Sri Lanka

We have been organising Sri Lanka safaris and wildlife and cultural tours to Sri Lanka since 2002, when we first had the privilege to travel around this exotic and stunningly 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.

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.

Popular Itineraries

Magical North East with the Elephant Gathering and Leopards of Yala

Although we have of course visited Sri Lanka multiple times before, it will be our first visit to Jaffna and the famous port of Trincomalee which is a whale watching hotspot in the ‘summer’ season. In August the sea conditions will be at their best on the north east coast and we can take advantage of this with both whale watching, snorkelling and diving opportunities. Jaffna will be an intoxicating mix of culture, food and history and we will also try to gain an understanding of how the north is rebuilding itself after the long conflict which causes so much devastation and suffering for the local Tamil population.

After filling up on culture, history, marine life and some coastal R&R, we focus on elephants, first with ‘the gathering’ at Minneriya where depending on recent activity we may in fact find the biggest herds at Kaudulla, Minneriya or Hurulu National Parks.  Then onward to Gal Oya with a wonderful diverse choice of activities, we will take a night time drive in the buffer forest, a morning guided walk and a boat safari hoping to catch sight of elephants as they ‘snorkel’ their way across the huge lake.  The route to our campsite at Yala for more elephants and of course the leopards, takes us via the hill country, with a train ride through tea country, treks to view the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka, and to Ravana Falls, Little Adam’s Peak and/ or Ella Rock.

Style - Small Group
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 22
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
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  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£3850
Sri Lanka Leopard Safari at Yala National Park

The design of all our wildlife safaris focus on longer stays in the national parks and with this one week Leopard safari at Yala national park, our approach is no different. We prefer to break up the long drive from Colombo to Yala with interesting stops en route. Not only will these stops give you a break from the car, they will also allow you to immerse yourself more fully in both the culture and scenic beauty of this amazing island. If you are travelling during the whale watching season from December to April, we definitely recommend you visit Mirissa to enjoy an ethical whale watching tour which does not chase or get to close to the animals. Otherwise, we also often choose to include a night at Galle, as there are some wonderful markets, restuarants and an early walk around town before the heat builds up is always interesting. We can also look at stops at wildlife sanctuaries like Udawalawe and Bundala.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 8
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2380
Two Sides of Yala with Uda Walawe and Central Highlands

Our first visit to Sri Lanka way back in 2002 included visit to Bundala, Uda Walawe and Yala national parks. While Yala is very much the jewel in the crown of Sri Lanka’s wildlife sanctuaries it is important to be transparent with visitors about excessive visitor numbers which have been caused by the building of a ferry/ cruise ship terminal just 1 hour away by road. Given we are writing this during the middle of the Corvid-19 pandemic, the future of the cruise industry is far from certain, but what is certain in that Wildlife Trails has its finger in the pulse of all wildlife sanctuaries in the country and has already designed this tour in such a way, as to avoid the busier areas of the park and provide our clients with the most natural and exciting wildlife safari experience possible. As well as including a short extension to Uda Walawe national park before arriving in Yala, we also take you right into the heart of the Central Highlands. Enjoy the clean mountain air, authentic bungalow accommodation and choose a walking tour which suits your abilities and interests. After your leopard safari in Yala and experiencing the beautiful eastern side of the park; with its mangrove forests and amazing bird life, you will drive west to Mirissa for your small boat whale watcing safaris looking for the largest animal in the world – Dondra Point is one of the best places to see the Blue Whale.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 15
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£3560
Wilpattu Leopard and the Dolphins of Kalpitiya

Compared to the very popular Yala national park, Wilpattu will always be the ‘path less travelled’ and here it is more about the quality of your wildlife encounters, rather than the number. Accommodation near the park remains largely a choice of mobile tented camps on private land, but there is also now a slightly more traditionally built option (the Kulu bungalow is available as an upgrade). The real pay-off is the escape from the crowds and that more intimate connection with nature and wildlife. Kalpitiya became famous for Sperm Whale sightings, but between December and April it is also an incredible location for the resident spinner dolphins. You can have that perfect combination of a relaxed beach stay with marine wildlife tours that are not overly commerical and can often deliver amazing wildlife encounters.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 9
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£1880
Yala and Wilpattu Combined Leopard Safari

Beginning with a night in Kalpitiya, and ending with stay in Tangalle can give you that perfect combination of a relaxed beach stay with marine wildlife tours that are not overly commerical and can often deliver amazing wildlife encounters. In between you have safaris at Wilpattu, which will always be the ‘path less travelled’, and here it is more about the quality of your wildlife encounter, rather than the number of sightings (versus the very popular (and prolific) Yala national park). The real pay-off is the escape from the crowds and that more intimate connection with nature and wildlife. En route there is time for cultural diversions, with the Dambulla cave temples and Sigirya Rock fortress, and further off the beaten track safaris by boat at Gal Oya hoping photograph to ‘snorkelling’ elephants, before the highlights that only Yala can bring.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 18
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
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  • Aug
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  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£4140
Yala National Park Photography Tour

Sri Lanka leopard safaris in Yala national park remain one of the best big cat experiences found in Asia. On an island where they are the top predator bar none, they are much more diurnal in behaviour than in India’s wildlife sanctuaries, which thus provides much better opportunities for our wildlife photography holidays to Sri Lanka.  We have been travelling to Yala since 2002 and the safari camp we have hand picked has been chosen because it allows us to access the park from other gates and not have to queue at the main entrance gate which serves the larger hotels. Although we are likely to experience a Yala national park from decades ago, when there were only 10 to 12 jeeps driving around the 5 different zones. Each traveller will have access to a window seat and plenty of space for their camera equipment in a vehicle adapted for wildlife photographers. Ten jeep safaris in Yala will allow us to experience the entire park and focus on leopards, wild elephants and sloth bears.

Yala National Park consists of dry-mixed evergreen forests and scrublands along with open grasslands, water holes, brackish water lagoons and riverine forests. This park’s diverse habitat supports large numbers of mammals, such as spotted, barking and mouse deer, sambar, wild boar, water buffalo and the endangered sloth bear. This is also one of the best places in the country to see wild elephant and the rare leopard. Large water holes and lagoons support the high density of endangered crocodiles. You can also see large flocks of migratory and resident birds—142 species of birds have been recorded in the park. Of particular note is the rare black-necked stork, the largest bird in the country.

Please note, that this tour can easily be extended on a private basis to visit other wildlife sanctuaries or cultural locations of personal interest.

Style - Small Group Photographer
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 9
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2650

Locations to visit in sri-lanka

Check Out our other Destinations

Related Articles

Best Time of Year to Visit Sri Lanka for Leopards

Like the majority of big cats around the world, leopard sightings tend to increase in the hotter, drier months when only a few remaining water sources are available for the resident leopards. Not only does this allow wildlife photographers and guides to predict more accurately the daily movements of the leopards, but it also presents the rare opportunity to witness a leopard kill; as prey species such a grey langurs and spotted deer become slightly less cautious due to their need to visit the water bodies on a regular basis

Is Sri Lanka the Perfect Destination for a Beach and Wildlife Holiday?

Even full on Sri Lanka wildlife enthusiasts like to ‘build in’ a bit of chill out time at the end of their Sri Lanka safari and there are not many better places in Asia to make this type of holiday happen. Sri Lanka is a compact country, with a reasonable road network and some really excellent and friendly local drivers – who are also infact superb guides.

The Big 5 of Sri Lanka. What They are and Where to See Them.

In the mid-2000’s Sri Lanka tourism was trying to re-position to country to help it tap into the rapidly growing wildlife safari market. Up until then, Sri Lanka had been mainly known for its beach holidays; with charter aircraft full of holidaymakers looking to enjoy beautiful beaches, friendly locals and the chance to top up their tans with some winter sunshine. However wildlife entrepreneurs such as the famous author of bird book, Mr Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, had realised that the potential for wildlife safaris in Sri Lanka was much greater than the industry had realised and set about promoting this in publications such as the BBC Wildlife Magazine.

Organising a Leopard Safari in Yala. The 3 Questions You Must Ask.

We live in an age where we can simply click on a button and book a Sri Lanka safari to see Leopards within minutes – but what have we actually booked? Have we asked the right questions of the travel agents to ensure that our trip of a lifetime will live up to expectations? We have been organising leopard safaris in Sri Lanka since 2002 and have seen the popularity of the country explode in the last 9 years since the terrible civil war ended.

Tiger and Leopard Safari in India and Sri Lanka – Which Parks to Visit?

Sadly when we first visited Sri Lanka back in 2002, the civil war that had torn the country apart for decades was still very much ongoing and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the North of the island were very much off-limits. While travelling around Sri Lanka I spoke directly with naturalists and leopard researchers who told be about the ‘golden days’ of Wilpattu national park; when it was the ‘go to’ place for seeing the biggest leopards in Asia.

Sri Lanka Leopard Safari – Should All Vehicles in Yala Have Speed Limiters Fitted?

Blog about a Leopard Safari in Yala and the problems with excessive vehicle speed in Yala National Park. Can we continue to allow jeeps to travel at excessive speeds in Yala National Park, while their occupants ‘chase’ Leopards without showing any respect for the wildlife they are visiting? Is this type of Sri Lanka Leopard Safari good for visitors or wildlife?

Sri Lanka Safari with Leopard Safari in Yala

Sri Lanka Safari - Visit this wildlife jewel of an island to enjoy a private Leopard Safari in Yala National Park and Blue Whale Watching from Mirissa. The owners of Wildlife Trails first visited Sri Lanka way back in 2002; as for the first time we looked beyond the delights of India and opened our eyes to this beautiful ‘teardrop’ of an island located of the SE coast of its massive neighbour.

What

Our Clients Say About Us

★★★★★
More stunning wildlife encounters

Recently returned from a trip to Sri Lanka & India. As always, our jointly planned adventures with Wildlife Trails produced another raft of good memories to enjoy. Whilst we have been to both ntries several times, all wildlife trips are uniquely unpredictable & different. It was our first time visiting Wilpatu NP in NW Sri Lanka and would recommend it. It is beautiful forest with plenty of lakes, so very picturesque. Great sightings of leopard, sloth bear, many prey animals & fabulous birds. We were also able to enjoy the company of our regular driver (who has become a good friend), thanks to the efforts of Wildlife Trails. In India we revisited Kanha NP & were rewarded with fantastic tiger sightings; the stuff of dreams. We never tire of these two amazing countries. It is always a pleasure to plan & fulfil our travel arrangements with Wildlife Trails. Satisfaction guaranteed for us through our shared wildlife interests, understanding of our preferences, incredible attention to detail & feeling like we are discussing it with friends rather that a travel company, making hopes become reality.

ByAvril and Brian
★★★★★
Great Wildlife holiday in a beautiful country

We did a wildlife and cultural tour of Sri Lanka. We visited Uda Walawe, Yala, Mirissa, buduruwagala, dickwella, Rekawa Turtle Sanctuary, Galle, Kottawa Rainforest and Negombo. The wildlife htings were awesome, we saw everything we were looking for (leopards, whales, elephants, turtles) and one big plus - a Sloth Bear! The Buddhist sites were also really interesting as was the Fort at Galle. The weather was great, the people were really friendly and the accomodation was very nice. We had a really good holiday and we were sorry to have to leave Sri Lanka! I have used Wildlife Trails many times, every holiday has been great and we have always been priveleged to find the Wildlife we have been looking for. I will continue to use Wildlife Trails as they work hard to make the itinerary the customer wants happen, at a good price and in the time you have available for the holiday.

ByTony