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National Parks of Sri Lanka

For most travelers, Sri Lanka is a beach destination. Sometimes it is hard to belives that Sri Lanka is also a great safari destination. There are more than ten national parks that are great safari destination. Elephants are abundant in most parks. Also, some national parks are home to elusive Sri Lankan leopard. Furthermore, bird lovers can enjoy a huge variety of birds too. This is a list of best national parks. Also, it guides you how to makes the best of your time visiting.

National Parks of Sri Lanka. Click to browse the map.

Map of National Parks of Sri Lanka. Click to browse the map.

Yala National Park
DSC01432Where282km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityTissamaharama
DoSafari (Safari Jeeps available at the entrance) , Camping (Need to reserve in advance)
SeeElephants, Deer, Leopard (occasional) , Crocodile, Wild Boar,  Sloth Bear (Rare), Birds
Stay Tissamaharama and YalaDepartment of Wildlife bungalows inside the park.
Due to droughts, the park is usually closed to tourists from 1 September, to 15 October annually. A half day safari is recommended for general visitors. A 4WD vehicle is mandatory to enter the park. Safari Jeeps can be hired near the entrance. (Not essential to reserve in advance). A half day safari cost around Rs. 5000. Otherwise, can use your own 4WD SUV also.
Gal Oya National Park Iginiyagala
DSCF3140Where328km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityAmpara
DoBoat ride (Need to reserve in advance from Department of Wildlife), Camping (Need to reserve in advance)
SeeElephants, Deer, Crocodile, Wild Boar,  Sloth Bear (Occasional), Birds
StayAmpara and IgniniyagalaDepartment of Wildlife bungalow.
From Iginiyagala entrance only way to explore the park is by a boat ride. Boat ride takes you across the reservoir and allows you to enjoy the wildlife along the shores and take about 2-3 hours. This is also an ideal place for camping. Park is open all year around.
Gal Oya National Park Nilgala
DSCF3345Where208km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityBibile
DoSafari (Need to reserve in advance), Camping (Need to reserve in advance)
SeeElephants, Deer, Crocodile, Wild Boar,  Sloth Bear (Occasional), Birds
StayBibile, Bulupitiya (Monaragala District)
If you need to explore the Gal Oya National park in a Safari Jeep this is the entrance you should choose. There are no well-developed tourist facilities in the Nilgala area. It is recommended to reserve safari jeep and accommodation in advance.
Wilpattu National Park
DSCF3548Where208km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityAnuradhapura
DoSafari (Safari Jeeps available at the entrance) , Camping (Need to reserve in advance)
SeeElephants (occasional), Deer, Leopard (occasional) , Crocodile, Wild Boar, Sloth Bear (Rare), Birds
StayWilpattuDepartment of Wildlife bungalows inside the park.
Wilpattu is the largest national park in Sri Lanka. Due to it's larger size a full day safari is best to explore the park. Travelers can also visit several archeological sites during the safari.
Udawalawe National Park
DSC00034Where172km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityEmbilipitiya
DoSafari (Safari Jeeps available at the entrance) , Camping (Need to reserve in advance)
SeeElephants (Very common, large herds) , Deer, Wild Boar, Birds
StayUdawalaweDepartment of Wildlife bungalows inside the park.
One of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. With the highest density of elephants in Sri Lanka, Udawalawe National Parks offers a thrilling experience for campers.
Kumana National Park
Kumana National Park (Kudumbigala Sanctuary)Where366km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityArugam Bay
DoSafari (Need to reserve in advance) , Camping (Need to reserve in advance)
SeeElephants, Birds (Lot of species), Deer, Leopard (occasional) , Crocodile, Wild Boar, Sloth Bear (Rare)
StayPottuvilDepartment of Wildlife bungalows inside the park.
Kumana is a paradise for bird watchers. It is a day trip from the popular beach resort Arugam Bay. Significantly less crowded compared to Yala and Udawalawa National parks.
Wasgamuwa National Park
DSCF0176Where245km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityDambulla
DoSafari (Need to reserve in advance) , Camping (Need to reserve in advance)
SeeElephants, Deer, Wild Boar, Birds
StayWasgamuwa, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya
A great place to see wild elephants without the crowd disturbances.
Maduru Oya National Park
DSC01563Where279km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityPolonnaruwa
DoSafari (Need to reserve in advance) , Camping (Need to reserve in advance)
SeeElephants, Deer, Wild Boar, Birds
StayPolonnaruwa
A great place to see wild elephants without the crowd disturbances. Travelers can also visit the Maduru Oya ancient dam near the new dam of the Maduru Oya reservoir.
Horton Plains National Park
DSCF0350Where245km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityNuwara Eliya
DoCamping (Need to reserve in advance), Hiking, Climbing (Kirigalpotta - 2,388m and Totapala - 2,357m)
SeeBirds, Bakers Falls, Worlds End
StayNuwara Eliya
Horton Plains National park is one of the most beautiful national parks in Sri Lanka. It is one of the only remaining cloud forests in central highlands. An ideal destination for hikers. A day trip from Nuwara Eliya. Arrive as early as possible to enjoy the scenery from the world's end before the mist rolled in.
Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks
DSCF0059Where195km from Colombo
Directionsmap link
Nearest CityHabarana
DoSafari (Jeeps available at the entrance).
SeeElephants, Deer, Wild Boar, Birds.
StayHabarana
A popular destination for elephant safaris. Lucky travelers can enjoy gatherings of hundreds of elephants.

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