Sri Lanka Weather & Climate
Sri Lanka climate is tropical and consists of distinct wet and dry seasons. The Yala monsoon brings abundant rainfall to the country’s western and southern regions from May to September; the area experiences its dry season during December through March. Altogether, the southwest receives around 4000mm of rainfall each year. The Maha monsoon affects northern and eastern Sri Lanka weather and often lasts from October to January, with the dry season usually lasting from May to September. This region receives approximately 1000mm of precipitation annually, significantly less than the other half of the country. There is also an inter-monsoonal period in October and November during which rain and thunderstorms occur frequently across the island.
Generally speaking, upland areas of Sri Lanka are cooler and more temperate, with a yearly average around 16-20ºC (60-68ºF), and coastal areas are warmer with average temperatures around 27ºC (80ºF). The March-June season experiences slightly higher temperatures (up to 33ºC / 92ºF), while the temperatures in November-January are a few degrees lower (around 24ºC / 75ºF at the coast). Sri Lanka weather along the shores is made more comfortable by cooling sea breezes. The surrounding sea remains rather constant at roughly 27ºC (80ºF) year-round. Humidity is typically rather high in Sri Lanka, averaging out at around 80% year-round.
As the nation is located in the tropics, Sri Lanka weather can be severely affected by an El Niño. Though this irregular climate change only occurs around every three to seven years, the area’s weather can be altered for an extended time in effect. In the presence of a strong El Niño, expect a chance of drought conditions during the March-August months and possible flooding September-November. Floods regularly hit Sri Lanka, particularly in the southwestern region, so it may be wise to avoid the area during the wet season.
Sri Lanka climate can be at its most enjoyable in the drier seasons; the best time to travel to the west, south and upland areas of the island is during December to March, while the recommended travel season for the east coast region is April to September.
The most popular season for tourism is between December and March, when the country attracts Europeans fleeing the Northern Hemisphere’s winter weather. Christmas and the New Year are particularly popular for a Sri Lankan holiday, while July and August represent festival season on the island – if travelling during either time it is recommended to book well in advance to guarantee accommodation.
The island is certainly a year-round destination as there is usually one region of the country experiencing good weather, while others are hit by poorer conditions. The diverse topography of Sri Lanka allows for balmy beach holidays on the east coast from April to November, while the west is ideal for hitting the beach from December to March. However, be aware that Sri Lanka weather can be unpredictable during any season.
Sri Lanka Guides & Literature
Gear/Clothing for Wildlife Tours
What to Pack
As there is a limit on the weight of your luggage, and you will be moving lodges frequently during this holiday, it is important to ensure that you take only what you need. We have listed below the sort of clothing and equipment that you will require during your trip. Practical, comfortable casual clothing in neutral colours is of most use on this holiday. Bright colours are not recommended.
- Sturdy walking shoes – with good ankle support is advisable.
- Casual shoes/sandals – optional hotel wear.
- Underwear & socks
- Long sleeved shirts/blouses – (for evenings and mosquito defence)
- T shirts
- Long trousers
- Short trousers
- Jacket / waterproof – (for the cool evening / downpour)
- Warm fleece – (for early morning)
- Swimming costume
- Scarfs – for protection against dust
- Sunhat – essential
- Telescope (optional)
- Camera & accessories
- Daypack/small rucksack
- Large water bottle – disposable plastic mineral water bottles are available in Sri Lanka.
- Sunglasses – preferably polarized
- First aid kit
- Relevant field guides
- Waterproof ziplock bags for keeping camera equipment dry on the rainy days.
- Padlock for kitbag
Sri Lanka Visa Information
Please note that immigration and entry formalities do change from time to time and, whilst we will do our very best to keep you informed of any changes that take place, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your passport is current and up to date and includes any necessary visa or other entry requirements.
All nationalities require a full passport to enter Sri Lanka, and you will need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you depart Sri Lanka at the end of your tour.
You can now apply for an ETA visa to enter Sri Lanka. All forms for ETA visa applications MUST be submitted online. Please visit the website of Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorization system on http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ and apply for an ETA in simple steps
Please provide your personal email address on the ETA form so that the visa confirmation copy is emailed to you directly.
Please pay the relevant ETA processing fee using your electronic payment cards (credit card/e-commerce enabled debit cards) and submit the application. Only Visa, Master and American Express Cards are accepted.
If your application is successfully submitted, you will receive an acknowledgment promptly. For details please refer to www.immigration.gov.lk. To check your ETA application status you may log onto the ETA website http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ or contact 24/7 dedicated ETA call centre on 0094 71 99 67 888 (International call to Sri Lanka).
Once an application is submitted, processed and payment is made, you cannot cancel the transaction and the payment cannot be reimbursed. Therefore, please ensure that you enter your personal details correctly. If you have made an error, it is important that you correct it before confirmation. Once you have confirmed the details, your electronic payment card (credit card/e-commerce enabled debit card) will be debited for the non-refundable service charge. If you find out later that you have made a mistake, then you will have to submit a fresh application and pay the relevant fee again. It is advisable to keep a copy of the ETA approval with you to be produced at the Immigration Counter at BIA (Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo, Sri Lanka).
All ETA holders should produce the following requirements at the port of entry:
a) A passport valid for not less than 6 months from the date of arrival.
b) A confirmed return ticket.
c) Sufficient funds to meet the expenses during the stay. (An invoice confirming that you have paid for the holiday should be sufficient).
The ETA is initially limited to 30 days from the date of arrival but it may be extended for up to six months. A visitor wishing to stay more than 30 days in Sri Lanka, may apply for an extension. The Short Visit visa may be extended up to 90 days from the date of arrival at the first instance and further 90 days at the second instance. Application for an extension should be submitted to the Visa Section of the Department of Immigration (head office) by visiting the Department or through an Authorized Agent. For more details visit. www.immigration.gov.lk.
Please note this procedure could change at any time and we request you to check the Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorisation web site http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ for the latest procedure.