Horton National Parks
A plateau, rich is biodiversity situated approximately 2300 meters above the sea level. Three main rivers which contribute heavily for agriculture are starting from the Horton Plains. Vegetation in the plains is thick grassland with scattered forest which includes many endemic woody plants. Plains boast about a large variety of plants together with many species of mammals, birds, reptiles as well as amphibians. Sambar Deer is the most commonly seen mammal. Horton Plains is also a renowned bird area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but exclusive to the Horton Plains.
The most amazing attraction in Horton Plains is the “ World’s End “ which is a sheer precipice with a 870 meter (2,854 ft) drop. It is situated at the southern boundary of the park. Baker’s Falls, which is of 20 meter height is another famous attraction in the plains.
Minneriya National Park
Yet another fascinating national park located about 185 km away from Colombo, the commercial capital. Park occupies approximately 8890 hectares. Most significant feature in the area is the Minneriya tank which was built by the olden Sri Lankan king, Mahasena. This park is blessed with a large variety of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and butterflies where any visitor would be absolutely fascinated.
Minneriya National park boasts for herds of Sri Lankan wild elephants which is a common site. These herds are best seen during the dry season. Monkeys, Deer are also a frequent siting where no one will miss. Also the endangered species such as Sri Lankan leopard and sloth bear too are found in the park. Gigantic Minneriya Rainwater Reservoir which serves the irrigation purposes for a large surrounding area also contributes to the presence of many different species of water birds which add more colour to its natural beauty.
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park is another park rich in bio diversity. A distinctive feature in this park over other national parks is the presence of large natural sand rimmed depressions that gets filled with rain water. Park gives residence to various species of mammals such as wild elephants, Sloth bear, leopard, water Buffalo, Sambhur, spotted deer, mongoose… etc. Like in other parks, so many species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, butterflies are found in Wilpattu National Park as well. For any wildlife enthusiast or nature lover, this is yet another “ must visit “ destination filled with fascinating memorable experience.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the second largest park in Sri Lanka and boasts for the highest number of visitors in any given year. Park has diverse ecological clusters such as humid monsoon forests, dry forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water, wetlands and sandy areas. Yala is renowned as an important destination for bird watching in Sri Lanka where visitors can site many species of endemic as well as migrant birds. A large variety of water birds are also seen in wetlands.
An assortment of mammals in various sizes such as wild elephants, leopards, deer, bears ….etc dwell in Yala. It is recorded that Yala has the highest concentration of leopards in the world. Add to that, Yala National Park is blessed with several species of reptiles, amphibians fresh water fish together with crabs and prawns in the lagoon inside the park. Needless to mention that the large variety of butterflies add more colour to the park. If you are a nature lover or a wild life enthusiast, Yala is a “ must visit “ place. Nevertheless even if you visit the park for the first time, with a mindset to explore you are sure to take back a memorable fascinating experience with the untamed world of wildlife.
Udawalawe National Park
This park was established in June 1972 covering an area of 30,821 hectares. Dead trees still standing upright in the Udawalawe reservoir signifies the large forest cover in existence prior to construction of the Udawalawe reservoir. The park provides a sanctuary for wild animals that lost home due to construction of the Udawalawe reservoir.
Udawalawe is a prime location to witness wild elephants. Uniqueness is herds of elephants are seen throughout the year without seasonality. Together with elephants in herds, yet another magnificent attraction would be water buffalo, wild boar, deer, hare, mongooses, bandicoots, foxes, crocodiles. Sighting Leopard may be not very frequent yet not impossible. One could also witness a variety of butterflies together with many species of birds. Udawalawe is famous as a good bird watching site as well. Picturesque backdrops during sunset would be memorable photographic opportunities.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Renowned for housing the world’s largest herd of captive elephants. Established in 1975 and serves as an orphanage, nursery as well as a captive breeding ground for wild elephants. Some young elephants are abandoned by their mothers, some falls in to huge pits or agricultural wells on their way in search of water during draught while some others are displaced from their wild habitat due to rural development projects or abandoned before weaning, diseased or wounded. Visitors can observe the bathing elephants in river bank which is quite an experience.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
This being a National Park in its own unique way and a hotspot of highest significance for biodiversity, it has been declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Due to condensed vegetation, wildlife is not freely witnessed unlike in other dry zone national parks in Sri Lanka. Vegetation, with a high degree of endemism, is described as tropical low land rain forest or typical evergreen forest in tropical atmosphere.
Very prominent characteristics of the forest are the loftiness of the dominant trees, which are with straight trunks, the abundance of regeneration and the diversity of species. Heights of these trees vary from 35 meters to 45 meters. Sinharaja Rain Forest is well represented by a spectrum of endemic species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and insects.
Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
Undoubtedly the best botanical garden in Sri Lanka and one of the most beautiful in the whole of Asia. Total area of the botanical garden comprises 147 acres, located in the hill country very close to Kandy, the second largest city in Sri Lanka. Garden is famous for the vast collection of Orchids together with medicinal plants and palm trees. This attracts around 2 million visitors every year. One will be bewitched with the palm fringed avenues, massive trees of unique shape by nature itself and fascinating landscape with colourful plants all over. No tour to Kandy is completed without a visit to Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.