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National Parks of Sri Lanka

Situated in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is renowned for its array of untouched habitats and its thriving biodiversity. It has become one of the most popular wildlife destinations in Asia owing to its exciting big game wildlife tours and its many national parks, some of which are recognised as World Heritage Sites.

National Parks of Sri Lanka 1Sri Lanka’s 26 national parks are filled with exotic animals and plant life, some of which are endemic to the island. The Sri Lankan leopard, elephant, and sloth bear are endemic to the country while, together with the Blue Whale and Sperm Whale, they make up the country’s Big Five mammals that attract hordes of tourists each year.

Chief among Sri Lanka’s national parks is the Yala National Park. It is the most visited and the second largest wildlife park in the country. It is extremely popular for its leopard density. It has the highest concentration of leopards in the whole world and in Block 1 this can be as high as one leopard per square kilometre. Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1990, the park covers an area of 979 square kilometres and is home to 25 species of mammal including elephants, water buffaloes, and sloth bears. It is also designated an Important Bird Area in the country.

The Udawalawe National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest wildlife parks and is famous for its resident elephant population. It was instrumental in establishing the Elephant Transit Home which is an important project geared towards the conservation of elephants in Sri Lanka. It is also an important sanctuary for water birds and is also home to several species of mammals.

The Wilpattu National Park is Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest wildlife park and was once a hotspot for Sri Lankan leopards. Although Yala has now taken that title, Wilpattu is still home to a number of endangered species including the sloth bear.

Another of Sri Lanka’s wildlife parks is situated in Wasgamuwa. It was named so for its population of sloth bears and even though it is still a haven for this endangered species, sightings have become rare. It is famed for its diversity of flora and fauna; it’s home to 23 different species of mammals and is an Important Bird Area as well.

Minneriya National Park is a wildlife park that is celebrated for its elephant population. It is widely regarded as the best place in Sri Lanka to spot wild elephant herds and to observe their behaviour. Reported herds have been as large as 400 individuals and the phenomenon known as The Gathering is the largest seasonally recurring gathering of elephants seen anywhere in the world.

National Parks of Sri Lanka 2The Kumana National Park is a birder’s paradise and is known for its abundant populations of wild avifauna. It is adjacent to the Yala National Park so wild leopards and elephants have also been known to roam in these parts. The Bundala National Park also shares similar characteristics to the Kumana National Park and is a world-renowned bird sanctuary where every species of avifauna recorded in Sri Lanka is said to be found at some point of the year.

One of Sri Lanka’s hidden wildlife gems is the Maduru Oya National Park. One of its main features is its elephant habitat while other mammals such as leopards, sloth bears, sambur, spotted deer, wild boar, porcupines, toque macaques, and Indian pangolins are known to freely roam this wild paradise.

Meanwhile, the Gal Oya National Park offers visitors the unique experience of going on a boat safari along its Senanayake Samudraya (Reservoir). Several species of terrestrial mammals including the Sri Lankan leopard have been spotted here while it is also known for its rich variety of flora.

These are some of the country’s best known and most visited national parks. The country has many other bird sanctuaries and wildlife parks strewn across its breathtaking landscape which attract multitudes of wildlife enthusiasts from around the world.


Much more than just a great place to stay

"Thanks to our guide Avinka we had five great safaris staying four nights just after reopening this February. The staff made us feel so very welcome during the entire stay.

The safaries are just wonderful, and having a great guide in your vehicle makes a big difference. Avinka can spot animals you would never see and we were even lucky enough to sight leopards on the trees, close to our vehicle, and also running through the field. The wildlife is so exciting that you will have a great experience even if you don‘t see any leopards. We also had a great driver, which is essential if you drive through difficult territory. You are being taken care of the entire time, so even for those who do safaris for the first time, you will always feel safe.

The camp itself is very comfortable, you get everything you can think of, and on top of the great food being served with so much attention and friendliness. You also get wonderful vegetarian and vegan options. They put on bonfires at night, which makes it unforgettable.
When booking and making plans, you get great support from the headquarters, even if it gets difficult since you have to change your plans.
The best thing what can happen to you at the end of a vacation is when you are a bit sad to leave the place, having experienced something to remember forever, and the team does everything for this to happen. Thank you so much"

Axel S wrote, Traveled with family
January 2021

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