Most visited Wildlife National Parks in Sri Lanka

Our country is filled with an amount of beautiful places. But perhaps none shine quite as brightly as our wildlife national parks. Here are the top Sri Lanka wildlife national parks that you just can’t miss!

Leopard quenching thirst at Wilpaththu National Park, Sri Lanka

Admissions to Sri Lanka’s wildlife national parks:

Entry ticket for Yala, Udawalwa, Minneriya or Wilpattu cost US$ 15. So whichever park you decide to visit entry cost is same. However, entry ticket to Bundala is US$ 10. Please also note the shown rate is applicable per foreign adult per visit per park basis. In addition to the entry ticket, there is a service charge of USD 8 per group. You could convert theses rates into Sri Lankan Rupees. Entry ticket is to be purchased at the gate on the day of your visit. On top of the above, there is also a vehicle fee of 250 LKR and VAT 15%. For more information on the different rates make sure to visit the Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka.

Booking a safari jeep:

You will need to hire a safari jeep when you arrive at the park. Cost vary depending on your group size and how you decide to book your safari. Normally, a safari jeep will cost 5000 LKR (US$ 30) for a half day (3 – 4 hours) experience. The cost is not that much higher when you share this between 4 or 6 people. Usually, a safari jeep will fit around 6 people. However, we strongly recommend booking a private safari with an English speaking g uide.

Morning vs afternoon – which is best safari experience ?

One of the big questions are whether to go on safari in the morning or afternoon. Full-day or half-day safaris? It is depend on the time you have in your hands. We suggest you, talk with your tour operator and decide wisely. As a side note, an afternoon safari is probably ideal if you have young children. Prepare appropriately before setting off. There are no toilet facilities inside any of the national parks in Sri Lanka!

Sri Lankan elephants – Photo by Gautam Arora on Unsplash

Wildlife National Parks in southern part of Sri Lanka

If you’re exploring the southern part, Yala, Bundala and Udawalawa parks are always lingering somewhere nearby.

Yala National Park

Yala national park has a huge variety of landscapes; forests, grasslands, lagoons and sandy beaches. It is divided into 5 blocks. The block-I, accessible from Palatupana gate is know as Ruhuna national park. This is the most popular safari area. You can enjoy incredible wildlife views at Yala year-round. However, consider avoiding September and October. Usually, the block-I is close during theses months.

Wildlife in Yala

Although, sightings aren’t guaranteed, Yala is one of the best parks in the world to see leopards in the wild. Sighting of many other animals including elephants, sloth-bears, sambars, jackals, spotted-dear, peacocks, crocodiles, buffalo and monkeys are pretty frequent at Yala.

Bundala National Park

Bundala is an ideal place for bird watching. It has about 230 indigenous and migrant bird species. And also many wetland species as well as possible sighting of greater flamingo. It is also an important place for elephants and a variety of threatened reptiles. Bundala is open all year-round. However, migratory birds arrive from September through March. So it is actually a good time to go.

Udawalawa National Park

Udawalawa is famous for its population of elephants seen in large groups. There are also plenty other wildlife in the park including crocodiles, monkeys, buffalo and a variety of birds.  Although, leopards and sloth bears do live in the park, sightings are pretty infrequent – so don’t expect to see them!

Wilpattu Wildlife National Park

If you’re looking for a memorable wildlife experience while exploring the historical places, head to none other than Wilpattu National Park. Located 30 km west of Anuradhapura, it is about an hour away. Due to the vast area the park covers, there are a variety of environments here. Also, sighting of lots of different wildlife and many varieties of birds are possible. The best time to go is between May to early September. As the weather is dry and drought.

Minneriya National Park

Located in the middle of the popular cultural sites of Sri Lanka, Minneriya National Park is mostly famous for its large numbers of elephants gathering to grass fields on the edges of the Minneriya reservoir. Some reports account number of elephants to as high as 200 to 300 during the dry season between June to September. Minneriya park is also an important habitat for the other wildlife as well as many resident and migrant bird species. Please read for more information.

Once you’ve decided which wildlife national park is to be visited, we recommend hopping over to our Sri Lanka in 12 Days itinerary to start finalizing your trip together!