When visiting the wonder of Asia that is Sri Lanka, your itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a trip to one of the amazing Safaris on offer in the country. When you think of a safari, we typically think of Africa, but don’t underestimate the greatness of a Sri Lanka Safari.
Despite being small in size and defying the general trend that islands don’t have many animals, Sri Lanka packs a powerful punch when it comes to wildlife. It is one of the top five hotspots for biodiversity in the world and also boasts one of the highest rates of biological endemism. With this in mind, it is simply unfathomable to go to Sri Lanka and not make the most of the range of exotic creatures that dwell within the country’s stunning national parks.
Going on a safari is best done early in the morning especially if you choose for a half day safari. The morning is the best time of the days to spot wild elephants wandering arround the park. A full day safari starts in the early morning with a nice lunch break in the park. If you would opt for a half day safari, you can either start in the afternoon or morning.
We offer safari jeeps (including driver) with hotel pickup for the following national parks: Yala, Udawalawe, Wilpattu, Kaudulla, Minneriya , Bundala, wasgamu and Kumawe. The tickets for entrance of the national parks should be paid at the entrance of the park.
With over 120 species of mammals, 171 species of reptiles, 106 species of amphibians, 227 species of birds, and one of the world’s largest populations of blue whales and sperm whales, Sri Lanka is truly an animal-lover’s dream come true.
Yala national Park
Yala national park is probably the most popular and well known safari in all of Sri Lanka. It’s the second largest national park in Sri Lanka and it’s a wonderful safari experience for all, especially families.
Animals to see in Yala national park safari:
- 215 bird species including , Sri Lanka wood pigeon, blue-tailed bee-eater, amongst many other
- 44 mammals including, the famous Sri Lankan elephant, leopards (Yala has the highest density of leopards in the world), the Sri Lanka sloth bear, and many more.
- 47 reptile species including the Sri Lankan flying snake, Indian cobra, and saltwater crocodile, among others.
Yala is closed during the drought season from the 1st of September to the 15th of October, but you can visit other national parks at this time.
Uduwalawe National park
Udawalawe national park is located near South of Sri Lanka and it is literally bursting with Sri Lankan elephants…more than 500, so it’s an elephant lovers dream. You’re almost guaranteed to spot them with those numbers.
Udawalawe national park safari is located between Ella and mirissa. It is the 3rd most popular Sri Lankan safari park.
Within the park there is even a Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home was established in 1995 for the purpose of looking after abandoned elephant calves within the park. Cute right?
Animals to see in Uduwala national park safari:
- Birds: Over 180 species of birds including, Sri Lanka spurfowl, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, brown-capped babble among others. It’s actually regarded as one of the top bird watching sights in all of Sri Lanka. Also the park has the largest population of wild peacocks.
- Mammals: There are over 42 mammals recorded in the park, particularly notable for its Sri Lankan Asian elephants. Other mammals include, Sri Lankan leopard, sloth bear, sambar deer, wild boar among others.
- Reptiles: There are over 32 reptile species including, oriental garden lizards, mugger crocodiles, and 30 species of snakes, among others.
This is a perfect choice for those who want to get awesome pictures of elephants and baby elephants. It’s a fairly popular park, but won’t have the same crowds of Yala, so it’s a good choice for those looking for something in between Wilpattu and Yala, and since it’s good for spotting animals all year round, there are no seasonal restrictions on when you visit.
The adorable-looking sloth bear is hard to spot but well worth the effort if you manage to catch sight of one. Lankier in build and somewhat shaggier in coat than its relatives (brown and black bears), these creatures might seem clumsy and oafish but they are excellent climbers and gentle with their cubs.
Horton plains national Park
The Horton Plains National Park is the only National Park situated in Sri Lankas Hill Country and falls within the Nuwara Eliya district and is 200 km. away from Colombo. Panoramic scenic beauty of the Hill Country could be witnessed within the Park. The famous “Worlds End” is a major attraction within the Park.
Horton Plains became a National Park in 1988. The undulating plateau is bounded by the country’s second and third highest mountains and is the catchment area for most of its major rivers.
Horton Plains is the only National Park in Sri Lanka in which visitors are allowed to walk. At ‘Worlds End’ the 2000 metre plateau comes to an abrupt end, plunging 700-1000 metres to the valley floor. This gentle walk takes two to four hours depending on how much time is spent identifying the impressive bird life seen along this route. It is worth starting early to avoid the crowds, the mist that drifts up the valley can often obscure the views as the day wears on. ‘Little Worlds End’ is another popular location, falling a mere 300 metres, along with Baker’s Falls.
Animals to see in Horton Plains national park safari:
- Birds: Horton Plains is one of the top destinations for birders who visit the area to look for several of Sri Lanka’s endemics; these include the Yellow Eared Bulbul, the Ceylon Hill White Eye, Ceylon Whistling Thrush and the Ceylon Blue Magpie.
Mammals: Home to 24 species of mammals including a large sambar population, along with the purple-faced langurs, wild boar,barking deer and leopards.
Wilpattu national Park
Wilpattu national park is the oldest and largest national park in Sri Lanka. It was actually closed for 16 years during the Sri Lankan civil war, but is now open to the public again.
Wilpattu national park is a perfect choice if you’re visiting the cultural hubs of Anuradhapura as it’s only 30 minutes away by tuk tuk.
It’s famous for its natural pools of water that exist, so you get a true essence of the “wild” here. It’s the perfect safari in Sri Lanka for all seasons as both the wet and dry season bring different types of animals.
For example, the wet season is meant to bring greater sightings of sloth bears, but you get to see them in the dry season too!
Wilpattu national park is around 4 hours from Colombo.
Wilpattu is among the top national parks world-renowned for its leopard populationThe best time to visit Wilpattu is February to October, but you can visit all year round.
Animals to see in Wilpattu national park safari:
- Birds: there are lots of amazing birds to see including The painted stork, the open bill, little cormorant, Sri Lankan junglefowl
- Mammals: home to 31 species of mammals have been identified so far including the Sri Lanka elephant, the Sri Lankan sloth bear, leopards, water buffalo, spotted deer, amongst others
- Reptiles: The most common reptiles include the common cobra, the mugger crocodile, Indian python amongst others
Wilpattu is a quiet national park, probably because it was closed for so long, but that’s a good thing. You will only come across 2 or 3 jeeps on your journey (if even that) and you will truly feel like you’ve got the whole park to you and the wildlife, which I think is what a true safari experience should be like.
Minneriya national Park
Minneriya national park is located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, and it’s a perfect choice if you’re visiting Sigiriya, (which you should). It’s one of the most important bird areas in Sri Lanka. It has an interesting elephant story…
According to the wardens, one elephant lost her baby due when pregnant due to being hit by a jeep, so as revenge, she rammed into over 15 tourists since then.
As part of Sri Lanka’s elephant corridor, large numbers of elephants migrate across the country to Minneriya every year. Known as ‘The Gathering’, as many as 300 come to the park’s reservoir in the largest meeting of Asian elephants anywhere in the world.
Animals to see in Minneriya national park safari:
- Birds: 160 species of birds which is why it’s an important bird area
- Mammals: It’s recorded there is 24 different types of mammals in the park including, Sri Lankan elephant, deer, purple-faced langur and toque macaque monkeys among others.
- Reptile: 25 reptiles including Painted-lip lizard, Saltwater crocodile, Indian python, Asian water monitor, among others.
Fun fact, this national park safari has over 25 species of butterflies!
People tend to take a Minneriya national park safari for the chance of seeing elephants and monkeys. So if you’re a fan of both, then this is a good spot. A good time to take a Minneriya national park safari is July to September as that’s when the elephants flock there.
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