Wildlife

Mountain to coast, rainforest to plains, the Emerald Isle is home to a stunning array of animal life, which inhabit extensive tracts of forest.

Known for its leopards, asiatic elephants, blue whales, sloth bears and Olive Ridley turtles, Sri Lanka also has some of the best birding in the region. The Dusk Blue Flycatcher and Sri Lanka White-Eye are just some of the unusual avian species found on the island.

Encounters Asia’s expert guides and naturalists are constantly tracking the animals and know exactly where you need to be to get the best sightings and photographs. Go deep into the forest with experienced trackers, to get amazing photographs of these rare avians.

Sri Lanka has some incredible marine biodiversity and is one of the best places in the world to spot whales in the wild. During the migratory season, one can spot blue whales, sperm whales, humpback and Bryde’s whales as they swim in the warm currents of the Indian Ocean.

Mirissa, on the south coast and Trincomalee on the east coast, are the best spots to head out on a whale watching expedition. Spinner Dolphins and turtles are the other big marine attention-grabbers. Leatherbacks, Olive Ridleys and Star Turtles are just some of the species you are likely to find. Hikkeduwa in the south, and Pigeon Island in the east, are two of the best snorkeling and dive spots on the island to explore gorgeous reefs and a wide array of marine life.

If you’re not a water baby, Sri Lanka is full of magnificent forests which are teeming with wildlife.

Wilpattu, which is in Central Sri Lanka, is full of enormous waterbodies that are ideal for animal viewing. Discover leopards, elephants and sloth bears, as well as an array of reptiles including cobras, rock pythons and a variety of turtles. It is also an excellent place to observe waterfowl, as well as raptors such as owls, eagles and buzzards.

For birders, a visit to Bundala is a must. Out of over 200 species, Bundala is home to 150 endemic species which are native to Sri Lanka.

A Ramsar wetland site and a UNESCO biosphere reserve,  these wetlands are a haven for flamingos, ruddy shelducks, and Pygmy geese.

Udawalawe is arguably the best park to see elephants roaming in the wild. Situated in the South Central region of Sri Lanka, it’s bordered by hilly terrain and dense thickets in the north, making it an ideal environment for buffalo, boar, ungulates, and unusual primates, such as the endemic Toque Macaque.

The largest of them all, Yala is also an amazing place to see several species of birds, especially native species like the Sri Lankan Green Pigeon.

It’s best known as the hunting ground for Sri Lanka’s apex predator, the leopard, as well as elephants, monkeys, macaques and turtles. This inspiring wilderness is divided into several regions, as forest and grassy plains give way to sand-dunes and wild shores. 

Thanks to its remoteness, you may be one of just a few visitors at Gal Oya, which makes it all the more special. Thickly forested mountains stretch down to an enormous lake full of crocodiles, turtles and other aquatic species.

One of the most rewarding sights is of wild elephants swimming in the lake. A large island in the middle of the lake is inhabited by the ancient Veddah tribe. If you’re a nature-lover, Gal Oya’s pristine environs will take your breath away.

Situated on a high plateau, Horton Plains’ vegetation is more of the mountain variety. This unusual ecosystem supports a number of uncommon creatures such as the Horton Plains Slender Loris, one of the rarest primates in the world. Other rare primates include the purple-faced langur and toque macaque. The park has a good prey-base of deer, shrews, otters and other small animals. The leopard is the apex predator.

Tucked away in the south, Sinharaja’s rainforest is home to almost 50% of the species found in Sri Lanka, and is a natural habitat for the rare purple-faced langur.

This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has mammals, several endemic bird species, as well as an incredible array of insects and reptiles.

After an exhilarating day exploring the forest, come home each evening to gorgeous lodges and camps such as Wild Coast in Yala, Gal Oya Lodge, or Uga Chena Huts.

Luxurious and comfortable accommodations, excellent service, delicious cuisine, and experienced naturalists make a stay in the wild a pleasure. Visit our wildlife lodges & camps section to learn more.

If you’re a bird-lover or a bird photographer, then a single visit to Sri Lanka is not enough. The sheer number of species, endemic and migratory, which are scattered across the island, is breathtaking.

Sri Lanka is also a terrific place to explore an array of unusual marine species. Warm tropical waters make snorkeling and diving a pleasure. Immerse yourself in nature with Encounters Asia, and explore Sri Lanka’s wild side. It’s the journey of a lifetime.