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How to plan your Wild Life Safari in Sri Lanka ?

How to plan your Wild Life Safari in Sri Lanka ?

Being an awesome place to see the incredible wildlife, Sri Lanka is considered the best safari destination outside Africa. It is an animal lovers’ paradise to witness different kinds of wild creatures.

Wild safari in Sri Lanka gives an exciting opportunity that any nature lover would dream to enjoy in the jungle. There is an opportunity to observe rare sceneries of wilderness and get a wide range of unique wildlife experiences.

Sri Lanka is considered the best safari destination outside Africa.

If you are a wildlife enthusiast, look no further than Sri Lanka to enjoy an awesome safari trip. Particularly, Sri Lanka is an ideal place to see herds of majestic elephants and gorgeous leopards. Heading out for a wild safari to see these wild giants is one of the best things to do on the island.
Safari tours allow you to get up close and capture the best shots of amazing wildlife in jungles. The wildlife safari experience in Sri Lanka will definitely be an eternal golden memory in your heart forever.

Thrilling sceneries of wild safari in Sri Lanka

If you haven’t already added a wild safari trip to your Sri Lanka bucket list, now is the time to do so. However, there are a few things you should know before you set off. Here are some important things to consider before planning your first safari trip to Sri Lanka.

1. There are so many wild safari options

First, you need to select the best adventurous tour in one of the national parks in Sri Lanka. There are 26 national parks in the country, while the most visited parks are Yala, Wilpattu, and Udawalawe respectively. Minneriya, Kaudulla, Wasgamuwa, and Galoya national parks are also popular destinations. Deciding the best park among them is the most important thing to consider while planning your trip.

Most visited national parks in Sri Lanka,

1. Yala
2. Wilpattu
3. Udawalawe.

Each of these national parks has its own unique fauna and is famous among visitors due to different reasons. Yala is famous for leopards, where it has the highest density of leopard population in the world. Wilpattu is the largest national park in the country, where you can capture many stunning shots of amazing wildlife. Udawalawe, Minneriya, Kaudulla, and Wasgamuwa are famous to see their large herds of elephants.

2. Don’t miss the great elephant gathering
Your safari trip won’t be completed without visiting the elephant gathering in Sri Lanka. This annual elephant migration is considered one of the great wildlife spectacles in the world. Minneriya National Park is the most popular place to see elephant gatherings.

Elephant gathering happens during the peak of drought season, around July-September. This migration occurs between Minneriya, Kaudulla, and Hurulu Eco Parks. You can find out the best place to see the elephant herds from safari tour operators.

3. Seek out graceful leopards

Major stars of the Sri Lankan wildlife scene are gorgeous leopards. These fastest big cats are the top predators in Sri Lanka jungles, where they roam freely as they wish. Sighting of leopards is the prime target of most Sri Lankan safari-goers.

The stars of Sri Lankan wildlife are gorgeous leopards.

Yala National Park is a world-famous safari destination to witness these graceful leopards. The dry zone forests of Yala are home to a huge diversity of wildlife, while leopards are the dominating ones. Those who are dedicated to seeking leopards will definitely meet them on Yala wild safari trip.
Sighting leopards is the prime target of many safari-goers.

Wilpattu is also famous for leopards, but its animals are a little more reserved, and can easily hide in the dense vegetation. Since it may take a longer time to get the reward of seeing them, it suits the best for patient safari-goers.
Our Pool of naturalists at Mahoora Camps will most definitely be able to help you out in this matter.
Our Pool of naturalists at Big Game Camps will most definitely be able to help you out in this matter.


4. Look for elusive sloth bears

Sloth Bears are one of the Big Five in the Sri Lankan wilderness. They are considered a threatened species and listed vulnerable on the IUCN red list. Sloth bears are endemic to Sri Lanka and found only in the country’s northern and eastern lowland jungles. Although they live in many Sri Lankan dry zone national parks, they are quite rare to witness in the daytime.

Sloth bears are one of the “Big Five” living in Sri Lanka.

Wilpattu National Park is most famous for sloth bears, but they are quite elusive and difficult to see among dense vegetation. Nevertheless, if it is your lucky day, you will see these black guys in the park.

Sloth bears are quite elusive and rare to see in the jungle.

5. Capture the jaw-dropping sceneries

One of the biggest pulls of Sri Lankan safari is obviously the wildlife. However, it’s not just only the wildlife you’ll see, while touring national parks. Sri Lanka is indeed a beautiful country and the sceneries inside national parks are quite impressive too.

Remember to concentrate not only on the animals but also on the breathtaking scenery around you. You may capture the most beautiful, photogenic shots of Sri Lanka while enjoying your safari trip.
Sunset is the best time to catch some magnificent shots inside the parks. The fiery colours of the sky combined with darkness in the jungle make this wonderful view of Sri Lanka.
6. Enjoy bird watching

Sri Lanka’s national parks are abundant in lovely birdlife. The island is home to more than 400 species of birds and is extremely popular with bird watching enthusiasts. Among these birds, 34 species are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka acts as a winter destination and breeding ground for lots of migratory birds. Therefore, you’ll see lots of different varieties of birds around the tanks and reservoirs of national parks. Look carefully at the treetops and you may witness some beautiful birds during your safari trips.

7. Ready for the hot climate

Most of the Sri Lankan safari tours are available in dry zone jungles, where the temperature stays consistent throughout the year, around 30 °C or more. This hot tropical climate can give travellers a bit of a challenge. Thus, afternoon safari-goers must be ready for hot and dusty weather inside the parks.

Ready for the hot, sunny weather inside the parks.

It is important to carry a water bottle to stay cool and hydrated. Wearing a comfortable cotton dress will be more convenient to face the hot daytime during your journey. Make sure to apply plenty of sunscreens to escape from the oppressive sun. Remember to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself. These precautions and selecting the best safari attire will help you to enjoy your safari trip more comfortably.

8. Bring powerful cameras

Most wild animals are likely to keep their differences from the visitors. It means that it’s hard to get great shots of the wildlife using an iPhone. Be ready with a powerful zoom lens, because it is great at capturing moving objects a few hundred meters away. The best thing is to put your camera in sports mode and keep it ready all the time. It will make the snapping of moving animals easier.

Wildlife photography

You’ll need a powerful zoom lens to snap the best photographs.


9. Decide the best time

The rainy season in dry zone national parks is from September to December. Thus, the best time for a safari is between January to July, the dry period. It is easier to spot animals in this dry season because decreasing water sources bring them into the open frequently.

The first half of the year is the dry period and the best time for a wild safari.
As well as, some national parks close for a few months during the peak of the drought season. Yala National Park closes each September and reopens in October. It is important to confirm available tours from safari operators, during your intended travel period.

Animals come to open areas frequently in the dry season.

There are three types of safaris in Sri Lanka; Early morning, late afternoon, or full-day. Early morning safaris are great for bird viewings, while late afternoon ones are best for leopard and elephant sightings. Afternoon safaris are fantastic, but the heat of the sun is too much. Morning safaris are cool, but maybe sightings of animals are less.

10. Get help from your guide

Most of the tour guides on safari trips are locals with a whole wealth of knowledge, so they have invaluable experiences in the jungle. You can learn a lot about Sri Lankan wildlife from your guide. You can be friendly with the tour guide and he will share his experiences with you. This is the best way to get the most out of your wild safari trip in Sri Lanka.

11. Enjoy camping in the wilderness

Camping inside national parks in Sri Lanka gives a marvellous adventurous opportunity to enjoy Sri Lankan wildlife. It is a wonderful activity you can enjoy on the island. Camping includes both classical clamping and more luxurious glamping with great facilities. Camping in the wilderness is a blend of both adventure and leisure activity which gives you a remarkably adventurous experience in Sri Lanka.



Do all Dragons fly? Let's find out!

Do all Dragons fly? Let's find out!

“The Jungle Dragons of Udawalawe”

Remember how “Danareys Tagarian” flew over “King's Landing” on the mighty dragon - Drogon burning the city to the ground in the famous GOT series? The roar, the fire, the screams…

Frightening right?

What if we say that we have them,“dragons”, living in Sri Lanka?

Well, certainly it will be an exaggeration since our dragons are miniature versions with some major modifications, lol!

They certainly don't fly and don't breathe fire but trust me when I say that they have the attitude and a big dragon heart to make up for it …...

Our lizard, the 'the Jungle Dragon of Sri Lanka', was spotted by one of our naturalists at the Big Game Camp premises walking through the trees - not flying (that's a shame, I know) - at Udawalawe one morning while his mate was having a nice breakfast on a termite mound.

The Green Garden Lizard

The Green Garden Lizard (Calotes calotes) or Pala Katussa in Sinhala, is a common lizard common to the lowland plains and mid-hills of Sri Lanka. It is highly arboreal and found in both forest and anthropogenic habitats such as trees, home gardens and open wild spaces; you can see them on the ground as well, especially during the breeding season. This is because all Calotes species lay their eggs in holes dug in the ground.

However, the Green Garden Lizard is rare in northern Sri Lanka and the higher hills. Characteristically, our dragon has a rather long tail and it can be considered as the largest Calotes species in the country.

Feeding mainly on insects and occasionally tender buds and flowers, our Green Garden lizard maintains a rather wholesome diet!

Mesmerising Colour Changes

A wonderful bright green usually with white stripes on the sides, our lizard’s colours may vary in darker shades of green continuing on its tail.
Interestingly, the male develops a striking bright red colouration on the head and throat during the breeding season, while at other times, it is seen in hues of green or a more yellowish green to brown - in both males and females.
This species has been observed to have quite a distinct population in Kachchativu Island - with different colour variations having been recorded.

During the mating season, you will be able to see the males displaying their bright red head, bobbing intently on the highest position in their area to mark the territory and to signal to the females of their availability!
The males get extremely territorial and competitive during this season and so it isn’t surprising to witness many “dragon fights” both in the trees and also on the ground. Quite often, the squirmishes get very nasty - with the loser losing his tail or a few scales!

Lizard Diversity of Sri Lanka

There are 27 species of these Calotes lizards in Sri Lanka with subtle differences that are not easy to identify unless you're an expert like our Big Game Camp Naturalist. Two of the species are commonly found in home gardens.

Lizard diversity in the island has been documented and studied by many local scientists and researchers. There are 111 lizards known in Sri Lanka with 17 newly discovered in 2006, and two more in 2016 and 2017. Another one was discovered in 2019 in Ensalwatta, Matara.

Geckos have been making an appearance too: between February and December 2019 ten endemic geckos were discovered. As recently as June 2021, a further three gecko species were sighted.This alone justifies the fact of Sri Lanka being recognized as a “Biodiversity HotSpot”.

Oh yes,we are proud.

Ecological Importance of Lizards

“Usually, most people are squeamish when it comes to reptiles. But these “Jungle Dragons” are extremely beneficial to the environment. Apart from adding splashes of colour to the tree canopy they aid in agriculture immensely, by feeding on a wide variety of small insects such as crickets, cockroaches, moths, grubs, beetles, flies and grasshoppers that threaten agriculture. Without these critters those insect populations will go out of control,” says our Big Game naturalist.

Conservation of Lizards in Sri Lanka

Protecting and conserving these animals are of extreme importance. The major threat to lizards comes from the use of chemical fertilizers and other agricultural pesticides, habitat loss and above all - climate change.
Many reptiles are highly sensitive to the altered temperatures that may result from climate change due to their ectothermy. This requires that they rely on ambient environmental temperatures to maintain critical physiological processes.
So our behaviour as humans is of critical importance to ensure the survival of these versatile beauties.
So the next time you see one of these lizards, pay a little more attention and you might get a closer look at the fascinating lives of these “dragons of the jungles”.
What lizards were you able to observe in your home garden?
Let us know - we would love to hear from you.

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Five Big Facts on Sri Lanka's Big Five

Five Big Facts on Sri Lanka's Big Five

With world-famous fins, claws, spots, blowholes and tusks… it’s no surprise that Sri Lanka is regarded as the best place in the world for a safari experience, outside Africa! The Big Five in Sri Lanka is none other than; the Sri Lankan Elephant – mainly roaming through the dry zone of Sri Lanka, though also spotted in a domesticated setting throughout the island; the Sperm Whale – the thrill of every successful Mirissa Whale Watching excursion; the Sri Lankan Leopard – the apex predator of Sri Lanka, seen in the dry zone and a few highland areas across the country; the Blue Whale – a rare yet possible find just off the coast of Mirissa if you hire a boat for Whale Watching in Sri Lanka; and clocking in at number five of the Big Five is the Sloth Bear – Baloo’s Sri Lankan cousin sometimes found drunk on fruiting Palu on Big Game Safaris in the dry zone!

Here are Five Big Facts on Sri Lanka's Big Five, in the order of land to ocean:

1.      Sri Lankan leopard – This isn’t just a big cat, it’s the biggest leopard in the world! Their super-size is mainly due to the fact that leopards in Sri Lanka are kings of the jungle, with no competition from other wild cat species!

2.      Sri Lankan sloth bear – Much like the Winnie the Pooh Bear cartoons we all grew up on, this bear is a big eater and loves dessert! They are usually found pigging out on Palu fruits when it’s in season, and then promptly going into a sugar comatose while ‘drunkenly’ stumbling away!

3.      Sri Lankan elephant – These big fellas are known to be the biggest and darkest of all the Asian elephants! Bonus Fact: Elephants in Sri Lanka gather in one spot, once a year in Minneriya – with wild herds as large as 300 to 400 – coming together! The Elephant Gathering in Minneriya, Sri Lanka is considered to be one of the biggest wildlife wonders of the world!

4.      Sperm Whale – This is the world’s largest toothed whale, reaching 18m in length and 45 tonnes in weight, which is probably why Whale Watching Tours are so sought after!

5.      Blue Whale – This big guy is the largest living animal on the planet! It’s reported that the longest individual was 100 ft (30.5 m) in length, which could make it a female as the fairer sex of this species are usually larger!

Whether you’re travelling across oceans to see the Sperm or Blue Whale in Sri Lanka, Leopards in Yala, Sloth Bears in the dry zone, Elephants in Udawalawe, or the more elusive Leopards in Wilpattu, Big Game Safari Sri Lanka brings you closer to the Big Five ethically and responsibly, always.


The living dinosaurs of Sri Lanka

The living dinosaurs of Sri Lanka (5 interesting facts about Mugger & Saltwater crocs)

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to hand it to the crocodilians for probably being one of the most resilient creatures to have ever existed. Their heritage originates all the way back in the Triassic period; that’s a whopping 230 Million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed freely on this planet. These creatures hit a genetic lottery very early by having a near perfect design and haven’t had to change much at all over the millennia. With that kind of advantage, it’s no wonder that they are found all over the world. Sri Lankan wildlife is plentiful, and one of the best ways to check them out is on a Jeep Safari.

Here are some interesting things to note about the crocodilians you will encounter on your safari:

  1. Bucking the trend - The Crocodylus palustris or Mugger crocodile, as it is more commonly known, is plentiful in Sri Lanka. In fact they number in the thousands and are definitely flourishing, which is curious because elsewhere in the world the Mugger populations are in decline.

  2. Bucking the trend… the other way - Whilst the Mugger seems to have found the secret to success, its distinctly larger cousin Crocodylus porosus, the Saltwater crocodile, has been dwindling in its numbers here, even though they are flourishing in other Asian countries and also, of course, in Australia.

  3. Litmus test - Crocs are the top predators in an ecosystem. Their plentiful presence is a great indicator that all is well in that aquatic system. Muggers mainly diet on fish, smaller mammals and reptiles and play a crucial part in preventing overpopulation of these species.

  4. The sky is not the limit - Although crocs love tropical conditions and are found in almost every water system in Sri Lanka, curiously they are not found in any location 150m above sea level. If you are going on a Safari in Sri Lanka, there’s plenty of lowland National Parks under this limit for you to see crocodiles, so don’t you worry.

  5. So moody - Muggers in a locality generally have two types of moods when it comes to interacting with humans; they are either ferocious towards them or laid back and chilled out so much that humans can fish, swim or bathe in the same waters! Saltwater Crocodiles on the other hand have only one mood and it’s always chomp time!

When it comes to camping, Sri Lanka has some fantastic locations and coupling this with Jeep Safaris is one of the best ways to check out Sri Lanka’s Flora and fauna. If you are interested in checking out crocodiles in Sri Lanka contact Sri Lanka Big Game Camps. They are great for guided, budget-friendly Sri Lankan Safaris coupled with very comfortable camping accommodation.


The three giants of Asia

The three giants of Asia

Fee-fi-fo-fum, the three wise giants of Asia smell a blog being written about them! If you’ve taken an Elephant Safari around Asia, you’ll know these herbivorous gentle giants by their true names – Elephas maximus sumatranus a.k.a the Sumatran Elephant, Elephas maximus indicus a.k.a the Indian Elephant, and Elephas maximus maximus a.k.a the Sri Lankan Elephant. Also making a trumpeting part of Sri Lanka’s “Big Five”, games drives in the island’s dry zone National Parks guarantee an encounter with elephants amongst other Sri Lankan wildlife. Here are some bite-sized facts about these giants:


The Sumatran Elephant

Known as the smallest subspecies of the Asian Elephant by size, but the largest mammal existing on the island of Sumatra, Sumatran elephants dine big as well and deposit seeds from the plants they eat, contributing to a healthy forest ecosystem. These giants share their home with many other endangered species, such as the Sumatran rhino, tiger, and orangutan, as well as countless other species that all benefit from a healthy habitat thanks to these mega herbivores!

The Sumatran elephant life span is 55 – 70 years, they weigh approximately 5 tonnes with a towering height of 5ft – 9ft, and are mostly found in broadleaf moist tropical forest in Sumatra, Borneo and Indonesia. With a population of 2,400 – 2,800, they are considered critically endangered.


The Indian Elephant

Do you know how much 19 hours of munching per day results in? 220 pounds of dung per day! The Indian elephant’s main diet is grass, but large amounts of tree bark, roots, leaves and small stems are also part of the menu. On cheat days (whenever the opportunity presents itself) they go for bananas, rice and sugarcane!

The Indian elephant life span is 55 – 70 years, they weigh approximately 5 tonnes with a giant height of 6ft – 11ft, and are mostly found in rainforests as well as tropical woodlands and dry forests in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal and Myanmar. With a population of 20,000 – 25,000, they are considered endangered.


The Sri Lankan Elephant

Wildlife in Sri Lanka is abundant, especially on a Big Game Safari where elephants are observed in the wild, ethically. Elephants in Sri Lanka are famous for outnumbering the rest of the other Asian giants per square kilometre, with the island holding the record for the highest density of elephants in Asia! The Sri Lankan elephant herd size ranges from 12 – 20 individuals or more, and is led by the oldest female or matriarch. Since the 19th century, the Sri Lankan elephant population has fallen by 65%, which lead to the national law carrying the death penalty for poaching.


The Sri Lankan elephant life span is 55 – 65 years, they weigh between 4,400 and 12,000 pounds, and is 8ft – 10ft tall. Endemic to Sri Lanka, you can find them in the rainforest as well as lowland dry forests. With a population of 2,500 – 4,000, they are considered endangered.