Duration & Dates
16 days (15 nights)
17th Nov to 2nd December 2023
Arrival & Departure
International flights to Sri Lanka
Wonderful picture opportunities
Special focus on frogs
Small group for individual attention
Over 100 amphibians and reptiles
Fully escorted by local guide
Fully escorted by UK photo guide
Members price £4,649
6 people per tour per 1 guide
Any visa's required
Meals not specified
Our ‘Frogs of Sri Lanka’ photography tour is a rare opportunity to travel to this beautiful country and photograph the breath-taking wildlife. The trip hopes to balance an almost unique level of focus on the frogs and smaller animals found in Sri Lanka, with other nature subjects, culminating in a final 3 days of ‘safari’ style expeditions in Wilpattu, where we will concentrate on iconic, bigger species such as Leopard and Asian Elephant.
Sri Lanka is recognized as an amphibian hotspot globally, there are known to be around 112 species on the island, of which almost 90% are found nowhere else on Earth. Of these 60% are considered threatened across this tropical island and this figure rises to over 70% when the small number of dry zone species are removed from consideration.
In recent times approximately 18 endemic species have been lost from the island for all the usual reasons including climate change and other anthropogenic factors. However, new discoveries are being made, both in the laboratory through genetic analysis, and importantly in the field.
The small group size and abundant support of not only a UK photography guide but also a passionate local herpetologist and drivers, should mean there is more than enough support for everyone to capture some truly memorable images. For the early part of the trip, each location and daily itinerary will be managed to give the optimum amount of picture opportunities and the guides will be working hard to ensure we see as much as possible. The UK Wild Arena photography guide has many years of experience photographing these smaller subjects and a wealth of knowledge surrounding how best to manage the technicalities of capturing images in what can be tricky conditions.
Frogs abound in the variety of habitats that you will explore with your accompanying naturalist and photography guides. Furthermore, should you find anything particularly unusual, your guide also has the backing of local scientists to aid further identification and verification. Time to discover this beautiful tropical island!
Of course, we have also considered the comfort of our guests and throughout the 16-day trip we will stay at various locations in lovely accommodation. These lodges have been chosen to offer the best compromise between convenient location and quality, so we should be relaxed and cared for throughout our visit.
Key subjects for the week should include:
Many species of amazing frogs, hopefully including species like Ceylon Caecilian, Kelaart’s Dward Toad, Sri Lanka Hollow Snouted Shrub Frog, Sri Lanka Short Horned Shrub Frog, Sri Lanka Petite Shrub Frog and Cheeky Shrub Frog, reptiles and invertebrates, Asian Elephants, Asian Leopard, Sloth Bear
This tour will be based in various locations around the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. We will visit 5 different locations to give us a wide variety of species and habitats, but still spending a few days in each to really get to know the area.
Depart UK for Colombo for overnight flight
(B,L,D) Meeting with your guide on arrival and travel by comfortable minibus to Sinharaja. Overnight at Jansen’s Bungalow on a full board basis for 3 nights.
Your journey starts by heading towards the lowland rainforests of Sinharaja located in the southwestern region of the island. During the first afternoon your time will be spent in the dense nature of this amazing ecological hotspot. After dark, the forest comes alive with the cacophony of frogs as you venture out onto the surrounding trails bordering the forest reserve. The sheer diversity of species here will be sure to astound you as you traverse these trails with your naturalist guide and village trackers seeking rare endemics. Some of the most impressive and beautiful endemic amphibian species which you might encounter are the Ceylon Caecilian, Kelaart’s Dward Toad, Sri Lanka Hollow Snouted Shrub Frog, Sri Lanka Short Horned Shrub Frog, Sri Lanka Petite Shrub Frog and Cheeky Shrub Frog; all are iconic species in the rainforest here.
Other species you might find include Kotagama's Toad, Common House Toad, Nollert's Toad, Indian Skipper Frog, Indian Green Frog, Corrugated Water Frog, Gunther’s Golden-backed frog, Golden Shrub frog, Sharp-snouted Shrub Frog, Ferguson’s Shrub Frog, Leaf-dwelling Shrub Frog, Anthropogenic Shrub Frog, Whistling Shrub Frog, Common Shrub Frog, Muller’s Shrub Frog, Schneider's Shrub Frog, Reticulated Thigh Shrub Frog, Orange-canthal Shrub Frog, Mittermeier’s Shrub Frog, Common Hourglass Tree Frog, Long-snouted Tree Frog and more common species such as Sri Lanka Paddy Field Frog and Common Paddy Field frog. If you are lucky, you will encounter the strictly arboreal Nagao’s Pug Snout Frog which is a rarity but with the hard work of your guiding it may can be possible.
In the southwest of Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the last remaining relatively undisturbed remnant of lowland tropical rain forest in the country. Sinharaja Forest Reserve forms a sufficiently large conservation unit for the in-situ conservation of rare and endangered species. The forest is composed of five layers of mixed dipterocarp trees with a canopy reaching 30-45 m above ground. Besides Dipterocapaceae this lowland rainforest is dominated by families of Clusiaceae, Sapotaceae and Myrtaceae. These are typically plants with large leaves, drip tips on the leaves and a cauliflowery appearance; they also have a high level of endemicity
(B,L,D) Rest during the day or venture out with the naturalist in search of birds, lizards etc. Option to walk in the Forest Reserve (at additional cost). You may be out late into the night in search of Frogs.
(B,L,D) To Nuwara Eliya, A morning drive up hill to the town of Nuwara Eliya, very British in character, it was a summer hill station during colonial times. Overnight at Ferncliff on a full board basis for 3 nights. The misty highlands around Nuwara Eliya consist of montane cloudforests and are home to many endemic species unique to this region. From a frog perspective you can expect to find some beautiful species such as the Sri Lanka Narrow Mouthed Frog, Half-webbed Pug Snout frog, Horton Plains Shrub Frog, Asanka’s Shrub Frog, Frankenberg’s Shrub Frog, Small-eared Shrub Frog, Schmarda’s Shrub Frog, Mountain Hourglass Tree Frog as well as stunning green endemics which are a pleasure to photograph: the Leaf Nesting Shrub Frog and the Dull Green Shrub Frog. The locations for your forays will vary greatly over the next 2 days, your guide having in-depth knowledge as well as engaging the help of locals so that your species count is bound to increase as the days progress. Forays to Podirutalagala Mountain Forest Reserve, Pattipola and Rendipola. Overnight at Ferncliff.
(B,L,D) Day time at leisure as frogging could go on long into the night with photographers. Note it may be possible at additional cost to go up to Horton Plains for a walk
(B,L,D) To Knuckles Range, Continue through the mountains to the Knuckles Range, a transfer of approx. 5h. After lunch begin exploring your surroundings, the hotel itself is in the middle of another unique habitat. As dusk sets in explore the forests further afield. Overnight at Riverston Grand on a full board basis for 3 nights.
Riverston is on the northern margin of the Knuckles Range. These mountains have been isolated from the central highlands for over a million years and this has created their own endemic species not only of flora but also of reptiles and amphibians that are found only in this habitat and nowhere else on the island. This moist forest with endemic ferns, orchids, lichens and mosses is a fragile ecosystem that is highly significant in respect of biodiversity.
Key among frog species is the moss-textured Hanken’s Shrub Frog which is perfectly camouflaged to its habitat and is the Knuckles version of a sister species you would have encountered in Nuwara Eliya in Schmarda’s Shrub Frog.
You may also discover the beautifully green coloured Stuart’s Shrub Frog and the neon green coloured Moore’s Shrub Frog which are always a pleasure to encounter and photograph. Other species you may find include Brown Pug Snout Frog, Dumbara Corrugated Frog, Knuckles Shrub Frog, Bigfoot Shrub Frog, Muller’s Shrub Frog and Steiner’s Shrub Frog.
(B,L,D) Transfer to Wilpattu, 4 nights Claughton Wild on a full board basis, 2 naturalist guides would stay with you, one in each of 2 jeeps. Overnight at Claughton Wild lodge.
(B,L,D) Morning and afternoon game drives in search of the iconic, larger wildlife of Wilpattu. We will hope to see, Asian Elephant, Leopard, Monkeys and various Deer species
(B,L,D) Final morning at leisure. Later transfer to Negombo. Overnight at The Tamarind Tree Hotel on a B&B basis for 1 night.
(B) Transfer (5 – 10min) to the airport for your departure.
Please note: – The itinerary is provisional and subject to change depending on local conditions. Not all wildlife mentioned can be seen well at all times of the year & some activities mentioned may not always be available.
Meals included are as shown – B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Who should attend
Anyone one with a strong interest in photography, particularly capturing images of Sri Lanka’s amazing variety of frogs.
Wild Arena Tours are not suitable for anyone under the age of 18.
Fitness level: You will need to be able spend days leisurely walking around with your camera bag, over rough terrain
Camera Knowledge: You should have a good working knowledge of your camera, but the Wild Arena guide will be on hand to talk through settings.
We try to tailor all our sessions to suit our guests, so we do not always cover all the topics depending on the individual needs.
Typical topics we can cover in this session are; Composition, shooting small subjects, using backlighting, shooting in humid conditions, shooting in low light, shooting with fill in flash. Fully Manual versus speed or Aperture priority.