The Elephant pilgrimage tour in Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka
Are you looking for an unusual safari experience? You're invited to this unique elephant pilgrimage tour through beautiful natural parks in Sri Lanka, the wild island of South Asia! During this tailormade holiday and vacation you'll enjoy fabulous game drives discovering these giant and adorable animals for which the country is famous! And while having fun sorrounded by incredible wildlife, you'll also have enough time to bask in the sun on breathtaking palm-fringed beaches.Read more
Here are the highlights of your customizable trip and tour in Sri Lanka:
Watch orphaned elephants river bathing
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo. Sri Lanka offers visa on arrival: you need to have a valid passport, two passport -size photos with a light background and electronic travel authorization from Department of Immigration & Emigration (DI&E) of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
After completing immigration and custom formalities, you will exit the airport and meet with your tour leader at the arrival area. After the customary greetings, assisted transfer to the hotel in Kotugoda, a boutique villa housed in a refurbished colonial bungalow situated just 15 minutes from the international airport. Relax and unwind after your flight, preparing yourself for the adventure ahead.
After an early breakfast, travel to Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle via the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a remarkable project that protects the island’s abandoned or orphaned wild elephants that would otherwise have surely died. From small, modest origins it has grown into one of Sri Lanka’s most famous attractions. Pinnawala enthralls adults and children alike.
Roaming free within the Sanctuary, except when occasionally shepherded by their Mahouts (keepers) the elephants highlight is their daily bathing session. The sight of herds of elephants splashing and playing in a river has charmed countless visitors. During your time at the orphanage you’ll be accompanied by a wildlife guide who will be able to give you background information on elephants in Sri Lanka and their remarkable partnership with man.
Optional- We also recommend a visit to the nearby Eliphus Maximus project that produces beautiful paper out of recycled elephant dung.
After lunch set off for the Cultural Triangle, another 2 hours drive, and check in to your hotel. The following day you can enjoy a relaxing morning at the hotel, by the pool side or perhaps hiring one of the hotel bikes to explore the lake.
In the afternoon the tour staff will organize a one-hour elephant ride through dryland jungle. Wake up early the following day for a morning safari at Minneriya National Park, famous for its large gathering of Asian elephants. This 8890 hectare park of dry evergreen forest, scrub jungle, grassly plains, is dominated by Minneriya Tank. During dry season, herds of up to 150 elephants can be seen here, along with sambar deer, toque monkeys, plenty of birdlife including cormorants and painted storks.
Explore the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The ancient sites are best explored in a bike. Afterwards return to the hotel for dinner.
After breakfast check out of the hotel and drive to Sigiriya Rock, one of Sri Lanka's most fascinating Unesco world heritage sites. The remains of this fortress atop the tabletop mountain, coupled with the colorful frescos and the symmetrical royal gardens, are amazing feats of this period.
The surrounding Sigiriya sanctuary is home to numerous species of birds and monkeys. Continue on your journey towards the central highlands and check into your hotel overlooking the picturesque Kotmale Reservoir about 45 minutes south of Kandy.
Explore the village of Kotmale with its wattle and daub village homes, terraced paddy fields, tea estates, and Buddhist temples.
Optional - Go hiking, biking or bird watching in the surrounding area. Visit the Kotmale Hydro power plant which at one time, along with the other Mahaweli projects, supplied more than half of Sri Lanka’s energy requirements.
Spend a morning on a city tour of Kandy and visit the Temple of the Tooth where a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha is enshrined. A day trip to the hill station of Nuwara Eliya is also possible from here.
After berakfast transfer out of the hills and head south to Uda Walawe, one of the island's most popular wildlife sanctuaries with open parklands, where over 500 wild elephants roam free. Wild buffalo and deer keep them company along with mongoooses, bandicoots, monitor lizards and crocodiles.
We recommend that you spend two nights at a mobile tented safari camp within Uda Walawe National Park. Set off on an early morning wildlife safari into the jungle, return to the camp to a leisurely breakfast followed by a dip in the river. By nightfall, relax with a drink by a roaring bonfire and enjoy the magical night.
Visit the Elephant Transit Camp at Uda Walawe, run by Sri Lanka's Wildlife Department. Here about 22 young elephants, mostly babies, who have been orphaned or are recovering from injuries, are been rehabilitated before release into the wild.
The elephant population in Sri Lanka was once as high as 20,000. Unfortunately today it has come down to 3500. Conservation efforts such as the Elephant Transit Camp in Uda Walawe are vital to the future of this endangered animal. The orphaned baby elephants reside at the transit camp for about 4 years until they are old enough to be weaned of milk and learn to eat grass.
Journey further south east to Yala National Park. You will stay two nights in an eco-friendly game lodge scattered over 10 acres of scrub jungle bordering Yala National Park and the secluded Palatupana-Kirinda beaches and located just 10 minutes away from the park entrance.
The next morning go for a game drive in Yala. The vast 97,900-hectare park consists of varied terrain including semi-arid thorny scrub, dense secondary forest, mangroves on the lagoons, sand dunes behind the beaches and coral reefs. For many visitors the search for the park's elusive leopards is a major attraction as Yala's males are known to be quite bold.
Elephants are another major attraction and easily seen close to the water from January to March, the dry season. Other game includes macaque and langur monkeys, sambur, spotter deer, jackal, wild boar, buffaloes, sloth bears, crocodiles and over 130 bird species.
Journey along Sri Lanka's picturesque south coast until you reach the fishing village of Thalpe, just 15 minutes away from the historic city of Galle. Stay the next four night in a small boutique hotel set on an idyllic stretch of beach.
Spend your days taking in the sun and sea. Plenty of watersports including snorkeling, surfing, scuba diving, sea kayaking and sailing are on offer nearby at Unawatuna and Mirissa bays. The south of Sri Lanka beyond Dondra is also considered one of the best locations in the world for spotting blue whales, sperm whales and spinner dolphins. These gigantic marine mammals can be spotted in the deep seas off the coast of Mirissa.
Whale watching excursions into the deep seas are organized by Mirissa Water Sports during season from December to April. Go on a boat ride in Koggala Lake for an experience of rural village life and nature.
Explore Galle 17th Dutch Fort. Several hours can be spent wandering along the narrow cobblestone streets lined with small manor houses, Dutch and British period buildings which are still in use.
Sri Lanka offers visa on arrival facility. You need to have a valid passport, two passport -size photo with a light background is required (Immigration Department has not specified the size of the passport-size photo) and electronic travel authorization from Department of Immigration & Emigration (DI&E) of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Price shown are per person sharing double room.
| 17 days | No flight
India: Delhi, Nagpur, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Pangunagu, Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Agra, Ranthambore National Park
from 1,975 €
| 8 days | No flight
Kenya: Samburu National Reserve, Aberdare National Park, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Nairobi
| 6 days | No flight
Tanzania: Arusha, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater
from 1,900 €