Exploring the Best Destinations, Accommodations, Must-Try Tours, and Wildlife Advice
When it comes to wildlife spotting via game drives, many people think of east or southern Africa. However, Sri Lanka also offers some amazing safari opportunities that are often overlooked. With 27 national parks, this small Indian Ocean island is home to diverse landscapes and wildlife. Whether you’re interested in seeing elephants, leopards, or other majestic creatures, a Sri Lankan safari is a must-do experience. In this guide, we will cover the best destinations for your safari, how to organize a safari trip, the cost, when to go, and what to wear.
There are three types of safari trips you can organize in Sri Lanka. The first option is to book a stay in a safari-specific lodge located in or near the national park of your choice. These all-inclusive packages typically include your accommodation, food, and private game drives. This option is ideal for those looking for a high-end safari experience, but it is important to book in advance to secure your desired accommodations.
The second option is to book your accommodation separately and arrange for game drives independently. By staying near a park but not right next to it, you can often find better deals on accommodation. Your hotel or guesthouse can then help you arrange a game drive with an external company. This mid-range option offers some flexibility, but you may need to be paired with other travelers on your game drive to keep costs down. Keep in mind that you will likely only have one game drive in the park, either in the early morning or late afternoon.
The third option is to book accommodation independently and use public transport to reach the park entrance. From there, you can pick up a safari guide. This budget-friendly option requires more flexibility in your schedule, as you may need to wait for other travelers to join your game drive. While this option can save you money, there is a risk of having to cover the full cost of the game drive if you don’t find other travelers to share expenses with.
During your Sri Lankan safari, you can expect game drives to take place either in the early morning or late afternoon when animals are more active. Most safaris use open-sided vehicles with open roofs, so it is important to bring protective clothing, hats, sunscreen, and water. Game drives usually last between 2 and 4 hours and can be bumpy, so wearing a sports bra is recommended. Don’t forget to bring a good camera to capture the incredible wildlife you’ll encounter.
Out of Sri Lanka’s 27 national parks, there are eight that are particularly recommended for safari trips. One of the top choices is Minneriya National Park, known for its “elephant gathering” spectacle. This unique experience, rated one of National Geographic’s top natural spectacles, allows you to see large herds of elephants gathering at the park’s lake. Minneriya is also home to monkeys and butterflies, making it a great park to combine with nearby cultural attractions such as Sigiriya.
Another popular safari destination is Yala National Park. Known for its leopard population, Yala is the most well-known and visited national park in Sri Lanka. It is also home to elephants, monkeys, and a variety of bird species. Other recommended national parks include Udawalawe, Wilpattu, and Bundala.
In conclusion, a Sri Lankan safari is a must-do experience for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. With a variety of safari options available, there is something for every budget and travel style. Whether you choose to stay in a safari lodge, book accommodation separately, or arrange your own game drives, you are guaranteed to have a memorable wildlife encounter in Sri Lanka’s stunning national parks. So grab the chance to see and experience the amazing wildlife this island has to offer and start planning your perfect Sri Lankan safari today!