Sri Lanka wildlife – Yala Safari

Your Sri Lanka tour itinerary would not be complete without safaris in some of the wildlife sanctuaries in the country. The flourishing ecosystem of the country provides homes for a variety of endangered animals from the famous Sri Lankan leopard to the majestic elephants, monkeys, spotted deers, wild boars and so much more that trot the jungles of Udawalawe, Wilpattu, Wasgamuwa, Lunugamvehera, Laudulla, Lahugala, Minneriya, Horton Plains, and the famous Yala National Park. 

We at Olanka are here to guide you on your Sri Lanka wildlife tour, helping you choose the best wildlife experience in the country. Today’s hot pick is Yala. 

Yala National Park 

The Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s most renowned park is located in the southeastern region of the country and extends over two districts – Hambantota and Monaragala. The entrance to the park is in Palatupana, 12km from Kirinda. The distance from Colombo to the entry point of Palatupana is 305 km.

The gateway to the Yala National Park is Tissamaharama which is a 20 km drive via Kirinda. Dawn and dusk are the best times for Yala Safari tours. The climate here is usually hot and dry. 

The rocky outcrops scattered over the park provide vantage points to enjoy the sprawling dry zone landscape: low scrub and woods. The southern boundary of the park bordering the south-eastern coast, and the brackish lagoons and dunes enhance the distinctive charm of the Yala National Park.

Of all the National Parks in Sri Lanka, the Yala National Park gives the best opportunity to witness Sri Lanka’s wide spectrum of wildlife: colourful painted stork in troops can be seen perched at the shores of lagoons where crocodiles too choose to doze; lovely fan-tailed peacocks in their resplendent blues and greens parade amidst the woods where monkeys hang, leap and chatter; in the bush jungle are the Elephants; crossing the tracks and wandering off into the thorny scrub jungle is the star attraction of the park: the leopard.

You can also enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of camping on site. Camping could also be organized for you at one of the many luxury hotels, resorts, or villas that surround the vicinity of the jungle. Choose to stay at the picturesque Uga Chena hut, Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Topan Yala, the Sanctuary Yala, Jetwing Yala, Leopard Trails, or Tharu Villas. 

Wild Coast Tented Lodge

Wild Coast Lodge redefines safari as a holistic wilderness experience and is blessed with diverse habitat, ecology, and scenery across the five sectors of the Yala National Park Complex and Bundala National Park which is a Ramsar Wetland. The strikingly breathtaking hotel aspires to showcase the entire spectrum of nature from casually strolling leopards to vibrant birds that streak across the sky in bright colours.  

Uga Chena Huts

Set amongst the golden dunes and the lush greenery in Yala, Sri Lanka trips, the Uga Chena Huts combine Sri Lanka’s most celebrated features which are its tropical beaches and its exotic wildlife. These beautiful huts have been designed with their surrounding tropical jungles and saline lake in mind. Enveloped in a world of scenic splendour and exotic fauna, the huts are luxurious private cabins that offer awe-inspiring views of the surrounding wilderness and seascape.

Jetwing Yala 

Located between the serene tranquillity of the Indian Ocean and the natural wonders of the Yala National Park, Jetwing Yala rests within an uncharted patch of coastal wilderness at the end of Sri Lanka’s southern shoreline. This beautiful hotel is equipped with a host of modern luxuries and offers a wide range of amenities from free Wi-Fi to room service, daily housekeeping, and more. 

Leopard Trails 

Leopard Trails bespoke tented safaris return to the original spirit and true essence of safari, reminiscent of a golden era – an era of elegance, romance, and adventure and aims to provide a unique Sri Lankan safari experience in solitude and soothing comfort. 

Tharu Villas 

This luxury boutique hotel in Yala is nestled amongst a lush green haven and set amidst a community of “Chena” farmers. Home to curious monkeys, posing peacocks, and other exotic flora and fauna, the hotel welcomes you to sample the rugged wilderness of the Yala National Park at its doorstep. Tharu villa is the ideal place for you to relax and recuperate after a thrilling wildlife safari or a long journey.  Retreat to the cooler confines of your private villa to recharge after a guided bush walk or an exciting game run in search of the park’s most prestigious inhabitants, the leopard, the elephant, and the sloth bear.

Experience beachfront camping at the world-renowned wilderness of Yala, as you indulge in the luxury of a safari camp. These hotels offer the best of Sri Lanka’s hospitality alongside a wide array of amenities and facilities from exquisite dining experiences to private butler and spa services, guided bush walks, and game drives.

Kumana Bird Sanctuary 

On your trip to Yala, you can also enjoy a day trip to the beautiful Kumana Bird Sanctuary that is located in the southeast corner of tropical Ceylon. The 18,149-hectare Kumana national park is a well-known eco-tourism attraction and bird sanctuary where a multitude of birds breed and roost. 

One of the most significant features of the park is the ‘Kumana Villu’ which is a 200-hectare natural swamp lake, fed by the ‘Kumbukkan Oya’ through a half-mile-long narrow channel. It is at this mangrove swamp that many water birds nest in May and June. Regular sightings include such species of bird as pelicans, painted storks, spoonbills, white ibis, herons, egrets, and little cormorants.

The very rare, black-necked stork has also been spotted in the swamp. Besides the prolific birdlife, Kumana is also home to some of the mammals found in the larger Yala national park, such as elephants and leopards. The vegetation in Kumana consists mainly of mangrove trees, kumbuk trees, and the Karan fern, as well as the open marsh area. For bird-watching enthusiasts, the park is an ‘absolute must’.

The 08 most adventurous places in Sri Lanka

Are you a curious thrill-seeker excited about your Sri Lanka trip? Sri Lanka offers you astonishing possibilities to surf, hike, go on epic train rides, and all things action! Below are the 08 best adventurous places in Sri Lanka you can visit with Olanka Travels. 

Hike Sigiriya but don’t forget Pidurangala.

If you are a die-hard hiker, we are sure that you would definitely grab two hikes in one visit. DEAL?

Pidurangala, the climb-worthy neighbor of Sigiriya is the most incredible vantage point for the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. 

The trail up to the Pidurangala rock includes a steep incline, but that’s what makes it an adventurous hike. Those early morning hikers can witness one of the most stunning sunrises from the Pidurangala rock. Do you want to know another bonus it offers? The entrance fee is just $3. This price has given an extra reason for budget travelers to pick Pidurangala over Lion’s Rock. But remember our deal? Yes, two hikes. Sigiriya, the famous Rock Fortress is a must-visit site on your Sri Lanka trip.

It’s quite a feat to climb the 1200+ steps to the top of the Lion’s Rock, but you won’t mind the heat, fatigue, and sore legs when you reach this amazing archaeological site; The frescoes, mirror wall, monastery, and cave temples, and especially the breathtakingly beautiful sunset.

The fame Sigiriya holds as a UNESCO world heritage site and its historic significance has made it one of the most expensive cultural sites in Sri Lanka.

However, we guarantee that the Sigiriya Rock hike will quench your thirst for adventure and justify the $30 you pay to visit this 8th wonder of the world.

 See leopards in the Yala National Park

If you are a committed wildlife enthusiast, look no further than the Yala National Park. 

Yala, located in the South East of Sri Lanka, is home to a variety of wildlife. You can sight glorious elephants, mysterious leopards, and Sri Lankan sloth bears in this National Park. Yala is most famous for its leopards. It is considered one of the best places in the world to spot leopards.

Giant crocodiles and dancing wild peacocks too are sure to make an appearance during your Yala safari. If you love watching birds, you will be amazed by over 215 bird species ranging from Blue-tailed Bee-eaters to Sri Lankan jungle fowls. To ensure seeing most of these startling wild creatures it’s best to visit Yala during the dry season from February to June.

Waterfalls and tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya

Ever thought of enjoying your holiday in Sri Lanka on top of a misty cool mountain in Nuwara Eliya?

Nuwara Eliya aka Little England is the best location for you to discover the rugged beauty of lush tea plantations and cascading waterfalls. This hilly terrain boasts lush tea plantations which produce some of the finest teas in the world. The Bluefield Tea factory, Mackwoods Tea Museum, and Pedro Tea Estate are a few of the best estates to visit on your holiday in Sri Lanka. Enjoying an exquisite pot of tea, while taking a breath of fresh mountain air should be a top priority on your Nuwara Eliya checklist.

Hike Adam’s Peak

If you are after adventure, hiking up Adam’s Peak should make it to your  Sri Lanka travel itinerary. Locally known as Sri pada, it is the fourth tallest mountain in Sri Lanka and is located in Ratnapura. The sacred footprint found on top of the mountain is popularly believed to be the footprint of Gautama Buddha. Hindus think it’s Shiva’s footprint while Muslims and Christians believe it’s the first man -Adam’s.

The mountain is 2244m in height and offers an exhausting yet energizing hike above the cool clouds. To get to the peak to view the sunrise, start hiking Adam’s peak at midnight. Seasoned adventurers can make this climb any time of the year, although December to May is when devotees embark on pilgrimages.

Snorkeling, surfing, and scuba diving on the South coast

Fond of oceanic adventures in Sri Lanka? The South Coast of Sri Lanka including Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Weligama are iconic surfing spots. Untouched coral reefs, world-famous dive wrecks, and friendly encounters with colorful marine life await you at the South Coast of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka offers some of the best dive holidays with ample opportunities to snorkel and scuba dive. Whale and dolphin watching tours can also be added to your tour package if you’re visiting the South of Sri Lanka.

Most beautiful train ride – Kandy to Ella

There’s possibly no other way to experience the beauty of the hill country’s scenic landscapes other than hopping on a train. Without a doubt, this is the most picturesque train ride you will experience when you travel to Sri Lanka. The train will cruise through remote villages, many dark tunnels, and also the picture-perfect Nine Arch’s Bridge. The train ride will also cover bright green tea plantations and glorious waterfalls.

See elephants in Udawalawe

No doubt, the Udawalawe Elephant Sanctuary is the best place in Sri Lanka to witness the magnificence and adventures of Asian wild elephants. Located on the boundary of the Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces, it provides a natural habitat for over 500 wild elephants. Big or small, they are experts in water sports. Splashing water is one of the favorite activities of baby elephants.

Apart from these giants, Udawalawe is also home to water buffaloes, wild bears, Sri Lankan axis deer, and other rare mammal species. You won’t regret adding a Jeep Safari in Udawalawe to your list of adventures in Sri Lanka.

Kithulgala base camp 

The Kithulgala base camp facilitates white water rafting in Sri Lanka with plenty of thrills and excitement. Located at the Eastern edge of Kegalle, Kithulgala is sought after by adventurers from all over the world. Waterfall abseiling, night camping, cave exploring, stream sliding, confidence jumping, and jungle trekking are a few of the most daring activities available when you travel to Sri Lanka.  Scenic nature, birdlife, and alluring waterfalls make Kithulgala a favorite spot for sightseeing too. 

Let us welcome you!

If ‘adventure’ is your middle name, a Sri Lanka holiday is ideal for you. While these are the 08 best adventurous places in Sri Lanka, there are numerous elusive spots waiting to surprise you.