15 Sri Lanka Wildlife Escapades
Have you always loved leopards, elephants and other animals but never got the opportunity to watch them closer? Just have a look at the Sri Lanka wildlife. Well, you can get a chance to watch all these and much more just by making a visit to some wildlife parks. The safaris will give you a chance to get closer to nature and will let you walk in the wild and let you experience a different facet of life that you might not have known earlier.

 Apart from leopards you can watch sloth bears, mongooses, golden jackal and Indian palm civet. If you are an ardent birdwatcher then you can get some time off to watch migrant shorebirds.

Some Wildlife in Sri Lanka that you should visit:



01

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Image Credit : ceylonsteps.com

Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Sinharaja Forest Reserve (kingdom of the lion), is a paradise for nature and wildlife lovers. It is home to a vast number of endemic species of birds and mammals of Sri Lanka. About 95 per cent of Sri Lankan endemic birds and more than 50 per cent of endemic mammals are known to have their habitats in this Forest Reserve. 

Year round, the forest is covered by plenty of rain clouds. It is one of the famous places to visit in Galle. You can experience the leisurely pace of wildlife and the splendour of dense and copious evergreen rainforests. 


Location: Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Southern Province

Timings: Opens daily from 6:30 AM to 6 PM

Price: Approximate price ranges from INR 260 to INR460 (664 LKR to 1160 LKR)

02

Wasgamuwa National Park

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Wasgamuwa National Park
Image Credit : Dhammika Heenpella
Sri Lanka is one of the finest places in the world where wildlife can be watched at its best. In the dry lowlands of the island lies the Wasgomuwa National Park with its flourishing flora and fauna. It demonstrates a rich biodiversity.

Stretching over 36,900 hectare this national park is home to 23 mammal species and a number of birds and vegetation species. It is renowned for large families of elephants. Though it will be difficult to get sight of leopard and sloth bear, the endemic purple-faced langur can be observed easily.

Wasgamuwa National Park
Image Credits : Dhammika Heenpella


Best For: Watching large herds of elephants and endemic purple faced langur.

Location: Matale and Polonnaruwa Districts. 5 hours drive from Colombo.

Price: Full Day Safari Price is LKR 10,000 per jeep.

Additional Price: Tickets per adult is LKR 2,000 and per child is LKR 1,000.

Duration: Full Day safari duration is 8 hours.

Timing: 5.30am to 6.00pm
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03

Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks

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Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks
Image Credit : Shehan Obeysekera
These two national parks in Sri Lanka are only a half hour drive from each other. Situated in the North Central Province, these parks are located near the ancient Minneriya and Kaudulla Tanks. The area has an abundance of scrubs and jungles with wetlands.

Home to toque macaques, crocodiles, elephants and sambar deer, these two parks are rich in biodiversity. Though leopard and sloth bears are also sheltered in the area, it is hard to spot them.

Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks
Image Credits : LisArt


Best For: Getting close to large herds of elephants. Best time to visit is during May to September to watch large number of elephants.

Location: 182-197 KM away from Colombo.

Price: Safari Price is LKR 6,500 for each National Park.

Additional Price: Tickets per adult is LKR 1,500 and per child is LKR 750.

Duration: safari duration is 4 hours.

Timing: Evening Safari 2.30am to 6.30pm and morning safari is 5:00am to 8:00am.
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04

Wilpattu National Park

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Wilpattu National Park
Image Credit : Dhammika Heenpella
Wilpattu National Park is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka. The topography is dominated by fifty wetlands. With low scrubs and deep forests, the park is home to numerous species of flora and fauna. The biggest attraction for tourists is the spotting of leopard and sloth bear.

The other animal species that can be found in this area are Asian Elephants, jackals, Sambar deer, water buffalo, crocodiles, spotted dear and many more. With its impressive array of bird species, the area is a haven for bird watchers.

Wilpattu National Park
Image Credits : Matt Francey


Best for: The avid and serious safari-goers can see the elusive leopard and sloth bear.

Location: 25km north of Puttalam or 30km west of Anurdhapura. It is 4 hours drive from Colombo.

Best time to visit: February and October are the best time to visit.

Price: Full Day Jeep Safari price is LKR 10,000 per jeep.

Timing: Full-Day Safari 5.30am to 06.00pm.
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05

Gal Oya National Park

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Gal Oya National Park
Image Credit : shankar s.
Experience the thrill of both jeep safari and the boat safari in the Gal Oya National Park of beautiful natural scenery and varied wildlife. Dominated by the largest reservoir of Sri Lanka Senanayake Samudraya the park area expanses over 25,900 hectares.

The topography consists mainly of grasslands, forests and scrubs. Though the park shelters leopards and sloth bears, they are an elusive sight. Instead, you can see some of the largest herds of elephants in this park.

Other commonly sighted species are endemic Toque Macaque, wild boar, common langur and water buffalo. The park also offers great sight for birdwatchers. Best for: Swimming elephants from boat safari.

Gal Oya National Park
Image Credits : LisArt


Location: Mainly Badulla district with a part reaching to Ampara district.

Best time to visit: March to July.

Price: Full Day Safari price is LKR 11,000 per jeep. Ticket price is LKR 2,000/LKR 1,000 per adult/child.

Timing: Full Day Safari 5.30am to 06.00pm
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06

Maduru Oya National Park

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Maduru Oya National Park
Image Credit : Rakhitha M. Karunarathne
Explore the wildlife amid the dry mixed evergreen forests of Maduru Oya National Park and ancient ruins of several places. The Maduru Oya national park is an unventured land with a wide assortment of wild life species.

Elephants, leopards, sambar deer, wild buffalo, sloth bear, Torque Macaque and nocturnal slender loris are some of the species that have sheltered in the area amassing the ancient stories of different eras of Sri Lankan history. A number of ancient Buddhist shrines, statues and heritages of forgotten history can be found in the area.

Maduru Oya National Park
Image Credits : shankar s.


Best for: Elephant watching and walking among the ruins of ancient cities where the forgotten stories are still reverberating in air.

Location: 314 Km away from Colombo

Best time to visit: March to September.

Price: Full Day Safari price is LKR 11,000 per jeep. Ticket price is LKR 2,000/LKR 1,000 per adult/child.

Timing: Full Day Safari 5.30am to 06.00pm
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07

Bundala National Park

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Bundala National Park
Image Credit : David Cook Wildlife Photography
Home to a number of vibrant and colourful birds, the Bundala National Park in Sri Lanka is one of the favourite destinations for bird watchers all around the world. The park spans across an area of 6216 hectare within which it shelters around 200 different bird species out of which more than 50 are migratory bird species.

The topography is an amazing combination of scrubs, marshes, lagoons and sand dunes. Almost every species of water birds can be found in the park most of which are attracted to the lagoons.

Bundala National Park
Image Credits : Jan Arendtsz


Best for: Watching wide assortment of bird species and their activities around the four lagoons.

Location: 251 Km from Colombo

Best time to visit: September to March.

Price: Morning & Evening Safari price is LKR 7,000 per jeep. Ticket price is LKR 2,000/LKR 1,000 per adult/child.

Timing: Morning Safari from 5.30am to 09.30am and Evening Safari from 2.30pm to 06.00pm.
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08

Kumana National Park

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Kumana National Park
Image Credit : Gaurika Wijeratne
An unventured area to watch the beauty of wildlife and bird life, Kumana National Park or Yala East National Park is a great place of natural beauty. Spreading over an area of 35,664 hectares Kumana National Park have around 20 lagoons and reservoirs to sustain wide variety of bird life with over 200 species of birds including migratory and endemic.

Kumana Villu, a mangrove swamp is sporadically flooded by sea water and supports varied bird activities. A number of threatened reptile species can also be spotted in the park. It also shelters some of the mammals from neighboring Yala National Park.

Kumana National Park
Image Credits : Gaurika Wijeratne


Best for: Bird watching around the lagoons and tanks.

Location: Ampara district. 391 Km away from Colombo

Best time to visit: April to July.

Price: Full Day Safari price is LKR 12,000 per jeep. Ticket price is LKR 2,000/LKR 1,000 per adult/child.

Timing: Full Day Safari 5.30am to 06.00pm
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09

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park
Image Credit : Dhammika Heenpella
Established in 1988, Horton Plains National Park serves as the country’s platform to showcase the scenic panorama of Sri Lanka with an array of exclusive and extensive flora and fauna. Though there is an option to explore the park through jeep ride but the best journey is by foot as it has excellent trekking trails stretching for an area of 9kms.

Along with the pictorial scenic beauty one can also see Sri Lanka Samba deer, wild boar and spot macaques. At an Altitude-2100-2300 meter, World’s End serve as the end point of this hiking tour. The look out from this point is simply amazing and provides an expansive terrain.

Location:
 Ohiya, Sri Lanka 

Highlights:
Sunrise at World’s End

Best Time: November to March

Things to Keep in Mind: The trek is not very easy throughout the trail especially near the falls. Reach at World End before sunrise for best view 
10

Yala National Park, Hambantota

Yala National Park, Hambantota
Image Credit : Kazue Asano - Flickr
Spotting a leopard prowling in the Park of Yala is quite an ordinary spectacle. Witness the untamed world of nature in the Yala National Park and quench your eagerness to explore and learn more about wildlife. Yala National Park is located in the South-East part of Sri Lanka.

Amidst both nature and wildlife, you will also find some faint cultural ruins which give the travellers a deeper insight about the earlier civilization. the Yala National Park lies in the south-eastern part of Sri Lanka closely hugging the Indian Ocean. It is amongst the famous Sri Lanka tourist places that attracts a lot of tourists every year.


Highlights: A safari to this natural park will surely leave you jaw drop as you will be able to witness Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, Leopards, and Elephants in big numbers.

Prices: Approximate price starts from 3700 LKR
11

Udawalawe National Park, Colombo

Udawalawe National Park, Colombo
You will be surrounded by herds of elephants once you reach Udawalawe National Park. The amazing jungle backdrop which this National Park provides will leave you totally mesmerized and will bring you much closer to nature.

This National Park was an attempt to protect the wild animals who were displaced because of the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir. It is one of the must-visit places in Sri Lanka.

Location: South East of Colombo.

Highlights: Elephant Transit Home which is the elephant orphanage which has housed 25 baby elephants who have lost their parents. Pinnewala is the spot where you can spot elephants quite closely because usually, elephants are bottle fed there.

Best time to visit: July and August

Prices: is Rs.2195 along with 12% vat.
12

Go for Wildlife Safari

Go for Wildlife Safari
Image Credit : Michael Jansen - Flickr

Sri Lanka might just seem like a small droplet in the world map but it encompasses some of the world’s spectacular biodiversity hotspots. Sri Lankan Asian Elephants, Leopards, Sambar and Purple-faced Langur are something which is easy to spot here. Going on a safari is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has housed some of the best National Parks. You can check out the Yala West National Park which allows you to see some fairly bold leopards. The best time to visit Yala National Park would be from December to March. If you are an ardent elephant watcher then Minneriya National Park has housed approximately five hundred elephants in the park.

Price: Approximate price for a full day would be 75 USD and for half day it would be 40 USD.

13

Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage
Peradeniya Gardens is a spacious 147 acre of natural extravaganza consisting of more than 4000 species of plants, and 10,000 varied kinds of trees, incidentally serves as the largest garden of Sri Lanka.

The unique and rarest collection in these gardens is the Giant Bamboo of Burma which grows 12 inches each day to a height of 40 meters. Apart from this other amazing collections include Javan fig tree, Cannonball tree, Double Coconut Palm and about 200 other varieties of palm trees and versatile collection of flora. 

Highlight:  One can pack some food to enjoy an open-air picnic here or can relish the cafeteria inside serving local and western cuisine. The Peradeniya Botanical Garden is one prime tourist attraction of hill country and remains quite flooded with tourists every weekend. 

Timings
: Opened daily from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee: Approximate price starts from 2353 LKR for adults and 1177LKR for child
14

Dehiwala Zoo

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Dehiwala Zoo

Dehiwala Zoo, also known as the National Zoological Gardens is one of the most widely recommended places to visit in Colombo. It is home to a diverse array of exotic animal species in addition to being one of the oldest zoos in Asia. The zoo presently houses around 2,500 animals in all, actively working towards their protection and conservation. 

Besides being the ideal treat for wildlife enthusiasts, the zoo is also a favourite amongst nature and botany lovers alike. The zoo is an active participant in animal exchange programmes which promote breeding. The refreshing greenery of the gardens will leave you wanting to come back!


Timings: 08:00 AM to 06:00 PM everyday

Price: LKR 100 for adults, LKR 30 for children, LKR 500 for foreigners

Location: 120 Quarry Rd, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka

Distance from Colombo bus stand: The zoo is about 11.4 km away from Colombo bus stop.

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15

Rainforest Camping in Kitugala Forest Reserve

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Rainforest Camping in Kitugala Forest Reserve
Image Credit : Joseph - Flickr

Wake up with the melodious chirping of birds all around at the Rainforest Camping in the Kitugala Forest Reserve. The camping in the forest reserve of Kitugala is an experience in itself and will let you have a blend of both adventure and leisure at the same time. 

Be close to the trails of nature and try out the all the adventure activities such as Jungle walks, Adventurous stream jumps, Mountain Biking and River Trips.All the meals are served to you at your comfort and a barbeque dinner is not to be missed.

Location: The camping base is approximately 2hrs 30 minutes’ drive from Colombo.

Best Time: Between February to April.

Price: Approximate price starts from 290 USD for two days and one night.

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