A travel guide to plan your next adventure
Sri Lanka in January
January is an excellent month to visit Sri Lanka, with plenty of sunshine and little rain along the southern and western coasts, however, rain is likely farther north and east, particularly in coastal areas. Temperatures will be approximately 30°C on average.
The population of Blue Whales seen around Sri Lanka are believed to be around the
Indian ocean with frequent sightings off Mirissa (November - April) and Trincomalee
(March - April) with intermittent sightings up to September.
Spinner Dolphins are resident to Sri Lankan waters. Kalpitiya is the best location
to view them while they are also seen in Mirissa on most days between November
through to April. Dolphin watching in Trincomalee is between March-October.
Marine Turtles can be seen nesting in Rekawa. Olive Ridley Turtles nest between
November - January, while Green Turtles nest from March - July. Leatherback,
Loggerhead and Hawksbill Turtles have been recorded nesting but are infrequently
The best time for snorkeling and diving on the west coast from Kalpitiya all the way to Tangalle on
the south coast is once the south-west monsoon has receded which is between November through to
Mid April each year.
Leopards can be seen year-round in Yala, Kumana and Wilpattu National Parks. The wet
season is from November - March when you get the lush green jungle habitats and the
dry-season is from May - September when the big cats can be found close to the
Yala and Wilpattu National Parks are the most reliable locations for watching the
shaggy coated Sloth Bear. Although seen year-round, sightings improve between May -
June when fruits such as Palu and Weera ripen and in the dry season which extends
all the way through to September.
Solitary bulls and small herds of females and their young can be seen year-round in most
of Sri Lanka's dry-zone national parks. Uda Walawe offers virtually guaranteed elephant
sightings year-round and is best visited during the dry season when the herds congregate
by the water between June - September.
Primate watching is year-round across the country. Toque Macaques and Grey Langurs
can be seen across the lowlands. Purple-faced Leaf Monkey can be seen in the rain
forests, highlands in the outskirts of towns on the west coast and in pockets of
forested areas in the dry-zone. The elusive Slender Loris can be seen during
nocturnal nature tours. The cultural triangle is the best region in the country for
viewing primates, where all Eight species of Monkey and the Slender Loris is also
Mugger Crocodile can be seen year-round in lakes and the dry-zone National Parks.
The larger Estuatine Crocodile is rarer and can be seen in Bundala National Park and
in waterways in the outskirts of Colombo. During the dry season between the months
of July through to September, large congregations of Mugger Crocodiles can be seen
in the waterholes and lakes in Yala National Park.
34 endemics and a further 17 species which are declared as subcontinental endemics
can be found year-round in Sri Lanka. The majority of species are found within the
lowland rainforests and the cloud forests which are geographically isolated
habitats. The highlight are the mixed species birdflocks in Sinharaja which are
popularly referred to as birdwaves.
The months of November to March are considered as the best period for birding across the island with the arrival of over a 100 different species of migrants.
Mannar and Jaffna in the North offer some of the best birding for migrant ducks, waders as well as the Greater Flamingo.
Dragonflies and Damselflies can be seen year-round in the island in wetlands,
lagoons, river banks, lakes and other water bodies. There are 124 species with over
half these species being endemic. Visiting sites such as Talangama wetlands,
Sigiriya moat, Sinharaja, Kithulgala, Horton Plains and Yala will cover a number of
different habitats enabling you to see a large diversity of dragonflies.
A number of rare pelagics which are seldom seen in the mainland including Skuas, Noddies, Storm Petrels and Shearwaters maybe observed when out
on whale and dolphin watching expeditions from Mirissa, Kalpitiya and Trincomalee. The best time for watching these rare pelagics is during the month of April.
With over 245 species including 23 endemics, Sri Lanka is an excellent year-round
destination for butterfly watching. Realistically over a hundred species can be
encountered during a butterfly watching holiday of around 10 days. Swarms of 'white
and yellow' butterflies can be seen in the dry-zone around February and March at the
end of the wet season.
Taking place over a period of 2 days in mid January, Thai Pongal is a Hindu festival which pays tribute to
the Sun God Surya and the cattle that plough the fields over the past year. There are festivities and fireworks
and pongol, a sweet rice dish is served in Hindu homes to celebrate this harvest festival.
This Perahera is held around the complex of the sacred Kelani Raja Maha Vihara and commemorates the first of the Buddha's
three visits to the island. The Perahara takes place on the Duruthu Full Moon Poya day in January each year.
The start of the Adam's Peak pilgrimage season commences on the Unduvap Poya day falling in December.
Also known as Sangamitta Day, it marks the day when Sangamitta, King Asoka's daughter carried the
sacred Bo Tree sapling from India across to Sri Lanka, which was planted in Anuradhapura. The sapling
is believed to be a cutting from the Bo Tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment. The pilgrimage
continues for a period of five months and ends on the Bak poya day in April.
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