National Parks in Sri Lanka For A Wild Escape

National Parks in Sri Lanka

The fact that Sri Lanka can boast of 23 National Parks in its landscape is no mean feat in itself. The landscape of Sri Lanka favours all kinds of flaura and fauna such that almost every region of the country is house to at least one national park. Elephants are a major spotting at most of the national parks in Sri Lanka. One can also spot leopards, wild boars, sloth beers, deers along with other exotic flora and fauna that makes national parks in Sri Lanka a favourite tourist attraction!

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Here is the list of 23 National Parks in Sri Lanka For A Wild Escape

1. Yala National Park - Highest population of leopards in the world!

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Yala National Park was originally a hunters arena during British colonial rule but now has the highest population of leopards on earth. Not only animals but it also provide a quaint environment for birds as well. It is the largest national park in Sri Lanka with a total area of 900 Sq Km. Yala National Park attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year due to its high density of leopards, sloth bears, crocodiles, and deers.

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2. Wilpattu National Park - For An Adventure With Leopards!

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Wilpattu National Park is situated on the western coast of Sri Lanka, approximately an hour away from the ancient city of Anuradhapura. This national park has the enviable distinction of being the oldest and the largest national park in Sri Lanka.

The park has earned its name from the numerous 'villus' (natural lakes in Sinhalese) that spread across the area. Wilpattu is known for its large population of leopards, among the highest in Sri Lanka. 

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3. Udawalawe National Park - One of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka!

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Udawalawe National Park gets its name from Udawalawe reservoir that was built on Walawe river. Animals that were displaced due to the development were shifted to the national park. It is one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka that was established in the year 1972. The area where this national park is built over was earlier used by farmers for shifting cultivation but then they were removed from this area. This national park in Sri Lanka is especially known for being home to water birds and Sri Lankan elephants. You'll find a herds of more than 50 Sri Lankan elephants here and there are close to 600 of them in the park.

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4. Wasgamuwa National Park - For Elephants, Leopards and History!

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Teeming with elephants, leopards and more, Wasgamuwa National Park is undoubtedly a must-visit for a chance to explore Sri Lanka’s fascinating wildlife. History and wildlife come together at Wasgamuwa National Park. Around 225 km from Colombo, the park is famous for its large number of Sri Lankan elephants, almost a whopping 150 in a herd!

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5. Sinharaja Forest Reserve - Once-in-a-lifetime experience!

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Sinharaja Forest Reserve is one of the very few virgin rainforests in the world, which is why it is one of the UNESCO World Heritage! The unique relation of flora and fauna in this forest makes it one of the hotspots in the world. The forest is only 13 km in the stretch and around 7 to 8 km from north to south. The entire forest has remained untouched till date due to its inaccessibility.

The ecosystem of this forest has been an essential part of it being termed as also a Biosphere Reserve. The species of animals and plants that are unique to Sinharaja Forest Reserve and preservation of other endangered animals and plants has given it a position of priority. 

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6. Horton Plains National Park - Stand At The Edge of The World's End!

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Known For : Horton Plains World’s End | Bambarakanda Falls

Horton Plains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated at an altitude 2,100–2,300 metres and located in Central Sri Lanka. It is a government protected area which is surrounded by massive cloudy forests and never-ending grasslands. Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka is a popular destination to visit the famed ‘World’s End Cliff’, a long, steep plunge of 880m where the plateau comes to a dramatic stop.

Read More 3 Horton Plains Attractions

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7. Bundala National Park - Spectacle of Migratory Aquatic Birds!

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Bundala National Park is situated off the Sri Lankan coast, around 12 km away from the port town of Hambantota. Designated as a national park in Sri Lanka in 1993, Bundala is immensely popular for its migratory aquatic birds.

Additionally, the park is also a UNESCO world heritage site and biosphere reserve. The brackish water lagoons, coupled with the diverse flora, are truly stunning sights. The topography of the national park also comprises dunes and scrub jungle.

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8. Kaudulla National Park - Fulling exposure to the wild side of nature

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It has been in existence for many years now, but it was given the recognition of a national park only in April 2002. The park spreads over 6656 hectares, and it is connected to the Somawathie Chaitiya Park and the Minneriya Wildlife Park. A reserve turned national park in Sri Lanka, Kaudulla sees herds of elephants families usually around 350 of them.

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9. Minneriya National Park - For The Love of Elephants!

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The Minneriya National Park is in the Northern province of Sri Lanka, four hours away from Colombo, and 30 minutes away from Sigiriya. This national park in Sri Lanka is famous for its herds of elephants migrating for food, water and shelter, and forming a 'gathering' that can be witnessed by the visitors. The dry season is the best time to visit this place, as the majestic elephants migrate to the Minneriya Tank for water. Apart from elephants, the national park is also home to several mammals, birds, reptiles, and different kinds of plant species. Minneriya National Park comes under the dry zone, meaning, it receives less rainfall compared to the other areas in the country.

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10. Gal Oya National Park - Ideal For Bird Watching And Boat Safari!

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Gal Oya National Park is near the town of Ampara, at the Senanayake Samudra reservoir. Founded in 1954, the less visited but wonderfully unique national park in Sri Lanka shelters numerous fauna, including an impressive diversity of birdlife. The highlight of a visit to Gal Oya National Park is unquestionably the boat safari across the reservoir; soak in the scenery amidst the waters and spot plenty of wildlife.

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11. Lunugamvehera National Park - Sri Lanka's Wildlife Corridor For Elephants!

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Located adjacent to Yala National Park, Lunugamvehera National Park is home to a diverse array of species, ranging from Sri Lankan elephants to the endemic Atukorale’s dwarf toad. Designated as a protected area in 1995, Lunugamvehera National Park is a wildlife corridor for elephants migrating between Yala and Udawalawe National Parks.

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12. Maduru Oya National Park, Kandy

Maduru Oya National Park is home to the two main aspects of Sri Lanka’s tourism—plenty of diverse wildlife and fascinating Buddhist ruins. The park was established in 1983 and also shelters some members of the indigenous Vedda tribe. With a population numbering more than a hundred, Asian elephants are the best feature of this national park in Sri Lanka.

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13. Kumana National Park - Beautiful flora and fauna

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Apart from being a 18,149 hectare national park in Sri Lanka, Kumana national park also encompasses of a 200-hectare natural lake swamp, visited by various species of migratory birds. The national park does not only secure the species of birds but also breeds and roosts them. Some of the regular birds that can easily be spotted are the Pelicans, Painted Storks, Spoonbills, White Ibis, Herons, Egrets and the little Cormorants.

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14. Hikkaduwa National Park, Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa national park, located near Hikkaduwa town in Southern Province, Sri Lanka, is a marine national park, with a delightful variety of marine creatures. This zone is a low fringing coral reef, with a depth of 16 feet and length of 4 km. The site was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1979 and later upgraded to a nature reserve in the year 1988. In September 2012, it was listed as a national park.

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15. Horagolla National Park

One of the more newest National Parks in Sri Lanka, Horagolla National Park is so-called because of an abundance of Hora trees that are indigenous to the area. This urban park is situated around 40 kilometres away from Colombo and is very rich in biodiversity, which includes some exotic flora and fauna.

Entry Fees: LKR 40 + LKR 300(Group Fee) for Sri Lankans and USD 10 + USD 8(Group Fee) for foreign nationals + 15% VAT.  Timings: 6:00 AM to 4:30 PM

16. Ussangoda National Park

Ussangoda is among the few National Parks in Sri Lanka that have biological, archaeological and geographical significance altogether. Steeped in religious myths and known for its red soil(high concentration of Ferric Oxide), Ussangoda National Park in the south of Sri Lanka stretches across land and water even providing an excellent breeding ground for Sea Turtles.   One of the more newest National Parks in the country, Horagolla National Park is so-called because of an abundance of Hora trees that are indigenous to the area. This urban park is situated around 40 kilometres away from Colombo and is very rich in biodiversity, which includes some exotic flora and fauna.

17. Madhu Road National Park

Madhu Road National Park, which is known for being home to an extraordinary number of exotic birds and mammals, including some that are endemic to the area, is just 25 kilometres away from the city of Mannar. Formerly a sanctuary until 2015, it was given the status of a national park in Sri Lanka when other state-owned forests were absorbed to create a vast protected area.

Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

18. Chundikkulam National Park

Chundikkulam National Park is situated in the North of Sri Lanka 12 kilometres away from the city of Kilinochchi and is home for some exotic waterbirds and shorebirds. Chundikkulam is surrounded by mangrove swamps, sea-grass beds, palm plantations and beautiful scrub forests that take the area to a whole another level.

Entry Fee: LKR 40 + LKR 300(Group Fee) for Sri Lankans and USD 10 + USD 8(Group Fee) for foreign nationals + 15% VAT.Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

19. Angammedilla National Park , Polonnaruwa

About half an hour away from the historical city of Polonnaruwa, bordered by the Angammedilla Canal in the south, lies Angammedilla National Park. A relatively more recent addition to national parks in Sri Lanka’s, Angammedilla National Park is a habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna. The park was initially designated to protect the catchment areas of the Parakrama Samudra, a shallow reservoir in Polonnaruwa, and the Minneriya and Girithale irrigation tanks.

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20. Flood Plains National Park

Created on 7 August, 1984, Flood Plains National Park is one of the four national parks located along the belt of Mahaweli River. It is famous for being an elephant corridor alongwith other parks located in the Mahweli river region. Flood Plains National Park has a signficant share of flaura and fauna spanning from floating plants and rare herbs to wild boars and leopards.

21. Pigeon Island National Park, Nilaveli

Pigeon Island National Park is near the Nilaveli Beach in Sri Lanka. This national park is amongst the 17 national parks in Sri Lanka, but amongst the only two marine national parks in the entire region. This area is protected due to the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, which caused a lot of damage to the marine and coral life. This national park is also known to have the best coral reefs in the entire country! The rocky island is also home to rock pigeons, based on which the national park gets its name.

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22. Lahugala Kitulana National Park

Known for being home to the endangered Sri Lankan Elephants and some endemic birds, Lahugala Kitulana National Park is located near to the city of Pottuvil and is considered to be one of the smallest National Parks in Sri Lanka.  There are three reservoirs named Lahugala, Kitulana and Sengamuwa inside the park that eventually flow into the Heda Oya River.

Entry Fee: LKR 40 + LKR 300(Group Fee) for Sri Lankans and USD 10 + USD 8(Group Fee) for foreign nationals + 15% VAT.Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

23. Delft National Park

Located on the island of Nedunitivu in northern Sri Lanka, Delft National Park is believed to be the only place in with Wild Ponies which is thought to have been brought by the Portuguese. Boat services from Sri Lanka to the island are available provided by the Sri Lankan Navy and private service providers. 

Entry Fee: LKR 40 + LKR 300(Group Fee) for Sri Lankans and USD 10 + USD 8(Group Fee) for foreign nationals + 15% VAT.Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

The list of these national parks in Sri Lanka will definite ignite some of you to quickly back your bags and wildlife paraphernalia to pay these majestic elephants and regal leopards a deserving visit!

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This post was published by Muhammed Salih

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