Sri Lanka’s rugged Southern coast is taken as the island’s region-to-watch. Here are a series of the country’s finest nature and wildlife reserves that you should not miss to check them out!
Yala National Park
A regular fixture on travel bucket lists combines a strict nature reserve with a national park and is home to the elusive Sri Lankan leopard. Divided into five blocks (two of which are open to the public), the park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land. Situated in Sri Lanka’s south-east coast, Yala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and a national park in 1938. Yala is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Among its more famous residents are the world’s biggest concentration of leopards, majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted deer, peacocks, and crocodiles. The best time to visit Yala is between February and July when the water levels of the park are quite low, bringing animals into the open.
Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is a magnificent maze of waterways, lagoons and dunes which glitter in the evening sun. It is home to thousands of colourful birds, including the famed greater flamingo, and shelters almost 200 species within 62 square kilometres. Bundala National Park has a small, but very visible population of elephants and crocodiles. It lays across 20km across the Southern coast, between Kirinda and Hambantota.
Udawalawe National Park
The main attraction of the National Park of Udawalawe is the high probability for travellers to spot and come within close proximity to Sri Lankan elephants during a safari tour. It is also home to the Sri Lankan leopard, and various endemic bird species. The water reservoir encompasses a total surface area of nearly 3,500 hectares and is the largest in the vicinity. The total area of the park is almost 31,000 hectares, making Udawalawe National Park one of the most expansive parks on the island.
Keen surfers flock to easy-going Arugam Bay for good reason; the moon-shaped curl of beach is home to a legendary point break, which many regard as the best surf spot in the country. With a population of only a few hundred, all attractions are easily accessible along a single road which shadows the coastline.
A stable fixture on global bucket lists, whale watching is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The season starts in November and ends in April, when the Indian Ocean is warm and calm. Mirissa is well-regarded in Sri Lanka, as the clearest point for whale and dolphin watching tours around the island. Often spotted are Blue whales, Bryde´s whales, Sperm whales, Fin whales, sometimes Killer whales, and Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Spinner dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and striped dolphins.
Kadamandiya, otherwise known as ‘The Village’ is a cultural platform located within Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa, which is dedicated to supporting and preserving Sri Lanka’s unique artisan communities. The Village provides a platform for some of the most talented sculptors, weavers, silversmiths and performing artists to showcase their work to a wider audience, and allows for guests to have the inside track into a region with untapped, exciting creative talent.
Located on the ancient Spice Route, hugging the Indian Ocean coastline, Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is perfectly positioned to offer unrivalled access to these destinations. See more: shangri-la.com
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