5 national parks for the best Sri Lankan safari experience

Photo by Rukmal Kirtisinghe

Sri Lanka is a tropical island paradise renowned for exotic fruit, a laidback lifestyle and wonderful beaches, but it is more than just a typical beach destination. Going on a Sri Lankan safari is often one of the highlights of travellers’ time on the island.

There is a wealth of nature to be enjoyed in Sri Lanka’s lush jungles, with leopards, bears, elephants, monkeys and many rare species regularly spotted, which has made the Sri Lankan safari experience an absolute must-do for tourists.

Going on safari in this wild and stunningly diverse island nation is one of the best ways to see the splendour of this tiny but unforgettable country, which has 26 officially-designated national parks.

Here are five national parks for the best Sri Lankan safari experience.

1. Yala National Park

With one of the strongest concentrations of leopards in the world, Yala National Park should be on everyone’s list. Crocodiles and elephants also roam Yala, and the diversity of plant life is stunning — over 370 miles of fauna can be found at the national park. Yala is near the city of Kataragama, famous for its religious festivals.

2. Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Reserve is an internationally-renowned biodiversity hotspot and a bird-watcher’s paradise. Having been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Sinharaja is also the last-remaining reserve of dense tropical rainforest on the island and was once a royal reserve too, fitting for an area whose name translates to Lion King.

3. Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park is a must-see for animal lovers. The park allows visitors to experience nature at its most raw and real, with gathering herds of wild elephants, leopards, deer, crocodiles, peacocks and many other wild creatures in their natural habitat. Wilpattu is easy to fit into your schedule after a trip to the cultural sights of nearby Anuradhapura.

4. Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is one of the best spots in Sri Lanka for elephant spotting, with a thriving population of over 400 elephants. Several rare reptiles can also be found in abundance at Udawalawe, along with more than 180 different bird species.

5. Kumana National Park

Near the surfing town of Arugam Bay, Kumana National Park is another great safari destination. With watering holes full of elephants, lagoons with black-necked storks, ibis, and many other birds; Kumana offers a little something for everyone and another great wildlife experience.

© Island Life