7 Sri Lankan wildlife adventures that will change your life

Compact yet diverse, Sri Lanka is one of the world’s greatest wildlife destinations. Come face-to-face with leopards, elephants and blue whales, and even do your bit to save a species...

5 mins

1: Embrace Sri Lanka's wild side

A Hanuman langur in Sri Lanka (Dreamstime)

A Hanuman langur in Sri Lanka (Dreamstime)

See why Sri Lanka is regarded as one of the best destinations in Asia for animal lovers on this exhaustive tour of the country’s wildlife hotspots with Exodus. 

You’ll watch blue whales congregate off the southern coast of Sri Lanka, observe elephant herds gather in Udawalawe, and search for leopards in Yala. Your itinerary includes four game drives within Yala and Udawalawe National Parks, so your chances of spotting even the most elusive of creatures is very good.

After visiting the Sinharaja Rainforest, you’ll head back to the south coast – where the warm waters of the Indian Ocean lap the shore, and the shade of a palm tree beckons.

Trip: Wild Sri Lanka

Who: Exodus

When: 22 Feb, 15, 22 Mar, 5 Apr & 8, 15, 22 Nov 2018

How long: 10 days

How much: From £1,599 (exc. flights)

2: Look for leopards

Leopard yawning in Yala (Dreamstime)

Leopard yawning in Yala (Dreamstime)

Increase your chances of seeing Sri Lanka’s most elusive wildlife superstar on this five-day leopard safari in Yala National Park with Wildlife Trails.

With five half-day jeep safaris and one full-day drive inside Yala National Park, this trip is designed to maximise your chance of leopard encounters as well as the opportunity to photograph these stunningly beautiful creatures up-close. The park is also home to a substantial elephant population, as well as spotted deer, sambar, wild buffalo, sloth bear, jackal, crocodiles and over 120 species of birds. It’s a real treat for wildlife lovers.

Trip: Sri Lankan leopard safari at Yala

Who: Wildlife Trails

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 5 days

How much: From £840 (exc. flights)

3: Hatch and release turtles

Baby sea turtle at Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project (Dreamstime)

Baby sea turtle at Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project (Dreamstime)

Do your bit to save the wildlife of Sri Lanka as a volunteer on this highly-regarded Turtle Conservation project in the Kosgoda region of Sri Lanka with The Great Projects.

Your role will be to monitor sea turtle activity and conserve the local nesting sites. Four species of turtle are found here (predominantly green but also loggerhead, olive ridley and hawksbill) and as a volunteer you will help to build hatcheries, feed and clean hatchlings and, when the time is right, release the babies back into the sea.

Volunteers also lend a hand with tours of the hatchery, which help to educate people about the importance of preserving the sea turtles in Sri Lanka and the work of the project itself. 

Trip: Turtle Conservation in Sri Lanka

Who: The Great Projects

When: Departures every Sunday

How long: 2 weeks

How much: £545 (exc. flights)

4: Search for tracks on Sri Lanka's trails

Adam’s Peak at sunrise (Dreamstime)

Adam’s Peak at sunrise (Dreamstime)

Come face-to-face with the wildlife and wonders of Sri Lanka on this two-week walking holiday with KE Adventure Travel.

The trip is designed to take you off the beaten track to discover wild and secluded parts of this tiny paradise island. There’s a two-day traverse of the spectacular Knuckles mountain range, as well as trekking in the Namunukula range, on the famous Horton Plains, and a climb to the summit of sacred Adam's Peak (2,243m) to catch the sunrise.

There is also well-earned time to relax on the coast, plus wildlife safaris in Sri Lanka’s famous national parks. This is a walking tour that offers a real insight into Sri Lankan culture, both historic and modern, and takes you to the heart of this spectacular island nation.

Trip: Sri Lanka Tracks and Trails

Who: KE Adventure Travel

When: Regular departures throughout the year

How long: 14 days

How much: From £1,695 (exc. flights)

5: A watery wildlife adventure

A school of spinner dolphins (Dreamstime)

A school of spinner dolphins (Dreamstime)

Witness one of the world’s greatest wildlife events as thousands of spinner dolphins gather off north-west Sri Lanka to feed and frolic on this watery wildlife adventure with Wildlife Worldwide.

The clear waters around Sri Lanka are home to a wealth of cetacean life, including blue whales, sperm whales and, of course, spinner dolphins. After watching the huge pod of spinners off Kalpitiya, you’ll head to the south coast – an excellent location to see blue whales and sperm whales in the deep waters.

There’ll be plenty of time to see the country’s land-based wildlife too, with trips to see the elephants of Udawalawe National Park and the leopards of Yala National Park.

Trip: Blue Whales & Dolphins

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 14 days

How much: £2,895 (inc. flights)

6: A jumbo conservation project

Elephants in Wasgamuwa National Park (Dreamstime)

Elephants in Wasgamuwa National Park (Dreamstime)

Help to save Sri Lanka’s wild elephants on this award-winning conservation project with The Great Projects.

Run in conjunction with the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS), the project is based on the outskirts of the little-visited Wasgamuwa National Park, where you’ll help assess and reduce the conflict between humans and elephants. It’s a very hands-on experience that will see you using GPS, camera/sound traps and remote sensors hand in hand with more traditional methods (such as tracking trails and hide observation) to develop strategies in the conservation of both animal habitat and the local wildlife. It is a unique opportunity to gain a more intimate understanding of these giant creatures and help ensure their survival.

Trip: Elephant Conservation in Sri Lanka

Who: The Great Projects

When: Departures every Monday

How long: 14 days

How much: From £895 (exc. flights)

7: Wildlife with a touch of comfort

Sinharaja Rainforest (Dreamstime)

Sinharaja Rainforest (Dreamstime)

Enjoy Sri Lanka’s incredible flora and fauna – and a little luxury too – on this nine-day wildlife adventure with Audley.

You’ll explore rural villages and rolling hills dotted with tea bushes in the Tea Country and walk through the Sinharaja Rainforest Biosphere, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the real focus is on the wildlife – with game drives in Yala National Park in search of leopards and in Udawalawe National Park to spot elephants.

Trip: Sri Lanka's wildlife highlights

Who: Audley

When: Regular departures through the year

How long: 9 days

How much: From £2,525 (exc. flights)

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