The Top Wildlife Experiences In Sri Lanka

If you want abundant wildlife experiences, Sri Lanka is a paradise. It’s hard to go a day without spotting a new creature even if you are just relaxing by the beach. The culture and history here have led it to be a Mecca for wildlife conservation and eco tourism. It is surprisingly eco friendly too considering its neighbours. Sri Lanka recycles and reuses most of its glass fizzy drinks bottles, plus a lot less single use plastics are as readily available than in the west. With these top wildlife experiences in Sri Lanka you can’t help but have the trip of a lifetime.

See hundreds of wild elephants in Kaudulla national park



There are few places left in the world that you can see the largest land mammal on earth freely roaming around in such great numbers. This, for me, is one of the greatest reasons to visit Sri Lanka and why I will definitely return. You can often find Insta’ posts of people riding (don’t do it!) or bathing elephants in places like Thailand or Bali. But here they are simply roaming around in their natural habitat. In their hundreds! Visit Kaudulla or Minneriya in the north or Udawalawa nearer to the south coast towns of Mirissa and Unawatuna.


Spot leopards in Yala or Wilpattu


Leopards are notoriously hard to spot animals. The dense undergrowth of Yala national park certainly doesn’t help matters. But with a bit of luck and a great guide you have a pretty good chance to spot one having his morning stretch! I highly recommend Yala Wild Safaris if you are that way.

Yala national park Sri Lanka


If you have the option however why not try Wilpattu national park? Yala is busy even in off season with Jeeps queuing from 5 in the morning just to get a good spot! Wilpattu is  less well known and a lot quieter meaning less noisy jeep engines to scare away all of the wildlife! Leopards, bear, monkeys and deer can all be found here too!


Take a boat out on the Indian Ocean to spot whales


Blue whale fluke Sri Lanka


The Indian Ocean is abundant with sea life. Take a boat from Mirissa in search of the largest animal on the planet. The blue whale. It truly is a bucket list experience witnessing the brief moments one of these giants comes to the surface for a breath before diving back into the deep. You might even catch a few spinner dolphins leaping out if the water on the way! Check out Raja and the whales, expect to pay around $40 for a day trip.


Have a look at my top 5 things to do in Mirissa.

Frog Rock – Sri Lanka


See thousands of bats take flight in Tissa



One of the lesser known spectacles in Sri Lanka yet easily one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Venture out to Tissamaharama and visit Tissa lake just before sunset and no doubt a budding entrepreneur will find you. Jump on a boat for a sunset cruise around the lake watching all of the birds coming in to roost for the night. The noise is deafening before everything suddenly falls quiet. Then from the treetops huge fruit bats start making their appearance. In their thousands they emerge. But just as quickly as they fill the night sky, they are gone. Truly mesmerising.


Search for elusive sightings in the central highlands


Kingfisher Sri Lanka


Taking the train from Kandy to Ella is an unmissable experience in Sri Lanka. The tea plantations roll past the window and give way to epic mountain views giving it the title of one of the best train journeys in the world. What the less wildlife obsessed tourist might miss is the chance to spot all kinds of creatures. For the birders Nuwara Eliya or ‘Little England’ is home to kingfishers. Stop by at the botanical gardens to find these not so camera shy birds as well as many others. While slowly chuffing through the highland forests on the train keep your eyes peeled for elusive bear monkeys. They were too quick for my camera but a great spot never the less!


Kandy to Ella Train Sri Lanka

See my full guide to taking the train from Kandy to Ella here.


Monkeys, monkeys everywhere!


Long tailed Macaque Monkey in Sri Lanka


I couldn’t not mention monkeys! For anyone that knows me will be aware I am quite fond of these cheeky little critters in all their forms. The most common monkeys here are long tailed macaques and they can be found pretty much everywhere! Stealing someone’s lunch or posing for an Insta’ shot. Purple headed langur monkeys are a bit less common but can still be found in big family groups in places like Polunnaruwas ancient ruins.


Swim with turtles in Hikkaduwa


Secret Beach Mirissa


The south coast of Sri Lanka is a beach lovers paradise. There are wide opened palm fringed beaches alongside tropical coral reefs teeming with wildlife. There are a few very tame and rather well fed green turtle’s that have made the beach at Hikkaduwa their home. There’s no need for a snorkel really as the chirpy turtles come right into the shallows looking for helpful tourist to bring them tasty seaweed from the nearby reef shelf.

Check out my post on how to find them h

I use this camera for all of my nature photography and it has never let me down in 5+ years of hiking through mountains, jungles and deserts. I’d highly recommend it for a compact hard wearing camera that gets as good close ups as the chunky DSLR’s.

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wildlife experiences in sri lanka
Sri Lanka Map
Check out all of the best stops in Sri Lanka here on Google Maps.
What to see in Sri Lanka
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