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Best Wild Elephants Watching Safari In Sri Lanka

If one of the purposes of your vacation is to observe the free life of wild elephants, then your destination should be Sri Lanka. There are 26 national parks in Sri Lanka covering 5734 square kilometers. Most of them have wild elephants that live in peace with other animals. some of those parks run elephants watching safari in Sri Lanka. In this article, we share the best places with you to go on a safari to see free wild elephants during your Srilanka tour.

Sri Lanka’s Elephant Population

Sri Lanka is home to an estimated 7,000 wild elephants, making it one of the best places in the world to encounter these gentle giants. These elephants roam freely in national parks and wildlife reserves across the island.

Elephant morning walk
Elephant morning walk

Best Places to Go Wild Elephants Watching Safari In Sri Lanka

Minneriya National Park

What is the average number of wild elephants that a human being can see at one time in one place?

A lot of people say 50 or 60. But if you go to the Minneriya National Park you will think that this is a complete lie. Because if you go to Minneriya in the evening, you can easily see 100 to 150 elephants. Minneriya National Park is the only place where you can see the largest number of Asian elephants in the world at one time.

The North Central Province, where Minneriya Park is located, experiences dry weather from July to October. As a result, many water sources in the area have dried up and elephants are facing a shortage of food and water due to the drying up of edible plants. However, as the Minneriya Reservoir retains a significant amount of water even during the dry season, almost all of the wild elephants in the park enter the Minneriya Lake to meet their water needs.

When the water capacity of the reservoir decreases, the tank ground becomes covered with grasses that elephants love to eat. so that Elephants meet their food needs too on lake ground.

Elephants at Minneriya National Park | The Best Asian Elephant-Watching Safari In The World
Elephants at Minneriya National Park

It is reported that more than 300 elephants gather at one time in the Minneriya Reservoir searching for food and water. A large number of elephants ranging from tiny baby elephants to large tuskers can be seen in this place. more and more local and foreign tourists are attracted to the Minneriya National Park because This is a great place to do elephants watching safari in Sri Lanka and a great opportunity to study wild elephants sitting in one place.

Udawalawa National Park

Udawalawe National Park is one of the best destinations for elephants watching safari in Sri Lanka and also the world for Asian elephants. The reason for that is the large elephant population that lives in the park. Park is the 6th largest national park in Srilanka with a large reservoir called Udawalawe Reservoir.

The park is considered to belong to the dry zone and experiences a dry season in the whole area from February to March of the year, sometimes the situation lasts from mid-March to late September. During this time,  many small ponds and many edible plants dry up in the forest.

Due to food and water scarcity during this time, elephants and many other animals are trying to find water and food. The Udawalawe Reservoir is the option they have left and the final stop as well as the elephant playground. These days, when you go on a safari in the park, you can easily see elephants in the water and in the evenings at the lakeside. You can see there are more than 100 elephants.

Baby Elephants at the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe | Wild Elephants Watching Safari Sri Lanka
Udawalawa Elephant transit home

Another place located adjacent to the Udawalawe National Park is the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home. There is a significant amount of lost baby elephants and elephants that have been infected or disabled. but we can see them released to the lake ground to be used in the wild. You can watch elephants with wild boar and deer herds that come for water on the lake ground, as well as huge crocodiles that come out from the reservoir for rest.  you can also see more elephants roaming around the small lakes and ponds in the park during the safari.

Udawalawe National Park attracts a number of tourists from all over the world because it is a good place and easy to study the daily routine of wild elephants ranging from big elephants to newborn baby elephants.

Yala National Park

Yala National Park is a popular safari destination for both local and foreign tourists. This is because it is a place where you can see many species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. It is the second-largest park in Srilanka and once you visit Yala for a safari, It makes you think of going on a safari again and again because of its long-view environment and diverse biodiversity.

In a park like this, It is common for wild elephants to be found in large numbers. but in Yala Park, They are living scattered throughout the forest. Therefore, if you go to Yala for elephant watching safari in Sri Lanka it is a bit difficult to see big groups of wild elephants like 100 but you can see a  number of elephants alone or in a small herd. The best time to watch wild elephants in Yala is from May to August. because it is the dry season for the park and elephants are roaming around water spots in the park.

Elephant Mother and Baby Elephant | Yala National Park Sri Lanka
Elephant Mother and Baby Elephant

Some of the elephants in the Yala National Park are furiously angry and there have been reports of safari groups being attacked by elephants. It’s because male elephants live alone and show aggressive behavior during their Musth period. We suggest you beware of wild elephants in Yala Park and watch them from far enough

Wilpattuwa National Park

Wilpattu is the biggest national park in Srilanka but 75% of the national park area is fully covered with thick jungle and the rest is open ground. It is recorded that there are about 1300 wild elephants living but it is not easy to see large groups of them such as in Minneriya.  because there are a lot of small water ponds spread all over the park and even in the dry season whether they get water and food or not, animals don’t come open places easily.

Most of the time we can see elephants having food and getting bathed in the middle of the lakes. It is best to go on an elephants watching safari in the evening because wild elephants and sometimes leopards and sloth bears roam in the national park in the evening time.

Elephant In The Water | Elephant Watching Safari In Sri Lanka
Elephant In The Water

Wasgamuwa National Park

Wasgamuwa National Park is of special importance among national parks in Sri Lanka. This is especially located in the middle of the dry zone and wet zone boundary. So part of the park shows signs of a wet zone and the other part has the features of the dry zone. Therefore, Wasgamuwa Park shows complex features in terms of biodiversity. 

When we talk about a national park, we are often reminded of wild elephants. The park is famous as a sanctuary for the tallest living elephants in Sri Lanka at present. So this is a good place for elephants watching safari in Sri Lanka that can watch the tallest Asian elephants in Sri Lanka.

Elephant In Yala National Park
Elephant In Yala National Park

The park is home to about 500 elephants Today. However, during the dry season, they migrate through the migration routes to the surrounding forests such as Minneriya, Maduru Oya, Kaudulla, Rivastern Pathana, and Somawathiya forests to get water and food. Due to this, there are only about 150-200 elephants always in the Wasgamuwa National Park.  The best time to visit Wasgamuwa Park is from June to September and you can visit the park every day from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm. The best thing about this park is There are also 7 campsites in the park where tourists are allowed to camp, watch animals and can study about them.

Maduru Oya National Park

Maduru Oya National Park is one of the most beautiful forests and the best place for elephants watching safari in Sri Lanka. The size of the park is about 58850 hectares. A lot of Elephants migrate to this national park from Wasgamuwa National Park and from the Inginiyagala-Nilgala forest areas during the dry season. Due to this, a large number of elephants live in Maduru Oya National Park.

The best time to visit Maduru Oya for an elephants-watching safari is from March to September. The reason for that is that it is the dry season and you can watch a lot of wildlife come out for water. There are a lot of viewpoints that have been built near water points and from one of those places can easily watch wild elephants and other wildlife easily which come out for water.

Elephants Watching Safari Jeep Cost

FULL DAY SAFARI | 6 am – 4 pm, Around 70 euros


MORNING | 6 am – 10 am, around 45 euros

AFTERNOON | 2 pm – 6 pm, around 45 euros

Having an understanding of information and locations is very important when developing a tour itinerary. Wild elephants watching safari in Sri Lanka is one of the favorite things to do in Sri Lanka when you have everything you need to include. So we think the above facts will be important for you in choosing a place for the safari during your Srilanka tour.


1. Are wild elephant safaris safe in Sri Lanka?

  • Wild elephant safaris in Sri Lanka are generally safe when conducted by reputable tour operators who prioritize safety and responsible practices. Follow their guidelines for a secure experience.

2. Can I feed or touch the wild elephants during a safari?

  • No, it is essential not to feed or touch wild elephants during a safari. These actions can be dangerous and disruptive to their natural behavior.

3. What should I do if an elephant approaches our safari vehicle?

  • Remain calm and still. Follow the instructions of your guide. Do not make sudden movements or loud noises.

5. What other wildlife can I expect to see on a wild elephant safari in Sri Lanka?

  • In addition to elephants, you may encounter leopards, sloth bears, deer, various bird species, and the stunning landscapes of Sri Lanka’s national parks.

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I am a certified tour guide in Sri Lanka. I have a 5-year experience as a tourist guide lecture for whole Sri Lanka


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