Mike’s Meanders: Sri Lanka Chapter 3
Missed the second chapter? Click here to read Mike’s Meanders: Chapter 2.
If you were to tell a client they could see the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world, I’m sure they’d ask what part of India or Southeast Asia you were sending them to. In fact, they’d be wrong on both accounts as it takes place in Sri Lanka’s Minneriya National Park. The same holds true if you were to tell them they could visit the area with the greatest density of leopards in the world. I’m sure they would ask where in Africa they should go. They would be wrong again; this time the answer is Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park. Sri Lanka has one of the finest track records in the world when it comes to conservation. This reputation very possibly goes way back to ancient times. Historians believe a reserve set up in Minhintale during the 3rd century BC is the first wildlife reserve ever created.
Historically, Sri Lanka’s royal empires have made nature and wildlife a priority which is evident by the ancient tanks, or water reservoirs found all over the country. These tanks, which have been vital for both human and beast alike for centuries show the deep connection between human and nature that has existed in the Sri Lankan mindset for centuries. It is because of this mentality, in such a small island nation, and despite dealing with population pressure, that your travelers can still take wildlife safaris in Sri Lanka that compare to some of the best in the world.
The most iconic of Sri Lanka’s national parks is Yala. Famous for its extraordinary population of resident leopards, Yala has become world renowned as a wildlife watching paradise. Aside from leopards, the park boasts a host of intriguing animals such as elephants, wild boar, wild water buffalo, sloth bears, and crocodiles, also huge herds of Sambar and spotted deer and macaques. There is such a variety of bird life; even the hardiest of bird watchers will be inundated.
The best times to visit the park is on a morning safari which starts at approximately 6:30 am in the morning or an evening safari which runs from about 3:00 pm until the park closes at dusk. With such an amazing diversity of wildlife, some of the best naturalist guides in the world can join your clients on these private safari tours. As I was told by one of my guides, spotting wildlife is not just about luck, it’s about knowing the animals well enough to know their habits, daily routines and denning areas. By having a provider such as Khiri Travel select your client’s guide, we can truly increase the chances of seeing some of the finest and most unique wildlife this national park has to offer.
While Yala gets most of the notoriety, there is a cornucopia of national parks to explore on any trip to Sri Lanka. For an off the beaten path wildlife experience, we suggest visiting Gal Oya National Park, one of Sri Lanka’s must untouched preserves. Within the park lies Sri Lanka’s largest inland body of water, Senanayake Samudraya Lake. This reservoir provides an incredible array of flora and fauna within its wetland habitat and is home to a multitude of resident and migratory bird species such as painted storks, cormorants, pelicans, and koel. One of the best-kept secrets about wildlife safaris in Gal Oya is the rare ability to do so by boat. The luckiest safari clients can see elephants swimming from island to island!
Wilpattu National Park, located about 4.5 hours from Colombo, is a fabulous way to kick off any wildlife-oriented visit to Sri Lanka. Unlike most of the other national parks in Sri Lanka, this park is famous for its natural lakes that dot the landscape making it a photographer’s dream.
Whether a client is traveling with an IPhone or thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment, there is never a shortage of memorable photos to be taken all over Sri Lanka. Your travelers will have the rare ability to photograph wild leopards, breaching blue whales, pristine landscapes, and ancient ruins. While photos come and go, one of the best parts about Sri Lanka is getting to know the local people and experience the culture first hand. These memories are sure to last forever. In the next installment we’ll explore the Khiri Difference in Sri Lanka. We’ll teach you what we’re doing as a company to turn your client from a tourist to a true traveler and how we can impress on them the very essence of the country along the way.
For more information on how to book wildlife watching and exciting safaris in Sri Lanka’s wonderful national parks, please contact to [email protected]