Sri Lanka has no less than 22 national parks. The parks are very popular among tourists. In these nature reserves, all kinds of animals can be found, from crocodiles to elephants and leopards. The government invests a lot of money and energy in maintaining these parks, with the result that Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful national parks in the world.
Preparations for a trip to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a popular travel destination for tourists from all over the world, who often travel to the country to enjoy the beautiful nature. When visiting a national park, you naturally spend a lot of time outdoors. The best time to visit Sri Lanka's national parks is therefore between December and March, as it rains less. Unlike the winters in the West, the temperature in Sri Lanka during these months is pleasant and the sun shines throughout.
As you spend so much time outside when visiting a national park, it is wise to protect yourself against insects, especially mosquitoes. They can transmit (deadly) diseases, especially if you are not properly vaccinated. Simple ways to protect yourself are to wear long sleeves and trousers, and to use a protective agent such as DEET.
In addition, you should not forget to apply for a Sri Lanka visa before departure. The visa comes in three types; for business, for tourism and for transit. Travellers who want to stay in Sri Lanka for less than 30 days can apply for their visa online. There is no need to visit the embassy. To apply for this digital visa, you must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after arrival in Sri Lanka.
Once all preparations are made, nothing stands in the way of a visit to Sri Lanka's beautiful national parks!
1: Yala National Park
Virtually everyone agrees that Yala National Park is the best nature reserve in Sri Lanka. It is definitely the most famous national park. Yala is particularly famous for the large numbers of leopards that can be found there, which has earned it the nickname "Land of the Leopard". Yala National Park is divided into zones where different types of animals can be seen. Because Yala is so big, it is highly recommended that you take a guide with you.
2: Udawalawe National Park
Travellers who would like to see an elephant up close will find Udawalawe to be the perfect place for this. It has one of the largest populations of elephants in the world, more than 500. You are bound to see one every few kilometres, and often even whole families. Although there are not many other mammals to be found in Udawalawe, there are several rare bird species to be seen, such as the Indian Short-toed Snake Eagle.
3: Bundala National Park
If Yala is the land of leopards, then Bundala National Park is the land of birds. Bundala is home to a huge number of different bird species. The reason for this is that this region is an important wintering place for birds from all over the world. The flamboyant flamingo is one of the most popular sights. Bundala largely consists of swamps. Other animal species can also be found here, such as crocodiles.
4: Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains can be found in the hills of Sri Lanka. This national park is located at 2300 metres altitude, on the highest plateau of Sri Lanka. There are relatively few species to be found here and the highlight of Horton Plains is therefore the beautiful view. The area is surrounded by cloud forest, and the most diverse plant species grow here. The highest waterfall in Sri Lanka can also be found in Horton Plains: Bambarakanda Falls.
5: Wasgamuwa National Park
Sri Lanka has a special park for hikers: Wasgamuwa. Unlike Bundala, these lowlands are very dry and therefore excellent for hiking. Just like in Udawalawe, many elephants can be found here. Differences in altitudes are quite large here, with some trails climbing up to 500 metres. Even experienced hikers sometimes struggle with this. Be prepared and take plenty of water with you.