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From a casual inspection of a map itmay appear that the tropical island ofSri Lanka is a mere adjunct ofsouthern India; in reality there are manydifferences between the two countries, notleast the stunning flora and fauna whichdemonstrate more affinities with South-eastAsia than with the Indian subcontinent. SriLanka is a lush, verdant country in whichplant growth flourishes; indeed it is oftensaid that almost anything placed in theground will grow within days! This attributewas fully exploited by the various colonistsoccupying the island over the centuries,and each in turn added to the diversity ofspecies through their ornamental andcommercial introductions. In this way anextraordinary flora has developed, rich inunique endemic species but alsoaugmented by a myriad of additions fromall corners of the world. For many years our holidays have enabledhundreds of clients to enjoy the wonderfulbirdlife and natural history of Sri Lanka butthis tour is the first to celebrate the island'sflora, including not only native orchids andrare endemics but also trees and plantsgrown for their fruits or vegetables, and theoddities from around the globe which formthe collections in Victorian botanicalgardens. This will be a holiday for everyonewith a love of the botanical world but, alongthe way, we will also encounter many of theendemic birds, colourful butterflies andmore than a glimpse of Sri Lankan culture.We fly first to the capital, Colombo, andfollowing a morning of relaxation after theovernight flight, begin the tour with a visit tothe coastal lagoons of MuthurajawelaSanctuary to observe a complex mangrovecommunity which includes Acrostichumspeciosum, the Mangrove Fern, and Nypafruticans, the Mangrove Palm.Leaving the coast, we drive inland to thefamous rock fortress of Sigiriya where wespend an interesting day investigating thesemi-deciduous forests which surround thisimposing monolith. The vegetation herecomprises many flowering plants includingCalatropis gigantea (Sodom's Apple),Capparis zeylanica,Cassia fistula,Crataevaadansonii,Ochnalanceolata,Martyniadiandra (Tiger's Claws) and tree speciessuch as Drypetes spp., Manilkara hexandraandDiospyros ebanum.Energetic tourmembers may also wish to scale Sigiriyarock to see the remains of the one-timecapital city or simply to enjoy thebreathtaking views. From Sigiriya we then drive into the 'HillCountry' to historic Kandy, once the capitalof an autonomous kingdom until capturedby the British in the 18th century. Duringthree days of exploration we will see manyof the characteristic fruit trees of Sri Lankasuch as Mango, Guava, Breadfruit andJack, plantations of Teak, Rubber, Cocoa,and of course Tea which now representsthe major industry of the hill region.Peradiniya Botanical Gardens, occupying apicturesque setting near the city, spans 147acres and contains a staggering variety ofplants including an avenue of Coco-de-merPalms, the National Herbarium, a nativeorchid house and many other attractions. A noisy roost of several thousand FlyingFoxes also adds to the exotic backgroundfor our visit! Whilst in Kandy we will alsohave the opportunity to see the famousTemple of the Tooth, beside Kandy Lake,and to attend a performance of traditionaldancing which includes spectacular fire-walking!Ascending higher into the hills, passingone tea estate after another and throughstunning scenery, we eventually reach thehill capital Nuwara Eliya where we will bebased for two nights. Situated at anelevation of 2,000 metres, the air is coolerhere and pine trees grow beside the veryBritish golf course and race track! A dayexcursion will take us across Horton Plains,a place of exceptional beauty andwilderness fringed by a cloudforest ofpeculiarly stunted, lichen-covered trees. Anumber of endemic birds and lizards occuron this great plateau and the vegetation isas unique as the location, containingcountless species peculiar to the SriLankan Hill Country.Passing through yet more wonderfulscenery, we descend next to the hot plains,stopping along the way to examine thetypical flora and vegetation of differentaltitudes, including the interesting montaneforest at Thanamalai which boasts manyorchids, ferns and balsams among itsground vegetation. We stay for severalnights close to the internationally renownedSinharaja Forest. This world biospherereserve is a quite remarkable reservoir of allthat is unique about Sri Lanka. Most of theisland's endemic bird species may befound in the reserve, whilst a significantproportion of the insects, reptiles and treesin Sinharaja are also peculiar to the island,and the flora is equally exceptional.Delicate Bamboo Orchids and pitcher-plants grow beside the main track into theforest and closer inspection of thevegetation will reveal an extraordinarywealth of species including masses ofepiphytes, ferns and orchids. After our foray into this unforgettable forest, we return to Colombo for our flightback to London, or join our excitingextension in search of Blue Whales. Sri Lanka's Tropical FloraA 13-day celebration of Sri Lanka's tropical flora and botanical gardens, plus an optional extension in search of Blue Whales.Saturday 23rd March - Thursday 4th April Cost: £2,195Blue Whales extension: to Sunday 7th April Cost: £695Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationKANDY SIGIRIYA NUWARA ELIYA RATNAPURA HORTON PLAINS SINHARAJAFORESTCOLOMBO INDIANOCEANBAY OF BENGAL SRI LANKA MIRISSABLUE WHALE(EXTENSION)Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Colombo.Day 2MuthurajawelaSanctuary.Day 3Sigiriya.Day 4/6Kandy.Day 7/8Nuwara Eliya andHorton Plains.Day 9/11Sinharaja Forest.Day 12Return Colombo.Day 13Fly London.Blue Whales extensionDay 12/14Mirissa.Day 15 Colombo.Day 16Fly London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotels withprivate facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade A. A leisurely botanical tour,including gentle forest walks.FocusSri Lankan flora and other naturalhistory. LeaderTharanga Herath or DhammithraSamarasinghe.Single room supplement£325 (extension: £125).Web quick search:LKA05259ArundinagraminifoliaTerminalia behericaOncidium sp.Plumeria obtusa

AUSTRALASIAustralia and New Zealand simply lead the world with their unbeatable cocktail of first classaccommodation, fine wines and delicious food, magnificent scenery, uncrowded beaches, slickinfrastructure and friendly hospitality. Above all, their isolation and sophistication make themamongst the safest and most peaceful destinations in the modern world.This isolation has also endowed each with a fascinating natural heritage, for their natural histories havedeveloped high degrees of endemism which make their floras and faunas so unique. Thus, on our visits toAustralia, we are able to focus on the exceptional native flora of south-western Australia (one of theworld's botanical hotspots), the unique mammals, birds and marine-life of tropical Queensland andsouthern Australia, and the rugged wilderness of Tasmania and the spectacular Northern Territory. InNew Zealand we enjoy the wealth of spectacular landscapes throughout North, South and StewartIslands and the rich variety of birds, flowers and cetaceans that they hold. Meanwhile, for a taste of morerugged adventure, we include an exciting tour to Papua New Guinea in search of, particularly, thefabulous birds-of-paradise, plus some of the unique tribal cultures of the region.In addition, all our Australasia tours may be readily combined with your own private touring eitherbefore or afterwards. Can you really resist the attractions of the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintreerainforest, Lamington National Park, the Huli 'wigmen' and the magnificence of New Zealand'sFiordland National Park and Milford Sound . and their parrots and penguins, possums andpademelons, whales and dolphins?Please visit the Naturetrek website ( for our full range of Australasian tours."This was our first Naturetrek holiday. It was excellent and exceeded my high expectations. The tour leaderwas outstanding both as a leader and a naturalist. Thank you for a wonderful holiday." E. & V.F., Cleveland - New Zealand."This was simply the best tour I've ever been on. It was absolutely outstanding. Thank you for a wonderfulexperience ..."A.G., Oxon - Australia.260A