Top national parks in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has become an increasingly popular holiday destination and one that’s especially well known for its beautiful beaches. However, there are many other natural attractions on this amazing island, including several fantastic national parks.

I was lucky enough to visit Sri Lanka earlier this year and didn’t have time to tackle even half of what there is to see and do in this remarkable country. I did make time to visit one of the national parks (which I’ll talk more about in a minute). If you’re looking for an exotic and friendly holiday destination, check out some of the deals being offered on trips to Sri Lanka.

Now, back to its beautiful national parks …

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains in the central highlands is a fantastic place to begin your discovery of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. What I loved about coming here was that you could head out on a walk through unspoilt scenery and keep an eye out for some of the creatures that live in the moorlands or cloud forest that makes up most of this reserve.

The walk to World’s End is circular and takes a good few hours, so leave plenty of time so you don’t have to rush. The main attraction is an astounding sheer cliff that gives you fantastic views if you get there early enough in the day. Turn up in the afternoon, however, and a thick mist shrouds the forest and the cliff. Now, I think this is pretty cool too and it’s also how the cliff got its name.

As you walk, keep your eyes on the trees for animals like toque macaques, purple-faced langurs and Sri Lankan wood pigeons, while on the plains you can often see sambar deer. Leopards, wild boars and mongooses are other creatures resident in the park, but you’ll be lucky if you spot them during your hike.

Yala National Park

Yala is one of Sri Lanka’s most visited national parks and was high on my list of places to go, but sadly I didn’t quite have time before my holiday was over. What appealed to me about Yala, though, is the variety and number of animals and birds that live within its boundaries. One of the major draws is that it’s an excellent place to spot leopards.

The big cats are far from the only fascinating animals to be found here, though, with elephants, Sri Lankan sloth bears, fishing cats, water buffaloes, Sri Lankan flying snakes and saltwater crocodiles just a few of the other species you may come across if you’re lucky.

As Yala stretches all the way to the coast, there are unspoilt beaches here too, and five of the world’s turtle species visit these shores to breed. In the skies and around the lagoons you’ll find a huge variety of birds, including lesser flamingos, crested serpent eagles, hornbills, pelicans and flycatchers.

You can go on a guided walking safari in Yala National Park, but it’s advised that you hop in one of the off-road safari jeeps for the best chance of spotting a range of animals and for covering a bit more ground.

Galoya National Park

This reserve isn’t as well known as some of Sri Lanka’s other natural sites, but it’s an amazing place to come to if you want to see birds. One of its major attractions is the aptly-named Bird Island, which is a breeding site for a wide variety of species. What’s great about this place is that you can see the fledglings in their nests and watch as the parents care for them.

Galoya is also home to a range of mammals, including muntjacs, elephants, sambar deer, sloth bears and Sri Lankan axis deer to name just a few. A safari here sounds like it will be an amazing experience.

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