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Sri Lanka safari - Blue Whales and Leopards!

Posted in: Sri-Lanka


Photo Credit: Franco Banfi

Sri Lanka safari – Whales and Leopards

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting wildlife combination than leopards and blue whales. A chance to see one of the most majestic and beautiful of big cats and the opportunity to see the largest whale in the world. When you realise that just a few hours separate Yala National Park in Sri Lanka and the now world famous Dondra Head– off the southern tip of Sri Lanka - where you can see multiple Blue Whales, you can see why the wildlife photography community are so excited about Sri Lanka wildlife and the incredibly leopard safaris and whale watching that can be enjoyed on this exotic island

Sri Lanka safari – Best place to see Leopards in Sri Lanka

There are now two world class locations for leopard safari in Sri Lanka. When we first visited Sri Lanka on a wildlife holiday back in 2002, Wilpattu national park was very much off limits due to the ongoing civil wall, so if you were looking for the best place to see leopards you headed off to the far south east of the country to a magnificent wildlife sanctuary called Yala national park. This wonderful location for leopard safaris survives relatively unscathed from the terrible tsunami of 2004 – many animals senses the waves before they arrived and moved to higher ground – and continued to be the ‘go to’ location for leopard safaris in Sri Lanka. It can get a little crowded at weekends and during major festivals, so you need some careful planning with the operator who is organising your Sri Lanka wildlife holiday. Here is our expert guide on Yala national park.

On our first visit to Sri Lanka we were told about the famous Wilpattu national park and how in the ‘old days’ it was much more famous for seeing leopards than Yala. The civil war did take a heavy toll on this park and the resident wildlife and it was pretty much a no go area for many years. However, we are delighted to have witnessed Wilpattu national park rise from the ashes and transform itself into a must see destination for leopard safaris in Sri Lanka. It is also nice to have a leopard viewing option that is a little quieter and intimate than the brasher and more popular Yala national park. Here is our personal guide to the beautiful Wilpattu national park.

Sri Lanka safari – whale watching season. Best time to see whales in Sri Lanka?

Since it is possible to see leopards in Sri Lanka nearly all year round - NB that Yala national park usually shuts during the month of September and the first 2 weeks of October. The whale watching season in Sri Lanka runs from December to April, with the months of December/January and April regarded as the best time to see whales in Sri Lanka. This is due to a combination of calmer seas – compared to February and March – and probability of sightings of Blue Whales. Blue Whales are pretty much seen daily during the peak whale watching season in Sri Lanka; although obviously, the quality of the sightings will differ from day to day. Whale researchers in Sri Lanka off Dondra point have recorded between 4-5 whale sightings per day during the main season. This makes it one of the best places in the world to see Blue Whales.

As well as Dondra point located mid-way on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, we have another whale watching location in Sri Lanka called Kalapitiya; which is located about half-way up the western coast of Sri Lanka and combines ideally with a leopard safari at Wilpattu national park. Generally, Kalapitiya is more famous for the huge groups of Spinner Dolphins, which on exceptional days can number in their thousands. Generally, you see them in groups of hundreds and they are spotted closer to shore. If you head out into the deeper waters off Kalapitiya, you have a great chance to see magnificent Sperm Whales, which have only relatively recently been observed in the Arabian Sea off the west coast of Sri Lanka.

How we would plan a Sri Lanka safari to see whales and leopards

You would need to tarvel sometime from December to April and we would suggest looking at two different Sri Lanka wildlife holiday itineraries. The first which would combine Wilpattu national park and Kalapitiya, would involve less travel time on the roads and have you visiting one of the best places to see leopards in Sri Lanka; but without the crowds. The focus would be leopards, spinner dolphins and sperm whales.

The second trip would involve longer car journeys and combine the best location for leopards in Sri Lanka; Yala national park, with one of the best locations in the world to see Blue Whales. Check out our Sri Lanka wildlife tour to Yala and Mirissa. Or you can contact us at [email protected] and we can put together a tailor-made Sri Lanka wildlife holiday based on your own requirements.

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