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Wildlife & Nature

Although small in size, Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity can rival many leading wildlife destinations in the world from Asia to Africa. Categorized under the top 25 biodiversity destinations in the world, the country has a high diversity of amphibians, birds, and reptiles and is one of the few locations in the world where one can see the giants of the lands, the elephants, and the giants of the ocean within the distance of few kilometers of each other.

Sri Lanka’s big five includes Sri Lankan Elephants, Sri Lankan leopards, Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Sloth Bear with ample opportunities to view them across the island.

Sri Lankan elephants, a subspecies of Asian Elephant is the most revered yet one of the most threatened animals in the country and the best places to watch them saunter around their daily business in Udawalawa, Yala and Minneriya National Parks. If you want to see a large number of elephants at a single location The Minneriya Gathering, the largest Asian elephant gathering happening in the world is for you.

Elephant herds from all around the North Central and Eastern Plains of Sri Lanka travel to Minneriya in early July to feast on the tender shoots of grass that grow on the banks of Minneriya Reservoir during the dry season. They gather in masses to eat, play and soak in the waters of Minneriya while tourists gathered feast their eyes on these massive herds of elephants.

The Yala National Park is the best place for watching the ever elusive Sri Lankan Leopards, who have strangely taken to the flocks of tourists gathering to Yala. Hardly a path can be crossed without bumping into a leopard on a leisurely stroll or another lazing on a tree. Same is true for Sri Lankan Sloth Bear and a number of other endemic animals, who call Yala National Park home.

Whale watching is an enjoyable affair in Sri Lanka, where pods Blue, Sperm and pilot whales roam the oceans surrounding Mirissa, Trincomalee, and Kalpitiya accompanied by dolphins and occasional orcas or killer whales. With almost 100% sighting probability and the chance of seeing large pods in action Whale watching in Sri Lanka is a never to be missed experience.

However, if you are not into animals but more into birds, Kumana, Mannar and Sinharaja Rain Forest are places to be. While Kumana offers a large combination of aquatic, sea and land birds, Sinharaja Rain Forest offers a combination of colorful endemic birds. Incidentally, Sinharaja is also celebrated for its rich diversity of amphibians and Mannar is the place to head for Flamingoes.

Through Our Winner’s Eyes

Whale Watching

Sri Lanka has many wondrous experiences to offer visitors. I can confidently say, getting on a boat and getting up close to a Blue Whale is right up there in the top five! My father, despite his age was not going to miss this opportunity to go whale watching which, is a highlight on most tourist itineraries.

And we were handsomely rewarded! Within a short time, we came upon one of these magnificent creatures.

Frankly, I can’t put that moment into words. You have to experience it, to truly understand how profound a sighting can be!

Yala Safari

As wildlife lovers, we were delighted by our trip to the Yala National Park. We were taken on a ‘Jeep Safar’ which is a half a day’s drive through wild, dense jungle that was so diverse and quite beautiful. We had fantastic sightings of elephants, deer, monkeys, wild boar and so many birds!

It was the first time we had ever been so close to a really wild elephant! My girlfriend Pavlina was very impressed and happy to see so many types of birds.

We spotted eagles, cormorants, kingfishers, a beautiful green bird called a bee eater and painted storks! There were too many to remember by name.

‘The Gathering’ Minneriya

I had read about the world-famous elephant ‘Gathering’ in the MinneriyaWildlife Sanctuary, but seeing it was truly something else. We went on what is called a ‘Jeep Safari’ through the sanctuary and came to the Minneriyalake. There were elephants everywhere.

It was amazing in every sense! We probably saw around 40 elephants but we were told the herd could grow to as much as 300! Some of these awesome giants passed by, very close to our vehicle.

The baby elephants were really cute.

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