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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.

From Kalutara: Lunuganga Estate, Turtles and Madu River Tour

2. 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.

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: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

4. 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.

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.

From Ella: Full-Day Yala National Park Safari Tour

6. 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.

Sri Lanka: Yala National Park Private Safari

7. 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, Weligama, or Galle: Transfer to Ella & Yala Safari

8. Mirissa, Weligama, or Galle: Transfer to Ella & Yala Safari

Combine a transfer from Mirissa, Weligama, or Galle to the town of Ella with the adventure of a Sri Lankan animal safari day trip. Experience the immense biodiversity in Yala National Park and stop for a delectable packed meal. Be picked up from your accommodation in Mirissa, Weligama, or Galle. Relax and take in the local scenery on the drive to Yala National Park. Board an an open-topped safari jeep to get the best views and photo angles. See the animals during the day when they are the most active. Watch for leopards, sloth bears, elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, water buffalos, and a large variety of bird species. Get some great shots of these magnificent creatures. Hear about about the wildlife and get photography tips from your local guide. Let your guide show you the spots where the animals are likely to congregate. Have a nice packed meal before heading back to your air-conditioned car for the ride to your accommodation in Ella.

Galle/Unawatuna/Weligama/Mirissa: Yala National Park Safari

9. Galle/Unawatuna/Weligama/Mirissa: Yala National Park Safari

Your experience begins with a pickup from your hotel in either the Galle, Unawatuna, Weligama or Mirissa areas. From there, relax on your drive to Yala National Park. Upon arrival you'll go for a safari drive by Jeep, keeping an eye out for local leopards and elephants in their natural habitat. Other indigenous wildlife which are able to be spotted in this park includes sloth bears, jackals, mongoose, spotted deers, buffalo, wild boars, sambhur, and hare. Now the most-visited park in Sri Lanka, Yala is also an important nature reserve for 50 species of butterflies and many species of birds. After the safari, journey back to your point of origin to be dropped off back to your accommodation.

Galle and Bentota Day-Tour From Colombo

10. Galle and Bentota Day-Tour From Colombo

After being picked up at your hotel, hop onboard your Madu Ganga Magrove boat safari and explore the Madu River. See the mangrove forests and marshlands that surround the river. Stop at a cinnamon garden, and try some of the area’s famous cinnamon. The Madu Ganga River region is home to some of the best quality cinnamon in the world as well as a flourishing cinnamon industry. Afterward, marvel at the fishermen who stoically sit atop large branches planted in the middle of the water waiting for their catch. Continue to a local Turtle Hatchery, where your guide will introduce you to the many local varieties of turtles. End your tour with a visit to the Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fort illustrates the unique interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries. After discovering the fort, you will be returned to your hotel in Colombo.

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.

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

Fantastic tour! Our driver tried very hard, we saw leopards, sloth bears and elephants despite the rainy season! 100% recommendation for this tour! :-)