Activities

Kithulgala Water Rafting

Kithulgala Water Rafting

Experience White Water Rafting in the picturesque Kelani River, covering 5 major rapids and 4 minor rapids. This activity is for anyone above the age of 10 years with safety gear, modern rafts, and a comprehensive safety briefing will be given by our white water rafting instructors beforehand. The distance covered is around 5 KMs. The river and its surrounding will make you feel enchanted, with a memorable Experience during your White Water Rafting Tour in Kitulagala.

Activities

Madu River Boat Safari

Madu River Boat Safari

In the Southern region of Sri Lanka lies the Galle district. Balpitiya is a little town in the district and would be quite unimportant; except for the location of a river. The Madu River is very rich in biodivesity. It passes through the wet zone of Sri Lanka opening up into the large Madu Lagoon on its way to the Indian Ocean.

A Look into Madu River
The Mangroves and their Ecology – Facts

The Madu River area surrounding the river are all swampy marshlands covered in mangrove forests.
The forest covers over 61 hectares, that is over 150 acres. 14 of the 24 species of mangroves are found in this area.
It is interesting to note that mangroves play a huge part in preventing erosion.
The value of the mangroves was understood in December 2004, during the devastating tsunami, when forest acted as a natural barrier protecting the region.
The large growths of mangrove trees have caused a chain of ecological gain. The soil protected by the mangrove trees is very fertile. This has caused a rich growth of other wetland plants.
Over 300 species, 19 of which are endemic, have been discovered so far.
The region continues to be a treasure trove to biologists and ecologists with many undiscovered species in the unreachable depths of the mangrove forests.
The plantlife in turn have supported a large number of wildlife that depends on them.
The largest animal in the region is the wild boar. There are other smaller animals such as monkeys, a variety of squirrels, etc.
When it comes to birds, cormorants and kingfishers are a common sight. For avid bird watchers, the mangrove forests are a dream coming true. There are over 111 bird species identified to inhabit the region.
There are 31 types of reptiles, namely snakes, lizards and crocodiles.
There are also over 50 kinds of butterflies and 25 kinds of molluscs found in the Madu River zone.
The cycle of ecology continues with relatively undisturbed in this region. The region is protected as a Ramsar Wetland Site since 2003. Here is the excerpt from the official Ramsar site that describes the Madu River zone:

“Maduganga. 11/12/03; Southern Province; 915 ha; 06 18’N 080 03’E. A mangrove lagoon joined to the sea by a narrow canal and containing 15 islands of varying size, some of which are inhabited. It is formed of two shallow waterbodies, Maduganga and smaller Randombe Lake, connected by two narrow channels. On the islands and shores relatively undisturbed mangrove vegetation contains a rich biodiversity qualifying the wetland for 7 Criteria of International Importance. Many globally/nationally endangered, endemic and rare species – e.g. Shorea affinis, an endemic and endangered plant, Mugger (Crocodylus palustris) vulnerable (IUCN Red Book) and CITES-listed Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus vetulus), endangered, Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata), Indian Python (Python molurus) find shelter here. The lagoon provides the breeding, spawning and fattening ground for many fish species and supports 1.2 % of the Little Green Heron biogeographical population. The cultural heritage is very prominent, with numerous ancient temples in the area and on the islands. Maduganga helps in flood control by storing water during monsoon rains and retains nutrient run-off from nearby cinnamon plantations. The major occupation of the local people is fishing and agriculture (cinnamon and coconut). Poaching of wild animals and waterfowl is unfortunately increasing, and extensive use of fertilisers and consequent abundant growth of invasive species, e.g. Najas marinas or Annona glabra, are factors of concern. Part of a Coastal Resources Management Project funded by the Dutch Government – ADB, with a management plan expected in 2006. Ramsar site no. 1372. Most recent RIS information: 2003.”
The Islands and their Charms
With most of the area being soggy wetlands, the solid landmass of the region mainly consists of islands. History states there used to be 64 islands along Madu River. However most seem to have sunk under the water, as only 25 islands are reported today. Of these islands only 15 have a sizable landmass.

Some of the islands are inhabited, but all are covered in forests and shrubs. One of the larger inhabited islets, ‘Koth Duwa’, houses a Buddhist Temple that dates back to the days of the oldest kings of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile two other islets bear the history of the the country by having been the refuges to two different kings, King Dhathusena and King Mugalan.

The main source of economy for the locals of the Madu Ganga (River) region is the cinnamon industry. The freshly cinnamon is brought here to be peeled. By default, this also means that the best quality cinnamon can be purchased at bargain prices here.

Those who are not in the cinnamon industry, earn from fishing or as boat guides. The fishermen either sit atop large branches planted in the water and fish using poles; or they tie nets between poles planted in the water to capture passing fish.

An interesting thing to be visited of the area is the Open-Air Fish Massage. The fish massage is quite popular around the world, especially in East Asian countries. The unique factor about this massage is that the fish are held in their natural environment, the river. A large space is sectioned off by nets tied between poles; restricting the fish from leaving that area. Other than that, they are free to move around. The client simply sits on a pier and dips his or her feet into the water.

The Madu River Safari is popular activity that has to be on the ‘to do’ list of any respectable Sri Lankan holiday goer. This unforgettable activity last for over two hours and gives a visitor a chance to travel the secretive passages through the mangrove forests and see the ecology.

Activities

Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari

Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari

This national park is one of the best places in the country to see wild elephants, which are often present in huge numbers. Dominated by the ancient Minneriya Wewa, the park has plenty of scrub, forest and wetlands in its 88.9 sq km to also provide shelter for toque macaques, sambar deer, buffalo, crocodiles and leopards (the latter are very rarely seen, however).

The dry season, from April to October, is reckoned to be the best time to visit (as by then water in the tank has dried up, exposing grasses and shoots to grazing animals). Elephants, which can number 200 or more, come to feed and bathe during what is known as ‘the Gathering’; and flocks of birds, such as little cormorants, painted storks, herons and large pelicans all fish in the shallow waters. However, it’s also possible to see large numbers of elephants here at other times of year, too; we saw over 100 in February when we visited.

The park entrance is on the Habarana–Polonnaruwa Rd. A visitor centre near the entrance sells tickets and has a few exhibits about the park’s natural history. The initial 40-minute drive (along a poor dirt road) into the heart of the park is through dense forest, where wildlife sightings are rare. But then the landscape opens up dramatically, and the views across the tank are superb. Early mornings are generally best for birds and late afternoon for elephants.

Activities

Traditional Village Tour

Traditional Village Tour

The Sigiriya Village Tour gives you a chance to experience traditional Sri Lanka with all its authenticity. Spend time with the villagers and understand village life. Engage in many village activities that form everyday life; such as an oxen cart ride, a catamaran ride and a walk through the fields. Learn to cook traditional Sri Lankan food. You will finish off with an exceptionally delicious buffet lunch, served in classic Sri Lankan style. This is your truly Sri Lankan holiday experience

What You Can Expect

You will be starting your Sigiriya Village Tour at 11:30 am. You will be provided with directions to the village, where you will be met by your tour guide at the time of starting. You will begin the first of your activities at approximately 11:45 am. The oxen cart is commonly used as the primary mode of transport in Sri Lankan villages. You will have a 15 minute oxen cart ride, ending at the banks of an artificial reservoir.

From this point, you will continue on to a 15 minute traditional catamaran ride. The area has many types of aquatic and plant life. You may be able to catch sight of an occasional crocodile or water monitor as you glide along. Another possible sighting are cormorants and other waterbirds.

You will then move back to the village and be introduced to a local, who will give you a half hour cooking demonstration on traditional Sri Lankan cooking. The demonstration will also allow you to make your own attempt at cooking a Sri Lankan dish.

You will be having lunch right after at 12:15 pm. Lunch will be a buffet of perfectly cooked rice with 6 traditionally cooked Sri Lankan curries and fresh fried fish. You will also have a green salad and crunchy papadum, practically an essential addition for meals in most Sri Lankan and Indian homes. You will be eating on woven trays with clean lotus leaves on top. Your food which will be cooked in the traditional way, in clay pots over wood fires.After the rather relaxing meal, you can spend some time in the village at your ease. Your tour guide will finish off your tour at 1:30 pm at the Sigiriya Village square.

Activities

Udawalawa National Park Jeep Safari

Udawalawa National Park Jeep Safari

Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. The reserve covers 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land area and was established on 30 June 1972. Before the designation of the national park, the area was used for shifting cultivation (chena farming). The farmers were gradually removed once the national park was declared. The park is 165 kilometres (103 mi) from Colombo. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan elephants. It is a popular tourist destination and the third most visited park in the country.

Physical Features
Udawalawe lies on the boundary of Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones. Plains dominate the topography, though there are also some mountainous areas. The Kalthota Range and Diyawini Falls are in the north of the park and the outcrops of Bambaragala and Reminikotha lie within it. The park has an annual rainfall of 1,500 millimetres (59 in), most of which falls during the months of October to January and March to May. The average annual temperature is about 27–28 °C (81–82 °F), while relative humidity varies from 70% to 82%. Well-drained reddish-brown soil is the predominant soil type, with poorly drained low humic grey soils found in the valley bottoms. Mainly alluvial soils form the beds of the water cources.

Ecology
The habitat surrounding at the reservoir includes marshes, the Walawe river and its tributaries, forests and grasslands. Dead trees standing in the reservoir are visual reminders of the extent of forest cover before the construction of the Udawalawe Dam. Green algae, including Pediastrum and Scenedesmus spp., and blue green algae species such as Microsystis, occur in the reservoir. Areas of open grassland are abundant as a result of former chena farming practices. There is a plantation of teak beyond the southern boundary, below the dam, which was planted before the declaration of the park. Species recorded from the park include 94 plants, 21 fish, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds (33 of which are migratory), and 43 mammals. Additionally 135 species of butterflies are among the invertebrates found in Udawalawe.

Flora
Hopea cordifolia, Memecylon petiolatum, Erythroxylon zeylanicum, and Jasminum angustifolium are endemic floral species recorded from the park. Hopea cordifolia is found along the river along with Terminalia arjuna. Panicum maximum and Imperata cylindrica are important food sources for the elephants. Chloroxylon swietenia, Berrya cordifolia, Diospyros ebenum, Adina cordifolia, Vitex pinnata, Schleichera oleosa, and Diospyros ovalifolia are the common taller trees. Terminalia bellirica and Phyllanthus emblica are plants of medicinal value found in the forest. Cymbopogon confertiflorus grass species and Grewia tiliifolia bushes are common in the grasslands.

Fauna
Mammals

Udawalawe is an important habitat for Sri Lankan elephants, which are relatively hard to see in its open habitats. Many elephants are attracted to the park because of the Udawalawe reservoir, with a herd of about 250 believed to be permanently resident. The Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home was established in 1995 for the purpose of looking after abandoned elephant calves within the park. A total of nine calves, on two occasions in 1998 and 2000, with another eight calves in 2002, were released in the park when old enough to fend for themselves.

The rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat and Sri Lankan leopard are members of the family Felidae present in Udawalawe. The Sri Lankan sloth bear is seldom seen because of its rarity. Sri Lankan sambar deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, Indian muntjac, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain, wild boar and water buffalo are among other mammal species. Golden jackal, Asian palm civet, toque macaque, tufted grey langur and Indian hare also inhabit the park. A study conducted in 1989 found that considerable numbers of golden palm civets inhabit the forests of Udawalawe. Five species of mice also have been recorded from the park. The endemic Ceylon spiny mouse, known from Yala National Park, was recorded in Udawalawe in 1989. Indian bush rat and three species of mongoose are also recorded in the national park.

Birds

Udawalawe is also a good birdwatching site. Endemics such as Sri Lanka spurfowl, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, brown-capped babbler, and Sri Lanka junglefowl are among of the breeding resident birds. White wagtail and black-capped kingfisher are rare migrants. A variety of water birds visit the reservoir, including cormorants, the spot-billed pelican, Asian openbill, painted stork, black-headed ibis and Eurasian spoonbill.

The open parkland attracts birds of prey such as white-bellied sea eagle, crested serpent-eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, booted eagle, and changeable hawk-eagle. Landbirds are in abundance, and include Indian roller, Indian peafowl, Malabar pied hornbill and pied cuckoo.

Reptiles and Fish
Oriental garden lizards, painted-lip lizards, mugger crocodiles, Asian water monitors, Bengal monitors and 30 species of snake are found in the park. Garra ceylonensis is an endemic fish species recorded in park. Introduced Oreochromis spp., giant gourami, catla, and rohu are important food fish species found in the reservoir.

Activities

Whale Watching

Whale Watching


Come watch, study and photograph the largest creatures on earth, the Whales at Dondra Point in Mirissa, a destination famed for some of the finest Whale and Dolphin sightings in the world.

Mirissa situated in the southern coast of Sri Lanka is the closest point to the continental shelf and on the migratory route of Whales as they move closer to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, primarily to breed.

Take an exciting yet comfortable boat trip out to sea and be fortunate to see Blue Whales; the largest creatures on earth, Bryde’s Whales, Sperm Whales, Killer Whales and Fin Whales. You can also meet pods of friendly Dolphins such as the Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Spinner dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and striped dolphins as they playfully somersault and dance on the ocean waves. There’s also a good chance of seeing flying fish, turtle, manta rays and even sharks.

The best time to Whale watch is between November and April each year. Take back beautiful memories of the gentle giants of the ocean; it’s a once-in-lifetime experience!

Activities

Yala National Park Jeep Safari

Yala National Park Jeep Safari

Yala National Park, one of Sri Lanka’s premier eco tourism destinations, lies 24km northeast of Tissamaharama and 290km from Colombo on the southeast coast of Sri  Lanka, spanning a vast 97,878 hectares over the Southern and Uva Provinces. The vegetation in the park comprises predominantly of semi-arid thorny scrub, interspersed with pockets of fairly dense secondary forest. Small patches of mangrove vegetation also occur along the coastal lagoons. The park is renowned for the variety of its Wildlife (most notably its many elephants) and its fine coastline (with associated coral reefs). It also boasts a large number of important cultural ruins, bearing testimony to earlier civilizations and indicating that much of the area used to be populated and well developed. This is the park where the Sri Lankan Leopard locally known as Kotiya is one of the eight known subspecies of leopard is living. It is thought to be one of the largest, although research is still to confirm this. Its coat  is tawny or rusty yellow; stamped with dark spots and rosettes a recent study has shown that Yala (Ruhunu) National Park,  Block 1 has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world.