The island country of Sri Lanka has become a popular destination only in recent years, after the 26-year long civil war ended in 2009. Today, you can get a taste of the mesmerising and breath-taking landscapes, friendly locals, as well as the rich colonial heritage of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is truly a tropical paradise, with miles and miles of golden sand beaches and a warm climate.
If you are a wildlife enthusiast, then Sri Lanka will seem like a slice of heaven on Earth. Listed in the top five of the world’s biodiversity hot-spots, Sri Lanka is home to around 91 species of mammals, including wild buffaloes, leopards, sambars, sloth bears, Asian elephants, and blue whales.
Best Places to See Elephants in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is home to the largest herd of orphaned elephants in the world. The species of elephants found in Sri Lanka are the darkest as well as the largest of all the Asian elephants. These gigantic yet gentle mammals are considered to be endangered because their numbers are steadily decreasing as their natural habitat is being destroyed for human development. Sri Lanka is the best place to observe these intelligent and emotional mammals in the wild. Some of the best places to spot elephants in Sri Lanka are:
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park is located approximately four hours away from Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. If you are lucky, you can even spot families of elephants with baby elephants in tow. While driving through this park, you can see elephants sleeping, bathing in a river, or feeding on trees.
Kaudulla National Park
Although you can see elephants throughout the year at this park, the best time to visit is between August and September. You will see several herds of elephants during this period while they are on their way to Minneriya. The best way to make the most of your visit to Kaudulla National Park is to go on a wildlife safari tour.
Yala National Park
If you are a wildlife lover, then you should know that Yala National Park is considered to be the best national park in Sri Lanka, specifically for those who want to see Asian mammals in their natural habitat. Apart from housing Sri Lankan elephants, this national park is also famous for its leopards, and boasts of the world’s highest leopard densities. You can also see herds of elephants moving around at this national park frequently.
The Best Places For Whale Watching In Sri Lanka
You can call Sri Lanka a place of giants – this is where you can meet giants like elephants and whales. The south and the northeast coast of Sri Lanka are known to give you a glimpse of dolphins, humpbacks, as well as massive blue whales. The best places for whale watching in this country are:
Sperm whales and blue whales come to this harbour to mate. The best time for whale watching in Trincomalee is the months from May to September when you can see blue whales around 8 nautical miles east of the coast. Whale watching in Trincomalee can cost you anywhere between 3000-6000 SLR and includes the tour, pickup, and breakfast.
At Mirissa, you have a 90 percent chance of spotting a blue whale during your tour. Located about four hours away from Colombo, Mirissa whale watching tours start at around 6:30 in the morning and the duration of these tours is 3-5 hours. During these tours, you get approximately 40 minutes to 1 hour for whale watching. The cost is similar to what is charged in Trincomalee. The best time to spot blue whales on the waters near Mirissa is from November to April.
The wildlife in Sri Lanka is truly varied – along with elephants and whales, you also have a chance to spot sloth bears, crocodiles, leopards, and hundreds of species of birds.
Fact File of Sri Lanka
Location: Island country located northeast of the Maldives
How to Reach: There are three international airports in Sri Lanka, Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Ratmalana Airport in Colombo, and MAttala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota.
Official Language: Sinhalese, Tamil
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (SLR)
Time Zone: SLST (UTC+05:30)
Climate: Tropical Climate
Food & Drink: The staple food of Sri Lanka is steamed rice with a curry of chicken, mutton, fish, or beef. Some of the best dishes of Sri Lanka include young jackfruit curry, egg kottu, deviled sweet and sour fish curry, and chili fish curry.
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