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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka safari with culture, hill country, whale watching and beach extensions - you dream it, we design it! Scroll down to our suggested bespoke tours, to choose the trip which best matches your personal aspirations.

Sri Lanka Leopard safari to Yala and Wilpattu national parks

​Read our expert, indepth guides on leopard safaris to Sri Lanka's two most famous leopard destinations - Yala National Park and Wilpattu national park. However it is not just the leopard safaris we promote, for a relatively small island Sri Lanka's wildife reserves are incredibly diverse. You can experience the dry lowlands and famous sanctuaries such as Uda Walawe for Asian Wild Elephants. The wet lowlands are brimming with biodiversity with the famous Sinharaja Rainforest, known for its intact endemic forest and bird waves, which feature several endemics. Finally, to finish your Sri Lanka safari, take to the sea off the south coast for Blue Whales or the west coast for super pods of Sperm Whales and thousands of spinner dolphins; what a way to end your Sri Lanka safari. Unfortunately vehicle numbers are not restricted in these parks so please contact Wildlife Trails to make sure the timing of your trips avoid the busy holiday and festival periods.

We have been organising Sri Lanka safaris and wildlife and cultural tours to Sri Lanka since 2002, when we first had the privilage to travel around this exotic and stunningingly diverse island. We can tell you the best time of year to visit Sri Lanka for wildlife and provide you with your own expert driver/guide, who will interpret your personal aspirations for the tour and micro-manage your time in Sri lanka to maximise your experience. Did you know that it is not just Africa that has a Big 5 safari? Read all about our Big 5 Sri Lanka safari.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful diverse island with so much to see, compared to India it is much more compact and easy to travel around in your own private vehicle, but the fascinating culture, history and wildlife in Sri Lanka pacts a big punch. Where you can see the largest leopards in Asia on a safari in Yala National Park, as well as the largest whale in the world, with a blue whale watching tour off Dondra point near Mirissa. If that is not reason enough to start planning your bespoke Sri Lanka safari, how about the largest 'Elephant gathering' on the planet which takes place in Minneriya and Kaudulla and peaks in August during the dry season?

Sri Lanka safari - Best parks to visit for Leopards and other wildlife

​At Wildlife Trails we pride ourselves on our extensive recce trips to our destination countries and long stays at the best wildlife parks in Sri Lanka are key to understanding the safari experience and whether to choose a Sri Lanka camping safari or stay at one of the many excellent wildlife lodges. Please enjoy our individual wildlife guides to Yala national park, Uda Walawe national park and Wilpattu national park. These guides will take you step by step through key questions to consider when visiting the national parks of Sri Lanka, what wildlife you can expect to see and which parks are the best for leopard safaris in Sri Lanka. They also include some suggested itineraries which provide well balanced stays at the national parks with stops at other locations famous for culture, whale watching, scenic beauty or a great beach to end your Sri Lanka holiday at.

Sri Lanka safari for Big Cat Lovers.

Although the distance between Dhanushkodi Rama Sethu Point​ (a tiny spit of land off SE India) and 1st Island (off the NW coast of Sri Lanka) is just 30km, there is no record of tigers living on Sri Lanka. This is very interesting as before the British occupation of India, there would have been hundreds of thousands of wild tigers in South India and they can certainly swim - if neccessary - considerable distances in open water. This is relevant because the fact that tigers never made it to Sri Lanka, means that the Leopard in Sri Lanka is 'top dog', so to speak, and has nothing to fear from it larger relative. This has produced larger and bolder leopards in Sri Lanka, in national parks such as Wilpattu and Yala, where if you go to photograph leopards in Sri Lanka, you can see the same swagger and confidence of legandry tigers; such as Charger and B2 from Bandhavgarh. In addition, because they are top of the animal kingdom pyramid, they exhibit more diurnal (rather than nocturnal) behaviour and that makes photographng these beautiful cats a lot easier in Sril Lanka. Read our personl thought on what makes Wilpattu and Yala so special for leopard viewing in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka safari for family adventure

​It's hard to think of a more suitable country in Asia to get a little adventerous with the kids and head off on a wildlife safari. Sri Lanka combines great family friendly hotels and wildlife lodges, funky mountain lodges and colonial hotels - with a real sense of history - and stunning beach hotels or boutique hotels with swimming pools; for that much needed chill out time. Another great reason to bring a family to Sri Lanka on safari, is that with your own private driver and quality AC vehicle you can set your own pace. We regularly travel to Asia on wildlife safaris with our two young daughters and although we enjoy our adventerous overnight train journeys in India and sometimes link up the tiger sanctuaries using internal flights, we always love our road trips and the chance for a driver to share his or her passion for the country they call home. Before you know it the kids are picking up a few words of Hindi or Singalese and they are seeing the country like a local, rather than a de-attached tourist on a rushed 'tick the boxes' tour.

Sri Lanka Safari - Which is best option for the national parks; wildlife lodges or camping?

While no longer permitted inside the park boundary, the camp sites can have a considerable advantage in location, being on the quieter side (of Yala) and using a different entrance gate (Kataragama side).  While you will catch up with the crowds at some sightings you also have a chance to enjoy plenty of time to yourselves.  Being positioned mainly on private land there is also greater control over the condition and upkeep of the camp sites than previously.  But do be aware that during rainy spells it is still hard to keep the camp-sites spick and span.   This still may not suit everyone due to the increased costs for the less typically luxurious camp facilities - the upgrades generally relate to higher staffing levels, improvements in camp furnishings and more breath-taking meals, as well as use of higher quality jeeps with more specialised naturalists (generally more experienced drivers too), but not always a private jeep unless paying a steeper additional cost.

If you are going to choose a wildlife lodge in Sri Lanka rather than the camping option, then take a keen interest in how far the lodge is from the entrance gate as this can have quite a profound effect for wildlife photographers looking to be in the park early and enjoy a leopard sighting at dawn. What a Sri Lanka wildlife lodge will give you is a greater overall degree of comfort and sometimes access to a cool, inviting swimming pool - very welcome, after a hot dusty drive in the park. You can even argue the case that at the more upmarket lodges, you are really enjoying a combination safari/relaxation stay as part of your Sri Lanka safari, as there is at least 4-5 hours 'chill out' time between the morning and afternoon safaris each day.

 

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