Tour with Malcom Family from USA

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Sri Lanka becomes ideal wedding destination

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Sri Lanka as a destination has been promoted under two new themes at the World Travel Market (WTM), one of the largest global travel and tourism events at the London ExCel Exhibition Centre.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) launched two key promotional themes at the WTM ‘Sri Lanka -Ideal Wedding Destination’ and Cricket during their four day hard promoting events towards one million arrivals by the end of this year.

The Sri Lankan delegation at WTM, comprises of nearly 125 members, representing 53 destination management companies in the hotel and resorts sector. During WTM 2012, exclusive media interviews will take place with the view of promoting Sri Lanka under the main theme of ‘Wonder of Asia,’ whilst enhancing the two sub themes of promoting Sri Lanka as an ideal destination for weddings and honeymoons and also as a destination for cricket. Accordingly, during the first two days of the exhibition, a traditional wedding ceremony, enriched with customs was featured at the stall, providing an ideal opportunity for visitors to witness the culturally-rich traditions of Sri Lanka. SLTPB will focus on promoting Sri Lanka as a cricketing destination on the third day of the exhibition, during which stall staff and exhibitors will wear Sri Lanka Cricket T-shirts.

Sri Lanka Cricket T-shirts and miniature bats will be distributed to visitors to the stall and SLTPB has also invited the English Cricket Board, main cricket clubs and their presidents to grace the event by contributing to the planned raffle draws. In addition, a programme to promote Ceylon Tea will be held at the time of the exhibition, providing a rare chance to the visitors to enjoy a cup of pure Ceylon Tea.

Tour with Austria Family

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Tour with Melgiri Family from India

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Tour with Lolga & Leisha from Russia

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EXPLORE THE WILD

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It’s dark. I’m lying on bed, listening to the unfamiliar sounds of the Sri Lankan night. Crickets chirr, frogs croak and from time to time there is a rustling noise from above the tent roof – monkeys jumping from tree to tree. The jungle lulls me to sleep.

It’s my first night in a spacious tent in the jungle, just outside the borders of Yala National Park, in the southern east of the island. Block I of the park is famous for its high leopard density – one of the highest worldwide. It’s estimated that island-wide 600 to 900 wild leopards live in Sri Lanka in total; hence it’s not surprising that several tour operators offer safaris and overnight stays here.

As I always wanted to explore the wild, my trip to this beautiful island was the perfect opportunity for this adventure. The online review site TripAdvisor helped me chose one tour operator – Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris who are ranking number one. After the first night in the camp it’s time to get up very early.

After enjoying the morning coffee before sunrise it is time for my first ever safari. Together with the small group of friendly other guests I board one of the half-open vehicles, huge Toyota Land Cruisers.

It’s still dark, when our adventure starts. Already driving to the national park is fun, as everybody is excited about what we will experience today. The park welcomes us with a splendid sunrise. The sky turns red, orange and yellow and the first sunrays announce another wonderfully warm day. On the thrilling ride on the sandy and here and there bumpy road I can watch and hear the morning turn to life. Bird and monkey sounds make me curious about seeing more. Having stopped at a waterhole, our tour guide and personal wildlife expert Sajith shows us numerous bird species – egrets, painted storks and the colorful bee-eaters bustle on the waterhole. The guide points at the water and says: ‘Look! Can you see the crocodile over there?’ No, we can’t. Suddenly a trunk in the water begins to move and opens its mouth. What a surprise – everybody giggles.

On our further journey we pass some more water holes which seem to be a real relief for the thirsty animals. I learn many interesting facts about the park and its inhabitants, for example that not all of the waterholes here are from a natural origin. Some got built by the wildlife department, others were privately funded. These artificial waterholes get filled with water during the dry season and ensure that less wild animals die during the period of dryness and heat.

Being glad about the variety of animals, I enjoy watching different wild creatures that I have only known from magazines and zoos. It is nearly impossible to count the species I see during the thrilling game drive: a trustful wild boar family stands at the way, hundreds of beautiful butterflies raise themselves into the air, lazy water buffalos stare at us calmly and a nervous flock of spotted deer grazes beneath the road. Nature displays itself in all its beauty so that I overlook the fact generously, that I didn’t see a single leopard so far. Provided with snacks and drinks in the jeeps, I nevertheless look forward to the breakfast that awaits our group at the peaceful campsite. Protected from the shimmering heat by a shade-giving tree I indulge in sumptuous delicacies. I shall notice that a meal in the wilderness is everything but Spartan. Not only the fresh and fruity breakfast, but also lunch and dinner are freshly prepared and made from local products and taste exotic and delicious. The time between morning and afternoon safari flies by. I talk to interesting people from all over the world, have a rest in a hammock and enjoy the service of the friendly camp staff.

The highlight of my day is the evening safari. Not only due to a dancing peacocks and a hole-digging land monitor this safari tour will stick in my memory forever. Also the bull elephant that suddenly breaks out of the bushes and blocks the road is something I will never forget. On top of this we were very lucky, because this specific bull had long tusks, what is rare to see. Only 5 to 6 percent of the male Asian elephants still have tusks. In former times the number of tuskers was much higher. The decrease of this number was effected by humans, who hunted for the ivory tusks as trophies, whereby the gene pool of the Asian elephants carrying tusks got smaller and smaller. Fortunately, the tusker stayed for a quick photo before he disappeared into the vastness of the jungle.

Already slightly discouraged to see a leopard, our experienced guide told us that it’s slowly time to return to the camp. I gave up hope of ever seeing a leopard in the wild. But then the car got faster, so that the dust swirled up and we stopped at a sunlit rock. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the most gracious living being looked straight into the direction of the car: A leopard basking in the sun. The successful day ends with a barbecue and a tasty glass of wine at a bonfire at the campsite. The perfect mix of adventure and relaxation makes me sure: This was my first trip to Noel’s camp in the jungle, but certainly not my last.

Tour with Ezgi & Ridkan

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gallery2

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Bird watching sri lanka

BIRD WATCHING

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SRI LANKA A TRUE BIRDERS PARADISE

Sri Lanka is a paradise island with remarkable bio-diversity. Sri Lanka though it is a small country the magnitude of bio-diversity is very high. Because of this, the paradise country is ranked 10th highest in the bio-diversification. Also Sri Lanka is a tropical island which is close to the equator and the geographical change is dramatic. This geographical variation is led to many ecological systems which has become the natural habitats of many species.

Also Sri Lanka is ranked amongst the world’s twenty fifth bio-diversity hot spot. In comparison with countries of it size, Sri Lanka has a high density of species of avifauna. More than 453 species have been recorded including the migrants. Around three quarter of these species of birds are endemic to Sri Lanka and simply cannot find anywhere in the world. As per the counts there are 237 breading residents, 216 migrants and out of which 33 species and 68 sub species are endemic to this island. When time to come, these numbers may increase with the research work on avifauna.

 

It is a fact that Sri Lanka also has been recognized as a birders paradise. Most of the avifauna are found in the wet and hill zones. The rest is found in the dry zones. The winter migrants comes to Sri Lanka with the help of the North East monsoons in October and they reside until the South West monsoons which comes during the month of May where the migrants will travel back to their own destinations. Large number of migrant bird species which annually move from the “Northern Autumn winter” to the tropics along the “Central Asia Flyway” and their Southern journey ends in Sri Lanka. Some of the migrants travel from distant Siberia and Western Europe. In 2010 our Ornithologists have detected more than one million aquatic birds (show birds) at Vidattativu Laggon near Mannar area. Lester Perera, Isuru De Zoysa, and I detected close to four thousand Pallas’s Gulls (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) the largest member of the Gull family in Mandathive Island – Jaffna in 2013.

CENTRAL ASIAN FLYWAY

The Central Asian Flyway (CAF) has also been referred to as the Central Asian-Indian Flyway and the Central Asian-South Asian Flyway. It covers a large continental area of Eurasia between the Arctic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the associated island chains. The CAF comprises several important migration routes of waterbirds, most of which extend from the northernmost breeding grounds in Siberia to the southernmost non-breeding wintering grounds in West Asia, South Asia, the Maldives and the British Indian Ocean Territory. The concept of flyway is essentially an operational concept linked to waterfowl whose populations one wishes to manage over their entire migration space.

CENTRAL ASIAN, EAST ASIANAUSTRALASIAN, AND WEST PACIFIC MIGRATORY BIRD FLYWAYS

The CAF range is essentially centered on one of the three major wintering areas of waterfowl in the Old World, namely the Indian subcontinent, the other two being Africa, in territory of the African-Eurasian Flyway (AEWA) to the west, and southeast Asia in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway (EAAF) to the east. These wintering areas are geographically separate, and present entirely different ecological, historical and cultural situations. The flyway covers 30 countries of North, Central and South Asia and Trans-Caucasus. The northern catchment area of CAF inevitably overlaps, and considerably overlaps, with both those of AEWA and EAAF, mostly within a single country, the Russian Federation, though sixteen of the 30 countries encompassed by the CAF are located in the AEWA area. They are: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China People’s Republic of, Georgia, Iran Islamic Republic of, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom Chagos Islands and Uzbekistan. The remaining countries in the Central Asian Flyway are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iraq, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Qatar and Yemen.

The Central Asian Flyway covers at least 279 migratory water bird populations of 182 species, including 29 globally threatened species and near threatened species that breed, migrate and spend the non-breeding winter period within the region. Species such as the Baer’s Pouchard Critically endangered. Northern Bald Ibis, Whitebellied

Heron, Baer’s Pochard and Endangered. Greater Adjutant and vulnerable – Black-necked Crane, Indian Skimmer, Lesser Adjutant, Masked Finfoot, Socotra Cormorant, Wood Snipe and near threatened. Black-headed Ibis, Lesser Flamingo, Pygmy Cormorant, White-eyed Gull are completely or largely restricted to the Central Asian Flyway range.

There are many strong birding clubs in the word. I have met many birders from Holland and they are directly connected to many bird clubs in the world. If we really target in this field it will not be difficult to achieve the goals by introducing a new concept on bird watching here in Sri Lanka. Though it may be a new concept to Sri Lanka but to the travellers it is not because they have come here many times for this purpose. Cairns Bird watching club – Australia, Panama, Bhutan, Papua new Guinia, Bornio, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Of Spain, Ecuador, Cape May – USA, Peru, India, South Africa, Belgium, Netherlands, UK are some of the counties that has very strong bird watching clubs and they travels right round the world and minimum stay in a country not less than seven days. Some members of Dutch B W C stayed almost close to month in Sri Lanka. The information above proves that Sri Lanka Is A True Birders Paradise.

WHY SRI LANKA IS IMPORTANT ON ASIAN MIGRATORY BIRD FLYWAY

Sri Lanka is the southernmost land mass of the Central Asian Flyway and is the final destination of many migratory birds exiting the eastern and western Indian flyways and the Andamon islands. The Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka has declared four Ramsar sites and declared other Protected Areas in Sri Lanka which are wetlands habitats of migratory water birds. These include: Anawilundawa Sanctuary, Bellanwilla – Attidiya Sanctuary, Bundala National Park, Gal Oya National Park, Giants’ Tank Sanctuary, Kumana National Park, Muthurajawela Sanctuary and Yala National Park.

Bird distribution in Sri Lanka is largely determined by its climatic zones. The dry zone is largest of the three, covering more than half of the area of the island, with a prolonged dry and hot period and only one monsoon (the northeast monsoon from October to January). The wet zone, with two monsoons, is in the southwestern quarter of the island, where the few remaining rain forests are found and humidity is high.

The central hill zone rises to over 2450 m (8-10,000 ft) and has a cool temperate climate. Most of the 26 endemic species are confined to the wet and the hill zones, with only a few extending into the dry zone as well, and below given the list of some of the endemic bird species in Sri Lanka.

  1. Lanka Spurfowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata)
  2. Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl (Gallus lafayettii) National bird of Sri Lanka
  3. Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon (Columba torringtoniae)
  4. Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus)
  5. Layards Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae)
  6. Red Faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus)
  7. Sri Lanka Green Billed Coucal (Centropus chlororhynchos)
  8. Serendib Scop Owl (Otus thilohoffmanni)
  9. Chestnut Backed Owlet (Glaucidium castanotum)
  10. Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis)
  11. Sri Lanka Yellow Fronted Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica)
  12. Black – Capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus)
  13. Sri Lanka Spot – Winged Thrush (Zoothera spiloptera)
  14. Sri Lanka Thrush (Zoothera imbricate)
  15. Sri Lanka Bush Warbler (Bradypterus palliseri)
  16. Sri Lanka Dull Blue Flycatcher (Eumyias sordidus)
  17. Brown Capped Barbbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillus)
  18. Sri Lanka Orange Billed Barbbler (Turdoides rufescens)
  19. Sri Lanka Scimitar Barbbler (Pomatorhinus melanurus)
  20. Ashy Headed Laughingthrush (Garrulax cinereifrons)
  21. Sri Lanka White Eye (Zosterops ceylonensis)
  22. Sri Lanka Bleu Magpie (Urocissa ornata)
  23. Sri Lanka White Faced Starling (Sturnornis albofrontatus)
  24. Sri Lanka Hill Mynah (Gracula ptilogenys)
  25. Black – Throated Munia (Lonchura malacca)
  26. Sri Lanka Green Pigeon (Treron pompadora)
  27. Sri Lanka Woodshrike (Tephrodornis [pondicerianus] affinis)
  28. Crimson – Backed Goldenback Woodpecker (Chrysocolaptes stricklandi)

 

The bird watching in Sri Lanka will seduce bird enthusiasts. Kumana, Singharaja, Horton Planes, Udawaththa Keley (Kandy), Bellanwila (heart of the city), Muthrajawela, Minneruya, Kawdulla, Kitulgala, Minipe, Adamspeak, Yala, Udawalawe, Wilpaththu, Kottawa cum Piliyanadala area, Roomassala, Galoya are some of the famous places for Ornithologists to observe and study about the feathered friends. Other than the above mentioned locations generally entire Sri Lanka is a place for bird watching. I have observed many birds (other than the forest birds) from my garden at home (Close to the city) and many local birders also must have experienced the same.

There are key things to know before you step out for bird watching program.

  1. Bird watching is a group or individual activity.
  2. Dress in green, khaki or brown so that you can easily hide from their sight.
  3. Silence is golden and it is very important. A “first timer” in to this activity must clearly keep it in mind. Most of the birders mainly concentrate on the call of the species and the observation is done thereafter. Good Ornithologist always keeps their eyes and ears open to nature. If you disturb him by talking or any other means he may lose the best part of the program. All you can do is to follow him/her and write down notes (if possible do up a small sketch of the specimen) to ask questions at the end of the program to clear your doubts.
  4. Patience is important
  5. Wellbeing and comfort of the birds are important and also the anticipation too important.
  6. Be prepared with relevant information.
  7. Start early in the morning.
  8. Make notes and location references if you have a GPS it will be an added help to your program.
  9. Field Guide is always useful.
  10. Try to remember the local names too.

Sri Lanka a land like no other is a pearl in the Indian Ocean. Blend of beautiful nature creations like sunny beaches, misty hills, rain forests, valleys etc. It is a Paradise for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts because of the rich bio diversity. This splendid country is famous not only because of the cultural triangle but for wildlife too. It is the duty to protect this golden land from pollution, and to avoid taking any environmentally unhealthy materials when you are taking part in these activities.

**(Certain information regarding recent research on the above been gathered by Wikipedia website and the fundamental information are gathered from the literature of Leggy, Phillips and GM Hendry). Also from bottom of my heart I must very much thank the Top Management Viz Mr. Rahula Dassanaieke (MD) and Mrs. Shyami Dassanaieke (Directress) for the support that they rendered to me to go ahead with this article. No doubt “The Other Corner” is a true birders paradise and 75% of my bird photography is done in the hotel premises.

 

Source from Future Magazine

Habarana

Habarana

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A base for visitors

Habarana is an important crossroads, with roads extending southwest to Colombo or Kandy, northwest to Anuradhapura and Jaffna, northeast to Trincomalee, and southwest to Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa. Habarana is a busy transport junction and is easily reached by bus from all directions. It takes 5 hours by bus from Colombo and nearly four hours from Kandy. The train station is 2km north of Habarana junction and is on the Colombo – Batticaloa line. There are connections with Colombo, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa. If you travel by your own transport, it would be easy to combine the drive south with a stop at the Dambulla Cave Temple, and perhaps Aluwihare. There are regular busses from Habarana to Dambulla and Dambulla to Kandy.

Travellers often spend a night here, though apart from a scattering of hotels and rest houses and its accessibility, it has little to offer. It is, however a good base for visiting a number of sights in the area including some of the region’s most inspiring treasures. Most spectacular of all is the astonishing Sigiriya Rock, atop which lie the remains of a sort of fifthcentury playboy’s palace, complete with pin-ups in the form of its famous frescoes of semi-clad women. No less remarkable are some nearby Buddhists sites: cave paintings at Dambulla: Aukana’s sublime monolithic Buddha; and the ancient monastery at Ritigala, hidden deep within the jungle. Three national parks, around the tanks at Kaudulla and Minnariya, are close by though shop around for jeeps, elephant safaris are also available.

KAUDULLA NATIONAL PARK

Kaudulla National Park was designated a national park ans was open to the public in 2002 becoming the 15th such area on the island. Historically Kaudulla was one of the 16 irrigation tanks built by King Mahasen. Following a period of abandonment it was reconstructed in 1959. It now attracts and supports a variety of plant and animal life, including large mammals, fish and reptiles.

The region receives an annual rainfall of 1,500–2,000 millimetres including rain from the north-east monsoon. A dry period persists from April to October. Temperature ranges from 20.6 °C (69.1 °F) to 34.5 °C (94.1 °F). Many plant and grass species grow well during the rainy season whilst an abundance of food and water, even in the dry period, attracts a large number of herbivorous mammals to the park.

The turn off for the park is at 17km north of Habarana at Hatarasgoduwa from where it is a 5km ride to the visitor centre. Outside the dry season, elephants are easier to see from the main Habarana – Trincomalee road. These are there preferred feeding grounds due to the lushness of the vegetation.

HURULU ECO PARK

On the Habarana to Trincomalee road, Hurulu Eco Park is often suggested an an alternative when it’s too wet to Kaudulla and Minneriya. Part of Hurulu Forest Reserve, which was designated as a biosphere reserve in January 1977, it is a good place to see elephants and for birdwatching.

At the moment the park covers an area of 10,000 hectares but there are plans for expansion. The area open to visitors is a drive of around 22 km from the Habarana end. There are four waterways that run through the park and their sources are streams that have sprung up and joined together. Some are connected to the Hurulu Wewa. Thus the park has been named Hurulu Eco Park as all wild life here is sustained through these waters. The waterways that run through the Hurulu Eco Park are invaluable to the many elephants.

MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK

East of Habarana on Polonnaruwa road. Minneriya National Park is in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area was designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The reason for declaring the area as protected is to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The tank is of historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in third century AD. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts. Along with Kaudulla and Girithale, Minneriya forms one of the 70 Important Bird Areas of Sri Lanka. The park is situated 182 kilometres from Colombo.

Large numbers of elephants are attracted to grass fields on the edges of the reservoir during the dry season. The Minneriya tank contributes to sustain a large herd of elephants. Individuals of elephants gathered here is numbering around 150- 200. Some reports account number of elephants to as high as 700. They migrate here from Wasgamuwa National Park and benefited from food and shelter of the park’s forest. Tourists visit Minneriya largely because of elephants, especially in dry season from May – October.

RITIGALA

From Habarana follow the A11 for 22km west towards Maradankadawala/Anuradhapura, taking a right turn at Galapitagala for 5km where an ancient rock-cut path leads to the site. Ritigala is an ancient Buddhist monastery and mountain in Sri Lanka. The ruins and rock inscriptions of the monastery date back to 1st century BC. It is located 43 km away from the ancient monastic city of Anuradhapura. As you enter the site, you’ll clamber over ruined steps leading down the now overgrown two acre bathing tank, the Banda Pokuna. Over an original stone bridge, follow a part-restored pathway, laid with interlocking ashlar, to the first major clearing, the monastery hospital, where you can see the remains of a stone bed, oil bath and medicine grinder. The next set of ruins is believed to be a library, now partly restored, and perched atop a rock with magnificent views across to the jungle below. Beyond here you come to the monastery, where you’ll find the distinctive raised double-platforms, characteristic of Ritigala and other forest monasteries.

Ritigala Mountain rises to an elevation of 2513 feet, higher than the other main tourist attractions of the north central plains, namely Sigiriya, Dambulla and Mihintale. The significance of this topographical feature lies in the abrupt sheerness of the massif, its wooded slopes and wet micro climate at the summit. During the North East monsoon (December to February), Ritigala experiences the highest rainfall (125 cm) of entire dry zone. The wet micro climate at Ritigala is a singular occurrence in the north central plains, the ancient Sri Lanka’s “Wewe Bandi Rata” meaning “the land of rainwater reservoirs” in Sinhalese.