The Top Wildlife Experiences In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a nature lovers 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.

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From seeing tiny baby turtles in a rescue hatchery to hundreds of wild roaming elephants in a national park; spotting blue whales and spinner dolphins a few miles off the coast to countless birds, reptiles, mammals and even a particularly shy jaguar on a jeep safari! Every ancient temple seems to have its own local monkey gang and, more often than not, sun set brings out huge fruit bats that fill the sky with sound. Sri Lanka is so full of wildlife you can see a new creature nearly everyday! It’s hard to say goodbye to this place and the welcoming people that call it home, but our visa ran out so Kuala Lumpur it is 🎒✈️🌏 #ontothenextadventure #malaysiaherewecome #visitsrilanka #srilanka #naturephotography #staywild #natureisawesome #traveldeeper #explore #ngtuk #yalasafari #whalewatchingmirissa #missingthetuktuksalready

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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 giants

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!

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.

Long tailed Macaque Monkey in Sri Lanka

Feed 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 life. 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 here.

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