Sri Lanka is maybe small in size but big in the wildlife which offers abundance of natural wildlife positively surprises, starting from the famous Asian Elephant to the elusive Leopard. This is a paradise for birds, in fact 43 of the endangered species listed by the World Conservation Union can be found in Sri Lanka’s national parks. The country has recently also grown in fame as being a hotspot for whale and dolphin watching. The island is also very rich in different species of flora which can be admired not only in botanical gardens…
PINNAWELA – This is the only orphanage for elephants in the world. Founded in 1975 with 5 baby elephants and now has more than 80. More than half of them were born in the orphanage. The orphanage was started to save the baby elephants which often get lost in the jungle and eventually die.
YALA NATIONAL PARK – This is the most famous of all the wildlife parks in Sri Lanka. Here one can see a variety of animals during a half day safari. Main attractions are – elephants, wild buffalo, deer, wild boar, crocodiles and a variety of birds. This is also the best place to see leopards and sloth bear.
HORTON PLAINS – The most beautiful nature reserve in Sri Lanka. Situated among the highest mountains, also known as the “World’s End”. Everything is special in this reserve such as plants, birds, and insects. There are breathtaking views, landscape and a picturesque waterfall. On a clear, sunny day one can see almost the south coast from the view point “World’s End” (vertical drop 900 meters). The whole trek of the reserve is 9 km.
PERADENIYA ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDEN – This is the largest and the most astonishing botanical garden of Sri Lanka. This garden was found during the Kandyan Kings period in 14th century and later developed by the British. There are over 10.000 trees and over 5000 plants from all over the world. There is also an Orchid House with a collection of variety of colorful orchids. The garden is surrounded on three sides by the longest river in Sri Lanka – Mahaweli Ganga.
MINERIYA NATIONAL PARK – The National Park’s faunal species include 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies. More spectacular than possibly any other wildlife event in Sri Lanka is what is known as the ‘The Gathering’, to be an observer of the largest gathering of wild elephants in the world is truly a memorable sight, and an unforgettable opportunity to watch the social dynamics of these great creatures. It is a unique phenomenon and only seen in Minneriya National Park between the month of May and November. Recently, this amazing Gathering was listed as Number 6 in the Lonely Planet’s Guide to Natural Wildlife Spectacles of the World.
BUNDALA NATIONAL PARK – is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of Birds, the highlight being the Greater Flamingo, which migrate in large flocks. In 2005 the national park was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the fourth biosphere reserve in Sri Lanka.
UDAWALAWA NATIONAL PARK – is one of the major eco tourism destination. Park was established on 30 July 1972. It is most famous for the many elephants that live there (about 400 in total). In addition to this main attraction, the park is home to many water buffalo, water monitor lizards, sambur deer, monkeys and the occasional leopard, as well as being an exciting location for bird enthusiasts.