Wildlife in Sri Lanka

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The tropical island of Sri Lanka is a wildlife lover’s paradise. The various national parks dotted around the country are home to thousands of species of birds and animals. Whether spotting the elusive leopards at Yala National Park or watching migrating blue whales on the coast, Sri Lanka’s wildlife won’t disappoint intrepid travelers.

What makes Sri Lanka’s wildlife unique?

As Sri Lanka is an island, much of its wildlife is endemic, meaning that many rare species can only be found here such as the purple-faced langur and the red slender loris. There are also large mammals to spot, such as leopards and elephants, and numerous species of deer. Wildlife tours of Sri Lanka are bound to impress, wherever you travel. 

The best places for wildlife tours in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s wildlife is as diverse as the island itself. It’s easy to have a wildlife adventure thanks to its network of excellent national parks, where you might spot elephants, leopards, crocodiles, monkeys, marine turtles, dolphins, whales, and vibrant birds. Here are the top wildlife experiences in Sri Lanka. 

See elephants gather at Minneriya National Park

During the dry season, this national park hosts the world’s largest congregation of Asiatic elephants, as more than 300 of the beasts converge at the park’s reservoir to drink water and feed on fresh grass. The park is also home to leopards, macaque monkeys, deer, hanging parrots, and sloth bears.

Spot elusive leopards at Yala National Park

Yala has the distinction of having the highest concentration of leopards in the world. On a safari here, you'll have the chance to spot this shy but magnificent big cat, along with sambar, spotted deer, crocodiles, golden jackal, wild boar, and toque monkeys.

Birdwatching in Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Birding enthusiasts will love Sinharaja Forest Reserve. This tropical rainforest has cascading waterfalls and shimmering pools, providing the ideal setting for birds to thrive beneath its soaring canopy. Sinharaja is a haven for the blue magpie, the red-faced malkoha and the jungle fowl, the national bird of Sri Lanka.

Discover biodiversity in Hikkaduwa Coral Sanctuary

A glass-bottomed boat ride is the highlight here, as cruises offer the chance to see a variety of corals, butterfly fish, parrot fish, and angel fish. The surrounding seagrass offers refuge to sea turtles, while the outer edges of the reef are home to blacktip reef sharks and green turtles.

Go whale and dolphin watching at Mirissa

Take a boat from this fishing port for an opportunity to spot whales swimming lazily and pods of dolphins frolicking in the waters. The best time for this unforgettable experience is during the migration season between February and March.

What’s the best time of the year for a wildlife tour in Sri Lanka?

The best time of the year for wildlife tours in Sri Lanka is during the dry season (December to March), when animals emerge from the greenery to visit exposed waterholes to drink water. Bring along light clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent to ensure comfort while out discovering the incredible wildlife of Sri Lanka.

When to go in Sri Lanka?

The best time to visit Sri Lanka is in the dry season, which runs from December to March on the west and south coasts and in the mountains, and from May to September on the east coast. The rest of the year, it's monsoon weather, which makes travelling less pleasant. In Sri Lanka, you'll be enchanted by the many treasures from the ancient kingdom of Ceylan: with ancient cities, amazing beaches and the most beautiful mountains, the Sri Lankan environment is breathtaking.
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