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Sri Lankan Safari: How Does It Measure Up?

Many animal lovers I work with have been on safari in Africa, either in South Africa or east Africa or both, yet how does going on safari in Sri Lanka measure up to the kinds of animal encounters you may have had on the African plains?

First off, Sri Lanka is ready to offer you a whole different set of animals than you’ve already experienced. You’ll have the opportunity to encounter Asian elephants which are distinctly different from African elephants both in appearance and behavior. Plus leopards, sloth bears, deer and many alternative species of birds among many other diverse species await you in the Sri Lankan biosphere.

Secondly Sri Lanka offers lush, dense forests and wetlands in small areas in comparison to the vast multiple African ecosystems featuring wide open savannas and endless horizons across thousands of kilometers.

And thirdly, African cultures are very different from Sri Lankan culture so a whole new world of stories, creativity, and ways of life await you in Sri Lanka.

To go deeper, let’s take a look at the elephants. Compared to both African bush elephants and African forest elephants, Sri Lankan elephants tend to be smaller in size. Male Sri Lankan elephants stand about 8 to 10 feet tall (2.5 - 3 meters) while African elephants are about 10-13 feet tall (3-4 meters). Sri Lankan elephants also have smaller ears and tusks, plus have rounder heads and a hump on their backs making for a rounder shape than African elephants have.

African elephants form large herds while Sri Lankan elephants form small herds and family groups. If you’ve seen African elephants, you’ll be delighted to discover different behaviors attributed to Sri Lankan elephants such as collecting water with their trunks rather than snuffling it up before drinking as African elephants do.

Other animals not seen in Africa yet found in Sri Lanka include sloth bears or shaggy-coated bears found mostly in the lowlands. Spotted deer also known as axis deer are supremely graceful and can be spotted grazing in open grasslands or forest clearings. Crocodiles can be seen basking in the sun or lurking in bodies of water. And leopards find the dense scrublands and forests to be perfect camouflage.

Sri Lankan safaris can also be more immersive. In Africa, you’re observing wildlife across vast distances, while in Sri Lanka’s lush forests and wetlands, you’re getting much closer to the animals in smaller, more enclosed habitats. The animals are hiding among the leaves, and if you can spot them and stay quiet, chances are good they will stay and let you observe them because they don’t feel threatened. African wildlife can see you coming from kilometers away.

Many aspects of Sri Lankan life differ profoundly from their African counterparts. When visiting Sri Lanka, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Buddhism and Hinduism in addition to Islam and Christianity while for a country like Kenya, Christianity and Islam are the dominant faiths.

Sri Lankan cuisine is characterized by spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and curry leaves. Rice and curries, along with coconut-based dishes are staples of Sri Lankan cuisine while east African cuisine is more about grains, greens and grilled meats.

Whether you’re visiting Ruwanweliseya Stupa and the Sri Maha Bodhiya (sacred bo tree) at sunset to witness the evening Buddhism Festival on our Iconic Sri Lanka: Culture and Safari in Style journey, or taking in the mountaintop fortress of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya on our Immersive Sri Lanka: Mists, Spices and Elephants itinerary, you’ll also have the opportunity to head out on a safari you’ll never forget. If you love animals, you simply must experience what Sri Lanka has to offer in its deep green forests and scrublands.

Contact us and we’ll help you plan your perfect Sri Lankan safari today.


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