The landscape of the park is distinctive, with the Horton Plains forming a backdrop that contrasts starkly to the otherwise open terrains. It is the sheer unending savannah that makes the wildlife spotting so rewarding here, and some would argue it is the best and most reliable place to see the Asian elephants interacting with one another in their wild habitat, with an estimated 500 roaming the plains at any one time.
As well as the open plains, there are some areas of dense jungle and teak woodland which attract a variety of other fauna. Leopards have been spotted in the park, although these are rare sightings, but spotted deer, endemic toque monkeys, sloth bears, grey langur, sambar, jackal, crocodiles, monitor lizards and water buffalo are all regularly seen. Birdlife is just as prolific, and you stand a good chance of sighting a large number of the 100 species during the migrant season from October to March. These include wood sandpiper, common sandpiper, woodpeckers, kingfishers, sea eagles, egrets, wagtails, terns and storks.
You may wish to incorporate a visit to the Elephant Transit Home, where trained veterinary staff nurse baby elephants that have been separated from their herds across Sri Lanka until they are ready to be released into the wild. Having been released the tagged elephants are closely monitored to ensure they are accepted into a herd.
The best way to enjoy the park’s wonders is to go out on a private jeep safari with a local expert guide who can take you to the main wildlife areas.