Last year, over 1.6 million tourists travelled to Sri Lanka and discovered this fascinating country, filled with scenic beauty and natural wonders. There are many reasons to plan a trip to Sri Lanka – high on the list is to experience a Sri Lankan wildlife safari – and there are many fantastic Sri Lanka safari tours.
When going on a safari in Sri Lanka, you will see lots of wonderful wildlife which includes mammals, birds, cetaceans and reptiles. Sri Lanka even has its own ‘big five’ – elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sperm whale and blue whale. There are some rare species such as the red slender loris and purple-faced langur while the colourful birds include the Sri Lankan blue magpie and the red-faced malkoha. A Sri Lankan safari is something to get excited about and definitely something to add to your bucket list.
Keep reading our guide to know the seven adventures you can experience while on a safari in Sri Lanka and make sure you check out this complete guide to planning your Sri Lanka safari tour.
1. See Amazing Bird Life
When planning a Sri Lanka safari, you’ll hope to see diverse wildlife, but the one thing you might not expect is the number of incredible birds you’ll see.
Sri Lanka is home to 500 different species of birds which makes bird watching on your Sri Lanka safari a superb experience. There is plenty of variety including 30 endemic species such as serendib scops owl, Sri Lanka scimitar babbler, spot-winged thrush as well as some of Asia’s most spectacular birds: malabar trogon, India pitta, Kashmir flycatcher and many more.
If you’re interested in seeing birds on your safari in Sri Lanka, then here are some suggested safaris.
2. Discover Abundant Wildlife
Packed with diverse wildlife, there are many national parks and reserves across the country where you can seek it out, from Wilpattu National Park in the north-west, one of the best spots for sloth bears, leopards and other big cats, to Yala National Park in the south-east, the country’s premier park, home to elephants, sloth bears, langur, spotted sambar and one of the highest densities of leopard. Leopards are difficult to see, but with an expert guide, you may be lucky to spot one. In addition to Yala, Udawalawe, Horton and Minnieyera National Parks are some of the best places to see Sri Lanka elephants where you can see them playing, eating, drinking and bathing in their natural environment.
3. Spot Cetaceans along the Coastline
An adventurous safari destination, Sri Lanka is becoming well-known for its cetaceans: ever-friendly dolphins and gigantic whales.
Bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, Fraser’s dolphins, sperm whales, killer whales, melon-headed whalesand Indian blue whales are some of the species you may spot when you go whale and dolphin watching along Sri Lanka’s beautiful coastline.
While you may find some of these species in other countries, Sri Lanka’s clear waters often give an unobstructed view of these fascinating cetaceans. Sri Lanka also offers a wide range of water activities from snorkelling to windsurfing.
4. Stride Out on a Walking Safari
There’s nothing quite like exploring the bush on foot with a guide and tracker to accompany you. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get up close to animals at a much slower pace than in a vehicle, and it’s amazing what you notice when on foot. There are trails of varying levels of difficulty, and walking safaris are often offered at night for the chance to see nocturnal creatures.
If you are interested in a bushwalk, before your Sri Lanka safari tour, check with your operator to see if there is an opportunity for you to do this on your trip.
5. Lend a Helping Hand to Turtle Conservation
We all want to create tangible holiday memories, so why not be a part of turtle conservation on your safari. There are numerous ways you can help protect this declining species.
People participating in the turtle conservation effort are assigned positions; you can stay alert on a night patrol on a lookout for the predators, safeguard the turtle hatchery or participate in weighing and measuring the hatchlings.
The best part of spending time with the conservation is being able to release the hatchlings into the sea, increasing the chances of their survival. You could also assist professionals with sick turtles which, once better, are released back into the sea.
6. Take to the Skies on a Hot Air Balloon Safari
Another way to see wildlife along with some of Sri Lankan’s temples and well-preserved ancient city ruins is on a thrilling hot air balloon ride.
The hot air balloon ride in Dambulla takes visitors on a visually stunning safari. After witnessing breathtaking stretches of countryside, the balloon will traverse through the Sri Lankan jungles giving you a view of resident animals.
Along the way, you can also see of Sigiriya Fortress, a site of archaeological and historical importance, earning it a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. It’s worth noting that balloon rides are weather dependent and usually operate between December and March only.
7. Sleep in the Wilderness in a Tented Safari Camp
Days spent on safari are fantastic adventures but can be tiring, so after a long day of in a game viewing vehicle or on a bushwalk searching for wildlife you need a comfortable place to unwind, enjoy delicious food and get a really good night’s sleep.
Sri Lanka has some superb-tented camps, fully equipped with all amenities you’ll need. These camps are often in beautiful settings with stunning views of the surrounding wilderness. Between safari activities, it’s well-worth spending time at these camps, enjoying the peace and quiet, dining on delicious cuisine and relaxing in your tent. Here are a couple of our favourite tented camps:-
- Ahaspokuna Bushwalks Camp is a luxurious tented camp located in Sri Lanka’s hill country. This small camp has just three large en-suite tents, each with a bathtub overlooking the wilderness, with activities including bushwalks, traditional cooking lessons, star gazing, painting and night walk.
- Mahoora Luxury Safari Camps are exclusive mobile camps offering a true safari camp experience in remote locations. With luxury tented accommodation, high-end sit-down meal service and expert guides, guests enjoy wildlife viewing in national parks such as Udawalawe, Wilpattu and Yala.
Booking a Safari to Sri Lanka
When you decide to go on a safari in Sri Lanka, you’re booking a life-changing trip that you will remember forever. There are lots of different Sri Lanka safaris to choose from, so take the time to research which is the best one for you. To guide you, take a look at our Sri Lanka safaris as well as more general information on this remarkable country.
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