· · · · · · ·

The 4 best places for wildlife spotters on a luxury holiday in Sri Lanka

With its prolific birdlife as well as wealth in elephants and leopards, it is no wonder tourists consider Sri Lanka as the ultimate wildlife destination in South Asia. Known as a land of exotic tropical beauty, this island-country is famous all over Asia for its diverse wildlife and rare creatures, such as the Asian elephant, the biggest terrestrial mammal in the continent. As far as size goes, Sri Lanka is rather small, compared to the other countries in the continent. But, it has a wide variety of wildlife that would surely overshadow some of the biggest countries in the world. In spite of a burgeoning population, Sri Lanka remains a rural land speckled with fascinating and unique animals that can keep you hooked and entertained for days or weeks. As a matter of fact, even a tourist who isn’t overly fond of wildlife will be overawed with sight of hundreds of psychedelic birds, reefs brimming with rainbow-colored sea creatures, elusive leopards, gigantic whales and herds of elephants. A true paradise for wildlife lovers, the island has a dazzling array of wildlife destinations, safari options and national parks that would please all kinds of visitors, from interested lay people to dedicated naturalists. Yala National Park – a blissful park with the world’s highest concentration of leopards Drawing hordes of tourists every day, the Yala National Park is one of the premier eco-tourism destinations on the island of Sri Lanka, thanks to its incredible population of leopards. As the second largest park in the country, this celebrated national park has a vast land area of 120,000 hectares made up of lagoons, tanks, grasslands, scrubs and light forests that serve as a home to over 200 bird species and 44 mammal varieties. Besides the mighty leopards, this wildlife sanctuary also boasts a plethora of other intriguing creatures, such as crocodiles, peacocks, spotted dear, jackals, sambars, sloth bears and majestic elephants. Yala leopards Minneriya National Park – the best place to observe elephants With its wide collection of axis deer, sambar deer, wild buffaloes and elephants, the Minneriya National Park is a lush Sri Lankan park that would surely give Africa’s savanna reserves a run for their money. One of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of Asian elephants, the Minneriya National Park is a tranquil haven to more than a hundred fifty elephants, guaranteeing a sighting of these creatures as you visit this Sri Lankan park. Apart from elephants, a visit here allows you to take snapshots of other lovely creatures, such as the occasional leopards, sloth bears, crocodiles, lizards, foxes, hornbill, Indian python, and a whole lot more. Minneriya elephants Rekawa Beach – a haven for stunning turtles No list of the best wildlife destinations in Sri Lanka is complete without the inclusion of the Rekawa Beach. As a guest in this turtle sanctuary, you get to lay eyes on turtle hatcheries with striking green turtles laying their eggs. Moreover, you will be accompanied by a savvy and knowledgeable guide who will make your experience more intriguing by providing explanations about their lovely turtles. Rekawa Beach turtles Bundala National Park – a bird lover’s delight Designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, the Bundala National Park is by far one the most important bird sanctuaries in Asia. As a bird sanctuary, it serves as a host to over 190 bird species, including the Greater Flamingo, Painted Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill and more. Wherever you visit in Sri Lanka you’ll be exposed to incredible wildlife, but these 4 places are a fantastic way to see a wide range of animals in stunning surroundings and are definitely some of our favourites! Bundala James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

James Jayasundera

James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel in London. Ampersand Travel is an award-winning tour operator specialising in tailor-made holidays to Asia and Africa. James was raised in Rome by a Sri Lankan diplomat father and British mother, and from an early age he was travelling throughout the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Although he loves comfort, he is not blinded by five-star luxuries – the Ampersand motto is “luxury is in the experience” and it is that indefinable quality that makes something special which James is always on the look-out for. James founded Ampersand Travel in 2003, and since then the company has developed an excellent reputation for in-depth knowledge of its destinations, candid and impartial opinions on hotels and locations and a formidable network of contacts within the industry and its destinations.

Did you enjoy this article?

Receive similar content direct to your inbox.


  1. Wilpattu is fantastic other worldly experience for serious wildlife spotters and especially good if you’d rather avoid the crowds at Yala. Also of course, the blue whales off the south and east coast’s…

  2. Wilpattu is certainly the best alternative to the over-crowded Block I of Yala but make sure to spend more time traversing around the whole day as Wilpattu NP is Sri Lanka’s largest NP. If you’re really into avoiding crowds on safari travel deeper into Block II of Yala, try camping in Kumana NP,do some boating safaris to see wild elephants in Gal Oya or guaranteed wild elephant sightings in Uda Walawe NP. There’s also the beautiful Wasgamuwa NP & Maduru Oya. Bundala is great for birds but so is the birding hot spot of Mannar, the eastern jungles of Kumana & the Kokilai sanctuary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *