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Game Park Safaris in Sri Lanka that are totally wild!

Sri Lanka is a melting pot of culture and nature. While more populous places in the Island are home to some of Asia’s best food, shopping and nightlife experiences, in the wild is where the beauty of the country can truly be marveled. The majestic Asian Elephant and Leopard are both indigenous to the island, along with a myriad of other creatures including sloth bears, wild cats and spotted deer. Below is a list of top stops to catch a glimpse of these creatures in their natural habitat in a country that Forbes calls the best safari destination outside of Africa.

  • Yala National Park

Spanning over 378 square metres, this principal National Park is home to herds of Elephants, crocodiles and wild water buffalos. Located about 300km from Colombo, This game park is designed in Blocks, of which the first is the most popular for tourists, with about a fifth of the park being closed to visitors to safeguard the animals. Yala is also home to a large population of leopards, a key feature on any safari. Although a sighting is not always guaranteed due to their nocturnal nature, rangers are trained to coordinate sightings with skill and luck proving to be the winning combination. Yala’s terrain is very similar to an African game park, with oceans, wetlands and rocky outcrops across the two main blocks.

Park entrance fee is around 15 USD, if you partner with the safari operators in the vicinity of your hotel, a half day tour of the park including a jeep and ranger will cost you approximately 70 USD. Two time slots of 0800 hrs and 1600 hrs are followed by most operators.

  • Minneriya National Park

Minneriya is home to the largest gathering of Elephants in Asia, clocking in at up to 400 Elephants at one time between the dry seasons of July to October. Minneriya is a large man-made reservoir and welcomes visitors from across the world to witness what is known as the Great Gathering.

Seeing these wild animals gather at one time is said to be a humbling experience and many visitors return to their homes with a sense of wonder and respect for what they experienced. Entrance to the park is around 60 USD per person, this will include a driver, ranger and safari jeep for a half day experience. This can be availed at the park itself or via the hotel you stay at.

  • Gal Oya National Park

Perhaps a lesser known national park, Gal Oya is located about 6 ½ hours away from Colombo, and about 3 ½ hours away from both Yala and Minneriya. Gal Oya’s key feature is the beauty of it’s lush landscape. A heaven from photographers and birdwatchers, this park is less crowded during its season of May to July than principal parks. A spectacle most visitors catch a glimpse of is the stunning sight of the majestic elephant swim from one Island to another. Unique bird species from the Indian Cormorant, to the Oriental Darter can be found on ‘Bird Island’ within the park, which is essentially a reservoir.

Gal Oya can be marveled via a jeep and/or boat safari each costing around 50 USD per person.

To find out even more about any or all of the above mentioned safaris, please go ahead and checkout our individual videos on each safari down below.

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