Tourists observing the elephants while going on a jeep safari in Sri Lanka
Jeep Safaris in Sri Lanka!

If you are a wildlife enthusiast, what better way is there to explore nature than a jeep safari? Besides, if you are not someone who enjoys hiking and trekking, then a jeep safari is the best option for you to explore nature at its best. Further, if you are travelling with kids or senior citizens, you don’t have to leave anyone behind because a jeep safari is fit for all ages. Still, there are many more reasons, as to why we say that Sri Lanka is the best for a jeep safari. Keep calm, because this article is going to brief you on everything about a jeep safari in Sri Lanka. Continue reading to enlighten yourself!

Is Sri Lanka Good for Jeep Safari?

Of course, yes! If you are a fan of jeep safari, then you should certainly visit Sri Lanka at least once in your lifetime.

Sri Lanka is a natural paradise located amidst the waves of the Indian ocean. From a gorgeous beachline to a vibrant forest cover, this island has it all. So, you have many locations to choose from, for your safari holiday in Sri Lanka.

In fact, there are 26 national parks under the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka. Apart from the jaw-dropping views, all these national parks are abundant with diverse flora and fauna. It has been recorded that 16 percent of fauna and 23 percent of flora in Sri Lanka are endemic to the country. Besides, you’ll be able to see herds of wild elephants in their natural habitats in many national parks in Sri Lanka. So, your trip to this splendid island won’t be complete without a jeep safari in the wilderness.

Which is the Best Jeep Safari in Sri Lanka?

Well, it is extremely hard to point out just one location as the best place to go on a jeep safari in Sri Lanka because there are so many! Each place is unique and perfect on its own for its incomparable features. So, if you want to try a jeep safari in Sri Lanka, you have multiple options. But this article will make it easy for you!

Yes, here are some amazing places in Sri Lanka to go on a jeep safari.

  1. Yala National Park
  2. Minneriya National Park
  3. Udawalawe National Park
  4. Wasgamuwa National Park
  5. Kaudulla National Park
  6. Gal Oya National Park
  7. Bundala National Park
  8. Kumana National Park
  9. Ridiyagama Safari Park
  10. Wilpattu National Park

Keep reading to choose your favourite location for a jeep safari when you visit Sri Lanka.

1. Yala National Park

Yala is probably the most popular national park in Sri Lanka for safaris. There are many reasons why Yala national park is so special.

It is the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka which is scattered over a land area of 979 square kilometres. It mainly holds the characteristics of a dry zone tropical thorn forest and the park is well known for the variety of its wildlife. In fact, there are about 44 species of mammals in the park and over 200 species of birds. So, if you want to see a good number of wild animals in Sri Lanka, Yala is certainly the best place to go!

You can have a fun safari trip in Yala with a tour guide, so you can learn a lot about the wild animals and the surroundings as well. The drivers and tour guides know exactly where the animals usually gather, close to the freshwater bodies. Hence, it is the best way to experience the best of this park.

You can explore the untouched nature while travelling on the bumpy roads of Yala. Altogether, a jeep safari in Yala will be such a rewarding experience. Hence, Yala will be one of the best locations in Sri Lanka to go on a jeep safari.

Yala is situated 280 kilometres away from Colombo. You can either book a luxury jeep or a super luxury jeep for the safari in Yala.

2. Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National park is one of the most diverse natural systems in the country. It is situated in an important location of the popular cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.

Minneriya Jeep Safari is very popular among tourists as you will be able to see large Asian elephant gatherings here. In fact, about 300 elephants gather near the ancient irrigation tank of Minneriya at a time. This is because elephants from the nearby national parks migrate to the Minneriya National Park during the dry season in search of water. It is such a fascinating sight to see large herds of the giant of the land in one place with amazing natural views around. So, if you wish to observe the life of the Asian Elephants up-close and personal, you shouldn’t miss a jeep safari at Minneriya National Park.

Apart from the elephants, you will be able to spot many other wild animals at Minneriya as well. In fact, the park is a safe haven for a number of mammals such as leopard, sloth bear, deer and many other endemic species. There are about 170 bird species recorded in the park including endemic bird species such as Sri Lanka jungle fowl, Sri Lanka hanging parrot, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, etc. Further, there are 8 endemic species of reptiles in the Minneriya park as well.

So, a jeep safari to the Minneriya National Park is the perfect opportunity for you to see diverse wildlife including many endemic species in Sri Lanka. You can either book a half-day or full-day safari to the park according to your interests.

3. Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is another well-known location for jeep safaris in Sri Lanka. It is situated 200 kilometres away from Colombo and lies both in Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces. This park is blessed with unique flora and fauna and outstanding scenic views. Udawalawe National Park stretches over a land area of 30281 hectares, so you will be able to explore a unique land area during your trip.

However, jeep safaris in Udawalawe National Park are most popular for their ability to view the elephants at a close range. Moreover, the park is home to many species of mammals including endemic species such as common langur, Sri Lankan sambar deer, etc. The park’s avifauna includes different varieties of endemic and migrant species of birds. The thick forested cover of the park provides refuge for wildlife in the area. So, the Udawalawe national park is one of the major tourist attractions of the country.

The only way to explore the nature of the park is by safari jeep. This jeep safari offers you a journey through a nature park in the dry zone of Sri Lanka watching the park’s amazing wildlife. The well-experienced drivers will give you the experience of a marvellous journey by a 4*4 off-road safari jeep. Therefore, a jeep safari in the Udawalawe national park is one of the best experiences that you can get in Sri Lanka.

4. Wasgamuwa National Park

Wasgamuwa National Park is another location where you can get an amazing experience of a jeep safari. The park spans over the North Central and Central provinces of Sri Lanka. The nearest major city to the park is Polonnaruwa. The park contains more wildlife with both flora and fauna.

The park is basically a tropical dry mixed evergreen forest. Mahaweli river, Amban river and Dunuwila oya are the boundaries of the park. Your safari ride will lie along the Mahaweli river as wild animals usually roam around the water bodies. So, the jeep safari at Wasgamuwa will be refreshing with the cool winds through the Mahaweli river.

Wasgamuwa National Park is a rich habitat for a diversity of wildlife. In fact, there are 23 species of mammals including elephant, leopard, sloth bear, wild boar, sambar deer, spotted deer, etc. There are 143 species of birds in the park including five endemic species. Furthermore, there are 35 species of reptiles, 15 species of amphibians, 17 species of fish and 52 species of butterflies.

Imagine enjoying the views of all these wildlife in the stunning landscape of the Wasgamuwa park! That’s why jeep safari in the Wasgamuwa National Park is one of the most special experiences that you can get in Sri Lanka as a tourist. So, this is a destination that promises you an exciting and adventurous safari.

5. Kaudulla National Park

This is another national park in Sri Lanka where you can spot many wild elephants from a jeep safari. Besides, Kaudulla National Park is the most recently designated national park in Sri Lanka and it is in the North Central province of the island. To be specific, the park is situated about 190 kilometres away from Colombo.

Basically, Kaudulla national park is an evergreen forest and a home to a wide variety of wildlife and birdlife. However, the highlight of the park is its majestic elephant population. There are also 23 other species of mammals apart from the elephants and 160 species of birds. Moreover, the forest reserve is blessed with many valuable trees and large grasslands. So many tourists don’t forget to go on a jeep safari to enjoy the nature of the Kaudulla park. 

You can expect to observe many amazing sights during your jeep safari in Kaudulla Park. But probably, your favourite sight will be seeing hundreds of elephants in the beautiful natural backdrop. You will be able to enjoy the views from baby elephants to decades-old tuskers roaming freely while being in the comfort of your safari jeep. From a journey through the bumpy roads amidst the lush greenery of the park, you can witness many other species of wild animals as well. Usually, 3-4 hours are enough for a safari ride in the Kaudulla National Park. Yet, believe us, those few hours would be a memory of a lifetime!

6. Gal Oya National Park

Gal Oya National Park is another naturally beautiful landscape of Sri Lanka. It is situated in the Uva and Eastern provinces of the island.

The nearest major city to the park is Ampara. Gal Oya national park spans over a land area of 25900 hectares. Since this is not the most popular among the other national parks in Sri Lanka, this is the place to go to enjoy a private and calm safari experience in the wild.

This park is a safe haven for 33 species of terrestrial mammals including elephants. And also, there are about 150 species of birds in the park. So, a jeep safari is actually the easiest and the best way to explore the natural treasures of the park and get close safely to the undomesticated animals.

Your safari will mainly focus on the park’s water bodies. So, while you are there, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the clean waters too. This is one of the jeep safaris where you can enjoy the natural elegance at its best. Also, never forget that the Gal Oya National Park is famous for its unique boat safaris. Hence, adding a boat safari to your day plan at Gal Oya National Park is so worth it beyond a doubt.

The safari in this park will usually take around 6 hours. After all, if you love safaris with a picnic experience, then you should put this location on your bucket list.

7. Bundala National Park

There are many locations in Sri Lanka to go on a jeep safari to see the wildlife. Yet, there are only a few locations for a safari for those who love birdwatching. So, Bundala National Park is definitely one of them.

There are several species of mammals in the park including a few elephants as well. However, the main attraction of the park is its incredible birdlife. About 200 different species of birds can be seen in the park including endemic and migratory birds. During your safari trip, you will be able to spot many of these birds gracing the skies of the Bundala National Park.

Your safari ride in the Bundala national park will go through thorny shrubs, swampy marshlands and picturesque lagoons to see birds and animals. And yes, these lagoons of the park are a paradise for the migratory birds from wintering areas. It is not as crowded as the major national parks of Sri Lanka. Hence, you can enjoy a private safari experience while watching different species of birds, leisurely and happily.

Above all, if you are a fan of safaris and birdwatching, Bundala park should be on your travel list. However, don’t forget to take your binoculars when visiting this wonderful land.

Bundala National Park is situated in the Southern province about 274 kilometres away from Colombo. It is also identified as the first Ramsar site of the country.

8. Kumana National Park

Kumana National Park is located in the eastern part of the Yala National Park. It is actually the most known bird sanctuary of Sri Lanka.

The nearest major city to the park is Hambantota. ‘Kumana Villu’, a 200-hectare natural swamp lake is the most significant feature of the whole park. If you are on a birdwatching tour in Sri Lanka, you should definitely go on a jeep safari in the Kumana National Park.

There are about 255 different species of birds in this park. In fact, it is also identified as one of the most important bird nesting and breeding grounds in the country. In a safari to Kumana, the most common birds that one can spot are pelicans, painted storks, spoonbills, white ibis, herons, egrets and little cormorants.

Apart from the diverse birdlife, Kumana National Park is also home to some species of mammals due to its close proximity to the Yala National Park. So usually, you will be able to see elephants and leopards during your safari in Kumana. You can either join a half-day or full-day safari to explore through the Kumana National Park.

9. Ridiyagama Safari Park

This is a well-known wildlife and safari park in Sri Lanka. It is located in the Ridiyagama area of Hambantota district.

This is not just a typical zoo as there is a large open space for the animals to freely roam. Hence, many appreciate the concept in Ridiyagama Safari Park as the animals are not caged. So, the visitors can get on safari jeeps and explore through the park to see different species of wildlife. There are six zones in the park. Out of them, four zones of the park are for carnivorous animals and two zones are for herbivorous animals.

Tourists can easily hire a safari jeep from the entrance to the park. The tour guide will explain about the animals throughout the trip. This is the only open-air zoo in Sri Lanka where you can get a fun and educational safari ride. Besides, this is a place where you can see many wild animals within a short period of time. Many don’t forget to pay a visit to the Ridiyagama safari park after visiting Yala and Udawalawe National Parks. The park is open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm every day. 

10. Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park is yet another wonderful tourist attraction in Sri Lanka that shelters a large variety of wildlife. It spreads across an area of 131,700 Ha and contains some other forest reserves around it. Besides, the ‘willus’ (natural shallow lake full of rainwater) happens to be a significant feature of the land of this wonderful national park.

Around 33 species of mammals reside in the Wilpattu National Park, and the Sri Lankan Leopard is the main highlight among them. Apart from that mammals like the Asian Elephant, Tufted Grey Langur, Toque Monkey and Sloth Bear also live in high numbers in this park. Besides, Wilpattu National Park is a famous spot for birdwatching in Sri Lanka as well.

So, all these facts prove to us that a jeep safari at Wilpattu National Park is never going to be a waste since there is so much to observe out there. Therefore, if you are planning for a jeep safari at a less-crowded National Park, Wilpattu is going to be a perfect choice for you!

Jeep Safari Packages in Sri Lanka

In any of the above locations, there are several packages that you can choose from for a jeep safari. Mostly, the type of such packages depends on the features of the location. But generally, there are both full-day and half-day packages in many of these locations. Apart from that, you can join in for a group safari or a private safari. Then, there are other packages according to the type of jeep you are travelling on, such as luxury and semi-luxury jeeps. Anyhow, most of these packages include other facilities as well. For instance, some packages can include the entrance fee to the park, refreshments, pick up from the hotel, etc. So, make sure to communicate with the service provider beforehand to know more details and choose the perfect package for your safari trip. Anyway, there will be many options for you to choose from.

How Much Does a Jeep Safari Cost in Sri Lanka?

The prices for a jeep safari totally depend on the type of package that you choose for your trip. Therefore, the prices can vary according to the facilities included in the package.

However, you have the freedom to choose a package according to your budget. Then again, the prices can vary according to the location as well. Therefore, it is difficult to mention an exact price.

But here’s what the average price of a jeep safari in Sri Lanka can look like (in USD) so that you can get a rough idea of the jeep safari packages here.

For a half-day jeep safari-

  • 1 adult – 70 USD – 80 USD
  • 2 adults – 90 USD – 100 USD
  • 3 adults – 110 USD – 120 USD
  • 4 adults – 125 USD – 135 USD
  • 5 adults – 145 USD – 155 USD
  • 6 adults – 165 USD – 175 USD
  • 7 adults – 180 USD – 190 USD
  • 7+ adults – 180 USD + Additional 20 USD per Additional PAX

(Please note that these price ranges are mentioned considering the jeep safari prices at the time of writing this article.)

What is the Best Time for a Jeep Safari in Sri Lanka?

The best time to visit these locations for a jeep safari can be different as these parks are scattered throughout the island. But generally, it is best to avoid the monsoon rains season as you won’t be able to have a comfortable safari ride amidst the heavy rains. Accordingly, the dry season is the best time period for a jeep safari in Sri Lanka.

During this season, mammals come out of their hiding places in search of water and the number of tourists is also comparatively low. Therefore, visit these parks between April and August to get the best out of the experience. Then, it is better if you can go on the safari early in the morning or in the evening because travelling in the afternoon under the scorching sun can be a bit harsh. Anyhow, always check the weather of your destination beforehand.

The Bottom Line

On this beautiful island of Sri Lanka, each of these parks are different and beautiful in their own way. However, if you are a nature lover and a wildlife enthusiast, enjoying a jeep safari in Sri Lanka is simply a must. On the other hand, a jeep safari is a great addition to a perfect holiday experience in Sri Lanka, since it guarantees a totally unique experience, here on this island. So, visit Sri Lanka and go on a jeep safari and that ensures you unfading memories. Happy and safe traveling!