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.