With 26 national parks scatted around the island that are rich in biodiversity, Sri Lanka is an island you cannot leave without exploring the wilderness in a safari ride.

Are your nature lover or an animal enthusiast? Either way, you are going to love safari rides spotting wildlife in Sri Lanka-which is why we‘ve listed 7 best national parks in Sri Lanka to launch your safari ride to.

  1. Yala National Park

Yala brings you up, close and personal with the untamed world of wildlife. It doesn’t matter whether you are an avid nature lover or visiting a wildlife park for the first time, if you come here with a mind that’s eager to explore and learn, you will go away with a new-found meaning to life.

Yala is a reserved national park divided into 5 blocks, covering an area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land consist of light forests, scrubs, grasslands, tanks and lagoons. Among its famous residents are the world’s biggest concentration of leopards, majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted deer, peacocks, crocodiles and more. The best time to visit Yala is between February and July.

  1. Wilpattu National Park

For safari-goers, there will not be another spot than the Wilpattu National Park. Natural sand-rimmed water basins can be seen abundantly at Wilpattu national park and this is the largest national park on the island. You can go for a classic jeep safari and spot the big trio; elephants, leopards and buffaloes.

Or else opt for camping in the wilderness which is going to be an amazing encounter with wild creatures. Go walking trails to enjoy the serenity of the wilderness and venturesome night safaris around the campsite. Though you can spy on wildlife at Wilpattu throughout the year, February to October is the preferred time period.

  1. Kumana National Park

Explore the rustic, untamed, and shrubbery green of Kumana where the gentle jumbos roam wild and free. The wild preserve spanning 35,665 hectares is a dream come true for nature lovers.

Kumana is where one can catch a glimpse of massive elephants, the proud prince of the wild-leopards, and other elusive wildlife in their element. Famed for its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds, one can name Kumana as an exotic bird paradise too. Secluded than the much visited Yala Park, Kumana is tranquil and ideal to experience the oneness with mother nature. Make sure to visit the park from February to July.

  1. Udawalawe National Park

Drive into the exotic world of wildlife of Udawalawe national park in an open-roofed safari jeep. Catch a close look at the amazing wildlife creatures including mighty elephants, exotic leopards, angry sloth bears, giant crocodiles and more. Udawalawe is where you should head to witness elephants as it is one of the best places in the world to spot wild elephant and the park has more than 250 resident elephants.  This is the third most visited national park in Sri Lanka.

  1. Minneriya National Park

Minneriya Elephant Gathering is a must sight to spot. Every year from August to September a massive number of wild elephants flock together around the bank of the Minneriya reservoir which creates one of the most striking scenes of nature you will ever behold. During the peak of the dry season (August to September) the water supply falls substantially in nearby national parks and to deal with this, elephants congregate around the Minneriya reservoir where they can find lush greenery and enough water.

A massive natural gathering of wild elephants can only be seen at Minneriya as these herds of elephants bathe, play, mingle. You will be mesmerized to see elephants romping and playing with their friends in mud, entwining trunks, wrestling in water, running around like a bunch of kiddies and even trumpeting so loud!

  1. Wasgamuwa National Park

Located in Matale and Polonnaruwa districts, Wasgamuwa national park is another paradise for wildlife enthusiasts with a rich biodiversity. Known for spotting elephants the park is home to nearly 150 elephants. Apart from that, you can spot a wide array of wild creatures and flora species; including trees Weera, Palu, Wara, Ehala, Buruta, the endemic Galsiyambala, Milla and Kaluwara and animals like Purple-faced langur monkeys, wild boar, sambar and spotted deer, buffalo, monitor and mugger crocodile and more.

The park spreads across over 36900 hectares rewarding the visitors with splendid vistas. The best time to visit Wasgamuwa national park is during November to March when the climate is favourable.

  1. Lahugala Kitulana National Park

Closer to Pottuvil, lies a secluded tiny national park which is a significant habitat for wildlife. Known as the smallest national park in Sri Lanka, Lahugala does not second to other vast natural sanctuaries on the island, in terms of biodiversity. With a rich and diverse birdlife including both local and migrating birds, Lahugala is a famed bird watching spot. Though the park is small in size, it also supports a large population of the largest mammal on earth-elephant.

After settling for a national park to explore, it’s time for you to find the right safari ride that assures you a safe and sound wildlife spotting experience. Therefore, make sure to plan your safari tour with a reputable tour operator like Lakpura.