When you think of Sri Lanka, you think of the Famous Ceylon Tea, the Fragrant Cinnamon or the Iconic Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress. The leopard, however is often overlooked due to its availability in other regions of the world. Then why is wildlife in Sri Lanka worth exploring? Sri Lanka is home to 33 different endemic bird species and 18 endemic mammals counting up to 300+ endemic species in this small island. Rich in biodiversity, 22 National Parks spread across the island home these wonderful creatures. No two national parts are the same in Sri Lanka, some known for its variety of colorful birds while others known for its abundance of gentle giants, each national park is worth spending time and exploring.
Yala National Park
The ever so popular Yala National Park is the most popular NP in Sri Lanka. Boasting of having the highest density of leopards in the world, Yala is positioned in the South East part of the island. Visiting Yala National Park is a must for the wildlife enthusiast. The Leopards and the elephants can be found throughout the year but the Sloth Bear is mostly seen wandering the park between the months of May and July with the bearing of Palu fruits; the sloth bears favourite food, Be warned, due to the annual drought and mating seasons, two main potions of Yala National Park is closed during the months of September and October.
Minneriya and Kaudulla National Park
The Minneriay and Kaudulla National Parks are known for one very important event. The annual elephant gathering. An event organized by mother nature herself, the elephant gathering of Sri Lanka a phenomenon attracting many elephants and tourists alike. During the the dry season the land is parched, and fresh grass is hard to come by, so the best way to stay out of the scorching heat and snack while doing so is to hang around by the Minneriya Tank found in the park still filled with water. Like bees to honey, these great beasts flock around the lakes to graze the rich and fertile foliage found in the vicinity and cool down with a refreshing bath during the dry season. This world famous phenomenon is one of the largest wild Asian Elephant gatherings in the world with reports of herds as large as almost 300 = 400 elephants.
Wilpattu National Park
The Wilpattu National Park is the lesser known, more talented brother of the Popular Yala National Park. Larger in size and housing the highest number of natural “Willus” or lakes in Sri Lanka, Wilpattu National Park is where you go if you want to see animals without the coaches of tourists around. Denser forests give more hiding places for the critters but lack of abundance in accommodation keeps the flocks of tourists at bay, allowing a private and undisturbed viewing of animals in their natural habitats.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
The largest rainforest found in Sri Lanka has the highest number of endemic species calling this little jungle their home. From the Red Faced Mal Koha to the Sri Lankan Grey Hornbill this forest reserve is teeming with wildlife waiting to be explored. The Sinharaja forest however is not for the faint hearted as the most common sightings are leeches. The Rainforest Eco Lodge an ecofriendly hideaway found in the borders of the reserve is ideal for lodging while exploring this little haven of life and is the preferred partner of ArTravele.
Gal Oya National Park
The Gal Oya National Park located East of Kandy is a thick jungle with little to no network connection after passing the town of Bibile. For the travelers who want to go off the grid for a while, this is the ideal location. The Gal Oya Lodge found bordering the tick foliage offers the perfect blend between rustic and luxury living. The clay huts and straw roofs give the best coolant mother nature can offer The main attraction at the Gal Oya National Park is not the thick jungles or the amazing accommodation. It is the swimming elephants. Yes, these humongous animals submerge in the water and paddle across great lakes to get to the lush greens with only their trunks above the water
Udawalawe National Park
A haven for the wild elephants in the area, Udawalawe National Park is 1-2 hours drive from you beach stay Down South. If you missed elephant gathering in MInneriya, Udawalawe National Park in the place to visit to satisfy all your elephant needs. Along with rare sightings of leopards and bears, the herds of elephants will be the highlight of your trip. Support the local elephant population by visiting the Elephant Transit home that helps often elephants with minimal human contact in order to release them back into the wild unchanged.
Waking up to the sounds of birds harmonically blending into the sounds of animals and creaking trees is the kind of alarm we all should thrive to experience at least once in your lifetime, and Sri Lanka is the idea destination to tick off of this bucket list.
Listen to the call of the wild and plan your holiday now