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Things to do in

Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Top sights in Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Our most recommended things to do in Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park: Private Safari at Golden Hours

1. Yala National Park: Private Safari at Golden Hours

After being picked up from your hotel in the local area or Park Entrance you will enter Yala National Park to explore the light forests, scrubs, grasslands, lagoons, and magnificent range of animals. With your private 4WD Jeep and expert guide, the ‘Golden Hours’ of the day will be used to focus on leopard spotting, either the first 2 hours or the last 2 hours of the day. Throughout this safari, you will search for the world’s most concentrated number of leopards, sloth bears, and elephants, as your knowledgable guide and driver expertly navigates the vast area and roads. The morning tour will begin at 5am from your hotel, to take in sunrise as the park opens at 6am. Whilst the afternoon option allows you to explore from 2pm until sunset when the park closes at 6pm. Situated on Sri Lanka’s south-east, hugging the panoramic Indian Ocean, Yala is a wildlife sanctuary and home to 44 varieties of mammals and 215 bird species. Leopards, elephants, water buffalo, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted deer, peacocks, and crocodiles can all be found in this rich environment.

Sri Lanka: Yala National Park Private Safari

2. Sri Lanka: Yala National Park Private Safari

Enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty and amazing wildlife of Sri Lanka on a private safari through Yala National Park. Discover leopards, elephants, water buffalo, and more among tall trees, scenic lagoons and golden sand dunes. With the highest concentration of leopards of any national park in Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is a great place for wildlife enthusiasts to get their fill. Catch a glimpse, and maybe some great photos, of these elusive predators. Watch elephants playfully bathing in the mud, and encounter other fascinating animals, including sloth bears, wild boars, spotted deer, and golden jackals. Check out the vast array of interesting birds. Keep your camera ready as you roam through these animals' natural habitat on this wonderful private safari through Yala National Park.

Mirissa or Galle: Transfer to Ella with Udawalawe Safari

3. Mirissa or Galle: Transfer to Ella with Udawalawe Safari

Enjoy a morning pick-up from your hotel in Mirissa. Weligama, Unawatuna or Galle area and head for Udawalawe National Park, where you'll switch to an open-topped safari jeep to get the best views. See the animals early in the day at their most active. Pass by herds of elephants and watch for crocodiles, monkeys, water buffalo, a large variety of bird species, and more. Snap some great photos and learn about the wildlife. Sit down to a packed meal later in the morning and then switch back to an air-conditioned car for the ride on to Ella where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.

From Ella: Full-Day Yala National Park Safari Tour

4. From Ella: Full-Day Yala National Park Safari Tour

Visit Ruhunu National Park and explore its 126,786 hectares including the Strict Natural Reserve (Block II). The most familiar is Block I, established in 1938. Yala is famous for its big herds and large number of elephants, leopards, spotted deer, sambhur, crocodiles, mongoose, wild boar, wild buffalo, and many other animals. More than 130 bird species are recorded, including the resident and winter visitors. Head to the National Park to take an afternoon safari around 1:00 PM, as the time of day when you can see leopards and sloth bears emerge out of the shady jungle and roam around. Head to great spots for birdwatchers. The water holes and tanks are a birdwatcher's paradise, offering the chance to see the famous peacock dance. For wildlife lovers, Yala is a must see site in Sri Lanka. Once you've finished your tour, return back to your hotel in Ella.

Yala National Park All-Inclusive 2-Day Safari

5. Yala National Park All-Inclusive 2-Day Safari

Spend the night in a treehouse at the 2nd largest national park in Sri Lanka and look for wildlife on an evening and early morning nature trek. Benefit from the expertise of a game ranger as your personal guide. Day 1: Following pick-up at your hotel, journey towards Yala National Park in southeast Sri Lanka. Upon arrival at Tissamarama, head to the luxurious Leopard Nest campsite and check in to one of the treehouses. Enjoy lunch at the campsite's main restaurant or at one of the many outdoor locations before some time to relax. Get back to nature with an evening game drive and look for wildlife, such as leopards in their natural environment. Return to the campsite to freshen up before drinks and appetizers around the campfire. Dinner will be served at one of many locations throughout the camp. Day 2: Enjoy breakfast at a private location by a lake whilst listening to the singing of birds and feeling the fresh breeze. Start to trek through thick bushes with a pathway access to a wonderful lake which offers breath-taking views and bird watching opportunities.

The True Essence of Colombo:Private Highlights & Hidden Gems

6. The True Essence of Colombo:Private Highlights & Hidden Gems

Ayubowan! Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of the heart of Sri Lanka’s capital: Colombo! Experience the sights, sounds, and smells of this vibrant city together with your private host. The very best must-sees, hidden gems, and local snacks await! So, hop on a colorful Tuk Tuk and let your private guide take you from one highlight to another. The Independence Square is a must visit and a great place to kick off your tour. Stroll through the spacious green lawns and marvel at one of the islands' longest standing colonial buildings. Your host can tell you all about Sri Lanka’s historic past and how the city has changed to the modern city of today. Do as the Sri Lankans do and grab some delicious hoppers and vegetable roti. Locals simply love to start the day with this tasty morning snack, especially when heading to Colombo’s biggest park! Filled with lush vegetation, 100-year-old trees and a replica of the White House, this park is a tranquil gem away from the city buzz. Tuk Tuk your way to the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo with a beautiful lake. Check out an amazing collection of Buddha statues, take a look at a holy tree and admire a relic of Buddha’s hair. Feel free to ask your host any burning questions! Get immersed in real local life and visit one of the liveliest markets. See where locals buy and sell everything from vegetables to electronics. Wander through the labyrinth streets and follow your nose to a nearby cassava chip vendor. See how this yummy snack is made and make your taste buds dance! Head to the banana market and try as many different bananas as you fancy! Curious what else awaits? How about a visit to a mosque in the shape of a pomegranate, followed by a beautifully minimalist Hindu temple? A visit to Sri Lanka’s last King’s jail cell is also a unique gem! While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the stunning view from the lighthouse. What better way to top off your tour than at the relaxing ocean side of Galle Face? Unwind and relax with a cold drink, a delicious prawn cake and a marvelous sunset over the western coast of Sri Lanka!

From Kalutara: Lunuganga Estate, Turtles and Madu River Tour

7. From Kalutara: Lunuganga Estate, Turtles and Madu River Tour

Check out some of Sri Lanka’s most gripping scenery while experiencing firsthand the flora and fauna of this stunning region. Marshy wetlands, river islands, baby turtles and fish foot massages await you in this sultry, exotic wonderland. First stop: Bawa’s estate in Lunuganga. Sir Geoffrey Bawa, the renowned lawyer-turned-architect, made this place his country home and experimental lab from 1947 till his death in 1998. See the surrounding exotic gardens of this partial country inn, as well as Bawa’s many architectural additions. Next stop: Kosgoda for an exciting visit to a real turtle hatchery. Learn about the conservation of sea turtles and dip into touch pools, deep tubs of seawater where curious guests can actually handle the baby versions. Proceed to Balapitiya and enjoy a lovely boat safari on Madu River. This is a high biodiversity zone that relies on the lagoon created by the river as it flows into the Indian Ocean. See the dense mangrove forest that grows along the marshy banks of the river, as well as several free-standing islands. On one such island you will find an old Buddhist monastery. The locals work harvesting cinnamon, and here you can experience the famous fish massage at a ‘massage parlor’, or hut on stilts. Relax while the fish work their magic on your toes. Afterwards, stop for lunch on your way back to Kalutara.

From Ella: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

8. From Ella: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

After 5:00 AM pick-up from your hotel in Ella, Haputale or Bandarawela, head for Udawalawe National Park, where you'll switch to an open concept safari jeep in order to have the best views. An early morning start ensures you'll see the animals during one of their most active times of day. See herds of elephants for sure and have fun watching for crocodiles, monkeys, water buffaloes, various endemic birds species and much more. Along the way, you'll learn about and observe the natural habitats of the local wildlife while you snap some amazing photos. In the Morning/Afternoon, enjoy a packed meal. Then, at the end of your 3-hour safari adventure, switch back to the comfortable, air-conditioned car for the ride on to Mirissa/Weligama/Unawatuna or Galle where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.

Full-Day Leopard Safari at Yala With Picnic Lunch

9. Full-Day Leopard Safari at Yala With Picnic Lunch

You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to Yala National Park by a modified game viewing safari Jeep, then start your game drive at the National Park. Yala Park is situated in the Dry Zone in Sri Lanka, comprising of a range of habitats including scrub jungles, water reservoirs, brackish lagoons, and riverine habitats. Yala has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Its elephant heard is of about 300-350. Your guide will deliver the picnic lunch to the location where you will enjoy your lunch. Unwind for a while after lunch and get ready to enjoy your second round of the game drive. Hop in to the Jeep and start the afternoon game drive by searching for leopards. If you are really lucky, you may be able to witness a few of them during this game drive. In addition to leopards, elephants, as well as mammals such as Sloth Bears, Black-naped Hare, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Hanuman Langur, Toque Monkeys, Stripe-necked and Ruddy Mongooses, Wild Boar, and Golden Jackal can be found in Yala National Park. You can also see reptiles like the Water Monitor and Marsh Crocodile.

Yala National Park: Leopard Safari Full day tour with Lunch

10. Yala National Park: Leopard Safari Full day tour with Lunch

After being picked up from your hotel in the local area at around 5:00 AM, you will enter Yala National Park to explore the light forests, scrubs, grasslands, lagoons, and magnificent range of animals. Over nearly 400 square miles, the park consistently wows visitors, with its range of lagoons, riparian zones, monsoon jungles, and more, supporting a veritable arc of fauna. As you traverse the park, get the best view of it all from a modified game viewing safari Jeep. After exploring the vast park for a few hours at the helm of your knowledgeable guide, you’ll stop for a picnic lunch at a beautiful viewing spot. Unwind for a while after lunch and get ready to enjoy your second round of the game drive.  As you criss-cross through the stunning landscape, you have the opportunity to see elephants, sloth bears, toque monkeys, wild boar, water monitors, marsh crocodiles, and perhaps the crown jewel of Yala National Park, the spotted leopard—of which the park has one of the highest densities in the world. After your full day of safari exploration, you’ll be transported back to your accommodation, thrilled at the preserved piece of nature that you have experienced.

Other Sightseeing Options in Southern Province, Sri Lanka

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What people are saying about Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 165 reviews

I highly recommend using apple vacations agency when you visit Sri Lanka! They offer a wide range of tours and packages to fit a variety of budgets. Our guide Niraveen and driver were on time and accommodating. This full day tour was lovely and enjoyable! Loved visiting the turtle hatchery center, the boat ride through the mangrove, and the place they took us for lunch was superb! Really trustworthy company!

The guide showed up on time in the morning and he was very polite and informing. They took us to a very nice restaurant for lunch near the ocean and the food was delicious. Whole tour was satisfying with very nice views, herbal garden visit and boat tour on Madu River.

I had a tour guide Muditha from Withlocals. A well educated and very nice young man with proper knowledge of English and international experience. Enjoyed talking to him and his company. From the downside - expected to see more for this money.

Great tour, guides and service. Everything was on time and smooth. The national park was beautiful. The only complaint we have is that it's more expensive than if we'd have just arranged with local tour operators.

We had a very nice guide who went to a lot of trouble so that we could see all the animals once. But he always switched off the engine so that the animals would not be disturbed. I highly recommend the tour