The incredible animal encounters you’ll find in Sri Lanka

10 January 2019

Sri Lanka is renowned for its stunning scenery, so it should come as no surprise that its wildlife is just as diverse and beautiful, offering visitors plenty of opportunity for animal interaction. Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Department also makes concerted efforts to make sure that its magnificent wildlife is protected and threats against them are minimised, so for those looking to travel responsibly, this island nation is the perfect place to visit. Here are just some of the beautiful creatures you’ll be able to see there.

Dolphins and whales

Just off Sri Lanka’s northwest coast in Kalpitya, there is an area teeming with marine life. A popular spot for fisherman as the waters are rich with tuna, it is also common to see dolphins here for their feed. The dolphins are a frequent sight year-round and are known to surf the waves, leap out of the water and do backflips, so make sure you bring your camera.

After dolphin-spotting, head to the south coast to the deep Indian Ocean waters, where you’ll find the blue whales and sperm whales that visit for several months of the year. Sperm whales tend to live in pods so if you spot one, there’s a good chance there will be several others in tow. Dolphin and whale watching tours can be organised by your Travel Counsellor, where you’ll be taken out by boat into prime whale- and dolphin-spotting territory.


Sri Lanka is packed with national parks, and one of the best to visit is Udawalawe, which is home to the Elephant Transfer Home, an orphanage and rehabilitation centre for orphaned and injured elephants. Go on a trek through the park and you will come across the beautiful creatures in their herds, as well as a high density of bird life.

There’s also Kaudulla National Park, which is home to 250 wild elephants, meaning chances of seeing five or more are really high. Located near the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya, the two can be combined on a one- or two-day tour.

“From a wildlife point of view, we stopped at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage and got up close to the elephants whilst they were being bathed. The Orphanage was founded back in the 1970s to care for baby elephants orphaned in the wild.

“We then visited Kaudulla National Park and were thrilled to see herds of wild elephant in their natural habitat.”

Mary, Travel Counsellor


Sri Lanka’s west coast sees particularly high levels of sea turtles, and there are various ways to see them. Go with a professional guide on an organised sea turtle nesting excursion, where you’ll see these dainty animals swim up on the beach to lay their eggs. Some tours offer conservation projects where you will help to monitor sea turtle activity and conserve local nesting sites. You can also visit one of the country’s turtle hatcheries, where steps are taken to preserve the future of the sea turtles and ensure a safe climate for hatchlings.


Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s most famous, no thanks in small part to having the most densely-populated leopard presence on Earth. Around 40 leopards are believed to roam the area, yet sightings are still pretty rare. Your best chance to catch a glimpse of a leopard is on a half-day jeep safari or a full-day drive around Yala, where your guide will keep their expert eye out in hope of locating one. You can also find leopards roaming in Wilpattu National Park and Udawalawe.

“Our wildlife adventure also included a safari into the Yala National Park on the south coast where we saw elephant, deer, water buffalo and even a sloth bear. Yala has the highest density of leopard in the world and during peak season from December to April, sightings are high.”

Mary, Travel Counsellor


If you’d like to get up close and personal with Sri Lanka’s amazing wildlife, contact your Travel Counsellor.

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