Destinations

Sri Lanka FAQs

YOUR SRI LANKA QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Sri Lanka may not have the dense wildlife of such destinations as Africa; but it does offer some unique and unforgettable experiences that any safari goer will enjoy. Sri Lanka has the highest density of leopards in Yala National Park, so is ideal for anyone wanting to spot these majestic creatures in the wild, but that isn't all you will find here. Sri Lanka is a beautiful island with influences from the Dutch, British, Portuguese and India. The culture is bright, the food is delicious and being one of the main tea suppliers, there is some fantastic trails to follow! Natural World Safaris is proud to be one of the first specialist tour operators providing first-hand knowledge and advice on this area and we have tried to answer our most frequently asked questions below. If there is something you would like to know, or that you think we should add, by all means contact us. 

  • Are there any hidden costs?

    The total amount paid for your Safari includes most expenses during your holiday

    The only other costs you may incur include tipping the tour guides at your discretion, and extra activities you may choose to take part in.

  • Can I drink the tap water in Sri Lanka?

    We recommend you do not drink the tap water in Sri Lanka as it is considered unsafe and can cause illness.

    Always make sure you drink bottled water and check the each bottle you buy has the SLS (Sri Lanka Standard Institute) seal. We also recommend you use bottled water when brushing your teeth.

  • How do I book a safari to Sri Lanka?

    Here at Natural World Safaris we specialise in tailor made safari holidays to Sri Lanka allowing you to have complete control over your itinerary.

    Typically in Sri Lanka we will arrange for you to have your own private driver who will stay with you throughout the trip. Even on days when you are not travelling between destinations your driver will be available to take you sightseeing.

    Our destination specialist will talk you through the best options for your trip, tailoring the plans to your taste, budget and the time of year you are travelling, to come up with the best itinerary for you. Once you have agreed on your travel plans, everything will be booked for you from start to finish. Have a look at our suggested Sri Lanka itineraries for inspiration.

  • What do I wear on safari in Sri Lanka?

    We have detailed the best bits to pack for your Sri Lanka safari, from clothing to toiletries.

    For a comprehensive packing list and more information, get in touch with us.

  • What is there to do, apart from the wildlife?

    As well as wildlife, Sri Lanka has a huge amount to offer in terms of culture, from hill top palaces to glittering temples.

    Kandy for example is fantastic. Its lakeside setting and royal history all revolve around the incredible Temple of the Tooth – one of the most sacred shrines within Buddhism, it is believed to have one of Buddha’s teeth! The cultural triangle, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruva and Kandy are a must as they offer a huge amount for those interested in culture including Sigiriya Rock Fortress, The Temple of the Tooth, the royal city and palaces at Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla, the largest cave monastery in the country. The Cultural Triangle is a must see if you are travelling to Sri Lanka and ties in perfectly with the wildlife and even some relaxing beach time at the end! 

    Sri Lanka has a rich culture, influenced mainly by the Dutch, Portuguese and the British. Food is inspired by Indian cuisine; lots of curries and rice. Whilst you are there make sure you try a traditional coconut sambol, made from coconut ground with chilli’s, lime juice and dried Maldivian fish. There are lots of interesting sweets to try, as well as exquisite seafood and, yes, they do serve western food in some places too. When it comes to drinks, well Sri Lanka is also one of the largest producers of tea in the world! Interested safari goers can stay at the beautiful Tea Trails Bungalows where you can follow some trails around the estate.

    Sri Lanka has a fascinating culture with lots of dancing, beautiful colours and fabulous cuisine; make sure you take a look at our Best Time to Visit page for information on festivals or speak to one of our safari experts for more information.

    The beaches here are stunning too, with pristine sandy coastline perfect for those who want privacy on their honeymoon or on a family getaway.

  • What is the travel like in Sri Lanka?

    The travel times vary greatly in Sri Lanka. A lot of the travel is done in a private air-conditioned vehicle with your own private driver and escort guide.

    The drives can be long, although we do tailor trips where the drive times are as short as possible. We do feel that spending full days in a car is a waste and will therefore include night stopovers in places we feel should be seen!

    The roads in Sri Lanka vary from smart tarmac and potholed tarmac, to dirt tracks depending on where you are. The main cities roads are ‘better’ than the more rural roads as would be expected. However, with the comfort of your own vehicle, and of course the option of stopping to stretch your legs every now and again; the drives tend to be quite comfortable. You also have the benefit of a private escort guide who will explain areas or sites of interest as you pass them and of course would be more than happy for you to stop the vehicle to take a few photos! The scenery is stunning and there is lots to see as you drive through.

  • What type of holiday can I do in Sri Lanka?

    Safaris in Sri Lanka are usually based around both morning and afternoon game drives in National Parks.

    Depending on the time of year the opening and closing of the parks varies – your safari specialist will inform you of the details. Generally you will spend the early morning and late afternoon in the park on a game drive with your expert wildlife driver and guide.

    Safaris are conducted differently depending on what you are interested in seeing. For the Elephant Gathering for example, the guides will be in constant contact with each other, so between them they will find the exact location of the elephants. You can then spend as much time as you wish (within park opening hours) observing these creatures as they interact with each other on this spectacular occasion. Sri Lanka is fantastic for birds too and if you look hard enough you could see around 235 species most of which would be endemics. If birds are on your list of interests then travelling between November and April is the best. However, if you are not an avid birder, Sri Lanka is great all year round for birds.

    The places you stay will also affect how each safari is conducted. You can stay outside the parks and just travel in during the morning and afternoon opening hours, or you can stay within the park in a tented camp meaning you are constantly surrounded by the wildlife. The tented accommodation does tend to be slightly more basic; however the experience of being within the park makes it an exhilarating experience. The tented accommodation is comfortable, some of the bathrooms may be en-suite, or the facilities will be shared, and your private chef will cook up some delicious meals.

  • What wildlife can I see in Sri Lanka?

    The leopards are no doubt one of the main attractions of Sri Lanka and both Yala and Wilpattu National Parks offer you the chance to see these beautiful cats in the wild!

    Wilpattu is a great National Park and having just reopened to the public it is thriving. Being closed off from people for such a long time means the plants have been able to grow how they should and the wildlife has lived undisturbed. Having said that however, due the wildlife not being used to vehicles yet, sightings can be a little trickier than in Yala! 

    Yala National Park is a lovely park located on the south east coast of Sri Lanka and comprises of both open scrub land and thick forests - where the leopards tend to live. A visit to Yala is a must if you want to see leopards in the wild as you are almost guaranteed a sighting of these elegant creatures. You enter this park specifically to track leopards, this is a unique experience that can’t even be offered in the more densely wildlife populated destinations in Africa! Yala is best visited between the months of February and July as the park is dry and the water levels are low. This means the wildlife tends to congregate around what water is available. During this time you can expect to see a variety of wildlife in and around the waterholes including wild boar, sloth bears and of course, lots of deer. A great time to visit Yala is during November and December as this is cub season! However, avoiding Christmas and New Year is advisable as the park can get quite busy.

    Minneriya National Park is a lush park within easy driving distance of Colombo and it provides the best chances of seeing Asian Elephants in the wild as well as some unique photographic opportunities during The Gathering. The most exciting of the marine life has to be the blue whales which are visible just a few miles from the coast. As well the blue whales, the Sri Lankan coast is home to humpback whales, bride whales, killer whales and dolphins. It is best visited during the dry season, from around the start of June to the end of September if you want to see the elephants and some incredible birds. 4x4 jeep safaris are best done from August to December in both Minneriya and Habarana and as previously mentioned, your guide will be in constant contact with other guides so as to make sure your vehicle is in the right place at the right time.

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