Wildlife Safaris in Sri Lanka

Home to the creatures of the wild, from the elusive Leopard that stalks the ground to the Brown-capped Babbler that sings so brightly from tree-tops, the island boasts troves of natural brilliance, built to conserve the floral and faunal community. Billed as natural troves are the isle’s National Parks and Nature Reserves, teeming with life in more ways than one. Venture into the Wild kingdoms and immerse in life within the wilderness, under the tropical sun. Here, we give you the complete breakdown on Sri Lanka’s Safaris; on the popular spots, facts you may find intriguing and travel tips to make your experience just that much better.

Best Known For

The National Parks:

  • Yala National Park - Marked as the most visited and the 2nd largest National Park on the isle, the Yala National Park is home to a diverse number of creatures, some endemic and some migratory. Venture into the depths of one of Sri Lanka’s oldest National Parks on a Safari Jeep to witness the life that thrives within at the very closest: a surreal wildlife experience on tropical ground.
  • Wilpattu National Park - Located in the tranquil town of Mannar, the Wilpattu National Park is yet another significant safari park in Sri Lanka; one of the oldest and largest. Amongst the towering trees and shrouded bushes are communities of majestic mammals, birds and amphibians in abundance; bask in a glimpse of the island’s natural best in all its glory. The Park’s distinctive feature is its ‘Willus’ or Lakes that make for the nesting grounds of varied mammals.
  • Wasgamuwa National Park - Safariing across its scapes makes for a dual delight. The Park serves as an integral bird-watching site, owing to its sheer natural expanse as well as the diverse bird species that have taken refuge within its holds. Wasgamuwa National Park also serves as a brilliant site to witness Asian Elephant gatherings in large herds.
  • Minneriya National Park - One of the unique attractions in Asia, the Minneriya National Park is rich in an abundance of flora and fauna which further elevates a Safari experience to be taken here. Renowned for ‘The Gathering’, where 200+ Asian Elephants gather around the Park’s Minneriya Tank for several weeks to quench their thirst and the large numbers of birds that have made their home within the green-decked canopies and tree-tops.
  • Bundala National Park - Step through its doors for an unhindered, tranquil Safari experience. The Park boasts a refreshing lack of mass tourism and photography-keen visitors, instead allowing for a more natural, immersive walkthrough of the isle’s flora and fauna. Endemic and migratory bird life is a promise here.
  • Kumana National Park - A Safari across this Park’s grounds takes you through the isle’s bird life. Immerse in the mellifluous twitter of colourful birds nestled within the tree-tops, some of which have flown from far-off places to escape freezing cold conditions. The Park is additionally home to animals such as Elephants, Leopards, Jackals, Otters and the endangered Fishing Cat.

Interesting Facts

  • The island has one of the largest Leopard and Elephant densities in the world, with a main spot at which the Leopards can be seen being the Yala National Park.
  • In addition to the trove of natural life on their ground, certain National Parks are steeped in historical significance. The Wilpattu National Park is one. According to lore, the Kudrimalai Point or Horse Point in Wilpattu National Park was believed to be the area where King Vijaya first stepped foot in. Prince Saliya, son of King Dutugemunu was believed to have resided in the area on which the Park now stands, over 2,000 years ago.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • Most of the National Parks will not be open 24/7 for wellbeing purposes of the animals. An exception to this will be the ‘Bundala National Park’ which opens its doors all year round.
  • Make sure to choose an experienced Safari Tour Guide to take you through the National Park, who will be well-versed in the watering hole areas, the popular sighting spots of animals and the areas of the park where certain types of animals generally take refuge in.
  • Know that a Safari through a National Park means that you’ll be venturing into the home of animals and constant, loud noises made may disturb them.
  • Do not litter. The Parks are not only the homes of animals and birds, but are also some of the most significant natural attractions of the isle.
  • Pack the essentials but do not over-pack.
  • Camouflage clothing is advised to be worn, in order to blend in better with the surroundings and not frighten the animals away.
  • The Parks are quite vast and owing to this, a safari through its expanse may not always guarantee sightings of animals in abundance.
  • Due to the Park making up the animals’ natural habitat, constant flashes and the sound of camera clicks may further agitate the animals and this should thus be refrained from.
  • Pay attention to your Tour Guide. There may be reasons for certain precautionary advice given and it is in your best interests to listen to the words of an expert.
  • The Parks tend to be more crowded during the holiday seasons and during school holidays. Refrain from visiting the Parks during these periods, if you’re looking for a more tranquil experience.

All in all, a Wildlife Safari is your best option to witness upclose some of the most majestic creatures to walk the Earth. Discover the unknown and embark on an exhilarating experience into the depths of the wilderness. If immersing in the isle’s natural best is what you’re after, a Wildlife Safari is not to be missed.

Location info

Yala National Park - Ampara

Wilpattu National Park - Mannar

Wasgamuwa National Park - Matale

Minneriya National Park - Habarana

Bundala National Park - Weligatta

Kumana National Park - Ampara


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