the past, because the Sri Lanka goverment has changed the dams and the retention of water in the drier months – which has led the herds to be more dispersed. However, the stunning Gal Oya lake with its many islands gives us a genuine chance to see elephants ‘snorkelling’ between the islands.
Morning jeep safari and afternoon boat safari
Gal Oya national park is incredibly beautiful with a real feel of dense primary forest which you do not get in other national parks in Sri Lanka. This thick vegetation makes wildlife viewing more challenging, but for sure you will enjoy the jeep safari.
The afternoon boat safari is all about the elephants and Gal Oya is now one of the best places to see large herds of elephants in the drier months of July and August. The lake and islands scenery is absolutely stunning with an almost 3D effect of distant mountains, and the chance to see elephants close up swiming between islands makes this a magical experience.
Morning walks/hikes and a second afternoon boat safari
Gal Oya Lodge has the Tiger Tops Nepal blueprint (they are the owners!) all over it and for me it was a real privilage to stay there when I visited Sri Lanka for a month in April 2022. The lodge delivers at every level, from accommodation to food and the many activities which we can do in the 20 acres of private grounds – I chose the tough sunrise hike up Monkey Mountain. We will again target late afternoon for the boat safari and large herds of Asian elephants.
Private transfer from Gal Oya to Yala national park
After breakfast we will drive to the Kataragama side of Yala national park and check in at a Wildlife Trails clients favourite, Ceylon wildlife safaris tented camp. After a sumptous lunch we will head off with our driver and expert naturalist for our first wildlife safari in Yala national park.
Four full days of morning and afternoon game drives
The territories of both the female and male leopards will be known to our guides as well as their personal behaviours. Some leopards are a lot more bold than others and will tolerate photographers for a longer period if they feel relaxed and not threatened. We will always be ethical in our approach and move on when we feel we have got some great photos and look for other amazing wildlife found within the park. After recent rains you have more chance to see the shy Sloth Bear, as with the softer ground they can more easily access their favourite food of ants and termites.
Final morning jeep safari and transfer to Negombo
Sadly, this is your final jeep safari in Yala but we hope to go out ‘with a bang’ before getting on the excellent road back to Negombo where you will overnight at the deluxe Jetwing Blue.
Final transfer to Colombo international airport
Depending on your flight departure time, we can arrange a late check out or a short tour of Negombo (early morning fish market is very photogenic!) or Colombo, before a private transfer to the airport to connect with your onward flight.
Pricing Info & Dates
- Includes £100 donation to small cat conservation
- More than 20 safaris for Leopard photography
- All meals at the wildlife camps
- Expert Sri Lanka guide/driver throughout
- Cost of international flights
- Costs of visas and travel insurance
- Dinner and lunch in Sigirya and Negombo
- Gratuities and tips
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