Home to around 7,000 elephants, Sri Lanka is the ultimate destination to observe captivating giants in their natural habitat. The national parks and elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka house majorly three subspecies of Asian elephants—Sri Lankan, Indian, and Sumatran. From interacting with the friendly elephants at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to capturing the majestic sights of wild elephants at Yala National Park, you can indulge in numerous memorable experiences at these sanctuaries. Check out the details of some of the most famous ones and plan a trip with your loved ones soon.

5 Best Elephant Sanctuaries in Sri Lanka

If a trip to Sri Lanka is on your mind, spare some days to explore the intriguing wildlife. Incorporate these stunning elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka into your itinerary and indulge in experiences like never before.

1. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Witness elephants bathing at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which is one of the best elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka

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Nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a unique haven for abandoned, orphaned, and injured elephants. Established in 1975, this sanctuary provides elephants with the care, protection and love they deserve. From their morning bath in the nearby river to the feeding sessions and social interactions, you can catch a sight of their daily routine and activities.

Moreover watching baby elephants doing playful acts is indeed a delightful experience for visitors. Besides this, the dedicated staff take painstaking efforts to nurture these elephants. One of the most peaceful places in Sri Lanka, this elephant sanctuary near Colombo is currently home to around 71 elephants. Notably, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage timings are from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Must Read: 44 Soul Satisfying Things To Do In Sri Lanka

2. Udawalawe National Park

An Asian elephant bathing in a waterhole in Udawalawe national park in Sri Lanka

Image Credit: Prasadtharanga for Wikimedia Commons

Famed for its abundant wildlife, primarily its elephant population, Udawalawe National Park is among the best elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka. The park is home to around 600-700 elephants, offering a treat for wildlife lovers. The park lets you observe these majestic creatures roaming freely in their natural habitat. Go for a guided jeep safari to get mesmerized while watching elephants bathing, grazing, and interacting with one another.

Established on 30 June 1972, the reserve covers 30,821 hectares of land area. Furthermore, you can visit the park any time of the year, however, months between October and January are ideal to witness Asian elephant herds.

3. Yala National Park

Asian elephants drinking water at Yala National Park

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Home to around 300 to 350 Sri Lankan elephants (Asian elephant subspecies), Yala National Park lies in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka. The dense forests, grasslands, and freshwater bodies provide elephants and other mammals with a healthy environment.

You can easily spot them roaming or bathing in lagoons and waterholes. The wealth of wildlife including leopards, crocodiles, sloth bears, wild peacocks, monitor lizards, and blue-tailed bee-eater make Yala National Park one of the best elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka. To witness the best of wildlife, plan a visitng between May and August.

Suggested Read: Sri Lanka Travel Tips: 21 Dos And Don’ts For A Memorable Vacation

4. Minneriya National Park

Witness elephants in their natural habitat at Minneriya National Park which is among the top elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka

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Renowned for hosting the world-famous “Gathering of Elephants”, Minneriya National Park is a true paradise for elephant lovers. During the dry season, between July and September, the elephants gather around the Minneriya Tank, giving onlookers a mesmerizing spectacle.

While visiting Minneriya National Park in August and September, you get to witness wild elephants migrating from Wasgamuwa National Park to Minneriya National Park in search of water, fresh grass, and shelter. You can also take a break from wildlife encounters and explore the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located nearby.

5. Gal Oya National Park

Island lake at Gal Oya National Park which is one of the best elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka

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Spread over 25,000 hectares of lush evergreen forest, Gal Oya National Park lies in the south-east of Sri Lanka. The park is primarily famous for swimming elephants. Additionally, it is the only national park in Sri Lanka offering an exceptional boat safari experience. The 32 species of mammal and 150 different species of bird uplifts the charm of Gal Oya National Park.

While visiting here, get to know the gigantic Asian elephants up close and watch them swim between the islands. The ideal time to observe elephants in their natural habitat is from September to December when there’s an off-season. Besides elephants, witness animals such as wild boar, sloth bear, water buffalo, leopards, and langurs.

Further Read: Be A Part Of These 16 Festivals In Sri Lanka That Showcase Its Culturally Vibrant Side

Boasting a massive number of elephants, Sri Lanka is a true paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. The elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka offer a unique opportunity to witness these incredible creatures up close while supporting their conservation efforts. From witnessing the playful interactions at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to the wild encounters in Udawalawe and Minneriya National Parks, every moment spent with these gentle giants is bound to leave a lasting impression. So, plan a trip to Sri Lanka and indulge in exciting experiences like never before.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Elephant Sanctuaries in Sri Lanka

Which are the best elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka?

Here are a few best elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka:
1. Ananda Elephant Sanctuary
2. Udawalawe National Park
3. Yala National Park
4. Minneriya National Park
5. Gal Oya National Park

When is the best time to visit Yala National Park?

The best time to visit Yala National Park is during the dry season(December- April), when the temperature and humidity are low, which makes it one of the most favourable vacation destinations in Sri Lanka.

What are the adventure activities that tourists can indulge in?

Tourists can feed the animals in the sanctuaries, bathe them and interact with them. They can even take the rescued dogs and cats for a walk along a designated path.

Which are the best hotels near Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

Here are some of the best accommodation options lying near Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage:
1. Earl's Regent Hotel
2. Cinnamon Citadel Kandy
3. Amaya Hills Kandy
4. Amaya Hills Kandy
5. Kings Pavilion
6. Villa Rosa

What are the timings of Udawalawe National Park?

Udawalawe National Park is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

How can I reach from Colombo to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

Colombo lies around 93.6 km from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. To reach the orphanage, you can either hire a taxi or board a bus at your convenience.

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Category: Sri Lanka, Wildlife Sanctuary

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