Sri Lanka is fast becoming one of the most popular holiday destinations for travellers in search of five-star hotels, gorgeous white-sand beaches and exotic safaris.

With 22 national parks dotted around the country, it’s hard to know where to start, that’s why we have done the research for you with our list of the best places to safari in Sri Lanka.

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Yala National Park

Perfect for: Leopards
Where: Six hours from Colombo

Known as Sri Lanka’s premier national park, visitors flock to Yala National Park to see the mysterious Sri Lankan leopard. The leopards are not easy to spot, but if you’re patient you’re likely to get lucky.

A large area of the park is closed off to visitors but don’t let that put you off, the area that is open is home to arguably the most varied wildlife in the country including elephants, sloth bears, spotted deer, buffalo, wild pig, mongooses, langur monkeys and an impressive 220 species of bird.

Udawalawe National Park

Perfect for: Asian Elephants
Where: Four hours from Colombo

Home to around 500 Asian elephants, visitors to Udawalawe National Park are almost guaranteed to spot one these magnificent creatures as they stride across a vast plain of grassland, jungle and forest.

There aren’t a lot of other animals to be spotted at Udawalalwe but keen birdwatchers should keep their eyes peeled for the changeable hawk eagle, serpent eagle and grey-headed fish eagle.

Wilpattu National Park

Perfect for: Sloth Bear
Where: Four hours from Colombo

Located in the dry lowlands of the north-west, Wilpattu is Sri Lanka’s largest national park and home to approximately 30 different species of mammals. The park is most famous for its population of the rare sloth bear, but visitors may also see spotted deer, elephants, leopards and buffalo.

Wilpattu also has a large population of reptiles roaming about the natural lakes. Eagle-eyed visitors may be able to spot mugger crocodiles, monitor lizards, cobras, rat snakes, Indian pythons, pond turtles and soft-shelled turtles.

Horton Plains National Park

Perfect for: Scenery and muntjac deer
Where: Five hours 30 minutes from Colombo

The national parks in Sri Lanka are not all about the animals. Horton Plains National Park may be home to the cute muntjac deer but it also boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of the country.

This protected area of land in the central highlights is great for hiking. The park features wild grasslands, thick forest, enchanting waterfalls and mysterious lakes which are waiting to be explored.

All of the hikes come to a sudden finish at ‘World’s End’, a spectacular escarpment with an 880m mountain face. The views from ‘World’s End’ are often obstructed by clouds and mist, but early morning hikers might be lucky enough to enjoy a clear view of the coast and tea plantation villages and valley’s below.

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