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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 01, 2019
Headline for National Parks of Sri Lanka - The Wild Side
Joanna James Joanna James
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National Parks of Sri Lanka - The Wild Side

Sri Lanka is home to a variety of species like leopards, elephants and more! With 26 national parks in the country, it is a haven for the wildlife enthusiasts. Here are some that are worth visiting.


Yala National Park

This is the second largest and the most visited national park in the country. With the park spanning more than 900 square metres, it has 5 blocks, out of which only 2 are open to the public. It is here that a variety of wild animals, notably the leopard, are spotted. Therefore, Yala is definitely one of the must-visit places if you wish to go on one of the adventure tours in Sri Lanka.

The ecosystem of the park ranges from marine wetlands to monsoon forests to freshwater wetlands. And is home to more than 200 species of birds out of which 6 are endemic and 44 species of mammals?


Wilpattu National Park

This is situated 185km away from Colombo in the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. The most striking feature of this park is that it has almost 60 lakes and tanks spread across the park which spans across nearly 1300 square kilometres. It is because of the lakes, also called "willus", the park gets its name from. There are 31 species of mammals including some of the threatened species like the elephants, the Sri Lankan sloth bears, Sambhur deer and leopards. You can also spot some interesting birds like the Whistling Teal, Cattle Egret, Purple Heron, Spoonbill and more. There are many safaris conducted by private companies like Walkers Tours which are quite reliable and safe.


Udawalawe National Park

This park was created as a sanctuary to provide a habitat for the wild animals which were displaced due to the nearby construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir. The park is located further south in the Sabaragamuva Province. Due to the Reservoir, many elephants and water buffaloes are attracted to the park. You will also be able to spot Black-naped hares, Toque Macaque, Spotted deer and wild boars. Leopards are not very popular here. The Udawalawe National Park is also one of the best places to witness Raptors and endemic birds like the Sri Lanka green pigeon, Grey-hornbill, Indian-pond heron, Painted stork, Woolly-necked stork and Yellow-wattled lapwing among a few others.


Minneriya National Park

The main focal point of this park, which is in the North Central Plains of the country, is the Minneriya Rainwater Reservoir which is where the popular Gathering of the wild elephants occur. This is when herds of elephants, exceeding hundreds in numbers, gather around the reservoir during the dry season. The best time to witness this would be during August and September. The park is close to other spectacular landmarks in the country like the Sigiriya Fortress and the Dambulla Cave Temple. The park is home to 170 recorded species of birds and 25 recorded species of reptiles out of which 8 are endemic to Sri Lanka- the popular one being the Red-lipped Lizard.