July 5, 2020

Wildlife Watching – The Best National Parks of Sri Lanka

In the national parks of Sri Lanka you can find wild elephants, leopards, buffaloes, crocodiles, roe deer and countless exotic birds. In addition, the coast of Sri Lanka was chosen whales, dolphins and turtles.

On this relatively small island there are about thirty national reserves and parks. Below are the best national parks of the island and interesting places that are grouped by “interestingness” and animal species, meeting with which is practically guaranteed in one place or another.

National Parks of Sri Lanka, in which there is a chance to see leopards

In Sri Lanka, there is a rare and unique type of leopard – the Ceylon leopard, the locals call these beautiful wild cats Kotya. You can see leopards in one of the two parks of the island – the southern Yale or northern Vilpatta.

Yala National Park

Yala National Park  can be called the most popular and most visited park of the island. Two things have to do with the park of its popularity: firstly there is a very high chance of seeing leopards and secondly there is a park on the South coast of Sri Lanka near the most beautiful beaches of the island.

In addition to leopards, there are wild elephants, crocodiles, buffaloes, handsome peacocks and countless small deer and roe deer.

Wilpatu National Park

Wilpapt’s absolutely chic northern park gave way to the top in popularity of southern Yala, but nevertheless remains one of the most interesting and intriguing places of Sri Lanka. Vilpatu is usually stopped by those traveling to the northern beaches of Trinco with a stop at Anuradhapura .

In addition to leopards, elephants and crocodiles in Vilpatta, you can see a rare species of mountaineer, and even, if very lucky, an Asiatic bear-gubacha.

National parks of Sri Lanka, where you can watch the wild elephants

Wild elephants in Sri Lanka can be seen in almost any large national park, but most often travelers look to Udavalava, which is located in the South of the island and the national parks of the Golden Triangle . By the way, traveling around the Golden Triangle, wild elephants can be seen almost always, in the migration season – in the Minneriya park. During the rest of the year, in the Kauddula Park (from Sigiriya and Dambulla) or in the Vasgamuva Park (from Polonnaruwa).

National Park Udavalave

Udavalave – the kingdom of elephants. Moreover, literally. The local landscape resembles the African savannah, in which herds of wild elephants freely walk.

In terms of travel, Udavalave is remarkable for its location – the park is located between the high mountains and southern beaches , as well as the more affordable prices for safaris, unlike the one located just south of Yala.

Minneriya National Park

In the dry season (from July to October), the tiny Minneriya National Park turns into a place for the Elephant Gathering – elephants migrating between the large Kauddula and Vasgamuva parks come to a large reservoir. The gathering of Asian elephants at Minneria is a phenomenon that is absolutely unique and definitely worthy of the special attention of travelers.

In addition, Minneria is located almost on the territory of the Golden Triangle , close to the beautiful historical sights of Sri Lanka – Sigiriya , Dambulla and Polonnaruwa .

Cauddula National Park

If the Minneria is a place of seasonal migration of elephants, then in the neighboring large Kauddula National Park, also located near the Golden Triangle, wild elephants can be observed all year round. Moreover, buffaloes, crocodiles, langurs and even a few leopards live in the park.

Despite its proximity to the Golden Triangle , Kauddula is a non-tourist and very quiet place. Safaris can be booked in any guest house of Sigiriya , Dambulla or Habaran.

Wasgamuwa National Park

The third national park, located near the Golden Triangle – Vasgamuva Park. The park is located only 10 km from Polonaruwa and is most often visited by those who stop for a couple of days in Polonaruwa. In addition to elephants, bears live in the park – Gubach, however, despite the rather large population, it is almost impossible to see them.

Gal Oya National Park

The Gal Oya National Park, located on the east coast of the island, is distinguished from other national parks in Sri Lanka by the presence in the park of the island’s largest water reservoir on the island. In addition, the Gal Oya Park is one of the least visited by tourists of the island’s national parks. Accordingly, this area is suitable only for lovers of eco-tourism.

Elephants in the park can be seen quite often. In addition, leopards live here, many peacocks and more than 150 species of birds.

In addition to the jeep safari in the park you can take a boat trip with a picnic on the island. By the way, during the boat ride there is a pretty big chance to see floating elephants).

National parks that are famous for a large population of exotic birds

Sri Lanka – a paradise for ornithologists. The largest bird population is in the national parks of the far South of Sri Lanka – Bundala, Yala and Kuman. In the Gal Oya National Park, birds can be watched while boating. But in the national parks of Sinharaj and Horton Plateau, the  diversity of birds will be a bonus to the incredible absolutely unique natural landscapes.

Bundala National Park

Located not far from the famous and popular Yala , the Bundala National Park is a completely different and no less interesting experience than a safari in Yala. Bundala is considered one of the best bird watching spots on Sri Lanka. The landscape of the park is a maze of swamps and lagoons, where ibis, pelicans and beauties nest – flamingos. The population of birds in the Bundal has about 200 species, migratory birds often winter there. In the park you can meet peacocks, crocodiles, sea turtles, wild boars and even elephants.

Cumana National Park

Cumana is bordered by the Yala National Park and is often a good alternative to safaris that are organized from Arugambay. Cumana is better known for its bird sanctuary than safari. Most of the reserve is covered with mangroves, marshes and lagoons. Here you can observe the rarest species of birds among which the Asian Yabiru is a beautiful stork with a long black neck. The population of birds in Cumana has about 250 species. In addition to birds, you can see turtles, crocodiles, elephants and even leopards (if very lucky).

Sinharaj Rain Forest

The Sinharadzha Forest Reserve, located in the south of the island, is primarily interesting for its unique rain forests. Unlike most national parks of Sri Lanka, they do not ride a jeep around Sinharaj. Here they walk on foot (on specially marked routes, it is very desirable, accompanied by a guide).

In Sinharaj there are about 150 species of birds, which can be observed during a pedestrian walk through the jungle or settled in one of the park’s lodges.

Horton Plateau (Horton Plains)

Horton Plains National Park is located on a picturesque plateau in the highlands of Sri Lanka , about halfway from Nuwara Eliya in Haputal . People come here to wander through the endless wastelands, admire the beautiful views and waterfalls, and of course watch the birds and the curious roe that have chosen the local places.

Where can I see whales in Sri Lanka

Along the coast of Sri Lanka can be found as blue whales and sperm whales. Moreover, you can watch whales in three different regions of Sri Lanka – in Mirissa in the south, Trincommale in the northeast, and Kalpitiya in the northwest.

Whale watching in Mirissa

Absolutely beautiful and very atmospheric beach Mirissa is perhaps the most popular destination in Sri Lanka for watching blue whales. The most favorable season begins in November and lasts until April.

Whale Watching at Trinckmale

Whales come to the coast of Trinckmale in May, whale watching season lasts until October. C0 of all the beaches of Trincomm are organized by sea tours. In addition, the whales in Trinkommale come pretty close to the shore. Sometimes you can watch them right from high rocky points of the coast. One such place is, for example, the Swami Rock, which has a charming Buddhist temple.

Whale watching in calpee

The Kalpitiya Peninsula is an elongated 40-km strip of land that picturesquely departs into the ocean and is separated from the main coast by a large lagoon. This is the best place in Sri Lanka to observe dolphins and sperm whales, who occasionally approach the coast. In addition, Kalpitiya is an excellent base for exploring the national park Wilpattu (Wilpattu).

On the peninsula, you can find absolutely charming eco-resorts and cute guest-houses. In addition, the coast is beginning to slowly be built up with beach hotels and resorts.

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