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Old Friday 11th August 2017, 05:51   #1
simmojunior
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September Sri Lanka DIY

Hi,

My work are being amazing and sending me to work in Colombo for a week in September and have the opportunity to take some time off afterwards. I'll be free from the evening of Friday 22nd for up to 4 or 5 days (can be less but unfortunately more). I appreciate it is not the best time of year but I do not get to decide that!

I have a tight budget and assume I will be travelling on my own. Has anyone got any suggestions about what I should do / where I should go? I'm thinking of taking the bus to Kitulgala for two nights and then maybe going somewhere else? I am not prepared to hire a car in Sri Lanka although happy to hire a car and driver for a day or so if it is cheap enough.

Have never birded in Sri Lanka but have been birdwatching in India and Malaysia. If anyone, wants to team up, do get in touch!

Thanks,

Oli
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Old Saturday 12th August 2017, 04:36   #2
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In Sri Lanka it's often cheaper to hire a driver/guide/accommodation through a company like Baurs (there are a couple of other companies) than doing it yourself.
http://baurstravels.com/

Kitulgala is probably the best single spot for birds (great choice!) and has comfortable accommodation as well. Sinharaja is fairly near to Kitugala but only ~ 3 specialty species (that you really can only get with ease here). Hmmm really to see Sri Lanka you need at least 2 weeks traveling around - I think I was there for 3 weeks. My suggestion is to enjoy Kitugala and also go up into the nearby hills for various uncommon specialties that most people look for elsewhere and then 1 night at Sinharaja. I saw all 3 specialties in Sinharaja within 1/2 an hr of birding, but there are lots of uncommon species there which will likely be new for you. I advise buying Leech socks.

This chap sometimes does private guiding or may be able to advise you better:

https://www.facebook.com/chaminda.dilruk

BTW if you are able to find another week (without loosing your job!!) then you really could blitz Sri lanka with a driver/guide and probably get most if not all of the endemics and the vast majority of the other specialties. I was fortunate to see practically everything - I think I missed a Streak-throated Woodpecker (easier elsewhere) and crab plover.
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Old Saturday 12th August 2017, 05:33   #3
simmojunior
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Originally Posted by cassowary View Post
In Sri Lanka it's often cheaper to hire a driver/guide/accommodation through a company like Baurs (there are a couple of other companies) than doing it yourself.
http://baurstravels.com/

Kitulgala is probably the best single spot for birds (great choice!) and has comfortable accommodation as well. Sinharaja is fairly near to Kitugala but only ~ 3 specialty species (that you really can only get with ease here). Hmmm really to see Sri Lanka you need at least 2 weeks traveling around - I think I was there for 3 weeks. My suggestion is to enjoy Kitugala and also go up into the nearby hills for various uncommon specialties that most people look for elsewhere and then 1 night at Sinharaja. I saw all 3 specialties in Sinharaja within 1/2 an hr of birding, but there are lots of uncommon species there which will likely be new for you. I advise buying Leech socks.

This chap sometimes does private guiding or may be able to advise you better:

https://www.facebook.com/chaminda.dilruk

BTW if you are able to find another week (without loosing your job!!) then you really could blitz Sri lanka with a driver/guide and probably get most if not all of the endemics and the vast majority of the other specialties. I was fortunate to see practically everything - I think I missed a Streak-throated Woodpecker (easier elsewhere) and crab plover.
I do not have another week but think I can negotiate flying back on 29th at the latest. I have been getting quotes from driver / guides but they start at around $750 for the 5 days. This is far too much and reflects that I will be travelling on my own. I really only want to spend half this so not sure what else I can do other than buses. My main trip is going to be November in north Peru and need to save funds for that - this is just a last minute addition following work's decision.

Thanks,

Oli
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Old Saturday 12th August 2017, 08:12   #4
cassowary
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Well it sounds like you are a widely traveled birder. If you get to Kitugala you should bump into other birders & guides though they may not he too keen to point out the various roosts for the owls etc...
a couple of links - I'm guessing you know how to use.

http://ebird.org/ebird/barchart?byr=...&emo=11&r=LK-9

http://ebird.org/ebird/barchart?byr=...05542,L5121152
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Old Wednesday 16th August 2017, 08:36   #5
Dave Williams
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Train travel and taxi might be the way to go.Both, especially trains are very cheap and could be used for the greatest distances.
I have been to Sri Lanka three times and thoroughly enjoyed each visit but as I travel with my non birding wife I have never been to the Sinharaja area as it's not really on the route to anywhere else.
If you would describe yourself as an out and out birder who wants to tick off the endemics then I imagine this is the place to go but getting there and where you access the forest is apparently important. No doubt you can research the answers for that
Where you go and what you see is dependant on the season so you need to check out specific areas to compare rainfall etc but if I had just 4 days I would head for Yala and Bundala in the far south, then head to Mirissa on the coast for a whale watching trip ( if indeed September is a viable time)
Possibly the cheapest option would be to hop on a train north to Kalpitya where you can go dolphin watching ( need to check the season) and easily arrange taxis to Wilpattu NP and stay there for a day or two
You can take a look at my blogs on SL if it helps give you an idea.
Lucky you, have a great few days.Dave.
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Old Thursday 17th August 2017, 18:59   #6
simmojunior
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Thanks Dave. Looks like I'll have a week in the end (evening of 22nd until morning of 29th though need to be back in Colombo afternoon of 28th). Yala is unfortunately shut in September.

I've been quoted a slightly less silly $805 by Baur's B & B only but it's still too much especially as it is only B & B and I'd need a night either side. Sinharaja looks a right faff without a guide so I'm thinking 3 nights Kitulgula, 2 nights Nuwara Eliya and 1 night Kandy or similar. Will keep looking.
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Old Thursday 17th August 2017, 19:21   #7
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Originally Posted by simmojunior View Post
Thanks Dave. Looks like I'll have a week in the end (evening of 22nd until morning of 29th though need to be back in Colombo afternoon of 28th). Yala is unfortunately shut in September.

I've been quoted a slightly less silly $805 by Baur's B & B only but it's still too much especially as it is only B & B and I'd need a night either side. Sinharaja looks a right faff without a guide so I'm thinking 3 nights Kitulgula, 2 nights Nuwara Eliya and 1 night Kandy or similar. Will keep looking.
In 2007, I used Baurs who provided a driver / guide who had all the tapes etc for about 500quid for a week, accom on top. I thought it was a great deal tbh



A
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Old Thursday 17th August 2017, 22:20   #8
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With a vehicle and driver who knows the sites and is prepared to push the pace, a week is just about enough time to see all the endemics. Paying a bit more to do this might just save you the cost of another trip to Sri Lanka!

In any event, I would suggest doing Sinharaja rather than Kitulgala, even if it involves a bit more effort. Based on admittedly very limited experience, it was a much more productive site for us. It was the only place we saw e.g. White-faced Starling, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Green-billed Coucal, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Thrush and Serendib Scops Owl, and Sri Lanka Frogmouth.

Local guides at Sinharaja often have some of the trickier species staked-out (Scops, Frogmouth at day roost, Spurfowl coming to food etc), which can make for very efficient birding.

If you can't afford a vehicle for the whole week, you might be able to get Baurs to book Martin's Lodge, and organise transport to drop you off there, for a reasonable cost.
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Old Saturday 19th August 2017, 09:59   #9
Dave Williams
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Depending on wether you want to prioritise birding and ignore everything else, I think I might opt for a train travel aiming to visit Sigiriya which is an amazing rock fortress then on to the north east where the weather is best in September for Sri Lanka. It's something I haven't done though so I can't help any further but whereas the west coast isn't at it's best, Trincomalee should be enjoying sunshine with whale watching I think an option again. Looking at the map there are several nature reserves within striking distance too.
I'm not an out and out birder with only a little interest in tick lists so I might take a different view but Sinharaja in the rain would have little appeal to me. Viewing would be difficult, leeches at their worst, it's difficult and more expensive to reach.
Incidentally I have visited Nuwara Eliya on a wet day and it was depressing!
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