The Best Wildlife National Parks in Sri Lanka

In simple words, Sri Lanka is known to be one of the amazing places in Asia for wild. This lovely island has a heavy rainfall of the two monsoons and country's altitude has given Sri Lanka a lovely combination of biodiversity and climate throughout the country.

Sri Lanka has a heritage of over 2000 years and many lands have been preserved as sanctuaries by the Sri Lankan government. Mihintale is the world's first reserve which was created in the 3rd BC. Below are a few of the hundreds.

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains is the highest plateau in Sri Lanka. This location is filled with rich plants and animals that are adapted to cool climate. The whistling thrush and bush warbler can been widely sighted at Horton Plains. Apart from the birds the dwarf lizard can be found at the montane zones. The temperature in this location falls below zero at nightfall at most of the time.

  • Best for: Bird watching around the stunning 880 metre drop-off of the Worlds End
  • Drive time Colombo: Five Hours
  • What's nearby? The mountains of Nuwara Eliya.
Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks

Minneriya and Kadulla National parts and located in North Central province around 2 large reservoirs. Each of the parks is located in between a half an hour drive. The scrub jungle surrounds the lakes and has many mammals within. Although viewing a game is poor, during the seasonal congregation, many elephants gather at the Minneriya during September and October where over 300 elephants gather at the Minneriya Lake.

  • Best for: Huge flocks of small cormorants and Elephants (based on season).
  • Drive time: Five-and-a-half hours
  • What's nearby? Ruins of monasteries and castles in Polonnaruwa.
Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve

Sinharaja is located in the wet area of South East and is the best rainforest in the country. The canopy towers up to 45 metres. More than half of the trees found in Sinharaja cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The main feature in Sinharaja is the variety of species and bird flock within. Nearly 6 birds can make a flock. The birds include green billed coucal, Sri Lankan blue magpie and the red faced Malkoha. Apart from these birds purple faced langur, barking dear, leopards and squirrels can be witnessed.

  • Best for: Various kinds of Birds.
  • Drive time: Five hours
  • What's nearby?The southern seashore of Mirissa
Uda Walawe National Park

Uda Walawe is located in the south of the central mountains which is created to protect the watershed of the massive Uda Walawe Reservoir. Uda Walawe has a large stretch of grassland, jungle and a riverine forest. This park is the best continent for observing wild Asian Elephants. Interestingly the elephants can be virtually guaranteed. Although this park lacks mammals, it contains a wide range of birds where birdwatchers can enjoy. The presence of raptors such as hawk eagle, serpent eagle and the grey headed fish eagle can be seen.

  • Best for: Elephants - This park has around 500 wild Elephants.
  • Drive time from Colombo: Four Hours
  • What's nearby? Tea plantations and hills.
Wasgomuwa National Park

Wasgomuwa is located in the dry low lands of North Central which is 40 kilometres north of Knuckles, one of the locations with a higher biodiversity. Although bears and leopards are rare but many wild elephants can be observed. But various wild animals can be seen in various occasions.

  • Best for: Elephants
  • Drive time from Colombo: Five Hours
  • What's nearby? The amazing Buddha-packed caves in Dambulla.
Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu is known to be Sri Lanka's largest national park. This park is located in the dry lowlands of the North West and contains a series of lakes with various degrees of freshness and sanity. The park was reopened in 2003, after 15 years of closure. The Wilpattu was famous for leopards. The locations recovering its wildlife back after the large human presence in the past. The Fauna of Wilpattu is similar to Yala. People who visits this location has the chance of sighting the barking deer also known as muntjac.

  • Best for: Sightings of the rare sloth bear
  • Drive time from Colombo: Four hours
  • What's nearby? The holy 2,000-year-old Bodhi shrub amongst the historical monuments of the historical town of Anuradhapura.
Yala West (Ruhuna) National Park

Yala is located in the South East district of Sri Lanka which is known as a wonderful lowland area in a long stretch of coastline along with rock out corps. Yala is Sri Lanka's premier national park and is one of the best locations for the mammals in Asia. The sighting of the Sri Lanka leopard, which is endemic to the nation, is the key fact in this park. There are a high number of these wild cats where one can be spotted every square kilometre.

During the June and July seasons, the sloth bears can be observed as it is the fruiting season of the palu trees. Apart from these animals spotted deer's, Sambar (known as a large deer), wild pigs, buffalos, stripe necked and ruddy mongooses, langur monkeys, torque monkeys, Indian palm civet and the golden jackal.

Yala is also a lovely location for birds because of the perfect combination of freshwater, scrubs, marine and woodlands. This wildlife park hosts around 200 bird species. You can also visit the Palatupana Salt Pans or the Bundala National park which is close by to witness many offshore birds.

  • Best for: Leopards - this park hosts nearly 30 wild cats
  • Drive time from Colombo: Six Hours
  • What's nearby? Top-class surfing at Arugam Bay, Bundala National Park