Ultimate Guide to Wildlife in Sri Lanka: The Best Outside Africa

National Parks of Sri Lanka

Yala National Park

Thanks to a river running through it, Yala National Park is divided into two sections: Ruhuna National Park (referred to as Yala) and the most well known block, Kumana National Park (referred to as Yala East). Because the river makes crossing to the other side difficult, Yala is really treated as two separate parks. But that doesn’t change the fantastic offerings! From elephant rides, leopard sightings, Jeep safaris, and many historical and religious ruins to explore, there are so many things that will keep you busy. Keep an eye out for other mammals, such as the sloth bear, elephants, and many birds that flitter through the trees. Local resorts and hotels offer comfortable places to sleep and delicious, local cuisine. We can’t wait to see you at Yala National Park—on either side!

Wilpattu

Wilpattu National Park is also known as the land of the lakes because of the sixty plus lakes dotting the landscape. Not only that, but it juts up against the ocean, giving it a long stretch of golden, sandy beach. Wilpattu is the oldest and the largest National Park in Sri Lanka—which makes this one place you don’t want to miss! It’s also known to have the most dense population of leopards in Sri Lanka. If you want to see one of these beautiful, elusive creatures, just take a Jeep safari at the park entrance. The guide will take you around the willu’s (or lakes) and help you spot other endemic bird species, as well as mammals such as elephants and sloth bears. There are campsites to rent or resorts to stay at (don’t forget an ayurveda treatment!) and many delicious places to get local fare.

Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is an incredible place to visit! You will be surprised by the wonderful nature and the unique atmosphere. The national park is close to some big cities so you can be there in a few hours. Jeep safaris and bird watching tours will blown you away. Make sure to spend at least half a day here to enjoy everything to the fullest!

Minneriya

Minneriya National Park is a calm, scenic, and peaceful place to visit. If you’re an animal lover and a thrill-seeker, come try out a hot air balloon ride! You can catch glimpses of the elephants at the reservoir as they eat the long grasses. Jeep safari’s are available for those who prefer to stay on the ground. Trek to the observation huts for the best view of the landscape, or go bird watching. There are over one hundred and sixty different species of birds in Minneriya, and some of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. Local cities provide warm, comfortable accommodations and plenty of delicious places to eat. We can’t wait to see you at Minneriya National Park!

Kumana

Bird lovers and nature enthusiasts will love Kumana National Park! Not only are there hundreds of birds that call this place home—some rare and endemic species—but there are hundreds of thousands of birds that stop here during the migratory season. Kumana is also less crowded, even during the high season, as opposed to the other National Parks, so you can enjoy a quiet visit. There are plenty of monasteries and ruins scattered throughout the verdant jungle forest, including ancient inscriptions describing a giant warrior that helped them build it. Arugam Bay provides plenty of comfortable accommodations and delicious food. If you want a peaceful experience of bird watching and animal spotting, make your way to Kumana!

Gal Oya National Park

If you are a lover of nature and love to explore, then don’t pause a single moment to visit Gal Oya National Park! This protected space is acclaimed as one of the pride gems of Sri Lanka. Discover the beautiful, variegated backdrop of flowers and greenery on a jeep safari—and keep an eye out for leopards and local birds! When you take a boat tour on the Senanyake Samudraya Reservoir, you can catch a glimpse of water buffalo as well as swimming elephants between islands. If you want a little adventure, head into the jungle to catch a glimpse of the Buddhalanga Sanctuary and Monastery. At the end of the day, there are plenty of places to say, including the beautiful Gal Oya lodge, as well as delicious places to eat in Ampara. This stunning national park awaits you, so book your trip today!

Lahugala National Park

Bird spotting, animal watching, and reconnecting with nature, these are your best laid plans while traveling to Lahugala National Park! The best times to visit are early morning and evening, as the big elephant herds that grace the reservoirs tend to come out most then. And if you love birds, then this is a bird watcher’s paradise! Be sure to run your fingers through the grass and enjoy your time here, even if you’re only stopping on your way to Yala. Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the nearby ruins and legendary moonstones. Sri Lanka is full of history everywhere you go! Nearby accommodations and restaurants in Arugam ensure that this will be a comfortable and delicious stop on your trip to Sri Lanka.

Wasgamuwa

Wildlife sanctuaries are one of the famous attractions of Sri Lanka and a great opportunity to see the wild side of the country. Wasgamuwa National Park is a perfect place for nature lovers. From ancient Buddhist ruins, to massive herds of elephants, and maybe an elusive leopard or sloth bear, there is so much to see here. Visit the Wasgamuwa Reservoir for a glimpse at endemic or migratory birds, or appreciate the grandeur of the giant canal of Kalinga, which feeds water to the whole park. There are campsites available for the more adventurous travelers that want to sleep under the stars, and delicious places to grab some food and get you ready for your next stop. Come to Wasgamuwa and see the wild side of Sri Lanka for yourself!

WildLife Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Leopard Safaris

Being on a leopard’s trail in Sri Lanka is like being on your own nature show! Rolling through the deep forests amidst the early morning mists, animals playing hide and seek as your eyes roam keenly to check out even a distant dot. Excitement thickening with anticipation and finally climaxing with the encounter of your heart’s desire! And all of this in the world’s most natural setting.

So when you hit the country, a leopard safari should feature in your teardrop island itinerary for sure!