Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s position right next to India means the country is often overlooked in favour of it’s much bigger and illustrious neighbour. But Sri Lanka is far from unremarkable. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

Captivating landscapes, tantalising food, and people that are friendlier than anything you’ve ever experienced, Sri Lanka offers up delights at every turn. Then there’s the wildlife; stunning, magnificent and vibrant, every photographer’s dream. 

Every single moment I spent in the country, I made new cherished memories, some of which I was lucky enough to capture. I’ll try to describe my experiences here and also provide tips on how you can make the most of your trip, in case you’re planning to visit this wonderful country.

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Why Visit Sri Lanka For Wildlife Photography?

If you’re a wildlife and nature enthusiast, you really should start getting excited about the chance to visit Sri Lanka. The country boasts picturesque beaches, majestic mountains, and a large and diverse collection of animals.

Take beautiful photos of large numbers of elephants, monkeys, deer and birds in their natural habitat, with the gorgeous forest providing a backdrop. If that isn’t enough to get your heart racing, watch powerful leopards in action in any of the country’s historic parks. Of course, there are always scores of friendly locals ready to offer assistance when you need it.

Sri Lanka is a treasure trove of exotic wildlife, sure to grab your attention and keep your camera busy.

Wildlife Species To Photograph In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is home to a vast number of animals and hundreds of bird species. The star attraction are the leopards, and they’re not at all rare in the country. You’ll need to be quick with your shot though. They usually don’t stick around for long after they spot you.

The Asian Elephant is another story entirely. Big, bold and beautiful, they don’t mind you watching and taking pictures of them at all, and watching them play around in streams is a fantastic sight. There are also Sambar Deer, Mongoose, Wild boar, Buffalo, Leaf Monkeys, Green Lizards, and loads of beautiful birds. Keep a keen eye out for Sri Lankan pit vipers though.

The Best Time Of Year To Visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is divided into various islands, and the weather fluctuates wildly in each part of the island at different periods of the year.

Visit the south and central parts of the country from December to March to enjoy sparkling weather and by extension, your holiday. On the flip side, the months of April to June are usually wet and miserable. So, if you’ve scheduled your trip around that time, you may want to pick another date.

If you’re visiting the east coast, plan your trip to fall within the months of April to September. Avoid visiting the island between November and March, because that’s when the weather is at its ugliest.

Where to stay in Sri Lanka

Columbo

Columbo is both the capital and economic hub of Sri Lanka, so, any visit to the country will be incomplete without touching base here. This city is a vibrant blend of languages, people, and cultures. In spite of its cosmopolitan and modern appearance, there are still vestiges of the city’s colonial heritage in its very fabric. There’s just so much to see, taste, and do here, and thankfully, there are lots of accommodation options for people who want to.

Wasgamuwa

Wasgamuwa provides a nice contrast to the bustle of the capital. It’s more laid-back, so instead of shopping blocks or commercial buildings, the most common sight here is the smiling face of locals. Oh, Wasgamuwa is also the home of the Wasgamuwa National Park, one of the best things that happened to the drive for conservation. Spending a night or two here is also pretty easy. 

Kandy

Wasgamuwa provides a nice contrast to the bustle of the capital. It’s more laid-back, so instead of shopping blocks or commercial buildings, the most common sight here is the smiling face of locals. Oh, Wasgamuwa is also the home of the Wasgamuwa National Park, one of the best things that happened to the drive for conservation. Spending a night or two here is also pretty easy. 

Yala

Wasgamuwa provides a nice contrast to the bustle of the capital. It’s more laid-back, so instead of shopping blocks or commercial buildings, the most common sight here is the smiling face of locals. Oh, Wasgamuwa is also the home of the Wasgamuwa National Park, one of the best things that happened to the drive for conservation. Spending a night or two here is also pretty easy. 

How To Get Around Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka may not have speed rails as yet, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get you there. The country has reasonably good roads and lots of transport options to choose from, but you’ll need to be patient.

You can get around the country by train, which gives you the chance to appreciate the country’s scenic beauty, or by bus, which is the quicker option. Tuk-tuks are another option, although they are best for going around within the city you find yourself. You can also rent private cars, though this will cost you a lot more. If you’re feeling particularly up for it, you can even travel by plane too.

I took the bus from Columbo to Wasgamuwa, about 225kms away. It cost about 450R to get a ticket and the journey took us through Kurunagala, Dambulla, Bakamuna, and Hettipola. It did get a bit stuffy and uncomfortable at times, but the company made the slight discomfort absolutely worth it.

The journey lasted about 5 hours, ample time for me to make a few friends and take several pictures. There are direct trains from Columbo to Wasgamuwa, along with taxis and private cars for hire. However, I think the bus is the best for getting around in the country.

Is It Safe To Travel To Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka has come a long way from the days when it was characterized by violence. These days, the country is very peaceful and the only thing you need to be wary about is locals trying to play a fast one on you. That said, the country enjoys a low crime rate and I didn’t get harassed or receive any undue attention throughout the duration of my stay there.

Even though the risk of contracting yellow fever, dengue fever, and hepatitis A+B is very low, the country recommends that visitors take precautions before entering Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is officially malaria free.

Still, it’s a good idea to use insect repellent while in the country.

What To Pack For A Photography Trip in Sri Lanka

It’s important to know exactly what to pack before you make the trip so you don’t leave out the essentials or take unnecessary items along that’ll just overburden and weigh you down. The things you need are:

 

  • A Backpack: Of course. Your backpack is the first and probably the most important thing to think of, so there’s little chance of forgetting this particular item. Be sure to pick up one that offers excellent weight distribution, since you’re going to be carrying it around a bit. 
  • Outer Shell Jacket: The weather in Sri Lanka is unpredictable at best, so it’s probably a smart idea to take a shell jacket along with you, in case the weather turns, which it usually does. 
  • Breathable Shirts: Don’t also forget to pack light, breathable shirts because the weather can also get really hot. If you’re planning to spend more than a little time outdoors, take several light shirts with you. 
  • Hiking Shoes: Whether or not you’re planning to go hiking in the country, you should consider packing at least a pair of hiking shoes. Sri Lanka is hilly and the constant climbing will put a lot of strain on your regular shoes. 
  • Water Bottle: Very important. The combination of sun and hilly terrain may drain you and you’ll need to rehydrate. The water in Sri Lanka is not very safe to drink, so you’ll need to go everywhere with your own water. 
  • Camera: There’ll be several unforgettable experiences and sights and you’ll want to capture every single one of them. So, don’t forget to pack a camera. 
  • Universal Adapter: You’ll need it to plug in your device and recharge them when they run out of juice in the country. 
  • Swim Suit: Are holidays in Sri Lanka complete without a day out on the beach? Prepare to take a dunk in the water by packing swimwear along. 

Passport and Visa Information

Visitors to Sri Lanka need a visa and passport to gain entrance into the country. The country offers a free visa on arrival to people from Singapore, Maldives, and Seychelles, while nationals from SAARC countries are charged $20. People from all other countries pay $35.

Sri Lanka has emerged as a tourism hotspot, so securing a visa to Sri Lanka is quite easy and convenient. I was able to get mine without too much stress and immigration was a breeze. 

Other Places To Visit In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

Before you leave the country, be sure to visit Yala National Park, which holds the world record for the largest concentration of leopards. There are also enormous numbers of Asian Elephants, monkeys, deer, buffalo, ospreys, mongoose, and birds. The park itself presents a rather impressive and splendid appearance. No wonder lots of people, myself included, were enchanted by it. 

Also, check out several temples that dot the country. The ancient temple ruins at Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura are particularly charming. Want to put your feet up, relax, and enjoy the sights? Visit two of Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches at Galle and Unawatuna. And if you’re up for a bit of hiking, take a trek up the towering Sigiriya rock.

My Suggested Itinerary for a Wildlife Photography Holiday in Sri Lanka

Columbo City

1-2 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Wasgamuwa National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Kandy Beach Resort

2-3 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Yala National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Helpful Resources

Now that we have all the information we need, it’s time to plan your wildlife photography holiday to Sri Lanka!

Here are some helpful resources to help you get your trip started:

Flights: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Accommodation: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Home Stays: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel Insurance: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Day Trips & Tours: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.
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