Witness the wild side of Sri Lanka at these top 10 National Parks

Sri Lanka is a country where there is abundance of wildlife. Elephants, leopards, deer, whales and birds make this place a great home for wild animals. The many national parks in Sri Lanka ensure that the flora and fauna are preserved and protected in their natural environment. These places protect them from the rapid environmental changes occurring due to development in the country.

If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka, and if you are a wildlife lover, drive to as many parks as possible. Untouched and undisturbed by human activities, these places are worth visiting to get closer to nature.

Best National Parks in Sri Lanka

Do you want to experience wildlife in Sri Lanka? Below is a list of national parks in Sri Lanka that are stunningly beautiful, with the major hotspots to get a hint of a harmonious ‘Man vs. Wild’ experience.

1. Yala National Park

Yala National Park in Sri Lanka is one of the best national parks for mammals in Asia. Located in the southeast of the country, bordering the Indian Ocean, it is a vast forested area with lagoons and grasslands. Visit this park with your family and witness the vibrant wildlife of Sri Lanka.

best known for: Leopards – There are about 30 here.
covered area: 378 Sq. miles
Distance from Colombo: 6 hours drive
things to do: Go surfing at Arugam Bay

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2. Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka is located on the border of Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces. The park was created to house animals that were displaced during the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir. This is the place to see Asian elephants in the wild. So, if you are an elephant lover, you must visit this place!

best known for: Elephants – their number is around 500.
covered area: 30,821 hectares
Distance from Colombo: 4 hour drive
things to do: Visit nearby plantations.

3. Wasgamuwa National Park

Wasgamuwa National Park is located in the Matale and Polonnaruwa districts of Sri Lanka. This is one of the protected areas in Sri Lanka where you can see large herds of Sri Lankan elephants. Apart from elephants, this National Wildlife Park of Sri Lanka has many other animal and bird species, including purple-faced langur, golden palm civet, crocodile, red-faced malkoha.

best known for: Elephants – about 150.
covered area: 39322 hey
Distance from Colombo: 5 hour drive
things to do: Explore the Buddha-filled caves of Dambulla

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4. Sinharaja Forest Sanctuary

Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park with vast biodiversity. The reserve has been designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve and World Heritage Site. Sinharaja is the main rainforest of the country. This place is known for tall and rare trees in the world. Mixed bird species are found here, including red-faced malkoha, green-billed cuckoo and Sri Lankan blue magpie.

best known for: Birds – Unique Mixed Flocks
covered area: 88.64 km
Distance from Colombo: 5 hour drive
things to do: Cool off in the beaches of Mirissa to the south

5. Minneriya and Kaudulla National Park

Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks are located only 30 minutes away from each other in the North Central Province. During the months of September and October, it is a wonderful treat to see huge herds of elephants gathering at the bottom of Minneriya Lake. Later the lake was replaced by lush green meadows.

best known for: Seasonal elephant and cormorant flocks
Distance from Colombo: 5.30 hours drive
things to do: Explore the ruined palaces and monasteries of Polonnaruwa

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6. Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park is located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is characterized by montane grasslands and cloud forests. Horton Plain is the highest plateau on the island. The forests have rich flora and fauna. Interestingly, the dwarf lizard species here has evolved due to the cold weather conditions to give birth to live babies instead of laying eggs.

best known for: bird species
covered area: 3,160 ha
Distance from Colombo: 5 hour drive
things to do: Drive to the nearest hill station, Nuwara Eliya.

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7. Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park is the largest park, located on the north-west coast of Sri Lanka. What makes this park unique is the existence of “vilas” – natural lakes that have varying degrees of salinity. The park was closed for 15 years to allow space and time for the wildlife to return to their former abundance, and reopened in 2003.

best known for: sloth bear
covered area: 1,317 sq km
Distance from Colombo: 4 hour drive
things to do: Visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura, especially the 2,000-year-old sacred Bodhi tree

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8. Mannar Island

Mannar Island is part of the Mannar district of Sri Lanka. A paved road connects it to the main island of Sri Lanka. The island has an area of ​​approximately 50 square kilometres, which is mainly covered with vegetation and sand. This large nature reserve is an important stopover for international migratory birds.

best known for: Coastal birds and gulls such as Heuglin’s Gull.
covered area: 50 km
Distance from Colombo: 5 hour drive
things to do: Mannar is a great spot for kite flying

9. Kumana National Park

Located on the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, Kumana National Park is famous for its avifauna (regional birds), especially large flocks of migratory waterfowl and endangered birds. Black-necked Stock, Eurasian Spoonbill, Pintail Snipes etc. are some of the bird species that you can spot here.

best known for: birds
covered area: 35,664 ha

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10. Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park is a national park of international importance as it is a winter refuge for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala has 197 species of birds, especially the great flamingos which migrate in large flocks. Elephants and crocodiles are also found here in small numbers. In 2005, Bundala was declared a Human and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

best known for: migratory Bird
covered area: 3,339 hectares
Distance from Colombo: 5 hour drive

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Now you know that Sri Lanka, the land of lions, is also a vast habitat for many other wildlife species. Favorable climatic conditions and the country’s efforts to conserve biodiversity have made Sri Lanka a nature’s paradise. Plan a trip and explore and uncover the wild side of Sri Lanka with your loved ones.

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FAQs about National Parks in Sri Lanka

How many national parks are there in Sri Lanka?

There are 22 national parks in Sri Lanka of which we have listed the best.

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