When it comes to wildlife, nationals parks and forest reserves, Sri Lanka is the place to be. Besides the sunny golden beaches and turquoise waters our country is one of the best destinations when it comes to wildlife. From elephant gatherings, leopard spotting and migratory birds, Sri Lanka is the ideal destination for wildlife enthusiast.
Here is list of parks and reserves you must see if you are living in or travelling to Sri Lanka.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a south-west lowland wet zone forest reserve located in the Sabaragamuwa province and a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site and Biosphere reserve. Sinharaja in Sinhala translates “Lion King” is also the last remaining tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka filled with flora, fauna, trees and endemic species of mammals, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians and birds. If you are a wildlife enthusiast Sinharaja Forest will not fail to amaze you. The reserve has 20 rainforest species birds of which 26 are endemic to the country. Reptiles in the reserve include the green pit viper, hump nose viper and tree frog. While there was a recorded elephant population back in the day, sadly we don’t see much of them in Sinharaja anymore. However, other mammals such as leopards, deer and monkeys can be found here. The reserve also has a breathtaking waterfall. Thinking of visiting the rainforest? We have a bungalow in Ratnapura waiting for you.
Situated between Habarana and Polonnaruwa is Minneriya National Park known internationally known for it iconic elephant gathering that takes place during the dry season. One of the best times to witness this beautiful site is in the dry season between the months of July to October. The gathering happens due to lack of waterholes and the drought and elephants have their daily water intake at the man made Minneriya tank. The park has nearly 24 mammals, 160 bird, 9 types of amphibians, 25 reptiles, 26 fish and 75 species of butterflies. There are also endemic species such as the purple faced langur, toque macaque, sambar deer, Sri Lanka axis deer, Sri Lankan leopard and sloth bear. If Minneriya is on your bucket list this year Yoho Polonnaruwa Road is not too far away from making your dreams come true.
One of the most visited in the country, Yala National Park is famous for its high density of leopards. If you are in luck you can spot and take a stunning photograph of leopards resting in their natural habitat. Not only leopards, the park also has other mammals including elephants, sloth bears, wild water buffalos and other wildlife species such as reptiles, amphibians, fish species and invertebrates. There are a few camp sites and home stays closer to the park and if you are travelling with a group, villas would be a great choice for accommodation.
Bundala National Park that belongs to the district of Hambantota is an globally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. The “Greater Flamingos” are a main highlight and the best season to witness them is between September to March. Bundala National Park is the first wetland to be declared a Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands and the park was also selected as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. The park is perfect for birdwatching and is home to a number of different species of mammals including the wild boar, sambar, spotted deer and grey langur monkeys.
Besides what we’ve spoken of, other national parks and reserves in Sri Lanka include Pigeon Island, Wilpattu National Park, Horton Plains National Park, Udawalawe National Park, Wasgamuwa National Park, Gal Oya National Park, Mulativu National Park and Kelani Valley Forest Reserve, all filled with beautiful flora and fauna and open to the public.
Cover image of Kaudulla National Park by Amani Pilapitiya.