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Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka Safaris

Endless beaches, timeless relics, welcoming locals, countless herds of elephants, invigorating landscapes, famous tea, spectacular train rides and divine food make Sri Lanka irresistible. An almost over-looked safari destination, the country is quickly moving forward as more people begin to discover its myriad charms.

Laying in between the more trodden parts of India and Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka is the ideal tropical escape. Dazzling waters, laden with white beaches, are a sanctuary for some of the ocean's giants, whilst a retreat into the flourishing tea plantations and rainforested peaks uncovers a plethora of life, including leopards, water buffalo, primates and birds. Wander beside ancient temples, enjoy a bounty of delicious cuisine, follow in Buddha’s footsteps on a pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak, and take an iconic train journey through rolling hills.

With a combination of some of the world's most incredible wildlife encounters and legendary temples set in outstanding national parks, Sri Lanka is undeniably alluring. Spectacular, affordable and still often uncrowded, now is the best time for you to discover it.

Why NWS for your Sri Lanka Safari?

As specialists in travel to Sri Lanka, we have been able to craft some of the most incredible itineraires and sought after trips to this often overlooked wildlife destination. Our safaris are led by hand-picked passionate local wildlife guides with years of experience across Sri Lanka’s diverse landscapes. Our carefully-crafted itineraries combine unique access to some of the best wildlife lodges supporting local communities.

To ensure a truly exclusive experience, we use locations rarely used by other tour agents, working closely with Marine and National Park Specialists on non-intrusive encounters with full permits. Working beside conservationists, we can offer the chance to join habituation safaris and more. Our exclusive network on the ground allows us to add that little NWS twist to your trip, transforming it into something really special.

How Much Does Sri Lanka Cost?

Typically, expect to budget around $5,500 per person for a 15-day safari in Sri Lanka. This will generally include airport transfers, food and accommodation in eleven camps in different locations. For a shorter 10-day experience staying at five camps, expect to budget $7,000 per person. Journeying through the heart of tiger country, you will be staying in a range of rustic guest houses, treetop hideaways and even luxurious Indian Palaces.

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The Sri Lanka Safari Experience

Sri Lanka is by and large a relaxed and friendly country and, although it still bears some of the scars of its more turbulent recent history, the infrastructure is progressing all the time. Traffic can still be somewhat unpredictable, but the road quality is improving. Outside of the main cities of Colombo and Kandy, facilities can be more basic but the standards of accommodation and food are high throughout the country; Natural World Safaris has access to some beautiful boutique lodges.

You may wish to include the following in your Sri Lanka itinerary:

  • Jeep Safaris: Enjoy a jeep safari in the elephant-rich Udawalawe National Park
  • Forest Walks: Hike in the tropical rainforests of the Sinharaja in search of endemic wildlife
  • Tea Plantations: explore the tea plantations whilst enjoying high teas, guided walks and luxurious accommodation in the cool climate of Dickoya
  • Beach Relaxation: Relax on the stunning beach at Kuchchaveli
  • Whale Spotting: Swim with whales and watch these majestic creatures on boats off Sri Laka’s East Coast
  • Culture & History: Explore the cultural triangle of ancient cities, temples and monuments or wander through the atmospheric streets of Kandy
  • Leopard Tracking: Yala National Park is home to the highest number of leopards anywhere in the world
  • Elephant Gathering: During the dry season, hundreds of Asian elephants gather around the Minneriya tank in search of water and fresh food.:

Where to stay?

Wildlife enthusiasts may wish to consider some of the tented safari camps that can be found in the national parks and which put you in the heart of the action, or try out some mobile camping for the ultimate authentic adventure. Many converted colonial houses and tea estates are bursting with character, whilst more boutique guest houses and beach retreats provide the ultimate in relaxation.

When to go?

Generally, the best time to visit the west and south coasts as well as the Cultural Triangle is between December and April, while on the east coast the climate is at its finest from May through to October. Here, separate distinct weather systems affect the climate dramatically from coast to coast. Read more on when to go.

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Sri Lanka Safaris FAQs

What wildlife can I see in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka boasts a diverse range of wildlife due to its varied ecosystems, from dense rainforests to coastal areas. Here are some of the animals you might have the opportunity to see on your Sri Lanka safari:

On land:

  • Sri Lankan Elephant
  • Leopards
  • Sloth bears
  • Grizzled Giant Squirrel
  • Purple-faced Langur
  • Spotted Deer
  • Sambar Deer

In the waters:

  • Saltwater crocodile
  • Blue whales
  • Sperm whales
  • Spinner Dolphins
  • Sea Turtles
  • Coral fish and marine invertebrates

Sri Lanka also boasts a number of birdlife including the Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Blue Magpie and Wood Pigeon.

Discover more detail on wildlife that you can see in Sri Lanka in our guide.

When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

The best time to visit Sri Lanka is during its peak tourist season from December to March, characterised by dry and pleasant weather in popular destinations like Colombo, Galle, and the Cultural Triangle. This period is ideal for beach activities, sightseeing, and exploring historical sites. The intermonsoon seasons of April and September offer good weather across the country, while the southwest monsoon from May to September makes the east coast, including Trincomalee and Arugam Bay, a favourable destination. The northeast monsoon from October to January brings drier conditions to the north and east coasts. Ultimately, the timing of your visit should align with your specific interests and desired regions to explore.

Is Sri Lanka a good place for a safari holiday?

Yes, Sri Lanka is a fantastic destination for a safari, offering a diverse range of experiences to suit different interests. From pristine beaches and lush tea plantations to ancient temples, vibrant markets, and abundant wildlife, Sri Lanka has something for every type of traveller. Explore historic sites like Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the ancient city of Anuradhapura, relax on stunning beaches in places like Mirissa and Unawatuna, go wildlife spotting in national parks such as Yala and Udawalawe, and enjoy the unique culture and delicious cuisine.

How many days should I spend in Sri Lanka?

The ideal number of days for a trip to Sri Lanka can vary based on your interests and the places you want to explore. However, a suggested duration for a well-rounded experience is typically around 10 to 14 days. This allows you to visit key attractions, experience the cultural highlights, enjoy the beautiful beaches, and even venture into the hill country.

A sample itinerary might include a few days in the Cultural Triangle (Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Anuradhapura), exploring the hill country (Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Ella), experiencing wildlife in national parks like Yala or Udawalawe, relaxing on the southern beaches (Mirissa, Unawatuna), and perhaps even visiting the vibrant city of Colombo.

Of course, if you have specific interests such as diving, hiking, or exploring more off-the-beaten-path destinations, you might want to consider a longer stay. Ultimately, the number of days will depend on your preferences, travel style, and the depth of exploration you desire in this diverse and culturally rich country.

Do I need a visa to visit Sri Lanka?

Yes, most travellers to Sri Lanka require a visa to enter the country. Sri Lanka offers different types of visas, including an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for short stays, tourist visas for longer visits, and other types of visas for specific purposes like business, transit, or work. The ETA is an online visa system that allows eligible travellers to apply and receive approval before arrival. It's important to check the specific visa requirements and application process based on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Make sure to apply for the appropriate visa well in advance of your travel dates to ensure a smooth entry into Sri Lanka.

What vaccinations do you need for Sri Lanka?

Before travelling to Sri Lanka, it's essential to consult a health care professional or travel clinic to determine the necessary vaccinations based on your health status and travel plans. While routine vaccinations like measles , tetanus and influenza are important, recommended vaccines for Sri Lanka often also include Hepatitis and Japanese Encephalitis might be considered for extended stays in rural areas. Rabies vaccination could be relevant if you plan close contact with animals. Yellow fever vaccinations are required only if arriving from a country where the disease is present.