Yala National park

Sri Lanka’s alpha predator is protected in a number of national parks, but is most easily sighted in Yala National Park, on the island’s southern coast, where you can cool off in the ocean after a day on safari.

Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s number one leopard sanctuary. The big cats are thriving here in territories of little more than a kilometre each – “the highest density in the world” – making seeing one almost a certainty.

For those hoping to see a close-up leopard make its way down the tree and casually saunter through clearing to the cover of the bushes, then Yala National Park is undoubtedly the place to be.

For finding leopards without the crowds, head to Wilpattu in Sri Lanka’s northwest instead.

As the country’s largest national parks, Wilpattu offers one of your best chances to see a leopard in the wild. There’s no guarantee, and safaris start at the crack of dawn, but it’s worth the try.

Plus, the consolation of spying any of the park’s water buffalo elephants and sloth bears is just as tempting.  

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