From elephants to leopards to whales, the wildlife of Sri Lanka awaits as you embark on this weeklong adventure around the country. You'll go on Jeep safaris in national parks, spotting magnificent animals and birds along the journey. Then you'll continue onward to the coast, where you'll see blue whales during a boat tour off the coast of Mirissa. Rounding out the itinerary are a handful of cultural experiences, including a cooking class at a safari camp and time for sightseeing in the capital city of Colombo.

Highlights

  • Spot elephants during Jeep safaris in Udawalawe and Yala National Parks
  • Learn to prepare Sri Lankan cuisine with a local chef
  • Tour the bustling capital city of Colombo
  • Go whale-watching in the turquoise waters off the coast of Mirissa

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore the Capital City of Colombo Colombo
Day 2 Go on Safari in Udawalawe National Park & Cooking Class Udawalawe
Day 3 Observe Wildlife at Yala National Park Yala
Day 4 Go on a Game Drive & Transfer to Mirissa Mirissa
Day 5 Whale-watch off the Coast of Mirissa Mirissa
Day 6 Free Day on the Beaches of Mirissa  Mirissa
Day 7 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Explore the Capital City of Colombo 

Negombo
Galle Face Green in Colombo

Welcome to Sri Lanka! A melting pot of cultures and commerce, the capital of Colombo is a lively city with a fascinating history. Arab sailors once frequented these ports to trade with the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists that occupied the city. Today, Colombo has something from everyone. Go on a drive through the city's commercial center, where grand colonial-era buildings stand alongside modern hotels and office structures. Explore the vibrant markets and bazaars in Pettah, then dine on Sri Lankan specialties at a local restaurant before getting some rest at your hotel.

Day 2: Go on Safari in Udawalawe National Park & Cooking Class

Learn to cook a Sri Lankan dish
Learn to cook a Sri Lankan dish

Located on the boundary of Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones, Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places in the world to see wild elephants. It's not unusual to see big herds gathering to feed and bath by the waterholes — the resident population is around 400.

In addition to this main attraction, Udawalawe is home to many water buffalo, lizards, sambar deer, monkeys, and a huge variety of birds. You'll have ample opportunities to enjoy native wildlife during a game drive in the park. You'll take a break back at camp for lunch, learning how to make a traditional Sri Lankan meal with the resident chef. Then relax in the afternoon before going out on another game drive in the evening.

Day 3: Observe Wildlife at Yala National Park 

Elephants in Udawalawe
Elephants in Yala National Park 

Today you'll move onward to Yala National Park. Located in the southeast region of the country, it's the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka. It was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and it's home to a wide variety of wildlife that you'll have the chance to see today on a Jeep safari. Leopards are the stars here, but the park is also home to the large herds of elephants, spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, wild buffaloes, sloth bear, jackal, and mongoose. The birds are also fantastic, and numerous species such as Rosy Starlings, Paradise Flycatchers, Crested Hawk Eagles, Blue-tailed Bee-Eaters, and Common Loras inhabit the area. Spend the night in a tented safari campsite before the trip continues.

Day 4: Game Drive & Transfer to Mirissa 

A Sri Lankan Leopard emerges from the rock
A Sri Lankan Leopard emerges from the rock

After an early morning game drive in Yala National Park, which offers another chance to see elephants and other wildlife, you'll travel to Mirissa. A fishing village surrounded by rubber and coconut plantations, ancient temples, spice gardens, natural sanctuaries, and exotic wildlife, this destination is famous for its long whale-watching season. Mirissa's stunning crescent beach is a paradise for anyone who loves the sun and the sea. Check into your hotel and take some free time in the afternoon to relax before the next day's whale-watching tour.

Day 5: Whale-watch off the Coast of Mirissa 

Bundala National Park
Blue whale off the coast of Mirissa

The south coast of Sri Lanka is one of the world's very best places to see blue whales. From November to April, when the whales are on their annual migratory route from the Horn of Africa up to the Arabian Sea, they can be easily seen in the waters around Mirissa. Sperm whales and various kinds of dolphins may be spotted, too, on your whale-watching boat ride off the coast. You'll start the day early, taking a packed breakfast with you on the excursion, to maximize your chance of spotting whales. In the afternoon, take it easy on the beach — you might need a siesta under the palm trees!

Day 6: Free Day on the Beaches of Mirissa

Whale watching
Mirissa Beach

You'll have a day at leisure at Mirissa as the trip nears its end. Go surfing — you can take lessons if it's your first try — or relax on the quiet sands of Secret Beach. Rent a motorbike to explore the coastline, or go for a ride in a colorful tuk-tuk. If you're especially interested in wildlife, you could go out on a boat for more whale-watching, see cobras at a local snake farm, or detour to nearby Polhena Beach (also known as Turtle Beach) to swim in a calm bay and look for the turtles who live here. Go for a seafood dinner in one of Mirissa's many restaurants on your last night in Sri Lanka. 

Day 7: Departure

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel and check out before noon to transfer to Bandaranaike International Airport, about three hours away. Safe travels! 

More Great Sri Lanka Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Sri Lanka? Check out these other 7-day Sri Lanka itineraries, with active adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.

Map

Map of Best of Sri Lanka's Wildlife - 7 Days
Map of Best of Sri Lanka's Wildlife - 7 Days