Although a small island, Sri Lanka has the highest density of Asian elephants per square meter in the world. It is one of the few places in the world where you can see hundreds of elephants walking around freely.
The good news is that in our days there are protected and can walk freely around the islands. There are many protected areas and national parks especially created for them.
All over Sri Lanka national parks could be found elephants, but the best parks for Sri Lanka elephant safari are Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park, Udawalawe National Park and Yala National Park.
Throughout the Sri Lankan history, there were many conflicts between elephants and humans and unfortunately, many elephants died in this unfair war.
Even in our days, there are many people who try to capture and kill the Asian elephants in Sri Lanka. One of the latest cases from media and TV related to elephants dated from June 2019, when 8 people were charged for illegally capturing and killing elephants. They were accused that they captured and sold to wealthy people more than 40 baby elephants.
The local authorities do their best to protect these smart and beautiful creatures and to create a safe environment for them, but it is very hard.
When you visit Sri Lanka I encourage you to go and visit these creatures in their natural environment and not in captivity because they are wild animals and they deserve to live free.
The natural parks from Sri Lanka create the perfect natural environment for Asian elephant to live, mate and raise their babies.
1. Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places for Sri Lanka elephant safari. The natural park is located in the southern part of the country and is a very popular destination among animal lovers. According to some local studies, inside the park live more than 1.000 elephants grouped in different herds. So, seeing dozens of elephants during your safari is not something rare.
You will see them heeding, playing, bathing in the mud or dust, drinking water or just walking. It is a privilege to be so close to these magnificent animals so treat them with respect and try not to disturb them.
Besides elephants, there are other wild animals in the park, like crocodiles, buffalo, monkeys, deer and peacocks. Very rare leopards were spotted around.
Udawalawe National park is one of the best destinations to see elephants in their natural environment and observes their natural behaviour.
There are two safaris per day, one in the morning and another one in the evening. A good idea is to book accommodation somewhere close to the park, to fully enjoy your time spent in safari and not be stressed out that you will not arrive at the park gate on time.
We recommend you to spend your night at Eliyanth-Udawalawe and book the morning safari because animals are more active.
2. Minneriya or Kaudulla National Parks hidden gems of Sri Lanka elephant safari
Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks are two parks very close to each other, both located in the Central Province.
These two parks are the ideal destination for a safari if you choose for the Cultural Triangle tour.
Here, in Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks each year you can be a witness to a unique event: the great Gathering of the Asian elephants from the island. According to local studies, this Gathering is the largest congregation of wild Asian elephants in the world and it happens during the dry season, from July to September.
During these dry months, the elephants gather and go together to find water and food. Inside these two parks, there are massive water supplies, so large herds of elephants come together to feed and drink fresh water.
As you might expect, in these two parks there are also other wild animals like deers, buffalo and monkeys but the main attraction of the parks are a large number of elephants.
After the afternoon safari we spend our night at Sorowwa Resort, and the next day we continued our trip around Sri Lanka. The accommodation is located right near the national parks and offers clean and nice rooms and a good breakfast. A good choice after a tiring afternoon safari!
3. Yala National Park one of the best Sri Lanka elephant safari
Yala National Park is the most famous parks across Sri Lanka, mainly due to the large population of leopards. It is located in the southern part of Sri Lanka, 80 kilometres away from Udawalawe National Park.
It is a very crowded park, full of tourists and safari jeeps, but with many interesting animals to see.
Elephants are one of them. Large herds of elephants could be seen around the park, besides other wild animals like crocodiles, leopards, buffalo, deer, monkeys and many species of birds.
To maximise your chances to see the leopard and as many animals as possible, we recommend that you book the morning safari. It starts early in the morning, so good accommodation somewhere close to the park entrance is exactly what you need. Laya Safari hotel is located very conveniently and offers superb rooms overlooking the ocean and very tasty food. A very good choice for someone interested in wildlife and nature.
No matter which park you will choose for your Sri Lanka elephant safari, the experience is unique and something which you will never forget. And don’t forget! Seeing a wild animal in their natural environment is a privilege and you should treat it with respect!