After years of uncertainty, stunning Sri Lanka is opening up, brimming with breathtaking wonders to be explored - sandy beaches lined with palm trees, rich green foliage, verdant tea plantations, impressive wildlife, rich cultural heritage.
Despite it's small size, Sri Lanka is home to an extensive variety of flora and fauna and is among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. There are 433 species of bird and 91 species of mammals including elephants, leopards, sloth bears, sambar and wild buffalo as well as rare mammals like the red slender loris, toque macaque and purple-faced langur, which are endangered due to habitat loss. In the oceans are 25 cetacean species including blue whales, sperm whales and dolphins.
Located in the southeast of Sri Lanka, Yala West National Park is an important area for the conservation of elephants, leopards and aquatic birds. It's home to one of the highest densities of leopard in the world along with sloth bears, spotted sambars, deer, striped boars, ruddy mongoose, lagur, golden jackal and Indian palm civet. Leopards are shy and may remain hidden in the dark recesses of the jungle, but with a professional guide and some luck, you can catch a glimpse of these beautiful felines. Wilpattu National Park, in the lowlands of the northwest region, is the dream destination for cat lovers who want to observe leopards and other big cats up close on a guided safari.
Uda Walawe National Park, a wide stretch of grasslands and riverine forests south of the central mountains, has herds of wild Asian elephants and a myriad of bird life including migratory eagle species such as serpent eagles, hawk eagles and grey-headed fish eagles. More wildlife can be found in Horton National Park, perched high up on the highest plateaus of Sri Lank, where endemic plants and animals survive in the cooler climate of the cloud forest such as langurs, hawks, elephants and deer. Another sanctuary known for their elephant safaris is Minnieyera National Park where over 300 elephants roam the riverbanks.
Sinharaja National Park's lush forests harbors a valuable collection of flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet. The birds are a primary attraction including red-faced malkoha, Sri Lankan blue magpie,and green-billed coucal. You might also come across leopards and langurs. Along the west coast the beautiful Bundala bird sanctuary has plenty of aquatic birds and wildlife; migratory flamingos, blue-jays, crocodiles and monkeys.