Where To See Elephants In Sri Lanka? Here’s 4 Awesome Places You’ll Love
There are a few things Sri Lanka is best known for; its beaches, cricket, tea, and being home to a large number of elephants. While there are a few elephant sanctuaries in the country, the best way to see these gentle giants is quite obviously – in the wild! Safaris through these lush jungles will give you a real and authentic experience of watching elephants in their natural habitat. Here are some of the best places to see elephants on the island.
Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park rose to fame after NatGeo featured the world’s most breathtaking natural phenomenon that occurs within its verdant landscapes – The Gathering. This annual congregation of wild elephants around the scenic Minneriya Tank allows visitors to spend hours just admiring the gentle giants as they frolic and graze in the wide-open plains. If you’re travelling with your family, plan your visit to the island between the months from June – September to witness this spectacle, where you’ll see around 200-500 elephants in one area. Kids and adults are sure to enjoy an excursion through the rugged terrain.
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is Sri Lanka’s largest and one of its oldest national parks. The park gets its name from its 106 ‘willus’ (natural lakes) that are spread throughout the park. During the periods of drought, elephants are drawn to these pools of water, so you are guaranteed to spot one here. Wilpattu National Park is also renowned for its leopard population, and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the elusive leopard. Kids in particular will also enjoy the game drive through the park’s rugged, uneven terrain, as the jeep navigates past overgrown shrubs and muddy puddles!
Lahugala Kitulana National Park
Lahugala Kitulana National Park is Wilpattu’s opposite, being one of the country’s smallest national parks. Only a 20-minute drive from Arugam Bay, this is a great excursion to take a break from the beach. Though small in size, the national park is an important habitat for Sri Lanka elephants and endemic birds. Visit this hidden gem if you’re looking to escape the crowds from the more popular national parks.
Yala National Park
Located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s most famous wildlife reserve. This park gained popularity as it was home to the Big Three, i.e. elephants, leopards and bears. Elephants can often be spotted grazing on patches of grass or at a watering hole – so keep your eyes peeled. With the highest density of leopards in a geographical area, it is also one of the best places to spot these elusive beasts. However, keep in mind that you’ll have a higher chance of spotting leopards (or sloth bears) if you embark on an early morning safari. If you’ve got younger kids, plan to wake them up early in the morning (by 5:00 am at least – depending on the distance of your accommodation to the park). It’s important to be patient and quiet when searching for wild animals, remember to advise your kids of this too!