Wild Sri Lanka with Ornithologist
Pepper Trail

10 Day Tour | Wildlife Holiday | Private Group Adventure
November 10, 2022 - November 19, 2022


Sri Lanka's wild side with Ornithologist Pepper Trail; from national parks to the ocean in this tropical paradise

Voyage to one of the finest areas for bird and wildlife viewing in the Indian Subcontinent on this eco-adventure through Sri Lanka, the “Teardrop of India,” led by renowned ornithologist, bird detective and global adventurer Pepper Trail.  The wide range of environments found in this compact tropical island results in a rich diversity normally only found across a whole continent, resulting in a birdwatcher’s dream. Pepper earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University, has carried out field work on bird behavior and conservation across the globe, and when not leading trips for museums and groups such as the Smithsonian, is the USA’s only forensic ornithologist. 
Thrilling leopard treks in Yala, eco-safaris in the elephant capital of Udawalawe, bird-filled walks in the untouched rainforest of Sinharaja, blue whale watching in the Indian Ocean and pilgrimages to ancient sites are just some of the highlights of this action-packed journey. Along the way, we will enjoy UNESCO sites, boat cruises, fresh seafood, aromatic curries, colorful bazaars, talented artisans, visits to sustainable community projects, and, yes, time for relaxation at world-class tropical beaches.  


Private whale watching from a chartered boat
Four game drives within Yala and Udawalawe National Parks
Sinharaja Rainforest and Dickwella beach
Special guide & Forensic Ornithologist Naturalist, Pepper Trail
• 10 days land only 
• Travel by private bus, boat and 4WD
• 9 nights in comfortable hotels and eco lodges
• Whale watching season: November to April
• Group normally 4 to 16, including guide Pepper Trail plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
• Countries visited: Sri Lanka

• All breakfasts and 9 dinners included
• All accommodation
• All transport and listed activities
• Special Guide & Tour leader throughout



DAY 1 Start Colombo; transfer to Ahangama beach hotel.
Your trip will start from Colombo Airport today where your guide and local leader will be waiting to meet the group. You should be at the airport before midday ready to join the transfer to Ahangama on the south coast of the island - please refer to the joining instructions for further information. Sri Lanka's road network has improved greatly over the last few years, and the 'deep south' (as it is often known) is now accessible within around 3 hours from Colombo. The coastline's coconut groves and tall palms give way to magnificent views of the sea as we approach Ahangama.

Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: dinner

DAY 2 Morning private whale watching excursion; afternoon visit Galle Fort.
Shortly after sunrise we depart for the harbour, where we board a small, privately chartered boat for today's whale watching excursion. Accompanied by excellent crew and a naturalist guide, we spend the morning searching the Indian Ocean for whales and other cetaceans. The vessel is fitted with radar and GPS which helps to increase our chance of success. Blue whales, the largest animals that have ever lived, typically frequent these waters between November and April. They are huge, reaching up to 30 metres in length and weighing as much as 160 tonnes. We may also be lucky enough to encounter Sperm whales, Brydes whales and large pods of Spinner or Bottlenose dolphins in the surrounding waters. After spending the morning at sea, we return to the harbour and our hotel in Ahangama. Later this afternoon we have a guided visit to Galle to discover the historical fort, a fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by the Dutch in 1663, the fort is a maze of cobbled streets crammed with cafes, boutique shops and beautifully restored colonial houses.
Accommodation: Insight Resort (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: breakfast dinner

DAY 3 Transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest; afternoon walk.

This morning we transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest, the last undisturbed area of rainforest in Sri Lanka. This biodiversity hotspot harbours a number of endemic species. Canopy trees reach heights of up to 45 metres and bird species number 160 and counting. Amongst the insects, amphibians and reptiles are mammals such as Sambar, Barking deer and Wild boar. Purple-faced langurs usually congregate in groups of 10 or more and are fairly common to see amongst the trees. Around 15 leopards are known in this area but sightings are very difficult to come by due to the dense vegetation. This afternoon we take a walk to discover Sinharaja and its many inhabitants, accompanied by our naturalist guide.
Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: breakfast dinner

DAY 4 Full day to discover Sinharaja Rainforest.
Wake up to birdsong and get ready for another day in the forest. Sinharaja covers a narrow sliver of land 21km long and 3.7km wide, covering an area of roughly 11,187 hectares. Within this area 43% of all the species recorded in Sri Lanka can be found. Our naturalist guide will take us on a wildlife walk to discover the many trails and abundant diversity here.
Accommodation: Rainforest Eco Lodge or Sinharaja Forest Edge (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: breakfast dinner 

DAY 5 To Udawalawe; afternoon game drive in Udawalawe N.P.
This morning we leave the rainforest and travel further inland to Udawalawe National Park, which lies on the boundary between Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones. Udawalawe is one of the best parks in Sri Lanka to see elephants with around 600 animals in the park who can be seen roaming in herds of up to 50 - the highest concentration of wild elephants anywhere in Sri Lanka. The Udawalawe Reservoir is at the centre of the park and makes a stunning backdrop amongst the otherwise lightly vegetated area. For this reason wildlife watching in the national park is relatively easy. Aside from elephant families feeding in the grasslands, we may encounter Sambar deer, Spotted deer, Water buffalo, Wild boar, jackal and mongoose on this afternoon's game drive.
Accommodation: Nil Diya Mankada (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: breakfast dinner

DAY 6 Morning game drive in Udawalawe N.P.; visit Elephant Transit Home at feeding time.
This morning our 4WD safari vehicles are waiting to take us back into Udawalawe for a second game drive within the park. Game drives typically last for 3 hours, depending on sightings, and are always accompanied by a naturalist guide. In the afternoon we visit Udawalawe's famous Elephant Transit Home (ETH), situated just 5km from the park entrance. The transit home is run by the department of Wildlife Conservation and supported by the Born Free Foundation. It provides a safe environment for orphaned elephants, who are typically looked after at the home until they reach the age of 4, at which point they are old enough to be released back into the wild. Our visit will coincide with feeding time at ETH, where the juveniles are given bottled milk by a team of park rangers and the noisy spectacle can be witnessed from the viewing platform.

Accommodation: Nil Diya Mankada (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: breakfast dinner

DAY 7 Transfer to Tissamaharama; afternoon game drive in Yala N.P.
After breakfast we depart for Tissamaharama and Yala National Park, a drive of around 3 hours. On arrival in Yala we check into our hotel and then around 3pm head out in 4WD jeeps for our afternoon game drive. Yala is Sri Lanka's most well known national park, famous for having a higher concentration of leopard per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world. Located in Sri Lanka's lowland dry zone in the south eastern corner of the country, Yala National Park is extensive, covering some 97,881 hectares across five 'blocks'. Yala's vegetation primarily consists of dense secondary forest, semi-arid thorny scrub, brackish lagoons and mangroves since the park borders the coastline. With this diverse habitat comes a huge array of wildlife, including elephant, Sloth bear, Spotted deer, Water buffalo, Sambar deer, Wild boar, langur and macaque. Bird counts are also high, with over 215 species recorded, including thousands of migrating waterfowl. Our group will be split evenly between jeeps and will be joined by the tour leader, naturalist and tracker who will each sit in a different vehicle. The drive this afternoon will last around 3 - 4 hours, before we return to the hotel to freshen up and have dinner.

ccommodation: Kithala Resort (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: breakfast dinner

DAY 8 Morning game drive in Yala N.P.; to Dickwella.
Wildlife tends to be at its most active during the early morning and to take advantage of this we have a morning game drive in Yala, returning to our hotel for a rest and lunch afterwards. Our naturalist guide will focus on Yala's diverse wildlife and birds, with our game drive lasting around 3 hours. 

After lunch we transfer around 3.5 hours to Dickwella, a remarkable beach with clear waters and clean beaches. Traditional fishing boats rest on the sand in front of a backdrop of palm trees - this is postcard worthy, and in our opinion, one of the most picturesque beaches in Sri Lanka. Accommodation for our two night's here is at a lovely resort with direct access to the beach. The resort is set on tropical grounds and is among the top beach hotels in Sri Lanka! We have marked this property as a 'comfortable hotel' with air-conditioned rooms. You will be able to relax under swaying palms by the pool while enjoying long walks along the beach. The rooms are fitted with contemporary amenities and you could simply surrender yourself to healing Balinese rituals at the spa during your seaside getaway in paradise.

Accommodation: Dickwella Resort & Spa (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: breakfast dinner

DAY 9 Relax by the beach in Dickwella; optional whale watching excursion.
Today is free to enjoy all facilities at Dickwella Resort & Spa where you could swim in the sea, walk along the beach or even have a dip in the pool. Alternatively, if there are enough people interested, we can organize a second whale watching excursion to take place this morning. By having the opportunity to go whale watching again we maximize our chances of having the most favorable weather and sea conditions. Please note that this optional excursion will involve transfers to/from Mirissa where all of the whale watching boats depart.
Accommodation: Dickwella Resort & Spa (or similar)
Comfortable Hotel
Meals included: breakfast dinner

DAY 10 To Colombo; end Colombo Airport.
This morning we check out and make our way to Colombo airport where our holiday comes to an end. Clients should check with our customer operations team before booking flights to ensure they can be dropped at the airport in time. Alternatively, an additional nights accommodation can be organised near to Colombo Airport if you would like to extend your stay.
Meals included: breakfast

Ornithologist Pepper Trail

Pepper grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, on a wonderfully dilapidated 100-acre farm. A family trip to Mexico when he was 12 instilled a lifelong love of travel, which has taken him to all seven continents and across the oceans of the world. He earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University for his field study of the mating behavior of the spectacular Guianan cock-of-the-rock in Suriname, and he's since carried out field work on bird behavior and conservation in the Caribbean, Panama, Polynesia, and Vietnam. A Fellow of the American Ornithological Society, Pepper lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he works at the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory. As the nation’s only forensic ornithologist, he is responsible for identifying all bird remains submitted in investigations of federal wildlife crimes and testifies as an expert witness in courts around the US. Pepper much prefers living birds, however, and his enthusiasm and sense of humor give birders and non-birders alike a new appreciation for the wonders of the avian world.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:


How this trip helps improve life for local communities.
• The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
• This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally-owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
• We have financially co-sponsored a local Tsunami relief project, which has enabled 25 families to be rehoused and for two schools to be equipped with toilets, running water and outdoor swings. 
• In collaboration with a German operator and the village temple, we have helped towards 10 large water tanks and an eye clinic in a remote village with a donation of 200 pairs of glasses.
• We also assisted a principal agent of UNICEF in development of day care and education of school
children of the estate sector labourers in the hill country.


How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.
• By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
• By visiting Sinharaja rainforest (a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site), Yala and Udawalawe National Parks, our entrance fees directly contribute to their upkeep. For example, our game drives in Yala &  Udawalawe N.P. promotes animal welfare and financially contributes to conservation projects in the area.
• We visit Udawalawe's famous Elephant Transit Home (ETH). The transit home is run by the department of Wildlife Conservation and supported by the Born Free Foundation. It provides a safe environment for orphaned elephants, who are typically looked after at the home until they reach the age of 4, at which point they are old enough to be released back into the wild.
• Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing.
• We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for re-usable bottles.
• The Exodus Travels Foundation has launched the Community Kickstart Project to help our destination communities recover and rebuild following the impact of COVID-19. In Sri Lanka, we’ve contributed to the Yala Park Driver Support initiative.


How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.
• Read about Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise here, including our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
• Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally-sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
• Vegetarian and vegan options are available at majority of accommodation and restaurants.
• This trip favours locally-owned and run accommodation. When we visit Sinharaja Rainforest for 2 nights, groups stay at the Rainforest Eco Lodge. The lodge strives to minimise their carbon footprint through the implementation of various sustainable practices on site.


• Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
• Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.
• Cultural respect:
• One should not touch someone’s head as this is considered disrespectful.
• It's polite to use your right hand when shaking hands or handing money and small objects to someone else.
• It is common practice to remove one’s shoes before entering someone’s home.
• Especially when visiting temples, men’s and women’s clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee.

*Terms & Conditions:
The “Starting at” or listed price is based on the lowest price available to book. Price is CAD per person based on twin occupancy. Airfare, travel insurance, visas, vaccinations are not included. Please review current promotions or deals for additional information. Tour prices, dates, details and itinerary are subject to change. Tour details are based on a 2022 Tour. Additional conditions may apply. Prices were valid at time of publishing and are subject to change without notice.  Terms and Conditions may apply.

Price was valid at time of posting and is subject to availability. Offers are subject to change or be withdrawn at any time.