According to wildlife experts both local and foreign is ‘Best for Big Game safaris outside Africa. Though difficult to imagine, this tiny island being the next to the gigantic African continent, When the likelihood and cost of seeing and photographing four or five charismatic animals(elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sperm whale and blue whale) in a two week safari, Sri Lanka is the best destination.
Furthermore travelling into the jungles with camps deep within the national parks is an undiscovered treasure in Sri Lanka on the world wildlife map. Unlike many of the parks in India and Africa, Sri Lanka’s are. Not commercial, the character of yesteryear remains intact thanks to the deferred start into the tourism arena. Sri Lanka has an amazing variety of fauna and flora, With some of the world’s highest densities of leopards and elephants.
A visit to the Sri Lanka jungles is to enter a whole new world where nature has largely stayed still. Moreover, Compared with Africa and India in a Sri Lanka wild life tour of two weeks you have the best potential of seeing and photographing five charismatic mammals at a lower cost. Described as” one of Asia’s top wildlife destinations”, there are several National Parks, of these the best known is the Ruhunu (Yala National park in the deep south of the island. The other parks are Gal Oya, Udawalawe, Wasgomuwa, Minneriya, Wilpattu and Horton Plains. The topography and vegetation change from park to park, even the fauna and flora. Most common in these parks are elephants and birdlife.
A new development in safaris is luxury-tented camps taking you overnight into the heart of the National parks. The uniqueness of such camps is the complete ‘away from it all feeling’; with amazing water front sites, cool breezes and animal sightings. Although small, Sri Lanka has many wild life locations suitable for camping and safari. Sri Lanka’s game reserves are full of surprises for you!
You may select an “experience of a life time” from an assortment of tours; from a one day safari to multi-day Camping safari tours. There is a wide range of related options connected to camping such as observing or studying fauna of flora in various types of forests, Bird Watching or Butterfly watching…or even observing and interacting with the indigenous people(veddha’s) of Sri Lanka.(refer Eco-Team advert.)
Sri Lanka’s abundant bird-life makes the island a true Ornithologist’s Paradise. Of the 427 recorded Species, 250 are resident and 33 are endemic to the country. With such a variety of environments ranging from wet to dry zone, forest to jungle, and hill country to low lands, there’s no end to the fascinating locations in which to spot many of spot many of these beautiful birds. Most of the endemic birds (such as the Sri Lankan grackle) are restricted to wet zone, while birds such as the Sri Lanka whistling thrush and the yellow-eared bulbul reside in the hill country. Others, like the brilliantly plumaged jungle fowl, the striking red-faced Malkoha and the shy brown-capped babbler can be found in forests and sanctuaries throughout the island. Among the best areas for sighting these birds are the Sinharaja Rainforest and Adam’s peak Wilderness sanctuary.
The large lakes (irrigation reservoirs) in the dry zone attract numerous varieties of duck, while larger aquatic birds such as stork, heron, egret, spoonbill, pelican, and ibis can easily be seen in the wetlands, especially at Weerawila, Kalametiya and Bundala National park (which is also famed for its large flocks of migrant flamingoes). Around mid-August the first migratory species arrive in Sri Lanka. Large flocks of sandpipers, stints, plovers, terns and harries fly over from northern India, Siberia, Scandinavia and Western Europe and settle along the lagoons and slatterns of the eastern, north-western and south-eastern coasts. In the forested areas of Sri Lanka, birds like migratory tree warblers, thrushes and cuckoos can be seen.
Yala National park- 350 km
Is famous for it elephant population, seen in small and large herds. Spotted deer, Sambhur, Barking deer, Monkey, Wild Baffalo, Wild Boer, Sloth Bear, and innumerable varieties of birds, endemic and migratory. Peacock is the most famous of the birds at yala. The mating dance of the male with its colorful plumes fully spread is a photographer’s delight.
Lying within the ancient kingdom of Ruhuna there are also a large number of archaeological sites. Notably Sithulpahuwa, a rocky site believed to have been a monastery which housed more than 10,000 people. According to over 60 inscriptions found at the site it is one of the greatest monasteries of the 2 C.B.C found in Sri Lanka.
Wasgomuwa Neational park
Situated in the north Central Province closer to the ancient cities especially Polonnaruwa, at Wasgomuwa wild elephants could be easily sighted. It is also rich in other large mammals
Minneriya National park
Circling the beautiful Minneriya Tank (3c A.D.), the green surroundings are strikingly different to the arid landscape. Being part of the elephant corridor which joins up with Kaudulla and Wasgomuwa you are sure to sight elephants, especially during the dry season June-September when the water filled tank attracts them. A variety of bird life could be spotted including some endemic to Sri Lanka.
Udawalawe national park
Is next in popularity to Yala. and elephants could easily be observed even in midday. In addition 39 species of mammals and 183 species of birds have been recorded.
Elephant Transit Home (Eth Athuru sevana) at Udawalawe National Park
A Centre for Rehabilitation and Re-integration of orphaned wild elephants has been established at Udawalawe National park by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Increase of the country’s population, large scale irrigation and agricultural projects have fragmented the former habitat of elephants resulting elephant mortality and decrease of population. Despite the mitigation measures to control human elephant conflict considerable numbers of elephant calves were recovered as orphans
The DWLC pioneered a research project in 1995 at Udawalawe to rehabilitate and supplement wild elephant orphans back to wild. It has been successfully carried out with four releases in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004, 2007,2008 , Visitors could enjoy the antics of these babies form a viewing platform at the Centre. The DWLC calls for public support to minimize the expense from the public by joining the foster-parent scheme and Help wild elephant orphans program.
Wilpattu National park
Close to Anuradhapura is unique in is topography having several inland ‘Villus’ (lakes) that attract thousands of water birds. It is the domain of the elusive leopard. Bear and herds of deer and sambhur. Are common. The vegetation is lush and wide changes of vegetation can be experienced in different sections of the park.
Bundala Bird Sanctuary
In the deep south on the way to Yala is Sri Lanka’s first recognized Ramsar Site (i.e. a wetland of international importance). Popular with both local and migratory birds. Around 167 species have been sighted. The park is the last refuge of the Grater Flamingo in this part of the Island, up to 2000 of these birds have been recorded during Nov/Dec.
The lagoons also constitute of the most popular wintering areas of migratory shorebirds in the county, accommodating upto 20000 shorebirds at anytime including the Black Necked Stork.
Kataragama- 283 km
A sylvan shrine, 21km inland from Tissa is a shrine dedicated to God skanda, the Hindu God of war known locally as ‘Kataragama Deiyo’, is one of the most important pilgrim sites in Sri Lanka. The annual festival is held in July/August when a large number of Buddhists, Hindues and even Muslims converge to take part n the festivities. They cleanse themselves in the holy waters of the Menik Ganga (river) and offer flowers, incense and fruits to the shrine. During the festival acts of self mortification is common. ‘Kavadi’ dancing (dance of the peacock, the vehicle of god Skanda) and walking on red hot embers barefoot are performed by devotees much to the awe of the onlookers. Kataragama however has visitors daily and has an exotic atmosphere laced with religious fervor with rows of little boutiques selling sweet smelling jasmine, lotus, incense, fruit and also bead chains, bangles, and other baubles to tempt the young.
Tissamaharama- 264km “gateway to Yala”
A historic city. The ancient capital of Ruhuna Province, dates back to the 3rd c .B .C., rose to fame during the reign of Kavan Tissa father of the heroic King Dutugemunu 2ndcn B. C. builder of many Buddhist shrines including the impressive Ruwanveliseya in Anuradhapura. Located on the banks of the Picturesque Tissa Wewa-an artificial lake a favorite picnic spot for travelers heading towards Kataragama and the Yala National park. They stop to take a dip in the lake, cook, have a meal and then proceed, refreshed. Yala is about 20 k. M. from Tissa. And many local tour operators offer full day or half day tours to the park. A cluster of dagabas and the much venerated Maha stupa adds character and the lake, serenity and peace. Overall it is a pleasant city to spend some time.
Just 11km. Southeast of Tissa is the beautiful beach at Kirinda. Connected with the fascinating legend/history of a princess set afloat in a gilded boat on the Kelani river to appease the gods. Her perilous drifting voyage brought her to Kirinda, to be met by King Kavan Tissa who fell in love and married her. Viharamhadevi was the mother of King Dutugemunu the warrior prince who became a pious rules and reigned in Anuradhapura. A white dagoba on the rocky cliff commemorate her coming ashore at this spot.
Wild Safari Parks
The Udawalawe National Park
spreads approximately 30,815 hectare. The climate in the Park is decided by a seasonal rainfall and regular high temperature conditions. The average annual rainfall is about 1500 mm in the south part, and it slowly increases towards the north. The annual average temperature nearly 32oC. Elephants can frequently be seen at mid-day. The dry season is best to watch the many herds of elephant that roam in the park.. Uda Walwe National Park, Sri Lanka is the best place in Asia to see herds of Asian Elephants, 24th of September 2003 the elephant transit home opened, completely supported by the Born Free Federation of UK, The difference between Ath Athuru Sevena and the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala is that at the Transit Home these baby elephants once cared released to the wilds when they reach a certain age. Next to the elephant, recent experts research have recorded 21 species of fish,12 species reptiles,184 species of birds 39 species of mammals.
Birds gather in large numbers around the udawalawe national park. Among them are cormorants, kingfishers & Indian darters common species include the Sri Lanka spur fowl, the Sri Lanka jungle fowl, the Malabar pied hornbill etc.
Yala National Park is the most visited national park of the island and the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Located Southern Province and Uva Province of the island. The park spreads 979 square kilometers (378 sq mi). Yala was named as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, The annual temperature near sea level is 270C, although in the dry season a daily maximum of 370C is not rare. In the southeast, the Park is bounded by the sea. Gorgeous natural beaches and sand dunes provide beautiful surroundings. This is certainly one of the most fabulous views of Sri Lanka. The wide parklands that surround the lagoons offer visitors superb locations for viewing animals and bird life. park is home to leopards, crocodile, elephant, deer, sambar, bear, wild bore, wild buffalo and peacock and many varieties of birds including migratory birds such as flamingos.