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The Best Places for Safari in Sri Lanka

Although Sri Lanka is a small island, it is simply teeming with animals and wilderness, and it is quickly rising to the top of the list of favorite safari locations worldwide. Although Sri Lanka may easily match with the best that Africa’s plains, rainforests, or rivers have to offer, Africa may be the traditional destination of safari-goers.

Everything from elephants to leopards can be seen in Sri Lanka’s numerous national parks, and throughout the year, large numbers of birds migrate to the forests while whales patrol the shoreline.

There are many places for safari in Sri Lanka.

Yala National Park

Southeast of Sri Lanka is where Yala National Park is situated. The capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo, is located around 300 kilometers (186 miles) away, in the Hambantota and Monaragala districts. Yala National Park is one of the most well-known national parks in the nation, with a total size of around 979 square kilometers (378 square miles).

It is the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka and offers everyone, especially families, a superb safari experience.

Lagoons, bushlands, and grasslands serve excellent breeding grounds for a variety of other animals, such as stunning elephant herds and the unusual sloth bear.

Animals to observe on a safari in Yala National Park: ‍

  • 44 animals, including the renowned Sri Lankan elephant, leopards (Yala has the largest population of leopards in the world), the Sri Lanka sloth bear, and 215 bird species, including the blue-tailed bee-eater and the Sri Lanka wood pigeon.
  • There are 47 different types of reptiles, including the saltwater crocodile, the Indian cobra, and the flying snake from Sri Lanka.

Along with Wilpattu, it served as Sri Lanka’s first national park when it was established in 1938. It is divided into 5 blocks and has a surface area of 979 square km (378 square miles). Only blocks 1 and 5 are accessible to tourists; block 1 is the most frequented by jeeps and the most popular for sightings. The other blocks are used for research and documentaries and are off limits to the general public.

Because wildlife tends to concentrate around the drinking holes, it is also simpler to see wildlife. Yala National Park’s dry season typically lasts from February to June.

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Udawalawe National Park

The Udawalawe National Park, which is close to the provinces of Sabaragamuwa and    Uva, was established to protect the wildlife impacted by nearby construction on the Udawalawe reservoir.

Yala’s neighbor, Udawalawe, is a little less well-known. Because of its diminutive size and wide-open views, even if it is less well-known, it is nevertheless a fantastic site to see animals. Since there are between 400 and 500 elephants in the park—an extraordinarily high density in such a short area—it is especially wonderful for viewing elephants! It is regarded as one of the top birdwatching locations in the entire nation. It is also great for wildlife viewing.

The best national park in Sri Lanka to see elephants up close and personal is Udawalawe! This is due to the elephants’ high level of confidence and their ability to approach cars very closely. Another benefit of Udawalawe is that it is primarily an open grassland area with few trees or plants. As a result, it is much simpler to locate the animals and enjoy the stunning vistas of Sri Lanka’s plains.

A third of Yala’s size, Udawalawe National Park has an area of 308 square kilometers (119 square miles). Udawalawe has a higher number of animals per unit area despite its lesser size, especially when it comes to Sri Lankan elephants.

Since there are up to 250 Sri Lankan elephants living in the reserve, it is known as “elephant country.” These elephants are commonly seen at the nearby drinking holes inside the national park.

Although they are extremely rare, sloth bears, leopards, and buffalo can also be seen in the park. Even greater will be the experience if one of these lovely creatures is spotted.


Kumana National Park

Yala East National Park, which was formerly known only by that name for many years, has been renamed Kumana National Park. Although Kumana is technically a part of the larger Yala region, it is nevertheless worth visiting on its own to experience everything a Sri Lanka Safari has to offer. The short answer is that Kumana National Park in Sri Lanka offers a lot, especially if you are a fan of birds. The main purpose of this nature reserve is bird watching, but you can see all different sorts of wildlife here as well.

Although it receives less publicity and attention than the conventional safari sites of Yala National Park, this just makes it a more tranquil and low-traffic destination.

Although you have a lower chance of seeing elephants or leopards in Kumana, you might have a more enjoyable time overall because the roads are virtually always empty and the park as a whole feel much more undeveloped than its neighbors.

The greatest time of year to go bird watching is from May to June because this is nesting season and many unique species come here on their yearly migrations from thousands of miles away to Sri Lanka.

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Kaudulla National Park

Compared to other national parks, Kaudulla is more difficult to reach from Colombo, but the extra effort and travel time are worthwhile because there are significantly less tourists in this region than in Sri Lanka’s south.

The Sri Lankan province of North Central is home to Kaudulla National Park. Approximately 190 kilometers (118 miles) separate it from Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city. The park is notably located in the Habarana neighborhood, close to the well-known tourist spots of Sigiriya and Dambulla.

The best time is from July to October. In September and October, there is an elephant gathering. For elephant gatherings, Kaudulla National Park is the best place. Peacocks, bears, and crocodiles may also be seen.

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Minneriya National Park

The world’s largest gathering of wild Asian elephants can be found on a safari in Minneriya National Park. A humble experience is the safari through the grassland and along the lakes with breath-taking vistas of the national park. You have a greater chance of spotting many of these due to the park’s richness of wildlife, which includes 25 species of reptiles, 170 species of birds, and 24 species of mammals.

Elephants, leopards, sloth bears, spotted deer, sambar deer, wild buffalo, pigs, purple-faced leaf monkeys, three species of mongooses, porcupines, and Indian pangolins are among the animals that can be seen.

The ideal period is from July through October (dry season). If you want to observe the huge elephant gathering, go in September or October.

Huge elephant herds are another draw for Minneriya National Park; in fact, the same elephants have been observed migrating from this park towards Kaudulla.

If you want to see elephants, come here between April and September during the dry season, when the herds gather near the enormous water reservoirs the park contains.

But by the end of September, they’ve typically depleted those stores, at which point they go on into Kaudulla National Park.

Natural World Safaris

Bundala National Park

Water birds that migrate from all over the world winter in Bundala National Park. There are 197 different bird species in the national park. especially the numerous flocks of flamingos that congregate here. The UNESCO declared Bundala National Park as a biosphere reserve in 2005, making it Sri Lanka’s fourth biosphere reserve overall.

Elephants, whistling ducks, Indian cormorants, huge water birds, black-headed ibises, Eurasian spoonbills, Asian openbills, painted storks, Black-necked storks, leopards, and wild boars are among the animals that can be seen.

Sri Lanka‘s Hambantota District is home to Bundala National Park. The distance between it and Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city, is roughly 251 kilometers (156 miles). It is located along the country’s southeast coast. The Indian Ocean borders Bundala National Park, which is situated close to the town of Hambantota. About 6,216 hectares (15,352 acres) of arid, thorny scrubland, saltwater lagoons, and coastal dunes make up the park’s total area. Because of its remarkable biodiversity and significance as a habitat for resident and migratory bird species, it is a notable wetland sanctuary and a Ramsar site.

The dry season, which lasts from May to September, is widely seen to be the finest time to visit Bundala National Park in Sri Lanka. The animals is concentrated around these water sources at this time of year because the lagoons and wetlands of the park have relatively low water levels. This facilitates the observation of several bird species and other creatures.

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