Wildlife Tours - Sri Lanka
Every corner of Sri Lanka is bountiful in nature. From the oceans, lakes, and rivers, to the mountains, jungles, and forests, all of it is full of fascinating flora and fauna. Did you know that about 23% of animals and 16% of plants in Sri Lanka are endemic? This means that they do not exist in any other part of the world! Wildlife enthusiasts traveling to Sri Lanka cannot miss “The Big 4”, which is the name given to four majestic animals that are special to the island. These are: the Sri Lankan Elephant, the Sri Lankan Leopard, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, and the Blue Whales. All of them, except the blue whale, are endemic to the country.
Other endemic animals you can expect to encounter in their natural habitats are primates like the Red Slender Loris, the Toque Macaque, and the Purple-Faced Langur. All three of these primates have been listed as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and are also endemic.
Bird-lovers don't have to miss out either, as this paradise island is home to about 450 different types of our feathered friends. Of them, 33 have been recorded to be endemic, and 68 are endemic sub species. The indigenous species of birds are approximately 236, while 203 others are migrant. The rest of these winged-beauties are said to be vagrant. These fascinating birds are distributed all around the country.
Sri Lanka might be small, but it is bursting with treasures of nature and wildlife, waiting for you to explore them. Not only is it the ultimate wildlife destination in Asia, but has also been globally recognized as one of the topmost bio-diverse countries in the world. And that's what makes Sri Lanka a must-visit for any nature or animal-lover!
Most Popular Safaris in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is home to about 60 national parks and reserves, some of which are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each of these places are unique and rich in their biodiversity, and situated in all different parts of the country. Here are some of the most popular national parks and safaris of Sri Lanka;
- Yala National Park
Yala is perhaps the most well-known and most visited of all the national parks in Sri Lanka. Yala is known as “Leopard Country” because of the large number of leopards that reside here. In fact, Yala is recognized to have the largest concentration of leopards in the whole world! At Yala, you will witness these majestic felines in their natural habitats, and also catch a few glimpses of other animals like Elephants, Monkeys, Sloth Bears, and over 200 species of birds!
- Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is the largest national park in Sri Lanka, and is equally famous to Yala. Given that they are situated in opposite sides of the island, the choice may be purely geographical. Situated in dry lowlands and lakes, the park is home to several animals and birds.
During your tour of Wilpattu, you'll spot Peacocks, Jungle Fowls, Crocodiles, Flycatchers, and so much more. Several kinds of Deer are also regular residents of Wilpattu, including the unique Barking Deer. Of course, a safari at Wilpattu wouldn't be complete without the sight of a Sleek Leopard, the grunting Sloth Bear, or a thundering Elephant passing by.
- Sinharaja Forest Reserve
The Sinharaja Rainforest, Sri Lanka's last remaining tropical rainforest, falls under the Man and Biosphere Forest Reserve program by UNESCO, which pledges to promote the protection of natural ecosystems and sustainable development. It is one of Asia' most diverse rainforests, being the home of more than 50% of Sri Lanka's endemic species of birds, mammals, and butterflies, as well as several species of reptiles, amphibians, and insects. About 60% of trees and plants in Sinharaja are also endemic.
- Minneriya National Park
Minneriya is one of the smallest national parks in Sri Lanka, expanding just 30 miles, but that just means its a much more thrilling journey than larger parks. The sanctuary is packed with various types of animals and birds, including the Sri Lankan sambar and Sri Lankan axis deers, the toque macaque and purple-faced langur monkeys, painted stork, spot-billed pelican, Sri Lankan grey hornbill and more. You might even catch a glimpse of the Sri Lankan leopard and the Sri Lankan sloth bear.
Nevertheless, the Minneriya National Park is best known for a display called “the Gathering”, where more than 400 elephants gather around the park's reservoir during the drier months of the year, from September to October. This is known to be one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world, and is a sight not to be missed!
- Bundala National Park
Bird lovers cannot miss Bundala National Park, as it harbors about 197 species of these feathered beauties. Bundala is a wintering ground frequented by migrating water birds from all around the island and neighboring countries as well. The highlight at this park is the large flock of greater flamingos that migrate from India.
Other than that, you can expect sightings of the Waterfowl, Cormorant, Asian Openbill, Black-Necked Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, and others. The park is also home to several species of Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Invertebrates. Mammals like the Spotted Deer, Asian Elephant, Porcupine, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Fishing Car, Leopard, and Mongoose also habituate this sanctuary. Bundala is also a breeding ground for all five kinds of globally endangered Sea Turtles.
- Udawalawe National Park
This park is comprised of vast, sprawling wetlands and the massive Walawe Reservoir. It's habitants include some 400 or so Elephants, and about 43 other types of mammals like the golden Jackal, Sri Lankan Leopard, Water Buffalo, Tuffed Grey Langur, the endemic Ceylon Spiny Mouse, and more.
It is another great place to go bird watching, as several fascinating species of birds live here, including 3 varieties of Eagles (changeable Hawk Eagle, Serpent Eagle, and Grey-Headed Fish Eagle). You might also spot other birds like the Painted Stork, Red-Faced Malkoha, Sri Lankan Superfowl, Brown-Capped Babbler, and etc. Other wildlife you can spot here include various species of Reptiles, Fish, Amphibians, and Invertebrates.