You can find a rich array of animals in Sri Lanka. In fact, Sri Lanka is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, with a high number of endemic species. This idyllic tropical island is home to giant mammals, colourful birdlife and an abundant underwater world. Whilst the most famous animals in Sri Lanka include leopards and elephants, there is much more to discover when you travel here. If you are planning a safari in Sri Lanka, here are the most unmissable places to spot the local wildlife!
Yala National Park
Established in 1938, Yala National Park is one of the best places to spot wildlife in Sri Lanka. Located on the island’s south coast, Yala encompasses open grasslands, sand dunes, dense forests and lagoons. Covering an area of 979 square kilometres, here you can find the most famous animal in Sri Lanka: the leopard! In fact, Yala National Park is home to the highest concentration of leopards in the world! Despite this, it is still a treat to spot these animals as they are notoriously elusive. If you take a safari in Yala you can also look out for langur monkeys, spotted deer, wild boar and golden jackals. Furthermore, elephants, crocodiles and sloth bear also call Yala National Park their home.
Minneriya National Park
If you are an elephant lover, you cannot miss out on a safari in Minneriya National Park. Established in 1997, Minneriya is famous as a dry season feeding ground for the elephant populations of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee. Between June and September, hundreds of elephants descend on the grassy plains of Minneriya, making for an unforgettable spectacle for nature lovers! In fact, the elephant migration here is thought to be the largest recurring Asian elephant gathering in the world! Furthermore, Minneriya National Park is also known for its rich birdlife, in particular its water birds. These include little cormorants, storks and pelicans. Minneriya is located in the north-central province of Sri Lanka, around 182 kilometres from Colombo.
Bundala National Park
Stretching for 20 kilometres along Sri Lanka’s south coast, Bundala National Park is a bird-watching paradise. Encompassing a wide array of terrains, such as jungle, wetlands and salt pans, Bundala attracts an array of migratory birds. Huge flocks of pink flamingos migrate here from India in the winter, whilst peacocks, storks and bee-eaters are abundant. In fact, around 200 different bird species can be found throughout Bundala’s verdant waterways and forests. Watch out for crocodiles, who stalk the waterways, and keep an eye on the treetops to see groups of grey langur monkeys.
Udawalawe National Park
Located south of the central mountains, Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places to see animals in Sri Lanka. Home to rich grasslands and forests, the park is best known for its population of Sri Lankan elephants. Over 250 grey giants live permanently within Udawalawe, so you can be sure to spot them if you choose a safari here. Indeed, it is the third most visited national park in the country. Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home, located within the park, acts as a halfway house for abandoned or sick elephants.
Hikkaduwa Marine National Park
From the abundant wildlife on land to the rich underwater world, Hikkaduwa Marine National Park is located along Sri Lanka’s southern coast. A nature reserve since 1988, Hikkaduwa boasts an array of coral and fish species. With a large, shallow fringing reef, this national park is best explored on a scuba diving excursion. More than 170 reef fish can be spotted here, as well as sea turtles and dugongs.
Of all the animals in Sri Lanka, one of the most exciting is the blue whale, the largest creature in the world. Situated on the south coast, Mirissa is a small beach town, famous for its whale-watching excursions. Although May to October is best for whale-watching, the seas around here are abundant in dolphins and sea turtles too! If you take a whale-watching excursion you can expect to see the mighty blue whale, but sperm, fin and killer whales also frequent these warm waters!
Searching for wildlife in Sri Lanka is sure to be an unforgettable experience! With beautiful landscapes, idyllic coastlines and unspoilt nature reserves, a trip to Sri Lanka is perfect for all the family. Ready to discover Sri Lanka? Explore our latest itineraries at Exoticca, your online travel agency.