A leopard in a forest reserve

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Sri Lanka is a country which has an abundance of wildlife. Elephants, leopards, deer, whales and birds make the place a big home for the wild. The numerous national parks in Sri Lanka, ensure that the flora and fauna are protected and preserved in their natural environment. These places shield them from the rapid environmental changes that the country is undergoing due to development.

If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka, and if you are a wildlife lover, drive to as many parks as you can. Untouched and undisturbed by human activities, these are the places worth visiting to come closer to nature.

Best National Parks In Sri Lanka

Do you wish to encounter the wildlife in Sri Lanka? Below is the list of national parks in Sri Lanka that are amazingly beautiful, the major hotspots to get a hint of a harmonious ‘man v/s wild’ experience.

1. Yala National Park

Yala National Park in Sri Lanka

Yala National Park in Sri Lanka is the among the best national parks for mammals in Asia. Bordering the Indian Ocean, located in the Southeast of the country this is a huge forest area with lagoons and grasslands. Visit this park with your family and witness the vibrant wildlife of Sri Lanka.

Best known for: Leopards – here are around 30 of them.
Area covered: 378 sqr. miles
Distance from Colombo: 6 hours drive
Things to do: Go surfing at Arugam Bay

Must Read: Keep This Ultimate Sri Lanka Honeymoon Guide Handy For Your Tropical Vacation

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2. Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka

Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka is located on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces. The park was created to home the animals displaced during the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir. Its the place to spot Asian Elephants in the wild. So, if you’re an elephant lover, you must visit this place!

Best known for: Elephants – there are around 500 of them.
Area covered: 30, 821 hectares
Distance from Colombo: 4 hours drive
Things to do: Visit nearby tree plantations.

3. Wasgamuwa National Park

Wasgamuwa National Park in Sri Lanka

Wasgamuwa National Park is located in the Matale and Polonnaruwa Districts of Sri Lanka. It is one of Sri Lankas those protected areas where you can witness large herds of Sri Lankan Elephants. Apart from elephants, this national wildlife park in Sri Lanka has a number of other animal and bird species including, purple-faced langur, golden palm civet, mugger crocodile, red-faced malkoha.

Best known for: Elephants – around 150 of them.
Area covered: 39322 ha
Distance from Colombo: 5 hours drive
Things to do: Explore the Buddha packed caves of Dambulla

Suggested Read: 7 National Parks That Offer The Wildest Sri Lanka Safari

4. Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka

Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park with a huge biodiversity. The reserve has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Sinharaja is the countrys premier rainforest. The place is known for tall and rare trees in the world. Mixed-bird species are found here, including those of red-faced malkoha, green-billed coucal and Sri Lankan Blue magpie.

Best known for: Bird – the unique mixed flocks
Area covered: 88.64 Km
Distance from Colombo: 5 hours drive
Things to do: Chill in the beaches of Mirissa located towards the South

5. Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks

Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks in Sri Lanka

Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks are located just 30-minutes away from each other, in the North Central Province. During the months of September and October, it is a visual treat to watch huge herds of elephants gather on the bed of Minneriya Lake. The lake is later replaced by lush green grassland.

Best known for: Seasonal elephants and flocks of cormorants
Distance from Colombo: 5.30 hours drive
Things to do: Explore the ruined palaces and monasteries of Polonnaruwa

Suggested Read: 12 Places To Visit In Katunayake That Will Show You The Essence Of Sri Lanka

6. Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka

Horton Plains National Park is situated in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is characterized by montane grassland and cloud forest. Horton Plains is the highest plateau in the island. The forests have a rich flora and fauna. Interestingly, the dwarf lizard specie here has evolved due to the cold weather conditions, that the give birth to the live young instead of laying eggs.

Best known for: Bird species
Area covered: 3,160 ha
Distance from Colombo: 5 hours drive
Things to do: Drive to the nearby hill station, Nuwara Eliya.

Suggested Read: 19 Photos That Will Make You Wish You Were In Sri Lanka Right Now!

7. Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park in Sri Lanka

Wilpattu National Park is the largest park, located in the Northwest coast of Sri Lanka. What makes this park unique is the existence of “Willus” – natural lakes that have different degrees of salinity. The park was closed for 15 years, so that the wildlife had space and time to recover to its former abundance, and was reopened in 2003.

Best known for: Sloth bears
Area covered: 1, 317 sqr kms
Distance from Colombo: 4 hours drive
Things to do: Travers the ancient city of Anuradhapura, especially the the 2,000 year old sacred Bodhi tree

Suggested Read: 31 Reasons Why You Should Never Visit Sri Lanka For A Vacation!

8. Mannar Island

Mannar Island in Sri Lanka

Mannar Island is part of the Mannar District in Sri Lanka. A causeway links it to the main island of Sri Lanka. The island has an area of about 50 square kilometres, mainly covered with vegetation and sand. This large nature reserve is a significant stop for the international migratory birds.

Best known for: Shorebirds and gulls like Heuglins Gull.
Area covered: 50 kms
Distance from Colombo: 5 hours drive
Things to do: Mannar is a great site for kite-surfing

9. Kumana National Park

Kumana National Park in Sri Lanka

Located on the Southeast coast of Sri Lanka, Kumana National Park is renowned for its avifauna (regional birds), especially the large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. Black-necked stock, eurasian spoonbill, pintail snipes, etc are some bird species that you can see here.

Best known for: Birds
Area covered: 35, 664 ha

Suggested Read: 43 Most Beautiful Places In Sri Lanka You Must Visit

10. Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park in Sri Lanka

Bundala National Park is a national park with international importance as it is the wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala homes 197 species of birds, especially the greater flamingos that migrate in large flocks. There are also elephants and crocodiles found in small numbers. In 2005, Bundala was declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Best known for: Migratory birds
Area covered: 3, 339 hectares
Distance from Colombo: 5 hours drive

Further Read: 10 Reasons Why Sri Lanka Should be Your Next Holiday Destination

Now you know that the land of lions, Sri Lanka, is a massive habitat for many other wildlife species too. The climatic conditions that favours the biodiversity and the country’s efforts to preserve it has together made Sri Lanka, a nature’s paradise. Plan a trip and explore and unfold the wild side of Sri Lanka with your loved ones.

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Frequently Asked Questions About National Parks In Sri Lanka

How many national parks are there in Sri Lanka?

There are 22 national parks in Sri Lanka out of which we have listed the best ones.

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