Spot the 'Big Five' in the East Coast!

The soul of our paradise Island maybe its pristine beaches, yet its heart beats wild.

Whale watching along the Southern Coast
By Time Out editors |

Till November, the Eastern shoreline will attract travellers from across oceans. A safari through the area’s dense shrub forestry and a boat ride out to the deep Indian Ocean bordering the coast will offer you the chance of spotting the Island’s most awe-inspiring beasts – Sri Lanka’s Big Five.

Fearless leopard
©BT Images

Fearless Leopards

Asia’s biggest feline after the tiger, the Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is the leopard species endemic to the Island. These expert hunters can be seen in the Kumana National Park and Yala National Park in the South East. Sri Lanka is after all the number one place in the world for leopard watching.

Spot the Prince of the Island’s wilderness hunt for prey or laze in the trees. If you are fortunate, you may even see the Sri Lankan leopard take up a regal position on rock formations in the wild. The Girikula rock formation in Kumana is a great place to spot these fast cats.

Mighty elephants
©BT Images

Mighty Elephants

It’s elephants galore in the East Coast. Although a safari through the Kumana or Lahugala National Parks will ensure you a sighting of the magnificent herds, you are sure to spot a few lone elephants strolling near some of the wilder surfing points.

One of the greatest pleasures is to spot elephants as you travel along the Pottuvil road that runs through the Lahugala Park. They are even seen in the Kokkilai Sanctuaries northwards as well as the Gal Oya valley north-east Sanctuary with the border to the Uva Province.

Amusing sloth bear
©BT Images

Amusing Sloth Bears

These shaggy black bears are as elusive as they come. In July, the scent of the Palu fruits will draw these comical night crawlers out into the open during the day.

Sri Lankan sloth bears (Melursus ursinus inornatus) can be spotted snoozing on trees, humorously bathing in muddy puddles or lazing under Palu trees. You can see this elusive bear in the Kumana and Yala National Parks. It is difficult to spot them, so if you do, consider yourself quite lucky.

Earth's giants

Earth's Giants

Yes, that’s right. The Blue Whale, the giant of the earth as well as the Sperm Whale, the largest toothed whale, swim to the Eastern waters off Trincomalee this time of the year. These whales simply love Sri Lanka’s deep natural harbours. The Bryde’s and Eden’s whales visit too. Whale pods are seen in the Eastern board mainly till November, July – August being one of the perfect times to witness a whale of a spectacle. Boats carrying eager whale watchers set out to sea early in the morning.