4 best Sri Lanka safari tours

The low-cost transportation and well-maintained road network of Sri Lanka make it easy to hopscotch across Sri Lanka’s rugged terrain, see mist-shrouded jungles, gloomy rainforest, green-capped mountains, explore the wild animals habitats, city markets in a trip package that combined with one of the Sri Lanka safari tours. However, it would be a daunting task for travellers, especially fo foreign travellersto identify the best safari in Sri Lanka as the island offers many top-notch wildlife safaris across the island. As a local tour operator, we have identified four wildlife reserves that would offer you an unforgettable wildlife safari in Sri Lanka.

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4 places for Sri Lanka safari tours

The low-cost transportation and well-maintained road network of Sri Lanka make it easy to hopscotch across Sri Lanka’s rugged terrain, see mist-shrouded jungles, gloomy rainforest, green-capped mountains, explore the largest wild animals habitats on Sri Lanka wildlife safari tours and lively city markets in one Sri Lanka safari tour. It will be a daunting task to identify the best safari in Sri Lanka as the island offers many top-notch wildlife safaris across the island. However, we have identified four wildlife reserves that can offer you an unforgettable wildlife safari in Sri Lanka.

A Sri Lanka safari tour can be booked in many forms. You will encounter a multitude of wild creatures during the safari. From a luxury campsite to a remote bush camp escape, Sri Lanka offers a wide range of experiences for wildlife enthusiasts. Sri Lanka is well-equipped to cater to all tastes and budgets. And like a leopard stalking prey for a perfect snack, you will be rewarded for dedicating your valuable time to creating the safari that is perfect for you.

Spotting leopards hidden in the thorn bushes in the Yala national park, spotting bear monkeys jumping in the canopy of mist-shrouded Horton plains, and trekking through Sri Lanka’s largest rainforest. Foraging for one-of-a-kind goods at oriental markets the high diversity of the Sri Lankan jungle will charm and challenge foreign as well as local adventure travelers.

Sri Lanka has one of the best road networks in the region, which makes it easy to reach the most important tourist places in Sri Lanka without any trouble. The newly opened highways of Sri Lanka have made traveling even easier, faster, and cheaper than before. Having a private vehicle is the best way to hopscotch across Sri Lanka’s rugged landscape. Transport modes such as public buses and trains are also viable options but they tend to waste your time.

For the visitors of Sri Lanka that wish to see most of Sri Lanka’s wildlife on a single circuit, five destinations in the west, the south, and Sri Lanka’s upcountry, in the middle, showcasing a vibrant spectrum of adventures in an easily navigable, 6-days Sri Lanka tour.

Sri Lanka to open 1000-acre safari sanctuary

Sri Lankan wildlife department is planing to open a 1000-acre safari sanctuary. The department of wildlife is in search of a suitable place for it. The porposed safari sanctuary will be established in the northern province of Sri Lanka. Most national parks on the island are concentrated into the central and southern province of sri Lanka. Therefore, the people who travel to northern province are not able to explore the fascinating Sri Lankan wildlife. The proposed safari sanctury will be a good option for travellers to venture on wildlife tour, when they travel to northern province of Sri Lanka. At the moment the travellers are heading to central province, western or southern province, when they like to have Sri Lanka safari tours, however, in the furture the travellers may also heading to northern province to take part in a sri Lanka safari tour with the opening of the new safari santuary.

What are the places for best Sri Lanka safari tours?

Below mentioned national parks are the most popular for Sri Lanka safari tours. morfe than 90 percent of travellers heading to one of these national parks to see the wildlife in Sri Lanka. However, if you filter it further to discover the best national park for Sri Lanka safari tours, it would be either Yala national park or Wilpattu national park.

  1. Wilpattu national park
  2. Minneriya national park
  3. Udawalawe national park
  4. Yala national park

What is the best way to travel on your safari in Sri Lanka?

Most wildlife reserves in Sri Lanka are tucked away from major cities. Most wildlife reserves are located in isolated places, where there is no human habitation or there is very limited number of families in the area. Therefore, most locations, where wildlife reserves are to be found are not covered by public transport. It means that travelers can’t reach most national parks by public buses or trains, the only option is by private transport. Among the four national parks mentioned above, three of them (Wilpattu national park, Udawalawe national park, and Yala national park) are located in remote areas and therefore cannot be reached by public transport. Only the Mineriya national park Can be reached by public transport.

We recommend traveling by private taxi or self-drive vehicle. All national parks are well connected with the nearest major cities with a well-built road. Therefore it is easy to reach on a four-wheel or two-wheel drive vehicle. Travel by public transport allows you to save time on traveling and it is safe, comfortable and convenient too.

When is the best time for a safari in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is an all-year-round holiday destination in Asia and most wildlife reserves are also open throughout the year, therefore, travellers can venture on Sri Lanka safari tours at anytime of the year. However, a few national parks such as Yala national park and Wilpattu National Park are closed for a brief period (about one month) every year, mainly during the drought season. When the parks are closed the tourist traffic is diverted to other nearby national parks. Therefore travelers are able to venture on Sri Lanka safari tours in all national parks except during the closing period. Few other national parks such as Minneriya, Kaudulla, and Somawathiya national parks are closed for tarevllers during the rainy season due to the flood. Therefore, the tarevllers must throiughly consider the weather pattern of the national park before planing Sri Lanka safari tours.

6 days Sri Lanka wildlife safari tour in a nutshell

These 6 days Sri Lanka wildlife tour is a private tour, which means only the travelers of the particular group participate in the trip. Usually, Seerendipity tours organize private tours with a limited number of participants. There is a huge demand for private tours in Sri Lanka and more and more travelers opt for a private tour, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Private tours give you many benefits such as freedom, privacy, comfort, and flexibility on the trip itinerary while making the trip at your own pace.

This 6-day Sri Lankan adventure begins in hot and humid Colombo, which means the tour is ideal for travelers, who stay in beach resorts on the west coast or travelers, who land at the Katunayake international airport. In the latter part of the tour, the guests brush the southern and western coastal belts.    

As the trip can be started at Colombo international airport, the traveler can start the trip right after landing at the Colombo international airport. However, a pick-up can be arranged from any other place in Colombo, west coast hotels, or south coast hotels too. The trip includes all accommodations in star-class hotels. The guests are provided with private transport in an air-conditioned private vehicle such as a luxury car or a van. The tour package also includes 2 meals a day (breakfast and dinner) at the hotel.

What includes in 6 days Sri Lanka wildlife safari tour?

This 6 days Sri Lanka tour mainly rolls on the Sri Lanka southern travel route. On the trip travellers will be able to have 2 safaris based on Yala nationla park and udawalawe national park. Apart from that the travelers are able to explore many other biodiversity hotspots such as Sinharaja rainforest, Hortopn plains national park,

6 days Sri Lanka wildlife safari tour itinerary

Day 1 of the Sri Lanka safari tour

Meet and greet by driver-guide and leave for Sinharaja rain forest. In the afternoon rainforest trek with our nature guide. Your 6 days Sri Lanka safari tour begins with the walking tour of Sinhraja rainforest. The walking tour lasts between 3-5 hours, however, the duration is depends on your interest. Our nature guide will show you around the rainforest and enabling you to learn about, trees, plants, veins, insects, birds and many other animals. Dinner and overnight stay in hotel in Sinharaja.

Day 2 of the Sri Lanka safari tour

On the day 2 of the Sri Lanka safari tour the travellers head on to Horton plains national park after the breakfast. You will stop on the way to do a whitewater rafting in kitulgala. The whitewater rafting lasts about 2 hours. After the whitewater rafting the journey continue futher towards the horton plains national park and ther tarevllers reach the hill country resort toward the late afternoon, check-in the hotel and leisure. In teh afternoon the travellers can explore th city of Nuwara Eliya their own and thje city is located very close to teh hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Nuwara Eliya.

Day 3 of the Sri Lanka safari tour

After breakfast leave for Horton plains national park and venture on the 4 hours of walking tour in the wildlife reserve. Later leave for Udawalawe national park. Dinner and overnight stay in Udawalawe

Day 4 of the Sri Lanka safari tour

Early morning leave for a Udawalawe national park safari. The safari lasts between 3-4 hours. Later breakfast at the hotel and leave for Yala national park. Dinner and overnight stay in Yala.

Day 5 of the Sri Lanka safari tour

Early morning leave for a full-day safari at Yala national park. You will be provided with a picnic-type lunch during the safari. The safari lasts 8 hours and we try to show you as many animals as possible such as leopards, bears, crocodiles, etc.

Day 6 of the Sri Lanka safari tour

After breakfast leave for Colombo, the End of the trip.

What are the major activities on the Sri Lanka safari tour?

  1. Full-day safari at Yala national park
  2. 4 hours safari at Udawalawe national park
  3. 4 hours jungle trek at Sinharaja rainforest
  4. 4 hours trek at the Horton plains national park
  5. 2 hours Whitewater rafting Kitulgala a(optional)
  6. Visiting the Tea factory and garden (optional)
  7. Nuwara Eliya city tour (Optional)
  8. Visiting Ella waterfall

Sri Lanka safari: visiting the Sinharaja rainforest

Home to a large number of bird species, wild elephants, insect species, and endangered butterfly species, this patch of forest, 2 dozen kilometers inland from the west coast beaches, located in the Sabaragamuwa province is a hotspot for a wide range of endangered species. Venturing through the dense foliage of the Sinharaja rainforest feels like looking back in time.

Sinharaja rain forest is one of the main tourist sites that you encounter on this 6-day Sri Lanka wildlife safari. The travelers will drive to the Weddagala entrance of the Sinharaja rainforest, which is the starting point for mots Sinharaja forest trekking tours, with our driver/guide. You will meet one of our nature experts here, who have in-depth knowledge about the rainforest and its Fauna and Flora and he escorts you deep into the jungle.

Drive to Sinharaja from Colombo

The 3 hours drive from Colombo to the Sinharaja rainforest is easy and comfortable as the roads are in very good condition. The first to do on the list to trek through the rainforest. The rainforest trek lasts between 3-5 hours depending on your interest.

Distance and duration of Sinharaja trek

The distance of the trek is about 3 km from the starting point of the Sinharaja main entrance, which can be hiked on your own, however, we provide a nature guide for your assistance and he also shares his knowledge about the Fauna and Flora in the forest. It is highly recommended to wear a pair of conformable hiking boots during the rainforest due to the rugged terrain. The forest floor can be muddy and there can be leeches in the forest, especially if you hit the rainforest during the rainy season, our nature guide provides you with the leeches’ repellent.

Accommodation in Sinharaja

Most accommodation facilities available in Sinharaja are basic, however, cleanliness and safety are guaranteed. Most of the accommodation facilities are managed by individuals and most of them have very limited capacity. On this Sri Lanka wildlife safari, the travelers will spend 1 night in a small and comfortable guest house. The guest house is located very close to the entrance of the Sinharaja rainforest and is surrounded by lush green vegetation.

Sinharaja rainforest is one of the best places to spy on avian fauna species. A large number of bird species perch high in the rainforest canopy and occasionally seek refuge on the forest floor to pick up fruits, seeds, and insects. The visitors can witness nearly a hundred bird species and there are many endemic bird species among them such as jungle fowl.  

Sri Lanka safari: visiting Horton Plains national park

On the second day of the Sri Lanka wildlife safari tour, you will be heading to the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country, and visiting one of the highest peaks on the island. 5-hour drive from Sinharaja on the upcountry highway takes you to Horton plains national park, which is one of the last remaining cloud forests on the island. Horton plains national park is nestled in a plateau between the 2nd and 3rd highest mountains of Sri Lanka.

The sights of the national park’s lush tropical green forest, winding perennial streams, and earth cliffs mesmerize all its visitors. The national park is located deep in the remote areas of the mountain.  The travelers traverse through the jungle about 5 km from the main road on a paved isolated road. The journey will end near the main entrance of the national park.

At the beginning of the journey, the travelers pass the small town and busy areas. After about a few hours the journey land escapes dramatically changes and the journey slower, due to the uphill journey. Most part of the trip is an uphill journey through the pristine tea plantations, peaks, and valleys.

The travelers were also greeted with a few cascading waterfalls namely Devon Falls and St. Clair’s waterfall. The sights are very attractive on this route with tea gardens and patches of forests with high mountain peaks in the backdrop.

The travelers need to purchase an entry permit at the visitor’s center before heading to the main entrance. The trailhead is about 1 km from the visitor’s center, and our driver/guide takes you to the main entrance of the park.

The travelers will hike through the forested area, grassland and some parts of the earth’s surface is muddy therefore it is recommended to wear hiking boots. However, unlike in Sinharaja, you will not find leeches here.

When is the best time to visit Horton plains?

Usually, the trek at Horton plains takes place around noon when the sun is shining at its best. Dense cloud accumulates in high-altitude forest very frequently and they are hovering very close to the ground. The visibility in the park can be very meager due to the mist. Therefore, it is highly recommended to start the trek at midday, due to the heat generated by the midday sun, the mist evaporates, exposing the photogenic sight for the visitors.

One distinct and unique feature of the vegetation of the park is the gnarled, small trees. The highest tree in the park is not exceeding 3 meters, due to the constant chilly breeze, which brushes the crown of the trees.

Duration and distance of Horton plains trek

The traveler hike about 2 km before coming to the world-end, which is a precipice with a sharp drop. The mountain drops all of a sudden, many hundred meters. The travelers can position themselves high above the precipices, which allows them to have a sweeping view of the tea gardens, vegetable gardens, and patches of forests in the lower elevated areas.

This is the most popular viewpoint in the park. The breathtaking view over the below area from the world’s end creates, a mind-blowing and unforgettable picture in the mind of every visitor of the park, however, the view can be obstructed due to the mist on some occasions.

To increase the adrenaline factor and the travelers can continue further on the massive circuit and see the baker’s waterfall and the rest of the jungle while completing the entire circuit which lasts around 4 hours. 

Trekking through the park is comparatively easy, except in a few places, where the elevation of the trekking path changes abruptly. In some places, the travelers need to climb up on steep uneven steps and reach high-altitude areas to continue further. It is due to the change in the elevation of the route. This trek is suitable for experienced and novice trekkers.  

The duration of rainforest trek lasts about 4 hours. The visitors can see many animal species such as massive structured sambar deer, wild boar, monkey, and many avian fauna species.

Sri Lanka safari: visiting Udawalawe national park

Rolling down from Sri Lanka’s central mountain range, for 2 hours by road, in the southward direction takes you to the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The drive easy quite easy and interesting. The travelers are greeted with picturesque breathtaking scenery right from the beginning to the end. Cascading waterfalls, rice paddies, isolated un-crowded towns, small villages, wayside fruit and vegetable sellers, tea gardens, and vegetable plots are some of the things that travelers encounter on this travel route. Udawalawe national park is a perfect spot to become a wildlife explorer.

The origin of Udawalawe national park

Quite new to the collection of wildlife reserves on the island, which dates back to the 1950s. Udawalawe national park is a by-product of the Udawalawe development project, which was one of the largest development projects on the island. The abandoned countryside was largely neglected in the past and it was encroached by the jungle.

A large part of the jungle was cleared and farmers were settled in Embilipitya town. The new settlement was equipped with all the essential facilities and amenities such as hospitals, schools, road networks, telephone, pipe-born water, houses, and well lands for cultivation.

The wild animals lived in the area before the new settlement all the animals were caged in the Udawalawe national park., Which has become one of the best places for Sri Lanka wildlife safari tours. The national park is located a few kilometers south of the hill country resort of Ella.

The turbulent past for wildlife

Wild animals on the island had a very turbulent past, especially during the British colonial era. The wild animals’ population shrank very fast due to deforestation and hunting. Today the situation is much improved but deforestation continues in the guise of development.

The clearing of lands takes place in many parts of Sri Lanka under the guidance of politicians and government officers. Recently Many environmental protection groups have sought legal assistance to stop the destruction of Wilapattu national. The court hearing pertaining to it is still going on. According to the environmentalist, a portion of the Wilpattu forest is cleared and a large number of families were settled.

The elephant population on the rise over the last several years despite the grim past. However, the increasing elephant population creates some other complicated issues such as elephant attacks on humans as well as human attacks on wild elephants. The government authorities are still striving to find a reasonable solution for the elephant-human conflict over the last many years, but still not been successful.  

Why should I visit Udawalawe national park?

Udawalawe national park is one of the best places to witness wild elephants in Sri Lanka, due to the large concentration of wild elephants. The national park is heaven for wildlife enthusiasts.

It is very easy to spot wild elephants at Udawalawe national park. It is easy to witness large herds of wild elephants in Udawalawe, sometimes the herds are consisting of many hundreds of elephants. The park has received a boost from the wildlife department, which manages park tourism on a day-to-day basis. The goal of the state institution is to use the park to earn money for the country and provide jobs for the people in the area while maintaining a healthy and safe environment for wild animals.

Sri Lanka wildlife tour: visiting Yala national park

The Yala national park is a little bit different experience from the earlier mentioned wildlife reserve. Yala national park is one of the most valuable natural assets of the people of Sri Lanka. Spreading over 97880 hectares in the southern province of Sri Lanka, Yala is the 2nd biggest national park on the island. But it can become the biggest national park on the island if the devastation of the biggest national park (Wilpattu national park) continues in the future.

A large portion of the national park stretches along the southern coastal belt, near Hambantota. The beaches of the Indian ocean are an occasional breeding ground for sea turtles.

A large part of the national park is made of dry zone evergreen forest, which is not as dense as a rainforest. Large trees with big canopies of mushrooms in the park, while keeping a healthy distance in between for other small thorn bushes, creepers, and small trees. This type of forest is ideal for carnivores like leopards, which helps them to catch prey very easily.  

Thick jungles, savannah-type forests, and grasslands with waterholes in between are suitable for any type of wildlife. Leopards, elephants, crocodiles, wild buffaloes, jackals, and monkeys are some of the common animals that can be spotted at Yala national park.  

How to book a Sri Lanka safari tour?

Booking a Sri Lanak safari is very simple and straight forward. This convenience is another factor that should be taken into account when considering a Sri Lanka safari tour. The Sri Lanka safari tour does not require any prior planning and can be conducted on a whim. You can reserve a Sri Lanka safari tour to the nearby national park by contacting tour operators like Seerendipity Tour or visiting the travel counter at your hotel. Sri Lanka safari tours are available as a one-day excursion from your hotel.

The Sri Lanka wildlife excursion is distinct from the majority of other national parks in the world in that it does not necessitate a prolonged stay in the park. It is unnecessary to spend several days in the national park and travel through it on a daily basis in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka safari is a highly convenient experience, as it only requires approximately three hours to explore the national park and observe numerous animals in their natural habitat.

Short Sri Lanka safari VS multi-day Sri Lanka safari

It is crucial to organize your Sri Lanka wildlife tour in advance. There are primarily two alternatives for Sri Lanka wildlife tours. These wildlife tours may be scheduled independently or in conjunction with any other Sri Lanka beach holiday package or Sri Lanka sightseeing tour. Example: A Minneriya safari can be incorporated into a Sri Lanka cultural triangle vacation without incurring significant time or financial expenditures.

Sri lanka safari tour of multiple days

You will be visiting numerous significant wildlife reserves during this journey, which spans over a period of more than five days. The duration of time spent in wildlife reserves ranges from two hours to an entire day. Typically, this sort of Sri Lanka wildlife tour involves spending over half of the trip in national parks to explore the wildlife. Yala National Park, Udawalawe National Park, Sinharaja Rainforest, and Horton Plain National Park are among the most frequently visited destinations on multi-day wildlife excursions in Sri Lanka.

Short Sri Lanka safari tours

This category encompasses Sri Lanka wildlife excursions that last one or two days. These wildlife excursions are the optimal choice for travelers who intend to visit the national park from their beach resorts. Nevertheless, this brief wildlife excursion is included in numerous Sri Lanka tour packages, including the 2-week Sri Lanka tour itinerary and the 7-day Sri Lanka tour. During these excursions, your guide will transport you to a wildlife reserve for a safari.