Sri Lanka is an exotic enchantment when it comes to natural beauty and wildlife. Home to the most impressive wildlife found in Asia, the land is famous for Asian Elephants, leopard, hairy sloth bear and flamboyant birds. It welcomes every wildlife enthusiast with its 22 National Parks which are undoubtedly the best in the world. No one can deny the visual treat provided by elephant herds, enormous whales, leopards, dolphins and colourful reefs perfectly teeming with rainbow-coloured fish.
Here is list of Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks that have earned an international repute:
Bundala National Park
Sprawling over an area of 6216 hectares, in the Hambantota District, Bundala is home to more than 197 species of migratory birds. Designated a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1969 and a National Park in 1993, the place is a great destination to witness the Greater Famingo, crocodiles and elephants.?
Activities: Bird Watching and Game Drive
Yala National Park
Nestled in the south-east of Sri Lanka, Yala is a premier national park with arguably home to the best for mammals in Asia. The major draw here is the Leopard population alongwith sambar, spotted deer, golden jackal, Indian palm civet and a variety of langur monkey. Ardent bird watchers can witness around 220 types of birds in a single day.
Activities: Safari with BBQ dinner, Full day Guided Tour, Bird Watching and Camping
Udawalawe National Park
Established with an intention to protect the Udawalawe Reservoir, this park, on the south of central mountains, is a scrub jungle and a riverine forest. The national park is best for preserving and sheltering the Asian Elephants, around 500 in the park. Other than elephants, you can find hawk eagle, serpent eagle and grey-headed fish eagle.
Activities: Jeep Safari, Game Drive, Hiking in Tea Plantations and sightseeing
Gal Oya National Park
Established in the year 1954, Gal Oya National park sits on the southeast region of Sri Lanka. Built to care the catchment area of Senanayake Samudra' Reservoir, it is a famous major eco tourism destination. Birding enthusiasts will meet 150 of Sri Lanka's 430 species of birds found in this region.
Activities: Boat Safari, Jeep Safaris and Nilgala/Makare Day Trip
Horton Plains National Park
The highest plateau in the country, the National Park is undoubtedly one of the world’s best nature reserves and eco tourism venues. Surrounded by picturesque rolling hills, the park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna alongwith 87 bird species (14 of which are endemic), including migratory birds.
Activities: Hiking & Camping, Trek to the Devil's Staircase, visit Baker's and Bambarakanda Falls
Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks
Surrounded with scrub jungles and two large reservoirs, these two parks are just half an hour drive away from each other in the North Central Province. Though not very popular for game viewing, but they are the best place to witness the seasonal congregation of elephants; around 300 elephants. Also visit the ruined monasteries nearby and the palaces of Polonnaruwa.
Activities: Meet the Seasonal elephants and also witness large flocks of little cormorants
Mirissa, Kalpitiya and Trincomalee - Venue for Whale Watching
Developed for whale watching tourism, these are the best venues for blue whale mostly spotted between December to March. Kalpitiya is famous for its dolphins and super-pods of sperm whales. Being close to Wilpattu National Park and Bar Reef Marine Sanctuary, it is also great for snorkeling. Trincomalee has a good number of Blue whales clearly seen from the pool-side of resorts and Swami Rock. Mirissa, famous for exciting water activities is also a great place for Whale and dolphin watching mostly between November to April.