Are you an intrepid traveler or wildlife lover? Then Sri Lanka must be on your cards to explore. Sri Lanka is one of the ideal destinations to observe the incredible world of wildlife as well as a wonderful getaway for adventure seekers. Sri Lanka’s National Parks are the best gateway to kick-start your adventure tour or to explore wildlife. Here is a brief guide on Sri Lanka’s top national parks offering safaris.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the most popular wildlife park in Sri Lanka attracting numerous tourists to explore its wonderful wildlife. Park hosts approximately 30 leopards and other numerous species. The park is located about 300 kilometers away from Colombo.
Best for Spotting: Leopards, Sambar (a large deer), Spotted Deer, Wild Pig, Sloth Bears, Ruddy Mongooses, etc.
Safari at Yala National Park
The best time to explore the park is just after the sunrise (4 AM or 6 AM) to catch the inhabitants of the jungle. So, plan your tour beforehand, reach the Yala National Park at the entry time. Tourists can also pre-book the safaris. Pre-bookings are available for half day and full day. If you’re traveling by car, then you need to hire a safari at the entrance gate.
- Half Day – U$D 40
- Full Day – U$D 75
- Galge Half Day – U$D 50
- Galge Full Day – U$D 85
Note: The Yala National Park remains closed during September – mid-October of every year for the development of infrastructure and to allow flora and fauna of the park without any interruption.
Wilpattu National Park
The Wilpattu National Park – Sri Lanka’s largest park is located in the historical city of Anuradhapura. The national park is approximately 180 kilometers away from Colombo. The park is home to more than 30 species of mammals. The leopard and big-cat lovers will keep on returning to this national park.
Best for Spotting: Leopards, Bears, Deer, Elephants, Crocodiles, Reptiles, Migratory Water-birds, Barking Deer, Star Tortoises and excellent birdlife etc.
Safari at Wilpattu National Park
Safari at Wilpattu National Park will give you true forest experience. Jeep safaris are available for morning, evening, or full-day. Start your jeep safari at 5:30 AM or 2:30 PM. ‘Villu’ are the special attraction of the park- shallow natural lakes filled with rainwater. Its safari includes hotel pick up and drop off within the range of 5 kilometers of park entrance gate.
Safari fares: It may cost US$ 98 approximately for 1 pax. The fare changes for morning safaris, afternoon safari, and full day safaris. Tourists can also book safaris along with accommodation. Safari takes 3 to 4 hours approximately. Tourists can also go for camping at the park which costs $300.
Suggested time: February to October is the best time to explore the Wilpattu National Park.
Kumana National Park
Kumana National Park holds its bird sanctuary and home to numerous larger mammals as in Yala west park. The park is settled in the Eastern part of Yala National park. Exploring Kuman National Park is a great opportunity to spot a rich diversity of bird life. Apart from vast bird life, visitors can spot elephants, leopards, golden jackal, wild boar, turtles, crocodiles and much more.
Safari at Kumana National Park
The banks of Kumbukkan Oya are the best spot for birdwatchers. This site is off-the-beaten-track and can be only accessed by 4WD vehicle. Enjoy Kumana National Park safari and encounter the unforgettable views of exotic birds such as pelicans, egrets, cormorants, herons, painted storks, and much more.
What else you can spot: Elephants, leopards, spotted, and sambhur deer, golden jackal, wild boar, European otter and much more.
Safari fares: $63.00
Suggested time: April to July is the best time to enjoy the best safari experience and explore tens of thousands of birds.
Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park is home to amazing diversity of wildlife. The park is located 182 kilometers away from Colombo. Minneriya National Park is considered to be the largest meeting place of Asian elephants in the world. During August to September herds of up to 300 elephants can be seen within few squares of kilometers.
Safari at Minneriya National Park
Enjoy the exclusive jeep safari from 5:30 AM to 8:30 AM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM and experience a close encounter with herds of elephants and wildlife. If you’re lucky you can spot crocodile or very rare Gray slender loris. Especially during dry season, you can spot a huge number of Sri Lankan Elephants gathering on the edges of the reservoir.
What else you can spot: Endemic monkeys of Sri Lanka, axis deer, sambar deer, rare and endangered species like leopard, sloth bear and other birds like painted stork, adjutant, spot-billed pelican, and much more.
Safari fares: Starts from US$ 75 (fare also includes pick up and drop off, entrance charges to the national park and other taxes). Safaris are available for morning (at 5.30 AM), afternoon (at 2 PM), half-day (for 5 hour 30 minutes), and full-day (for 11 hours).
Suggested time: May to October is the best time to view the huge gatherings of elephant herds and other wildlife.
Wasgamuwa National Park
Wasgamuwa National Park attracts numerous tourists for its adventurous safaris and the majestic beauty of wildlife. Polonnaruwa is the nearest town located. The park is approximately 220 kilometers away from the city of Colombo.
Safari at Wasgamuwa National Park
Explore the bounteous land of Wasgamuwa National Park & spot over 140 species of birds as well as elephants. Enjoy spotting the most dazzling and magnificent animals. 3-4 hour Safari across this wonderful and magical wildlife park will make you exhilarate and thrill.
What else you can spot: Endemic purple-faced Langur, the Toque Macaque, rare leopard, water buffalo, sloth bear, axis deer, etc.
Safari fares: Starts from $30. Tourists can have three options to book safaris – morning safari, evening safari, and full day safari.
Suggested time: November to May is the best time to spot large herds of elephants.
Note: Safari fares are subjected to change at any national park depending on number of passengers and timings.
Safaris are a way of life for wildlife lovers and nature enthusiasts. Go for one, you will definitely enjoy the tryst with God’s creations.