Sri Lanka, the charming island, settled amidst the blue waves of the Indian Ocean, is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, marine life as well as varied landscapes. Sri Lanka’s wide range of altitudes and seasonal monsoons that come with heavy rainfall enhances the variation in climate and biodiversity furthermore. All these significant aspects, coupled with the breath-taking sceneries of nature create wonderful opportunities for nature lovers to spend a perfect vacation. Hence, many tourists arrive on this island to explore the greenery. With the intention of creating spaces to witness all this significant biodiversity under a protected environment, the Sri Lankan government has established a group of national parks in Sri Lanka. Thus, they have become the must-visits of many.
However, since there are many National parks in Sri Lanka, you might be wondering what to choose for your visit. Take it easy, because this read is surely going to help you. Continue reading and get enlightened!
How many National Parks are there in Sri Lanka?
There are 26 national parks in Sri Lanka that provide the home for thousands of flora and fauna. They are as follows.
- Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park
- Angammedilla National Park
- Bundala National Park
- Chundikulam National Park
- Delft National Park
- Flood Plains National Park
- Gal Oya National Park
- Galway’s Land National Park
- Hikkaduwa National Park
- Horagolla National Park
- Horowpathana National Park
- Horton Plains National Park
- Kaudulla National Park
- Kumana National Park
- Lahugala Kitulana National Park
- Lunugamvehera National Park
- Madhu Road National Park
- Maduru Oya National Park
- Minneriya National Park
- Pigeon Island National Park
- Somawathiya National Park
- Ussangoda National Park
- Udawalawe National Park
- Wasgamuwa National Park
- Wilpattu National Park
- Yala National Park
These national parks in Sri Lanka cover an area of 5734 km2 of the country’s land. Let us have a glimpse at all these national parks.
1. Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park
Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park is located in the Northern region of Sri Lanka, nearly 30 kilometers northwest of Mannar. It surrounds the Adam’s Bridge or the Rama’s Bridge. It covers an area of 18990 ha, and the United Nations environment program assisted the Government of Sri Lanka in declaring this piece of land as a Marine National Park.
A number of bird species arrive in this park while they fly to Sri Lanka as well as from Sri Lanka. In addition, a huge variety of fish, as well as seagrasses, is commonly visible here. In the same way dolphins, dugongs and turtles fulfill the need for sea life in Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park.
2. Angammedilla National Park
This is located in the Polonnaruwa District of North Central province. The distance from Colombo is about 225 kilometers. Moreover, it covers an area of 7528.95 ha of land. This National Park was earlier a forest reserve within Minneriya – Giritale sanctuary. The main intention of declaring this reserve as a national park in Sri Lanka was to safeguard the drainage basin of the Parakrama Samudra. In addition, it safeguards the water sources in the white hill, the drainage basins of Giritale, and Minneriya irrigation tanks.
As the Angammedilla National Park is located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, the park has dry vegetation during the majority of the months. But during the northeast monsoon, the park gets heavy rainfall which leads to a mix of both dry zones and wet zone plants. Furthermore, anyone who visits the Angammedilla National Park has the chance to witness Sri Lankan elephants, water buffalo, Sambar deer, axis deer as well as wild boar.
3. Bundala National Park
Since hundreds of migratory waterbirds land in flocks to Bundala National Park, the park is internationally famous as one of the best national parks in Sri Lanka for wintering grounds. The Sri Lankan government designated Bundala as a Ramsar site in 1991 and a national park in 1993. Later in 2005, UNESCO designated this land a biosphere reserve.
Bundala National Park is about 245 kilometers away from Colombo and is located in the southeast of Sri Lanka. It covers a land area of about 6216 ha. The park consists of a low country dry zone climate throughout the year. The average relative humidity is about 80% while the mean annual temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius.
Bundala National Park consists of six wetland types as well as seven terrestrial habitat types. However, dry thorny shrubs and herbs are the most common plant life while it is the home for 324 vertebrate species, 48 reptile species, 15 amphibian species, 32 mammals species, 32 fish species, 52 butterfly species, and 197 species of birds.
4. Chundikulam National Park
Chundikulam National Park is located in Kilinochchi in the Northern province. It covers an area of 196 square kilometers. This became a national park in 2015. The area related to Chundikulam National Park was a bird sanctuary in 1938. However, due to the civil war that took place in the northern region of Sri Lanka, the visitors could not reach this place until 2009.
This national park contains a Lagoon that is partly covered by seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. In addition, it consists of so many dry zone flora like palmyra palm plantations and scrub forests. In the same way, so many varieties of water birds are visible while only a few mammals and reptiles species are present.
5. Delft National Park
Delft National Park is located on Neduntheevu island in the northern region of Sri Lanka. Anyone who visits this national park has to travel 35 kilometers southwest of Jaffna. The Sri Lankan government with the support of the United Nations Environment Program as well as the United Nations Development Program declared this place as a national park in 2015. It covers an area of about 1846 ha.
The most amazing fact about Delft Island is that it is the only place in the world that records the presence of wild ponies. However, Sri Lankans believe that the Portuguese have brought them to this Island.
6. Flood Plains National Park
Situated 222 kilometers northeast of Colombo along the Mahaweli flood plain, this national park offers a rich feeding ground for elephants. The elephants who migrate between Somawathiya National Park and Wasgamuwa National Park make Flood Plains National Park an elephant corridor.
The elevation of the park is about 20 – 60 meters. Creating nearly 38 Villus, the Mahaweli river flows down through the center of the park. Since the park is situated in the dry zone, it gets rain only from the northeast monsoon which lasts from October to January. However, the dry season lasts from March to September. Flood Plains National Park gets a mean rainfall of around 1650 mm while the mean temperature runs around 27 degrees Celsius. However, the relative humidity ranges between 60% to 90%.
Declared as a national park in 1984, Flood Plains National Park provides a home to thousands of different species of flora and fauna in Sri Lanka. The presence of diverse ecological zones like villus, riverine marshes, river channels, swamp forests, and seasonally flooded grasslands make this park a high biodiversity hotspot. Furthermore, this national park records 231 plant species as well as so many mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian species. In the same way, Flood Plains National Park provides significant importance for the long-term survival of elephants.
7. Gal Oya National Park
Ampara being the nearest city, Gal Oya National Park is located in both the Uva and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. However, anyone who visits this national park has to go nearly 314 kilometers from the commercial capital of Colombo.
Gal Oya National Park stands as the main catchment area for Senanayake Samudraya. The presence of the elephant herd that belongs to this national park throughout the year is a significant feature of this national park. The Sri Lankan government declared this land area of 25900 hectares as a national park in 1954.
Due to the presence of a few different mountains, the elevation ranges from 30 meters to 900 meters. The park gets rain from the northeastern monsoon and marks an average annual rainfall of 1700 mm. The vegetation of the park is present in three types: forest, shrub, and grassland. In addition, the park consists of 32 species of terrestrial mammals, 150 species of birds, and many other reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and fish species.
8. Galway’s Land National Park
Galway’s Land National Park is located in the Nuwara Eliya district of the Central Province. It covers an area of 27 ha. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1938 and later declared a national park in 2006.
The main intention of the park is to conserve the montane ecosystems. The field of ornithology group of Sri Lanka has identified this piece of land as one of the most significant birding sites in the country.
Galway’s Land National Park provides accommodation for 30 native bird species as well as 20 rare migrant bird species. In addition to the bird species, the park provides a home for a number of valuable floral species which are native as well as foreign.
9. Hikkaduwa National Park
Hikkaduwa National Park is located in the city of Hikkaduwa which belongs to the Galle district of the southern region of Sri Lanka. It spreads over an area of 101.6 ha. Out of all the three marine national parks in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa is prominent. This area was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1979, and a nature reserve in 1988. However, with the intention of safeguarding this ecosystem, the reef was declared as a national park in 2002.
Having an average depth of nearly 5 meters, Hikkaduwa National Park consists of a typical shallow fringing reef. The presence of coral reefs in the area helps to reduce coastal erosion. In addition to the coral reef, the park is enriched with so many fish species and invertebrate species like prawns, crabs, sea worms, oysters, shrimps, etc. Furthermore, the presence of many different turtle species enhance the significance of this national park. Anyone who visits here has the chance to engage in scuba diving which is a popular recreation here.
As the Hikkaduwa National Park belongs to the wet zone of Sri Lanka, it receives an annual rainfall of 2000 mm. The park gets rain from southwestern as well as northeastern monsoon seasons. Hence it is best to visit this park during the inter-monsoon season.
10. Horagolla National Park
Horagolla National Park is located in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. The nearest city is Gampaha. It covers an area of about 33 hectares (0.13 sq mi). This piece of land has been a wildlife sanctuary since September 1973. Later, in 2004, the government of Sri Lanka upgraded it to a national park. Thus, it stands as the only urban park in the Western Province. Moreover, the park is close to the Horagolla Walauwa, the home of late prime ministers in Sri Lanka, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
Being a low-country evergreen forest, Horagolla National Park has a hot temperature and humus soil structure throughout the year. In addition, the park shows a high diversity of flora giving a home to the following trees.
- Dipterocarpus zeylanicus (hora)
- Alstonia scholaris (ruk attana)
- Pericopsis mooniana (nedun)
- Mimusops elengi (moonamal)
- Dillenia retusa (godapara)
- Mangifera zeylanica (atamba)
- Vitex pinnata (milla)
- Caryota urens (kitul)
- Canarium zeylanicum (kekuna)
- Gmelina arborea (enthemata)
- Entada rheedii (pus-wel)
- Filicium decipiens (pihimbiya)
- Acronychia pedunculata (ankenda)
Furthermore, it is the home for a number of mammals like the Golden jackal, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain, Grizzled giant squirrel, and Fishing cat. In the same way, the high diversity of birds present in the park makes it one of the best bird-watching hotspots in Sri Lanka. The birds here include Asian koel, Parakeets, Barbets, Sri Lanka hanging parrot, Black-crested Bulbul, Oriental dwarf kingfisher, Sri Lanka gray hornbill, and Layard’s parakeet. Besides, a number of reptile species and butterfly species live here.
11. Horowpathana National Park
Even though Horowpathana National Park may not be as famous as the other national parks in Sri Lanka, it is rich in biodiversity. It is a dry evergreen forest, which is a natural habitat of many animals. The average annual temperature is between 24 – 27 degrees Celsius (75 – 82 degrees Farenheits) and it receives the highest rainfall in November. Thus, the best time to visit Horowpathana National Park is from December to February.
Many mammal species such as leopards, elephants, sambar deer, sloth bears, rabbits, and mouse-deer make this national park their home. Moreover, the first Elephant Holding Ground (EHG) in Sri Lanka was established here. The main intention was to reduce the human-elephant conflict in the country. Similarly, problematic elephants from all over the country are translocated in the Horowpathana National Park.
This national park is situated approximately 53 kilometers west of Trincomalee and 64 kilometers northeast of Anuradhapura, in the northeastern part of Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura is about 200 kilometers away from Colombo and you can use a train, bus or car to reach there. Then you have to transfer options to reach Horowpathana, which is a taxi or a drive. There are about 68 kilometers from Anuradhapura to Horowpathana National Park. Therefore, it will take approximately one and half hours to reach there.
12. Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as a popular tourist destination, is home to many endemic flora and fauna species. It is spread over the highlands in between Nuwara Eliya and Haputale of the Central province and Uva province. This is the coldest and windiest place in the country and the average annual temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius. You can enjoy the picturesque scenic beauty to the fullest if you visit between November to March.
There are roughly 190 kilometers from Colombo to Horton Plains National Park and you can choose the train, bus, or taxi to reach there. Although it takes a little more time than the other means, the most recommended is the train ride to Ohiya, since it is the cheapest and the most interesting.
World’s End, an escarpment of 900 meters fall, is the highlight of the Horton Plains National Park. Moreover, Baker’s Falls and Slab Rock Falls add to the beauty of Horton Plains. In addition to that, it is famous for its eco-diversity and biodiversity. You can see the following endemic bird species mainly during your visit to the Horton Plains National Park.
- Dull-blue flycatcher
- Sri Lanka blue magpie
- Sri Lanka spur-fowl
- The jungle-fowl of Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka bush warbler
- Sri Lanka whistling-thrush
After all, Horton Plains National Park is one of the ideal destinations to experience the hill country nature of Sri Lanka.
13. Kaudulla National Park
If you like to observe elephants in their natural habitat, Kaudulla National Park is a bucket list destination for you. Other than the herds of elephants, Kaudulla National Park is famous for bird-watching. You can see Pelican, Stork as well as birds hereditary to Sri Lanka such as Peacock, Eagle, and Giant Eagle here. In addition to the 160 species of birds, Kaudulla National Park is home to 24 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles, and 26 species of fish. Moreover, in the whole country, an Albino axis deer can only be seen in Kaudulla National Park.
This park is situated 30 kilometers away from the Polonnaruwa district in the North Central province and it is approximately 230 kilometers from Colombo to Polonnaruwa. You can take a train, bus, taxi or plane to reach there.
The average annual temperature varies between 21 – 35 degrees Celsius and dry weather conditions prevail from April to October. Thus, if your main focus is elephants, it is better to visit between September and October, when the population of elephants peaks. But, if you love bird-watching, June to September will be ideal for you.
14. Kumana National Park
Kumana National Park, which was previously called Yala East National Park, is one of the best national parks in Sri Lanka for all bird lovers. Annually, nearly 255 species of birds are recorded here, including the endemic, resident, and migrant birds. Among them, you can see the following rare species more commonly here.
- Black-necked stork
- Eurasian spoonbill
- Malabar trogon
- Wood sandpiper
- Ruddy turnstone
- Pacific golden plover
- Yellow-footed green pigeon
Moreover, migratory birds like Heron, Egret, Weathercock and Glossy ibis migrate in large flocks. In addition to that, Kumana National Park is the natural habitat of many species such as elephants, leopards, golden jackals, wild boars, various kinds of turtles, and endangered fishing cats.
Kumana National Park is situated in the Ampara district of Sri Lanka. Anyone who visits this place has to travel 391 kilometers away from Colombo. You can use a bus, car, train or plane to reach there. As there is no direct connection from Colombo to Kumana National Park you can choose different routes and means of transportation. However, the most affordable one would be traveling by car.
The mean annual temperature of the park is 27 degrees Celsius. It is better to visit between February and July, as it is easier to spot birds in the less dense vegetation.
15. Lahugala Kitulana National Park
Lahugala Kitulana National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Sri Lanka. Still, the eco-diversity and biodiversity it holds, are unrivaled to the other national parks.
Other than containing reservoirs such as Lahugala, Kitulana, and Sengamuwa, it is an important habitat for Sri Lankan Elephants, endemic birds, and fish species in Sri Lanka. The endemic species list consists of birds such as Red-faced malkoha and Sri Lanka Spur-fowl.
Moreover, endemic Toque macaque, Tufted gray langur, Sloth bear, Sri Lankan Axis deer, Sri Lankan Sambar Deer, various kinds of pelican, stork, kingfisher, eagle, and snakes are a common site in Lahugala Kitulana National Park. The flora of the park consists of dominant grass species, which is the main food source of elephants and floral spices.
Lahugala Kitulana National Park is located 318 kilometers east of Colombo, in Pottuvil of Eastern province. You can choose different routes and means of transportation such as train, bus, car, plane, but the most affordable one would be traveling by car. The average annual temperature is around 27 degrees Celcius and the best time to visit Lahugala Kitulana National Park is between January and March, just after the Northeast monsoon.
16. Lunugamvehera National Park
Lunugamvehera National Park, which is located in Hambantota town in the Southern province, is not only an important habitat for waterbirds and elephants but also a safe path for elephants who migrate between Udawalawe National Park and Yala National Park. Moreover, you can see 21 fish species, 12 species of amphibians, 33 species of reptiles, 183 species of birds, and 43 species of mammals in Lunugamvehera National Park. They include species like the elephant, deer, wild boar, water buffalo, mugger crocodile, pelican, stork as well as endemic amphibians such as Bufo atukoralei and Fejervarya pulla.
Lunugamvehera National Park is located 261 kilometers southeast of Colombo and you can travel by bus, train, car, or plane. The fastest method is driving there but comparing the time it takes and the cost, traveling by bus would be the most affordable choice.
Although Lunugamvehera National Park is in the dry zone of Sri Lanka and is exposed to annual drought, the reservoirs and the rain between November and January relieve it. The annual mean temperature is recorded as 30 degrees Celsius. Therefore, Lunugamvehera National Park is suitable to visit all around the year.
17. Madhu Road National Park
Madhu Road National Park is closer to the hearts of Sri Lankans’ for two major reasons. The first reason is the flora and fauna of the park. The second reason is the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu. It is an ancient Roman Catholic Marian shrine dating back over 400 years, which is situated near the park. So, you can enjoy the wildlife and visit one of Sri Lanka’s holiest Catholic shrines in one go.
Other than watching the elephant, buffalo, jackal, bear, and different types of deer and monkey species, Madhu Road National Park is a good spot for bird-watching. Various species of the dove, eagle, barbet, wood swallow, pigeon, and peacocks are just a snippet of all the birds you can observe here.
Madhu Road National Park is situated about 25 kilometers east of Mannar city in the Northern province of Sri Lanka. Although there are ways to travel using bus, car or plane, considering the time it takes and the cost, taking a train to Vavuniya and then taking a taxi to Madhu Road National Park is the best method. With an average temperature of around 83 degrees Fahrenheit and limited rain, Madhu Road National Park is good to visit all around the year.
18. Maduru Oya National Park
Other than experiencing the wildlife, Maduru Oya National Park is a great destination to witness the history of Sri Lanka. Ruins of ancient Buddhist temples, dagabas, statues, and hermitages from different eras scattered around and Vedda people who are the indigenous people of Sri Lanka are a great insight into Sri Lankan history which one can witness at this national park. Moreover, Maduru Oya National Park is well known as an elephant habitat. In the same way, the following fauna species are commonly visible at the park.
- Sloth bear
- Painted stork
- Racket-tailed drongo
- Yellow-fronted barbet
- Toque macaque
- Lesser adjutant
Furthermore, the wildlife museum at the entrance of the park and Ulhitiya campsite add more value to Maduru Oya National Park.
The park is situated by Kuda Sigiriya, an eco-diverse place yet to be explored, near Polonnaruwa city. But, the park belongs to the Eastern and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka. It is about 280 kilometers northeast of Colombo and you can choose many routes to reach here. However, it is better to take a taxi to Kandy and then train but you can take a bus or plane to arrive at Maduru Oya National Park. It is best to visit it from March to September as many species come to drink water in the dry season.
19. Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park was declared in hope of protecting the catchment of the Minneriya tank and the wildlife seen in the surrounding area. The enormous number of Sri Lankan elephants, who come to feed on the grasslands on the edge of the Minneriya reservoir in the dry season, is the highlight of the park. Usually, these elephant gatherings consist of 150 – 200 elephants. Moreover, Minneriya National Park is a habitat for many endemic species of Sri Lanka. The list consists of the following:
- Purple-faced langur
- Toque macaque
- Sri Lanka junglefowl
- Sri Lanka hanging parrot
- Brown-capped babbler
- Sri Lanka gray hornbill
- Painted-lip lizard
The other important thing about the park is the availability of 11 threatened bird species and 8 threatened endemic reptiles in the park. Thus, there is no doubt about the importance of biodiversity in the park.
The average temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius and May to September is the best time to visit Minneriya National Park as it is the dry season. From Colombo, there is approximately a distance of around 190 kilometers to Minneriya National Park. So you can use the train, bus, car or plane to go there. However, it is better to take the train to Habarana and then a taxi to the park.
20. Pigeon Island National Park
Pigeon Island National Park, which is one of the three marine national parks in Sri Lanka, is an ideal place to witness the underwater beauty of Sri Lanka. Just like the name, Pigeon Island National Park is a breeding ground for endemic blue rock pigeons.
The park consists of an island surrounding a coral reef which is about 200 meters long and another coral-rich island circled by rocky islets. You can find about 100 species of corals and 300 species of reef fish at Pigeon Island National Park. Eels, angelfish, parrotfish, anemones, and various kinds of turtles frequent the clear waters of Pigeon Island. Another highlight of Pigeon Island National Park is the blacktip reef shark as even inexperienced snorkelers can spot and swim with them.
Pigeon Island National Park is located 1 kilometer off the coast of Nilaveli, which is another popular tourist destination, near Trincomalee in Eastern province. Nilaveli is about 277 kilometers away from Colombo and you can use a train, bus, or car to travel. From there you have to rent a boat and take a one-hour trip to the island.
The average temperature of the park is about 27 degrees Celcius and the best season to visit is from March to September.
21. Somawathiya National Park
In addition to the flora and fauna found in the park, Somawathiya Chaitya, a stupa containing a relic of Lord Buddha, adds value to Somawathiya National Park. The rich alluvial soil of the park plays a big role in the eco-diversity and biodiversity of the park. Flood plains are dominated by aquatic plants and water-tolerant plants while the drier part of the park is filled with dry zone forest trees. Moreover, the following mammals are commonly visible at the Somawathiya National Park.
- Water buffalos
- Sambar deer
- Fishing cats
- Wild boars
In addition, anyone who visits the park can observe about 75 migrant spices such as storks, egrets, and herons.
Somawathiya National Park is situated in the deltaic floodplains of the Mahaweli river near the Polonnaruwa city of Eastern province. It is around 260 kilometers northeast of Colombo and you can use the train, bus, car, or plane to reach there. However, the most suitable transportation method will be traveling by train to Habarana and then taking a taxi to Somawathiya National Park. The average annual temperature in this area is about 27 degrees Celsius. Similarly, March to September is a great time to visit Somawathiya National Park.
22. Ussangoda National Park
Ussangoda National Park, which is situated in Hambantota of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, is well known for its biological, archeological, and geographical values. It is one of the four serpentine sites in Sri Lanka as well as an important breeding ground for sea turtles. The annual mean temperature is around 26 degrees Celsius.
The archeology and geography of Ussangoda National Park are interwoven with interesting scientific facts and folklore. The scenery of the park is magnificent, with red soil stretching in all directions only covered with grass and a few pockets of pygmy forests, and leads to many beliefs. Some say it is the result of the heavy sea breeze and high concentration of ferric oxide in the surroundings, while some believe a meteoroid hit caused this. According to folklore, Ussangoda National Park is where King Ravana, who is an ancient king in Sri Lanka, used to land his peacock chariot.
Ussangoda National Park is about 4 kilometers away from the Ambalantota – Nonagama junction in Hambantota. It is approximately 216 kilometers from Colombo. Therefore, the best way to reach there is to take a bus from Colombo to Matara and then take a taxi to Ussangoda National Park.
23. Udawalawe National Park
The importance of Udawalawe National Park is that it is undoubtedly the best place to observe wild Asian Elephants throughout the entire year. Moreover, it is the sixth-largest animal sanctuary in Sri Lanka.
You can see animals like Samber, Jackal, Water Buffalo, Mongoose, Fox, Wild Boar, and so on. Butterflies, birds, and reptiles are also common in Udawalawe National Park. Moreover, you can see migratory as well as endemic bird species here. In addition to that, the park is home to various kinds of egrets, pelicans, herons, and storks. Water monitor lizards, endemic toque macaques, and crocodiles dozing on the reservoir bank are the other highlights of the Udawalawe National Park.
This park is located near Embilipitiya on the boundary of Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces. As there is a distance of around 165 kilometers from Colombo to the park, the best way to reach it is to take a bus from Colombo to Embilipitiya. Then you can easily take a taxi to travel the remaining 17 kilometers to the Udawalawe National Park.
The average annual temperature is around 27 – 28 degrees Celsius in this area. The park gets most of the rain from October to January and March to May. Therefore, it is best to visit between December to March as the reservoir attracts a lot of animals.
24. Wasgamuwa National Park
Wasgamuwa National Park is the best place to take a sneak peek at irrigation tanks in ancient Sri Lanka while enjoying the wildlife. Spread across the ruins of the 1800 years old prosperous village, Wasgamuwa National Park is home to various spices. Other than elephants, sambars, purple-faced langur monkeys, pythons, crocodiles, and deer are common sites here. Moreover, Sloth bears and leopards can be rarely seen. The 143 species of birds reported at Wasgamuwa National Park include the following endemic bird species.
- Ceylon jungle fowl
- Sri Lanka spurfowl
- Red-faced malkoha
- Yellow-fronted barbet
- Racquet tailed drongo
Wasgamuwa National Park is situated in the districts of Polonnaruwa and Matale. However, Polonnaruwa is the nearest largest city. The distance from Colombo to the park is approximately 225 kilometers. The park can be reached from several tourist attractions and if you are coming from Colombo it is better to take the train to Habarana and then a taxi to the park.
As Wasgamuwa National Park has climatic conditions of the dry zone and an annual temperature of about 28 degrees Celsius, it is best to visit the park from November to May.
25. Wilpattu National Park
Being one of the significant national parks in Sri Lanka, Wilpattu National Park is situated 30 kilometers north of Puttalam and approximately 190 kilometers from Colombo near Mannar city in North-western and North-central provinces. The annual temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius.
The name ‘Wilpattu’ hints at the unique geographical characteristic of Wilpattu National Park. They are the shallow natural lakes filled with rainwater called ‘Villu’ surrounded by open grassy plains in the middle of the scrub jungle. These ‘Villu’ are a natural habitat of various kinds of species, the biggest attraction being leopards and sloth bears. Moreover, there are elephants, deer, wild pigs, rat snakes, pythons, jackals, and water buffalos. Wilpattu National Park is home to different kinds of butterflies such as great egg fly, Mormons, and crimson rose. Moreover, from November to March winter migrant birds add beauty to the park alongside the wetland bird species such as pintail, purple heron, and spoonbill. Furthermore, the waterbeds of Wilpattu National Park are graced with star tortoises, pond turtles, and crocodiles.
The months of February and October will be the prime time to visit Wilpattu National Park. It is better to take a train from Colombo to Anuradhapura or Puttalam first. Next, you can take a taxi from there to Wilpattu National Park. Otherwise, you can drive there which will take about 3 hours and 45 minutes.
26. Yala National Park
Out of all the national parks in Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is the second-largest national park. Indeed, it is a must-visit destination if you want to explore the wildlife of Sri Lanka to the fullest.
The eco-diversity and biodiversity of the park make it an absolute paradise for nature lovers. The highlight of Yala National Park is the leopard, who can be seen more from January to July. The other threatened species in the park are sloth bears, elephants, water buffalo, and golden jackals. Furthermore, Yala National Park is rich in about 130 species of birds which include raptors, water birds as well as migrating birds during the northeast monsoon. Moreover, various kinds of crocodiles, common monitors, cobras, and vipers live in Yala. Another significance of Yala National Park is the Yala coast, which is a major nesting ground for sea turtles.
This park is located about 300 kilometers south of Colombo near Hambantota bordering the Indian Ocean. The entrance of the park is at Palatupana. When you visit the park, it is better to take the bus to Tangalle and then a taxi to the park.
The mean annual temperature is 27 degrees Celsius but could go to as high as 37 degrees Celsius in the dry season. The prime time to visit is from February to June.
Who Safeguards the National Parks in Sri Lanka?
The state owns the lands of all the national parks in Sri Lanka. In addition, it protects all these habitats. The Department of Wildlife Conservation administers all the national parks in Sri Lanka. In the same way, the fauna and flora protection ordinance (No. 02) of 1937 governs the national parks in the country. However, the authorities prohibit the following activities in all the national parks in Sri Lanka which harm biodiversity and the eco-diversity.
- Killing the animals
- Interfering breedings of animals
- Disturbing wild animals
- Destroying the eggs of birds and reptiles
- Felling of plants
- Damaging of any plant
- Breaking the land for cultivation purposes
- Carrying of fire
- Using any trap to damage animals
- Using explosives to damage natural resources
However, relevant authorities give permission only to observe flora and fauna in all these national parks.
The Bottom Line
Of course, you might be still wondering how to choose one from all these national parks, since each of these holds a significance of its own. However, we believe that these descriptions would help you plan your routes in a way that you can visit these National Parks, as you explore this island.
After all, if you are a nature lover and wildlife enthusiast, these National Parks in Sri Lanka are sure to offer you the perfect experiences, that is second to none. Thus, if you are to arrive in Sri Lanka any sooner, make sure you add them to your bucket list. Happy and safe traveling!