Sri Lanka has a diverse range of landscapes, and its national parks are among them. Most of these national parks claim the UNESCO World Heritage title. Providing a home to a number of endangered species, Sri Lanka's national parks are rich in biodiversity. No Sri Lankan tour is complete until the country's national parks are visited.
1. The best way to experience Sri Lanka's national parks
Safari tours are the best way. Almost every Sri Lankan hotel, including Araliya Beach Resort & Spa, makes arrangements for safari tours. You cannot explore these parks on foot as that would put you in danger and scare the animals away. More often than not, you'll be accompanied by an experienced guide in a jeep. There's a list of guidelines to follow, and it would be best if you take your camera with you.
2. Yala National Park
This is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. Yala National Park is known around the world for its leopard population. Found on the southern coast, one side of the park is bordered by the sea. This is what makes Yala National Park special among other national parks. In addition to leopards, the park shelters elephants, bears, and birds, both endemic and migrant. Entrance through the north gate gives you a higher likelihood of seeing animals; this is because the northern part of the park doesn't get very crowded.
3. Horton Plains National Park
Famous for the World's End lookout, Horton Plains National Park is positioned in the highest elevation. You should set off early in the morning if you want to avoid crowds and see wildlife in peace. If you don't mind giving up the lookout, you can spend a bit of time in the alpine vegetation and spot some of the endemic species.
4. Udawalawe National Park
Elephants are the most known residents of the park. Udawalawe National Park is a sprawling park providing ample living space for wild animals. The number of visitors still seems to be picking up, which means that you can spend a quiet hour or two at the park without the crowds. Afternoon safaris are the most famous, but if you want to visit the park in the morning, staying in the closest town is the best idea.
5. Kumana National Park
The park reports a massive number of bird sightings. The period from April to July is the best time to visit the park; this is the park that receives the highest number of migrant birds. The bird species sighted at the park amounts to 255; among them are the rarest of bird species. In addition to birds, the park also features some rock inscriptions that go back to the 1st and 2nd centuries.
6. Bundala National Park
Another popular site for birdwatching, Bundala National Park, is known for its aquatic birdlife. These birds thrive on the fish living in the lagoons in the area. A total number of 383 plant species is found at the park, and the number of bird species sighted here amounts to 197.
7. Other national parks
Aside from the ones mentioned, there's a number of other national parks and protected areas in Sri Lanka. Sinharaja, for example, is a forested swathe known for its biodiversity. The park is an excellent birdwatching location. For more birdwatching, you can head to Hakgala, located in Nuwara Eliya, and Udawatte Kele Sanctuary, located in Kandy.
8. What to bring
Sun lotion should be at the top of your list. The sunrays here are pretty harsh and can be unbearable. Light, breathable clothes are recommended, and you'll need to invest in a pair of good outdoor shoes. A camera is another worthy investment.