Sri Lanka Safari and Beach holiday is a very popular combination of activities among the most foreign travellers in Sri Lanka. Same times there are a lot of inquiries for Sri Lanka cultural tours, beach holiday packages and adventure trips from our foreign customers as well. Sri Lanka has earned a reputation as a holiday destination with a wide range of attractions.
Sri Lanka is one of the most popular destinations in Asia for sun, sea, sand and loved by most sun-worshippers around the world. Therefore most Sri Lanka trips include a beach stay allowing the guests to have peace and leisure, mostly towards the end of the tour.
Sri Lanka Safari and Beach Holiday
This tiny tropical island is a holiday destination to touch rich historical past, diverse cultures, fascinating wildlife, an interesting collection of flora, and destination to experience panchakarma Ayurveda holiday. Moreover, Sri Lanka attracts a large number of adventure holiday lovers to perform adventurous sports. Hiking, mountain climbing, trekking, white water rafting, walking, and caving are several of the lists of adventure activities available here.
Even though Sri Lanka a small island it is inhabited by a large number of animals. Bio-diversity of the island is estimated to be at a very high level compared to most countries in the region. Therefore, Sri Lanka has become a top-notch wildlife holiday destination in the world and combination of Sri Lanka safari and beach holiday on the radar of most foreign traveller. Leopards, Bear, Elephant, Crocodile, and Buffalo are some of the noteworthy animals here. They all live in their natural habitat and roam freely within their allotted area. Following are four of more than dozens of wildlife parks that can be included in Sri Lanka safari and beach holiday package.
Places for Sri Lanka Beach holidays
Sri Lanka is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and the island possess more than 1300 kilometres of pristine, palm-fringed beaches. The island attracts hundreds of thousands of beach holiday enthusiast every year and it grows day by day. But some parts of the Sri Lankan beaches are uncrowned and lie in solitude, especially the south coast beach resorts of Sri Lanka. It is partly due to the remoteness from the international airport. And another major reason is the underdeveloped tourism infrastructure. But with the rapid development in the tourism sector in the recent past, some of the beach resorts have been able to get the attention of travellers. Especially the emerging beach holiday destinations such as Kalpitiya in the north-west coast, Tangalle, Matara, Hambantota in southern coast and Kalpitiya, Pasikudah in the east coast.
Emerging beach holiday destinations
Especially Kalpitiya and southern Sri Lanka beaches such as Hambantota have been able to attract a large number of beach holiday lovers in the recent past making new opportunities for people in the region. These new beach holiday destinations have been able to attract a large number of foreign investments too and the tourism infrastructure is also considerably improved. The big players such as Anantara and Shangrila have set up their hotels in southern Sri Lanka while luxury beach resorts such as Divya lagoon popped-up in Kalpitiya.
With ever-increasing foreign travellers in Sri Lanka, popular beach resorts such as Bentota beach, Hikkaduwa beach, Unawatuna beach are getting more and more crowded. As the beach resorts get crowded the facilities (accommodation, transportation) are also becoming more expensive due to the high demand. Therefore the travellers are also in the quest for an uncrowded beach resort in order to have a peaceful beach stay at an affordable price. Beach resorts such as Hambantota, Kalpitiya, Weligama, Pasikudah not only enables the travellers to have a peaceful Sri Lanka beach holiday but also make it possible to have an affordable Sri Lanka beach holiday.
In this article on Sri Lanka safari and beach holiday, we discuss mainly on 4 wildlife reserves that can be easily combined with a Sri Lanka beach holiday package. These wildlife reserves are evolved around all major beach holiday destination in Sri Lanka.
What are the most popular national parks for Sri Lanka wildlife holiday?
- Yala national park
- Wilpattu national park
- Udawalawe national park
- Minneriya national park
Yala and Wilpattu national parks are the 2 most important places to spot leopards in the country. Therefore it is highly advisable to choose either Yala national park or Wilpattu national park for your Sri Lanka safari and beach holiday if you wish to spot Sri Lanka’s biggest carnivore. If you have a long-distance to cover from beach hotel to Yala national park you need to book a 2 days Sri Lanka safari tour.
Yala and Wilpattu national parks can be easily explored from any part of the island in 2 days Sri Lanka safari tour, which includes an overnight stay in a hotel near the park. The cost might goes-up due to the overnight stay but still, it is worth, because you can have the best wildlife experience in Sri Lanka.
How to choose the most suitable national park for my wildlife tour?
This blog post is written to give a more clear picture for travellers who wish to have a combined tour package of Sri Lanka Safari and Beach holiday. A Sri Lanka Safari and Beach holiday package creates an opportunity to explore Sri Lanka’s rich wildlife while enjoying the Sri Lankan pristine beaches.
There are 4 major wildlife reserves to be considered if you plan a Sri Lanka Safari and Beach holiday, namely Yala, Wilpattu, Udawalawe and Minneriya. Depending on the beach resort you choose Safari could be at Yala national park, Udawalawe national park, Wilpattu national park or Minneriya national park. In fact, these are major national parks popular for Sri Lanka safaris.
- Udawalawe national park: If your beach hotel on the west coast the most convenient national park for your wildlife tour is Udawalawe national park and you may also consider Yala. You can easily visit Udawalawe national park on a one day trip from your beach resort. However, if you plan to visit Yala national park, it should be a 2 days tour in order to get the maximum of your wildlife tour.
- Yala national park: If you stay in a beach resort on the southern coast, the most convenient national park is Yala and you can reach Yala national park in a few hours time from your hotel.
- Wilpattu national park: If your beach resort is located north of Colombo, Wilpattu national park is the most convenient location for your wildlife trip. Wilpattu national park can be visited on a one day trip from beaches such as Negombo, Waikkal, Kalpitiya.
- Minneriya national park: Minneriya is the 4th national park that we discuss on this blogpost, Wilpattu is located in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, there are few other national parks such as Hurulu park, Kudulla in the same area. However, Minneriya is the most popular among them national park here and one of the best places to spot large gathering of wild elephants. If you visit historical monuments in the cultural triangle it is best to choose Minneroiya national park for your wildlife tour. The national park is centrally located in the cultural triangle and provide easy access from leading monuments such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya.
All these national parks can be easily reached from any beach resort on the island. The island has a well-developed road network and all major roads are in very good condition. There might be traffic congestions in busy cities, however, the traffic move very swiftly outside the cities. Choosing the best route (Eg: less crowded and without busy cities) is critical to the success of the Sri Lanka safari you start from the beach hotel. Especial when the return journey should be made on the same day.
It is highly advisable to start the journey very early from the beach hotel, thereby you can reach the national park before it is embraced by the heat. Making safari at early hours and late afternoon is recommended to have the best Sri Lanka safari experience. The animal reduces its movement making it difficult to spot animals during the mid-day.
Yala national park
Yala can be chosen as the venue of wildlife reserve of the Sri Lanka Safari and Beach holiday package if the travellers choose a beach holiday destination in the west or southern coast of Sri Lanka. Yala being one of the biggest national parks in the island, it is one of the most popular destinations for Sri Lanka safaris. Most travellers opt for Yala national park as the venue for Sri Lanka safari and Yala is the wildlife reserve included in most Sri Lanka road trips. The park is very popular especially due to its large concentration of leopards.
Spotting leopards in Yala national park
Yala is one of the two best destinations for Sri Lanka safari alone with Wilpattu National park. The visitors will encounter a great variety of wildlife here. Due to its popularity as a safari destination, the tourism infrastructure is well developed around the park. Yala can be recommended as for people who wish to have an unforgettable Sri Lanka Safari and Beach holiday with a top-notch wildlife experience. Yala is famed for the frequent sight of largest carnivore of the island, Leopard.
Yala is ranked among the best places to witness leopards due to a large concentration of them in the park. Abundance food, suitable habitat for its lifestyle, and less competition for surviving are the leading reasons for the increasing number of leopards in the past. But the rate of multiplication of the big cat is considerably slowed in the recent past and poaching is identified as the main reason.
Yala is still the most favourite location for spotting leopards. Yala can easily reach from most anchoring points of holidays makers in Sri Lanka. Tour operators such as Seerendipity tours organize regular safari tours to Yala and you have the option to join one of their groups.
How far is Yala national park from west and south coast
The distance to cover to reach Yala national park from the hotels on the west coast is 320 km and it will take around 4 hours to reach the national park. Therefore the Yala safari is offered as a two-day tour from most hotels on the west coast. Even from the beach holiday resorts in the deep south of Sri Lanka such as Hambantota, Matara, Tangalle, it takes around 3 hours 30 minutes to reach the park, hence it is offered as a 2 days tour from beach hotels with an overnight stay in Yala.
However, the Yala national park can be explored in the day tour from surfing destination of Arugam bay of the south-east coast of Sri Lanka. The distance from Arugambe to Yala national park is 135 km and takes around 2hours 30 minutes to reach the park.
Beach holiday with a safari at Udawalawe national park
The Udawalawe national park is also a viable option to consider like the venue for wildlife reserve of the Sri Lanka Safari and Beach holiday package of travellers who anchored in a beach resort either in West coast of southern Sri Lanka. It gives easy access to travellers who spend the beach holiday on the west coast beach resort such as Bentota beach, Kalutara, Ahungalla, Ambalangoda. Udawalawe national park safari is offered by many travel agents as a one day tour from most hotels on the west coast.
Udawalwe national park – easy to reach from west and south coast
The travellers, who stay in a beach hotel in southern Sri Lanka are also well positioned for a convenient safari from the beach hotel. Because not only Yala national park but also Udawalawe national parks are within the easy reach of beach holiday resorts in west and southern coast of Sri Lanka. Unlike Yala, Udawalawe is teaming with wild elephants. Udawalawe holds a reputation being placed to see a large number of wild elephants within a short period of time.
Spotting elephants in Udawalawe national park
Udawalawe is the youngest national park in Sri Lanka and far smaller in size compared to Yala. Being a very suitable living habitat for elephants, it is a place to spot more than 100 wild elephants in varying sizes within a few hours of time. Leopards, bear, crocodile, buffalo and many other animals can be spotted here, but the opportunity is rare with compared to chances of seeing wild elephants.
Distance from West coast to Udawalawe national park
The distance from the west coast beach hotels to Udawalawe national park is around 180km and it takes 3 hours 30 minutes to reach the national park. The distance from Southern Sri Lanka to Udalawawe national park is around 125 km and it takes around 2 hours 30 minutes to reach the park from hotels in Galle, Unawatuna, Matar and other beach resorts in southern Sri Lanka.
Udawalawe Safari 1 day tour can be booked through the booking engine for getyourguide and it is organized by Seerendioitytours. Udawalawe safari 1-day tour with getyourguide
Minneriya national park
Minneriya National park is the most popular national park in the north-central province of Sri Lanka. If you choose a beach resort on the east coast such as Trincomalee, Nilaweli, Kalkudah and Pasikudah in you Sri Lanka safari and beach holiday package, Minneriya is the best place to spot wild animals. If you have an overnight stay near Anuradhapura or other cities in the cultural triangle you have a good opportunity of visiting this national park, because the cultural triangle is not far from Minneriya, in fact, the cultural triangle is included in almost all Sri Lanka tour and beach holiday packages. It can be easily reached from any of the hotels in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
Minneriya national park safari shows some similar conditions to Udawalawe national park safari mainly due to the large concentration of wild elephants at Minneriya. Therefore, if you are fascinated by seeing large herds of elephants, you are well on target to fulfil your wish at Minneriya national park.
Minneriya can be explored in the 1-day tour from east coast beaches such as Trincomalee and all other beach holidays on the east coast. The travelling time from Trincomalee to Minneriya is 2 hours while distance is calculated to be is 87 km. The distance between Kalkudah, Pasikudah and Batticaloa is around 90km to 105km and the travelling time is around 2 hours.
Wilpattu national park
Wilpattu national park is the best option to do the safari for travellers who choose a beach hotel in Negombo, Chilaw or Kalpitiya. Wilpattu is the nearest wildlife reserve for people who choose north-west Sri Lanka as the destination for the beach resort in their Sri Lank safari and beach holiday package. Travellers can easily explore the wildlife at Wilpattu in a short tour (one day or half-day tour) form all the hotels in North-west Sri Lanka.
The extent of Wilpattu national park
Wilpattu is one of the biggest national parks, spread over 140,000 hectares. Wilpattu was declared as a national park in 1938. It is located in the north-west of Sri Lanka; this secluded national park is one of the best national parks for leopard sightings. One distinct character of the national park is the large concentration of natural shallow lakes. The number of shallow lakes within the park exceeds 40 and two of them contain salty water. Wilpattiu is the second most popular wildlife reserve for Sri Lanka safari and one of the best places for leopards sightsing in the island.
The travelling time from Kalpitiya beach resort to Wilpattu national park is 1 hour 30 minutes and the distance is 80 km. while the distance from Negombo to Wilpattu national park is 136 km and time taken to reach Wilpattu from Negombo is 3 hours.
How can I book a Sri Lanka safari from the beach hotel?
Usually, every beach resort provides Sri Lanka tours and excursions through the in-house travel desk. The hotels maintain the travel desk only to serve the guests staying at the hotel. Usually, the travel desk offers Sri Lanka safari, which includes transportation, entrance fees to the wildlife park, guiding, jeep for the safari and all taxes. Travellers can also book any Sri Lanka safari with local tour operators such as seerendipity tours as well. The travellers can book a part of the Sri Lanka safari or the complete package with a tour operator.
If you are not staying in a star class hotel you might not be able to find a travel desk in the hotel. In case the travel desk is not available in the hotel, travellers can also organize a Sri Lanka safari their own by contacting a local tour operator through the internet, by phone or by visiting their office. One can also use public transport or private transport (taxi) to reach the national park. A transport mode such as Taxi is highly recommended to go to the national parks due to the absence of public transport to most national parks on the island. Usually, the national parks are located in remote areas, where the human habitation is very scarce.
How to buy entrance tickets for the safari?
If you travel your own entrance ticket for every national park should be obtained at the time of the entrance. Only the staff at the ticket counter located at the entrance of the national park is authorized to issue the entrance tickets. The entrance price for Sri Lanka safari differs depending on the national park and the per-person rates are between 2000 Rs to 3000 Rs.
Duration of Sri Lanka safari
Most travellers book the short Sri Lanka safari and it lasts for 2 to 4 hours depending on the national park. Safari at Minneriya and the Udawalawe national park might take around 2 hours and safari at Yala and Wilpattu might take up to 4 hours due to its vastness. The drivers take you to the most number of animals during the trip by scratting most areas of the national parks. The jeep will be on the move almost all the time once it entered the wildlife park. It makes brief stops when there are animals to be seen and photographed.
The travellers have the possibility to book full day safari at national parks and they also can book bungalows located within the national park for the overnight stay.
Finding Accommodation during Sri Lanka safari
Accommodation facilities are available in the suburb of most leading wildlife reserves. Travellers can find accommodation in places like Yala and Udawalawe without any inconvenience. The prices of accommodation are decided by the comfort level of the accommodation. The demand also makes a direct impact on the price (Eg: the hotel rates increases during the peak holiday season due to the high demand), the highest rates for accommodation facilities are recorded from November to April every year.
Holiday bungalows within national parks
The Bungalows are maintained by the wildlife department and advanced booking at their Colombo office is essential to reserve a bungalow. Wildlife department provides only the accommodation and a ranger for the visitors, who book the bungalows. Meals are not provided by the administrators of the forest bungalow, however, the cook at the bungalow is ready to prepare the food for the visitors.
Camping also can be done in the buffer zone of every national park. There is plenty of camping accommodation available particularly at Udawlawe and Yala national parks. These luxury campsites are maintained by private companies and accommodation is provided as a complete package with the conjunction of the Sri Lanka safari and all meals. Usually, the Sri Lanka safari with camping cost USD 400 per person and it includes accommodation with all meals and 2 safaris.
Where do I get a jeep for the Safari?
Jeeps are provided by individual jeep owners in the area. Even the tour operators are using jeeps belong to these individual jeep providers. The visitors can get a jeep for the Sri Lanka safari at the specific National park. Usually, jeep owners keep their vehicles in the parking area just in front of the national park. The travellers can make a direct booking with a jeep owner or a driver. With regards to Minneriya national park, jeeps can be obtained at the national park as well as at the Habarana junction, which is about 5km away from the national park.
How much does it cost for the safari jeep
In order to experience the best Sri Lanka safari, it is recommended to book a jeep with an experienced driver. Because these experienced drivers know where the animals are roaming in the park, by experience and therefore they are capable of show you the most number of wild animals during the safari. The cost of the jeep will be around 6000 Rs per trip. The price of the jeep is based on the number of trips and a jeep can accommodate up to 6 persons. However, the price may vary depending on the conditions of the jeep and the demand.