Educational Tours

Discover the ape in you!

All about primates

Like humans, monkeys live in families, tribes and communities.  They have relatives, friends and enemies, and use a rich repertoire of gestures to communicate. You will see them display care, courtship, passion, cooperation and teamwork, as well as greed, jealousy, aggression, and tribal warfare. You can’t help but reflect on the parallels in the behaviors of monkeys and humans and on the ancestry of our social dispositions.

The monkeys’ social lives and behaviors are influences by species differences in their ecologies – how they exploit their environment to make a living.  Our natural forest  site supports four primate species: two of leaf-eaters, the Hanuman and the purple-faced langurs, a fruit-eater – the toque macaque, and the insectivorous loris. The first three species are active during the day whereas the loris is a creature of the night. We offer separate tours for day and night observations.

Our expert guides you will point to the  challenges facing these primates in a changing modern environment and  how species’ differences in behavior adapt them to survive.   On the day tour  you will follow monkeys on foot through the jungles at our study site  that is embellished with the ancient ruins of temples and palaces of a bygone civilization. In contrast to many other sites the monkeys that we follow are habituated to scientific observers and are not a nuisance to visitors. Observations of the nocturnal loris tour takes place separately on foot paths in the forest surrounding our Primate Center Lodge.

Human family meets monkey family  

We visit well-studied social groups of monkeys from three different species within the Polonnaruwa Nature Sanctuary (Archaeological Reserve). Tours last for 2- 3 hours starting at 06:00 am,  07:15 am or 4:00 pm.  Morning  tours are cool.  The tour is a learning experience designed for those thrilled to observe and photograph monkeys up-close in their natural forest home. It is child friendly. Our experts explain the significance of the varied monkey antics and the social and ecological differences among the three species. Learn more

Photo: Vajira Wijegunawardena

The Loris: Eerie ancestor under the stars 

The slender loris represents an ancient lineage ancestral to all primates (their closet relatives populate Madagascar).  We observe them and other nocturnal animals (mouse deer, civets) in the natural forest surrounding our primate center (Monkey Camp). Tours are 1- 2 hours staring at dusk (18:45) . Learn more

Excursions: wildlife safaris, culture and leisure

A variety of brief outings and recreational activities are offered to supplement the “All About Primates” options. These excursions also may be booked independently by overnight visitors to our Research Station. Learn about Nature Tours and -> about Cultural Tours


Rooms and meals are provided at the Primate Center Lodge (monkey camp)  on the shores of lake Parakrama Samudra and within easy access to the Polonnaruwa Nature Sanctuary / Archaeological Reserve. Learn more

Quality assurance and testimonials

With more than 50 years of monkey studies to our credit, we teach, entertain and inspire you about monkey lore and natural history. You will benefit as well from our 26 years of experience running programs for Earth watch Institute volunteers, students and professionals. Learn more