Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

Sri Lanka Safari Holidays: An Overview

Visitors to Sri Lanka have long known about the treasures of the Cultural Triangle and the lovely south coast beaches, but now there's another string to this beautiful country's bow - wildlife safaris in Sri Lanka's national parks.

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Miranda, Katie and Rosie are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • This may not beat an Africa safari for quality of accommodation and sheer diversity of wildlife on view, but a Sri Lanka safari holiday is still a very special experience.

Luxury Safaris in Sri Lanka: The Detail

The cream of the crop is Yala National Park, home to the highest concentration of leopards in the world (nearly 60 in 380 square miles at last count), with sightings all but guaranteed since the Yala leopards are also known for being less elusive than in other parts of the world. Unfortunately this means the inevitable presence of other vehicles, but we think this is a small price to pay for the chance to see one of the most magnificent of all the big cats. Other common sightings on a Sri Lanka safari holiday are elephants, deer, langur monkeys, wild boar and - in June and July during the palu tree fruit season - sloth bears. Twitchers will also be in their element surrounded by some 220 species of birds, including hornbills, painted storks, peacocks and kingfishers.

Further north, and perfect in combination with the Cultural Triangle, is Wilpattu National Park. As the park was out of action for much of the civil war the animals are less used to humans so often prove more elusive, but with far fewer visitors than in Yala, the feeling of communing with Sri Lankan nature is arguably stronger.

The Gal Oya National Park is a vast protected park in South East Sri Lanka, with both evergreen forest and Savannah. The park is home to 32 mammal species, including elephant, leopard and sloth, and 30% of bird species found within Sri Lanka.

In terms of accommodation in each, we work with wonderfully characterful safari camp set-ups and lodges located within touching distance of the national parks, complete with expert guides.


Original Highlight

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The safari camps you stay in may be remote, but their chefs sure know how to cook up an amazingly delicious Sri Lankan feast after a strenuous morning tracking leopards.

Rosie, Original Traveller

Top picks for Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

Tent at Leopard Safari Yala Camp, luxury camp in Sri Lanka

Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris Yala Camp

Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

Leopard Safaris camp sits is blissful isolation in the buffer zone at Yala (read: as close as you can get), bordering the elephant fence. The camp is set up under the shade of a canopy of trees, and is the perfect base from which to explore Yala.

Where to stay

Gal Oya Lodge

Gal Oya Lodge

Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

Yala and Wilpattu are the big hitters in Sri Lanka’s National Park scene, meaning that the vast Gal Oya National Park in the heart of the island is often overlooked, but thanks to the beautiful Gal Oya Lodge, this is sure to change.

Where to stay

Outdoor dining at Leopard Safaris Wilpattu Camp, luxury camp in Sri Lanka

Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris Wilpattu Camp

Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

The lakeside location of the Leopard Safaris camp, just a stones throw from Wilpattu National Park, was chosen with isolation in mind, so that guests can fully appreciate the beautiful wilderness and wildlife in this, Sri Lanka’s largest park.

Where to stay

Chena Huts

Chena Huts

Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

Sri Lanka’s most famous reserve, Yala National Park, is separated from the sea by a thin strip of jungle that has for centuries been home to small holdings in clearings known as ‘chena’.

Where to stay

Leopard Trails Wilpattu

Leopard Trails Wilpattu

Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

The younger sister camp to Leopard Trails Yala, Leopard Trails Wilpattu was established in order to take advantage of the wonderful wildlife spotting opportunities in this often overlooked national park. Home to leopard and sloth bears, Asian elephants and Water Buffalo, the wildlife spotting in Wilpattu is on par with its more famous counterpart. It is also widely believed that Wilpattu was the site of the formation of the Sinhalese Kingdom many centuries ago, and so it is a region full of history, and fascinating archaeological ruins.

Where to stay

Leopard Trails Yala

Leopard Trails Yala

Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

Yala National Park consists of scrub jungle, lakes, and riverine habitats, and it has gained international notoriety as one of the best places on the planet to view leopards. The Leopard Trails camp in Yala National Park offers travellers the chance to stay close to the action, bordering the national park, with a luxury mobile camping safari experience.

Where to stay

Explore Yala, Wilpattu & Gal Oya National Parks

We were particularly impressed by the level of contact from you. We have fairly intense jobs and the fact that you were so communicative and helpful made organisation so easy.


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