National Parks in Sri Lanka: 13 % of Sri Lanka’s landmass is protected as national parks. The most important parks are:
Yala National Park (14100 ha)
Wildlife: Leopards, Elephants, Mammals & Crocodiles. Birdlife.Sri Lanka having been ranked 21st among the large bio-diversity hotspots in the world, eco-tourism in the island has pushed Ruhuna Yala Park to forefront of numerous wildlife reserves of the island. The Yala is the best park in Sri Lanka for spotting mammals. Park’s wildlife has its own distinctive charm, with its multitude of mammals, & birds. The park is usually closed late August to mid October. The best period to see the animals is during the November to May dry season, when animals cluster around water sources in multi-species groups.
Uda Walawe National Park – The best place in Asia to see herds of Asian Elephants
Wild Elephants, Wildlife, Bird Watching, Modern Rain water reservoir, River Walawe, Dam & Hydro Electricity Project. Uda Walwe National Park (30,821ha), Sri Lanka is the best place in Asia to see herds of Asian Elephants, the pachyderms in the wild. The park is home to jungle cat, sloth bear, porcupine, pangolin, macaque, langur, jackal, leopard, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, wild boar, mongoose, bandicoot, fox giant flying squirrel, water buffalo, crocodile & water monitor lizard. Among the raptors (birds of prey) are crested serpent, hawk, fish eagles, brahminy, black-winged kites, & the lovely white-bellied sea-eagle.
Minneriya National Park
From Colombo: 195 km Entrance: along the Habarana Polonnaruwa road Access to the the park: by 4WD. 4 hour trip from Habarana Size of the park: 8890 ha elephant corridor which joins up with Kaudulla & Wasgomuwa national parks Main feature of the park: King Mahasena’s magnificent Minneriya man made lake (3rd century) covering an area of 3000 ha Main draw: herds of elephants up to 150. We can also see elephants on the Habarana road Mammals: leopards, fishing cats, sambar deer, the endangered rusty spotted cat, sloth bear. Birds: cormorants, grey herons, spot-billed pelicans, painted storks, Sri Lankan hanging parrot & crimson-fronted barbet (160 species) Transmigration of elephants of Minneriya National Park.
Kaudulla National Park
Close to Polonnaruwa ,Distance from Colombo: 190km ,Entrance: 6km off the Habarana – Trincomalee road at Gal Oya junction Access to the the park: 3 hour trip from Habarana The trip: a guest house trip from one of the hotel/guest houses at Habarana (1st choice in terms of distance as well as in terms of accommodation). Size of the park: 6656 ha elephant corridor between Somawathiya Chaitya (Stupa) and Minneriya National Park is a main feature of the park.
Wasgomuwa National Park, Sri Lanka
Distance from Colombo: 235 km (via Kandy) ,Entrance: along the Habrana Polonnaruwa road ,Access to the the park: from Giritale or Naula ,The trip: a guest house trip from one of the hotel/guest houses at Polonnaruwa (1st choice in terms of distance) or Habarana (1st choice in terms of accommodation) ,Size of the park: 37062 ha enclosed by River Mahaweli & River Amban,. Best time to visit: June to September (dry season in the dry zone) when the mammals & birds roam around the tank, Main draw: herds of elephants up to 150, Mammals: leopards, fishing cats, sambar deer, the endangered rusty spotted cat, sloth bear (23 species) Birds about 143 species
Bundala National Park, Southern coast
Salt pans, coast, lagoons, Ramsar wetland, Birdlife, Elephants, Mammals, Crocodiles, Marine Turtles
Bird species – A total of 197 bird species Peacocks ,Elephants, Mammals: including leopards, sloth bears, civets, mongooses & giant squirrels, as well as rabbits and grey languor monkeys.