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Can you just take a tent, take some food and stay for a few days in national park in Sri Lanka? First of all is it legal to do so? For example are campfires allowed? And if it is legal is it safe? Are there any dangerous animals?

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Tenting in some of these parks and you can be 100% sure to die. As Mark Mayo wrote, there are crocodiles everywhere, leopards, elephants and other animals that might attack you. Most parks have basic buildings that you can stay safe in, but you need to bring all gear into the park. Never leave the car ;) – grm Mar 15 '13 at 18:56

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are quite a few safari camping trips, or organised trekking tours - and they mention for example, that "Wilderness camping sites may include pitching tent in a cave or under a rock face, by the lakeside or high on the plateau. ".

They also suggest "the indigenous Vadda people are always helpful to campers with the Vadda village being an interesting area to camp".

So that would seem to imply that it's acceptable and that the locals are ok with you doing it. However, this could still be because the company has a permit or something that they don't mention.

Sri Lanka Eco Tourism mentions that they have "Camping rules to ensure safe and comfortable camping and Wildlife and/or Forest Department regulations, when applicable".

So it would seem that it's best to identify which national park you want to camp in (Yala, Bundala, etc) and then contact the Forest Department for that park, to find out exactly what is required.

As for the dangerous animals - yes, in parts. In Yala National Park, for example, there are crocodiles hidden everywhere, dangerous lizards, and heaps of other troublesome critters.

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This Vadda people look cool! Ok, thanks, I will try to read about those parks. – Andrey Nov 7 '11 at 10:47

It seems the answer would be yes.

Wikitravel's entry on Yala National Park mentions that a day entry pass fee costs LKR 3500, which probably includes camping. I don't find an official government website listing rules, but there are many tour operator pages which mention camping. Yala Hotels (at Yala National Park) says their tour package includes (my emphasis):

Park entrance fees

Safari jeep fees (High Elevated jeep)

Accommodation in tented camp site

Full board meals (Barbecue dinner on last day)

Game drives

Bonfire, Hammock

All taxes

This suggests that camping is allowed. What you need to check - and I don't know whether this is your intention - is whether camping is allowed for non-organised parties. I would reckon the answer to be no; with illegal poaching in the Indian subcontinent, forest departments usually tend to keep human activity restricted. Indigenous people could be allowed to live there but there may be restrictions on travellers.

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Our intention is to camp on our own and spend as little money as possible. Because that Yala package is pricy one: 500$ for two days. – Andrey Nov 7 '11 at 11:00
That's correct but if only organised tours are permitted, then you may have to shop around and see which one's cheapest. Another piece of advice: don't try to book a dollar-priced tour online, they're usually more expensive! A tour bought in Sri Lanka will cost you many factors cheaper. – Ankur Banerjee Nov 7 '11 at 11:07
so my goal now is to find where non organized tours are allowed. If they are not allowed at all I will try to find cheapest one. Thanks for tip! so my goal now is to find where non organized tours are allowed. If they are not allowed at all I will try to find cheapest one. Thanks for tip! – Andrey Nov 7 '11 at 11:11

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