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Updated by Hiru Piumwardena on Feb 10, 2020
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The 8 best Safari journeys of Sri Lanka to include in your travel plans of the island

Sri Lanka is a home for plenty of wild animals; the most interesting being the Asian elephants and the leopards. Though the island has a total of 16 national parks and wildlife reserves, only a handful are open to the public and deemed safe to travel through. It’s always best checking the best parks to visit according to the month you’re hoping to visit Sri Lanka in, and checking where to stay in sri lanka to get to those parks with ease, to avoid disappointment.

Here are 8 of the best Safari journeys of the country in which you’d most likely catch wildlife in all its glory…

Source: https://www.citrusleisure.com/

1

Wasgamuwa National Park

Wasgamuwa National Park

225km away from the capital Colombo, and popularly known as a national park without the crowds, the Wasgamuwa national park is a great place to connect with nature without interruptions. Situated in the Matale and Pollonnaruwa districts, this national park stretch over an area of 39,322ha. As this is the home of wild animals like elephants, leopards and bears, being cautious is imperative. Other animals you’d likely see in this area include Monitor lizards, spotted deer and Sri Lankan “Ruddy” mongoose. You’re also likely to spot a few black eagles on your journey thereespecially during the dry season.

2

Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park

This national park is situated in between the Sabaragamuwa and Uva province of the island; 165km from Colombo. It covers an area of 30,821ha, and is known as the home of wild elephants. Herds of over 250 elephants live in the area, and are easy to spot with the least amount of effort. The safari will roughly take you around 3 and half hours to complete. Apart from the elephants, you will also be able to spot plenty of peacocks, water buffalos, jackals, and if you’re very vigilant, leopards. Though its hardly a complicated route to follow, it’s always best travelling with an experienced travel guide for your safety.

3

Yala Safari

Yala Safari

One of the most well known national parks of the island, the Yala national park is located 300km away from Colombo. Yala national park is the home to many aquatic wildlife, as well as herds of elephants, a handful of leopards, crocodiles, sloth bears and spotted deer. As this national park is more well know, expect to meet plenty of other tourists in the mission of spotting a few wild animals. Be mindful that the ride is bumpy and rough; prepare yourself for it.

4

Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park

Located in the historical city of Pollonnaruwa, the Kaudalla national park in situated 197km away from Colombo. This area was declared a national park in 2002, and stretched over an area of 6900ha. The entire trip will take you roughly 2 hours. However, like all other adventures we’ve mentioned above, you need get there early to not only beat the slight crowd, but to also spot the animals better. Apart from the presence of the magnificent elephants, you will also be able to witness wild foxes, water buffalos, peacocks and porcupines here.

5

Gal Oya National Park

Gal Oya National Park

The Gal Oya national park is situated between the Uva and Eastern provinces, close to Ampara. This national park is roughly 314km from Colombo, and stretches over an area of 25,900ha. The Gal Oya national park is famous for having elephants living in it all year long, making it the ideal place to visit if you had little time to plan your visit to the island. Safaris via both jeep and boat are available to view this national park, and taking both safaris are highly recommended. Apart from the elephants and wild life mentioned above, this area is particularly important as its also the home of the indigenous tribes of Sri Lanka, the veddha.

6

Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park

The Minneriya national park is located 182km from Colombo, in the North central province of the island. It stretches over an area of 8,889ha. While it’s true that most national parks of the island are built around water holes, tanks and reservoirs, the Minneriya tank is historically important to the locals, as it was built by the much loved king Mahasen. The entire safari will roughly take around 3 hours. Apart from the herds of elephants, you’ll also be enchanted by the scenery; the wide open panes of the area can be quite spectacular.

7

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

This national park is located 245km from Colombo, in the Southern province of Sri Lanka. It has a land area of 6216ha, and is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory birds. Though you’ll most likely spot a few elephants here, it is more famous for the greater flamingo. Monkeys, wild boars and crocodiles are also frequently spotted here.

8

Willpattu National Park

Willpattu National Park

The Willpattu national park is situated between the North Western and North Central provinces of Sri Lanka, around 180km from Colombo. It stretches over an area of 131,693 ha, and is the largest national park of the island. This national park was closed due to security reasons until recent times, and therefor is immensely popular with locals as well.