Catch a glimpse of the Great Flamingos which feature among the migrant birds that arrive here. Meander across the 6216 hectares that cover the park while taking in the sights of this impressive nature reserve which is located in Sri Lanka’s Southern Province. Keep in mind to visit the many lagoons that are spread out here as they are bound to contain an abundance of fish and other reptilians.
Found 314 km away from Colombo, the Gal Oya National Park will offer tourists the luxury of exploring its diverse features. Comprising of shrubs, grasslands and forests, the reserve is also home to three mountains and functions as the chief catchment area of the country’s largest reservoir. Among the 32 species of mammals that you will encounter are the Water Buffalo and the Sri Lankan Elephant.
Named as a national park in 1988, Horton Plains is arguably one of the best examples of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Situated a mere 32 km from Nuwara Eliya, the sanctuary comes across as a ‘breath of fresh air’ as nature lovers would be compelled to comb every section of the park. Attractions such as World’s End and Baker’s Falls are some of the most visited.
Bird lovers will surely love the Kaudulla National Park as the reserve is where 160 species of our feathery friends reside. Covered in dry evergreen forests, Kaudulla sees herds of elephants arrive in search of food and water particularly during the month of September. A jungle corridor is also found linking this site to the Minneriya National Park thereby promoting diversity amongst its species.
Formerly referred to as the Yala East National Park, Kumana will escort you through a myriad of wading birds and migratory waterfowls. Therefore visitors coming over will have access to large contingencies of some of the most sought after of birds in the island. The Golden Jackal and the Fishing Cat are amongst its most popular species worth exploring.
When in Lahugala, one would do well to stop by the Lahugala Kitulana National Park which is situated in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. Designated as a national park in 1980 and falling under the purview of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Lahugala consists of flat land and the odd rocky outcrop. The Sri Lankan Axis Deer and Toque Macaque can be spotted while you take a tour of the park.
Characterised by the Lunugamvehera Reservoir, this national park consists of dense jungle and slightly elevated sections to the south. Established in 1995, the premises serves as a place of refuge for 43 species of mammals, 33 species of reptiles and a further 184 species of birds. Lunugamvehera is found in the Dry Zone and is often subject to the south west monsoon.
From sloth bears, elephants to water buffaloes and leopards, you will certainly be spoilt for choice when on an excursion to the Maduru Oya National Park. With options available for camping out in the jungle, travellers will have plenty to experience. Introduced under the Mahaveli Development Project, Maduru Oya is considered one of the recent additions to the country’s list of wildlife parks.
Elephants are a common sight when arriving in Minneriya which has also found fame for hosting the largest gathering of Asian elephants during the dry weather periods. Featuring a good consistency of wetlands, montane forests and scrublands, Minneriya is arguably one of the most visited national parks in Sri Lanka having been declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1938.
Found a short distance from Nilaveli Beach, Pigeon Island is a national park and consists of two areas. An enchanting coral reef surrounds the larger of the two while species of shark and turtle can be seen swimming in nearby waters. Scuba diving & snorkelling are popular pastimes carried out here, while visitors should watch for sightings of the famed Rock Pigeon after which the island was named.
Bordering Uva and Sabargamuwa Provinces, the Udawalawe National Park which covers over 30,000 hectares provides the ardent nature traveller with a wonderful outdoor experience. Whether you are interested in elephants or fascinated by slithering snakes, the area will prove to be well worth the time and effort spent. The sight of marshes would greet you when taking a tour of this imposing reserve.
A favourite for all those making their way towards the north central part of Sri Lanka; the Wasgamuwa National Park established in 1984 is rich in biodiversity. Found 225 km from Colombo, Wasgamuwa boasts of a prised collection of mammals, reptiles and birds thereby making it a must visit for those arriving in Sri Lanka on holiday.
The Wilpattu National Park is home to the illusive leopard and travellers on the lookout for the species will also come across a number of ‘willus’ or lakes that are found here. The premises receive an annual rainfall of 1000 millimetres and the best time to call by Wilpattu is during February and October.
Regarded as the most popular national park in Sri Lanka, Yala is surrounded by traces of ancient civilisation while the park itself comprises of pilgrim sites and a number of intriguing wildlife. Leopards, Elephants and the Golden Palm Civet are some of its occupants. Comprising of five extensive blocks, the Yala National Park should definitely feature on any traveller’s itinerary.