Frequently Asked Questions about wildlife safari in Sri Lanka

10 FAQs About Wildlife & Safaris In Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts, nature lovers, animal lovers, and explorers who love to wander into the wild. The diverse wildlife and natural habitats comprise majestic elephants, elusive leopards, and more. The flora and fauna are well-preserved in the country’s national parks and wildlife reserves. Thus, a safari is a perfect activity to participate in when you visit Sri Lanka.

When you plan a safari in the country or go on one, you might have several questions and doubts about the trip. This blog addresses the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about safari experiences in Sri Lanka. Refer to this blog to learn more about safaris in the country. 

Trivia: According to foreign and local wildlife experts, “Sri Lanka is best for big game safaris outside Africa.” Sri Lanka is also described as one of “Asia’s top wildlife destinations.”

FAQs On Wildlife & Safaris

Sloth bear

1. Where to go on a safari in Sri Lanka?

The safari destination depends on the time of the year you plan the safari and the kind of wild animals you want to see. Below are our best bets.

  • Asian Elephants – Minneriya National Park (May-Sep), Uda Walawe National Park (year-round), Wilpattu National Park (Jan – Mar), Yala National Park (year-round)
  • Leopards  – Yala National Park (Nov – July) – best chance in Asia to see a leopard, but it also becomes very busy with numerous jeeps rushing and chasing for leopards. The next best option is to see the leopards in Wilpattu National Park (Jan – Mar).
  • Sloth bear – Yala National Park (June/ July), Wilpattu National Park (Jan-Mar)

You’ll spot many other animals as well, but spotting these will be the highlights of the safari. Serious birdwatchers searching for endemics should visit the lowland rainforests in Sinharaja and Kithulgala.

2. Which is the best park to spot elephants in Sri Lanka?

Elephant sightings are guaranteed in Uda Walawe National Park. The site will surely delight you with several elephant sightings, and no other parks in Asia can offer the same. Asia’s largest gathering of Elephants happens in Minneriya National Park from July to early October (with peak numbers in August and September). About 300 to 400 elephants gather in a one-kilometer quadrant around the Minneriya lake bed.

3. What animals can you spot on a safari in Sri Lanka?

Wild buffaloes spotted during safari

Below is a list of popular national parks in Sri Lanka and the animals you can spot there.

  • Minneriya National Park (May-Sep) – toque macaques, sambars, elephants, waterfowl 
  • Sinharaja Rainforest (Aug – Sep, Jan – Mar) – 147 recorded species of birds 
  • Yala National Park (Nov – Jul) – elephants, leopards, sloth bears, water buffaloes, and flamingos 
  • Wilpattu National Park (Jan – Mar) – elephants, leopards, sloth bears, deers, and crocodiles 
  • Uda Walawe National Park (year-round) – elephants, spotted deers, water buffaloes, wild boars 

During your safari, you will find peacocks, monkeys, snakes, and other birds in all the national parks.

4. How much does it cost to go on a safari in Sri Lanka?

The Jeep safari prices depend on the following variables.

  • The type of jeep that you choose
  • Full or half-day safari (time slot for half days – morning or evening)
  • Season 
  • The number of people

Besides paying for the Jeep safari, you must pay an entrance fee to enter the national parks. The most expensive entry fee is for Yala National Park, followed by Uda Walawe, Wilpattu, and Minneriya National Park. The prices for the Sinharaja Rainforest are different.

Also, please note the accommodation located inside the national parks is expensive. If you’re traveling on a budget, go on a day trip from the nearby town or village.

5. What are Sri Lanka’s big five animals?

The big five of Sri Lanka are considered to be Asian elephants, leopards, sloth bears, sperm whales, and blue whales.

6. Best places for birdwatching in Sri Lanka

The lowland dense rainforests of Sinharaja are best for bird watching in Sri Lanka. It is a treasure trove of endemic species, including mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. If you’re a bird watcher, wildlife photographer, or hiker, Sinharaja Rainforest offers an unforgettable experience you shouldn’t miss. Here’s our night tour experience and everything you need to know.

7. Why is Yala very famous? Is it worth going on a safari in Yala National Park?

Leopard At Yala National Park

Yala is a blend of a strict nature reserve and a national park. Divided into 5 blocks, the park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land (the second largest in Sri Lanka), with only 2 blocks open to the public. The National Park is said to have the world’s biggest concentration of leopards.

Block 1 of Yala National Park is one of the best to go on a safari in Sri Lanka, as you have a high chance of spotting leopards. The frequency of sightings seems to be higher during the dry season from around May to September. This makes Yala famous for a safari and is worth the time, effort, and money you spend on it.

8. Are there any rules and regulations to follow during a wildlife safari?

Yes, there are specific rules and regulations that ensure the safety of visitors and wildlife. These include maintaining a safe distance from animals, avoiding feeding or disturbing them, making loud noises, and following the instructions given by the safari guides. Also, eat only in the dedicated spots as the smell attracts wild animals from a great distance. It’s crucial to respect the natural habitat while enjoying the safari experience.

9. How do I need to book a safari in advance?

Sri Lankan Elephants

It’s not mandatory to book a safari in advance in Sri Lanka. You can go early to reserve your spot. However, booking in advance is highly recommended, especially during the peak tourist season or during weekends and holidays. You can book safaris through authorized tour operators.

10. Are night safaris available in Sri Lanka? 

No, night safaris are strictly prohibited in Sri Lanka. Most national parks open at 6 AM and close at 6 PM. The accommodations located inside the national parks restrict people from going outside after sunset. However, you can go on a night hike in the Sinharaja Rainforest to spot nocturnal animals and observe their behaviors in the wild.

To learn more about marine life, check out the underwater and adventure activities blog. If you have more questions, please drop them in the comments below.

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