Sri Lanka wildlife safaris and holiday tours … a fabulous destination that we will focus in this article. Sri Lanka is proud of its natural bounty. For over 2,000 years, swathes of land have been preserved as sanctuaries by Sri Lankan royalty – Mihintale, the world’s first reserve, was created here in the third century BC. Now there are 100 areas of protected land in the country, and this is the pick of the bunch… Located in the south-east of Sri Lanka, Yala is a beautiful area of lowland dry scrub sitting on a long stretch of coastline, punctuated by rocky outcrops. It is the premier national park of Sri Lanka, and arguably one of the best for mammals in Asia. The top draw is the Sri Lankan leopard, a sub-species endemic to the country; in certain areas of the park, the average leopard density is as high as one cat to every square kilometre. During the fruiting of the palu trees in June and July, sloth bears are often observed. Other animals you might spot include sambar (a large deer), spotted deer, buffalo, wild pig, stripe-necked and ruddy mongooses, langur monkey, toque monkey, golden jackal and Indian palm civet. The combination of freshwater, marine, scrub and woodland areas ensures a high diversity of birds. Indeed, the park hosts 220 different types, and serious twitchers have recorded 100 species in a single day. Ardent birdwatchers should also visit Bundala National Park (an hour away) or the Palatupana Salt Pans (ten minutes away), especially for migrant shorebirds.
Udawalawe is in our opinion the best safari in Sri Lanka because it provides a truly gratifying experience. You can get very close to animals, particularly the elephants, and you’re never bothered by other jeeps and tourists. Whilst your chances of spotting leopards at Udawalawe are less than at Yala, there is nonetheless a healthy leopard population in Udawalawe that sightings do happen, for example when we saw the two cubs playing. You’re also almost guaranteed to spot Sri Lankan elephants as well as red-spotted deers, wild water buffalo, sloth bears, crocodiles, monkeys and many different species of birds.
It is easy to get lost in the cobblestoned alleyways and streets within Galle Fort. Today the area is full of modern restaurants, hotels, clothing, and souvenir shops. Meanwhile, snake charmers and buskers line the seawall. However, the fort was not always such a cosmopolitan spot. A basic fort was constructed by the Portuguese when they made their first landing to the island in 1505. When the Dutch eventually seized control of Galle, they made a number of improvements; including the enormous sea wall that still lines the fort. Galle Fort is an excellent example of what the synthesis between European and Asian architecture looks like. Yala National Park is made up of spellbinding vistas and a true abundance of Sri Lankan wildlife. It has the highest density of leopards in the world, so chances of seeing them are very high. Although leopards are the main attraction here, they are followed closely by elephants, sloth bears and crocodiles. The park is divided into five blocks; some of which were zoned to hunters until Yala became a national park in 1938. Ensure you make time to visit the very informative visitor center at the entrance of the park for insightful displays about the area. Find additional info Sri Lanka Tailor Made Tour Packages.
Hiking in Riverston Sri Lanka was an unexpected highlight of my journey throughout the island. Riverston is a region best defined by the popular term, ‘off the beaten path’. We drove for several hours, parked in the middle of nowhere and then embarked on a hike. We headed across the river and through the rice fields and farmland. There is minimal signage but luckily we had our guide Lukobanda to guide us up. The hike doesn’t have a specific name according to the locals other than the Riverston Hike. The hike looks out over the Knuckles mountain range and the surrounding highlands. It’s one of the short day trip hikes in the area. The end of the hike ends with a sharp 300m drop, which made for some pretty epic photos. From here you can chill and take in the views of the Thelgamuwa Valley, the terraced rice fields, and the Knuckles mountain range. This spot is called ‘The Worlds End’.The hike is 5km long but not incredibly difficult.