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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.


Amazing experience - great company values

We had a wonderful stay at yala camp - great accommodation / food / safari. The staff were all outstanding - all full of passion for their role to make sure we had an unforgettable experience and absolutely committed to providing an ethical product. This company provides a perfect safari experience - no plastics / sustainable / local produce / knowledgeable committed staff. An honour to be a guest and support them."

J K wrote, Traveled as a couple
December 2019

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