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Must See Nature and Wildlife in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a true paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. From countless birds in Minneriya, to endemic beautiful plants, to majestic elephants in their natural environment, you will truly be spoiled for choice. We will give you a few of our favourites, but we can almost guarantee that Sri Lanka is a true haven

Minneriya National Park, set in the middle of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, is world renowned for an annual gathering. This is no ordinary gathering, it is one of Asia’s finest wildlife experiences where as many as 300 elephants congregate between June and September. The ancient Minneriya tank (aman-made lake) dates back to the third century and the elephants flock to it during the dry season. Not only can you marvel at these majestic beasts in their natural habitats but it is also a haven for bird lovers, over 170 bird species have been recorded here – how many will you spot?

One of the most famous National Parks in Sri Lanka is Yala, covering a huge part of the southeast corner of the island. This magnificent park is divided into five blocks and stretches from the scrub jungles to the Indian Ocean beaches. Yala is home to crocodiles, deer, bear, elephants and an incredible variety of bird life too. It is also famed as having the highest density of leopards in the world, and has received global fame thanks to publicity by the National Geographic amongst others. Remember, you are a guest in the home of all these creatures, and observing them in their natural habitat is a true privilege.

Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see Asian elephants roam in the natural habitat. With a year round population of around 500 animals, sightings are very consistent and the best times to visit the park are early morning or in the evening, catching an elephant during golden hour is a photo and memory you will treasure forever. Udawalawe is also renowned for its bird life and has a huge number of endemic birds, so get your bird book and binoculars and enjoy the smaller critters too.

Horton Plains is one of the most magical and mystical places in Sri Lanka, located at an elevation of over 2000 metres. It encompasses mountainous grasslands and cloud forest, the combination of which you are likely never to have seen before. To add to the mystical (and often misty) ambience, the area is home to large herds of Sri Lankan sambar deer. The sheer precipices of Worlds End and Bakers Falls are a must visit for those ready to explore and soak up the magic of the Horton Plains National Park.

Wilpattu National Park is arguably one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful parks, with its name meaning ‘Land of the Lakes’. This park is home to hundreds of ‘willus’, or natural lakes which fill with rainwater. Located on the Northwest Coast of Sri Lanka, Wilpattu is one of the largest and oldest parks on the island. From peacocks to leopards, rock pythons to the hornbills, this national park is a must for nature enthusiasts looking for something more ‘off the beaten path’. But of course, never get out of your jeep, or go down random paths while in the park!

The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens is located in the Peradeniya suburbs of Kandy, these world famous botanical gardens date back to 1371. The history, from Kandyan Queens to World War 2 headquarters, is remarkable. Today you can stroll around, in the cooler climate and marvel at over 4000 species of plants. The huge area is beautifully manicured and lovingly cared for, and if you are a keen botanist or would like more information a specialist botanical guide can accompany you during your visit.

The best time to go whale watching in Mirissa is from November to April. This is the time when the Indian Ocean is calm and whales migrate from the Southern hemisphere to the Northern hemisphere. From May to October is considered ‘off-season’. During this time the chances of spotting whales is low and the probability of getting seasickness is high! We do not recommend booking whale watching off season.

As with all wildlife, there is never any form of guarantee of spotting them. That said, the probability of seeing whales in season, between November and April are high. Sri Lanka is blessed with blue whales, which are the most often spotted, but our waters are also home to other types of whales and pods of curious and intelligent dolphins!

Kalpitiya has become a world renowned destination for dolphin watching. Seeing these beautiful, sociable and intelligent animals swim alongside your boat is a memory that will last a lifetime. The dolphins, out of sheer joy, jump, spin and twirl out of the water showing off one of nature’s true miracles. The best season for dolphin watching in Kalpitiya is from Mid-October to May. The best months, where you also stand a chance of seeing whales as well, are between February and April.

With all of this nature and wildlife, Sri Lanka is a destination which will always leave you wanting more! And remember: “in nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect”!

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