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Updated by Pushpitha Wijesinghe on Apr 28, 2015
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Best Wild Life Reserves in Sri Lanka - Top Wildlife Sanctuaries in Sri Lanka

Tipped to be a nature lover's dream come true Sri Lanka is home to a large number of wildlife reserves and national parks. Here's a rundown of the country's top wildlife sanctuaries.

1

Minneriya National Park

Nestled between Polonnaruwa and Habarana Minneriya National Park is one of Sri Lanka's most popular wildlife sanctuaries. With a global reputation as one of the few venues in the island to spot leopards in the wild this iconic reserve is the location in which the largest congregation of elephants takes place annually. With a 2000 year old lake at its centerpiece this verdant parkland is home to countless animal species including a large number of toque macaques and sambar deer. The best time to visit the national park is of course during the dry weather spell from July to October. The" Gathering" of innumerable elephants at the Minneriya Lake in the park has been dubbed the 6th best wildlife spectacle in the world as it is the single largest gathering of gentle giants anywhere in the globe.

2

Udawalawe National Park

Tipped to be the best wildlife reserve on the island to spot elephants the Udawalawe National Park is a favorite safari hub for locals as well as tourists. Set up as early as 1972 this sprawling national park surrounding the Udawalawe Reservoir is dubbed the third most visited national park in Sri Lanka. Home to a large number of aquatic birds the venue is the habitat of a whopping 600 gentle giants, the park's chief attraction. Located in the southern reaches of the island's hill station the Udawalawe National Park is also home to an Elephant Transit Home which was set up in 1995 to house 25 orphaned baby elephants. Sambar deer and spotted deer are also found in the reserve in addition to foxes, leopards and large herds of buffalos. An impressive 30 species of snakes are all part of the landscape while the park is also a popular haunt for campers as camping facilities by the Walawe River and the reservoir are available.

3

Yala National Park

Occupying the southeastern fringes of the country Yala National Park holds the honor of being the island's most popular national park to date. Ranked among the top wildlife hubs in Asia by the BBC this extensive natural sanctuary is divided in to five regions of which two are open to visitors. Block One is perhaps Yala National Park's most documented and coveted attribute as it holds the highest density of leopards on the island. Other inhabitants of the park include countless elephants as well as peacocks and other bird species. Verdant and breathtaking all year round the sheer breadth and variety of wildlife inhabiting the reserve is truly impressive.

4

Wilpattu National Park

As the country's largest national reserve the Wilpattu National Park also holds the honor of being Sri Lanka's oldest wildlife sanctuary. Occupying the western shores of the island Wilpattu National Park is one of the lushest and verdant national parks on the island with a temperate climate. Known for the large number of natural tanks within its confines (known as Villus in the local language) the park provides sustenance in the form of water for innumerable wildlife inhabitants during the dry seasons. Home to a large bear and leopard populace the best time to explore the Wilpattu National Park falls between the months of January and May.

5

Kumana National Park

A veritable treasure trove for bird lovers Kumana National Park is the island's most prolific bird sanctuary. Providing a leafy habitat to endemic as well as migratory bird species the venue is a hotspot for bird watching enthusiasts the world over. Home to a whopping 255 species of birds some of the more sought after winged beauties occupying Kumana include Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Eurasian Spoonbill and the Black Necked storks while Wood sandpipers and Purple Herons are also regularly spotted by visitors. Visitors hoping to tour the island's top nature reserves can make booking through Cvisit, a comprehensive online booking service for accommodation needs.