Amazing Wildlife to Be Seen at Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

The well-known Yala National Park in Sri Lanka would be a delight for nature and wildlife enthusiasts; if you undertake a safari here, you would have the opportunity to spot many kinds of enthralling wildlife to be seen here.


Undoubtedly, the Sri Lankan elephant would be a highlight at Yala National Park, with as many as 300 to 350 of them residing here. You will see these magnificent creatures roaming around or bathing in waterholes and lagoons. An accommodation choice to consider from which you could easily experience the Yala wildlife and which will help to organise safaris would be the appealingly located Cinnamon Wild Yala.


You will find that Yala National Park boasts the greatest density of leopards to be found anywhere in the world. These majestic creatures, which are Sri Lanka’s apex predators, feed mainly on wild boar and deer and could often be spotted in lowlands and scrubland. Keep in mind that morning and dusk would be the best times for spotting leopards at Yala.

Sloth bears

The Sri Lankan sloth bear would be another intriguing creature that could be spotted at Yala National Park. These bears have shaggy thick fur, a long snout and a head similar in shape to that of a dog. These creatures feed mainly on termites, ants, various fruits, honeycombs, nuts, plants and rodents and are great to photograph.


Birds – Photo by Chanuka Nimsara on Unsplash

Yala is also renowned for the engrossing kinds of birds to be found within it. Birdwatching enthusiasts would have the opportunity to spot varieties like the blue-tailed bee-eater, peacock, painted stork, grey heron and so on. Of particular interest would be endemic species of birds including the Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lanka grey hornbill and crimson-fronted barbet.

Adventure at the Yala National Park

The Yala National Park is a designated wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka and is well known for its diverse range of flora and fauna, including leopards, elephants, and crocodiles. If your holiday itinerary includes a visit to the Yala National Park, be sure to take a peek at these nearby wonders.

Ruhuna National Park

This is the most visited area in the Yala National Park and is known for its high density of leopards. Ruhuna National Park, also known as Area 1 is also home to a variety of other wildlife, including elephants, spotted deer, and peacocks.

Kumana National Park

Kumana National Park
Image via Wikimedia Commons – AntanO, Kumana National Park (Kudumbigala Sanctuary), CC BY-SA 4.0

Counting the number of things to do in Yala? Why not pay a visit to Kumana National Park, once known as Yala East? Located in the southeast part of Sri Lanka, Kumana National Park is known for its wide range of bird species, including migratory birds from Europe and Asia. It is also home to elephants, crocodiles, and several species of deer.


Located on the coast of Yala National Park and only a 15-minute ride away from Cinnamon Wild Yala, Palatupana is a coastal town with beaches of clear, turquoise waters and white sandy shores. It’s a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing, and is also a great place to spot a variety of sea creatures, including dolphins and whales.

Situlpawwa Magul Maha Vihara

This ancient Buddhist temple is located within Yala National Park and is a popular spot for visitors interested in the park’s cultural history. The temple is surrounded by the lush green jungle and is a peaceful spot to take a break from the rest of the park.

Kudumbigala Monastery

Located approximately 22km from Yala National Park, this ancient Buddhist monastery is built on a beautiful rock. It’s a peaceful spot for meditation and contemplation and would be the ideal visit for those who appreciate a touch of spirituality in their vacation.

A Visit to Yala National Park

Being one of the biggest national parks in Sri Lanka, a visit to Yala National Park is a must if you are ever on vacation on this charming island. Here are some of the highlights.  

 Yala National Park

Spanning a total area of 900 sq km, Yala National Park is easily one of the most enormous national parks in Sri Lanka. This exotic sanctuary was once a popular hunting ground for the British but now claims to have the highest leopard density in Asia whilst sheltering a host of other fauna the likes of sloth bears, deer, crocodiles and exotic bird species.

 What to see and do

Yala National Park
Yala National Park – Image by Nadil Jayakody from Pixabay

The Yala National Park tops as a hotspot for spotting leopards. Hop on board a 4 x 4 safari ride with binoculars in your hand during dawn or dusk to catch these inimitable animals in action. Whilst catching a glimpse of leopards has become a coveted attraction among travellers, there is a host of other wildlife to be seen amidst these exotic savannahs. During a ride along this wildlife sanctuary, you can easily spot some sloth bears, ample endemic birds emerging out of mangroves and elephants roaming across the land.

 Hotspots for Accommodation

From small boutique hotels and eco-friendly villas to opulent hotels and retreats by the jungle, you are spoilt for accommodation choices when holidaying in Yala. Amongst the top-notch accommodation spots in the area, a Yala hotel the likes of Cinnamon Wild Yala is indeed a wise pick for the hotel is kin to camping in the wild except with luxurious amenities brought to your arms.

 Best time to go on safari

The dry season from February to June is the idyllic time to go on a safari in this exotic wildlife paradise. With water levels decreasing, there is ample opportunity to witness wild animals emerging out of their habitats in search of water. The park also boasts a serene year-round temperature of 29°C and only experiences heavy showers during the months from September to December.





Visiting Yala National Park in Sri Lanka

Yala National Park is renowned the world over for the incredible wildlife which lives within the confines of the park! Catch an exciting safari and witness the wild animals in their natural habitat. Here’s all you need to know before you go!
Best Time to Visit the Park
Whilst the park is open for the most part, it is considered to be “peak season” during the dry season. This runs from February to July, and it is during these months that the animals are drawn out the dense shrub to the watering holes in search of water.

Yala | Image via flickr

Where is Yala?

This national park is located in the southeast of the island and spills over to provinces – Hambanthota and Monaragala. It’s one of the largest national parks and covers an extent of over 130,000 hectares. The park in itself is quite remote and it’s best to hire a private vehicle to reach it.

Where can I stay?

Despite being in a remote stretch, many hotels have sprung up to meet the demand in Yala. Hotels, resorts, villas, or guesthouses, there are varied accommodation options to suit your budget in the area! A Yala hotel such as the Cinnamon Wild Yala is an excellent choice for those who want to stay in the comforts of a lovely hotel whilst also being close to the park entrance.

What can I see?

What won’t you see in Yala, is a better question! From tuskers and elephants roaming the plains to plenty of Sri, Lankan sloth bears ambling about, you’ll have front row seats to plenty of exciting encounters with some wild critters. The most exciting spotting is always the Sri Lankan Leopard, as it is one of the shyest big cats in the world!

Top Attractions in Yala for an Unforgettable Vacation

The high density of leopards and popular activities such as safari tours, tented safari camping, fishing, and cultural excursions are some of the key reasons why Yala never fails to impress a vacationist.

Yala National Park

Without a question, Yala National Park is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts! This is because it allows safari tours, enabling people to discover wildlife species roaming freely in their own habitat. Witnessing creatures such as elusive leopards, elephants and even sloth bears can be a delightful experience to make one’s holiday at a Yala hotel worthwhile.

Bird watching

bird watching
bird watching | Image via Unsplash

Due to Yala’s diverse ecosystems of dry monsoon forests, semi-deciduous forests, grasslands, and even freshwater wetlands, there are more than thousands of birds that belong to 215 species – both endemic and migratory – that can be spotted in this national park throughout the year.


Dating back to the 2nd century, Sithulpawwa is located on top of a hill that requires a small climb. However, what people love about this rock are the architecture, paintings, and inscriptions that reveal a lot about the country’s past.


Found in the midst of Yala National Park, Kebiliththa is one of Sri Lanka’s most sacred places. Located an hour’s drive away from Cinnamon Wild Yala, it is a Buddhist temple that is surrounded by marshes and ancient trees.

Catch a Glimpse of Leopards in Yala

Though Yala is loved for over 44 species of mammals, its leopard population is what attracts many tourists here. Many wildlife enthusiasts – be it foreign or local – don’t forget to go on a safari at this national park while they’re holidaying at a Yala hotel.


Yala National Park is the most visited of its kind in Sri Lanka. It’s divided into five blocks but only the first and the last are accessible for visitors. Block One is the most popular as it is home to around 40 leopards.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Yala National Park is the dry season of the country. February and March are considered the ideal months to visit should you wish to spot leopards.

Don’t Evade Personal Space

Choose to go on your safari with responsible and eco-minded drivers and guides. Plan to get the services of reputable companies such as Cinnamon Wild Yala that emphasises the well-being of animals over photo opportunities.

Identify Leopards

Lepoads yala national park
Lepoads yala national park | Image via Flickr

Just like fingerprints of humans, leopard spots are unique for each leopard. Experienced guides might be able to point out leopards by their names and describe their behavioural patterns.

Amazing Attractions to Discover in Yala for an Unforgettable Vacation

From wildlife safaris to exploring exquisite cultural sites, Yala is an ideal place to spend your summer vacation. You will find many properties in and around this spellbinding city such as Cinnamon Wild Yala.

AdbarTourism Yala National ParkCC BY-SA 3.0

Yala National Park
No trip to Yala is complete without visiting its amazing national park – one of the most visited of its kind in Sri Lanka. It is home to a beautiful forest that provides lifeblood to many exotic animals. Animal lovers can even expect to spot the elusive leopard here during a safari arranged by their Yala hotel.

Magul Maha Viharaya
Hiding historical value in its ancient constructions, Magul Maha Viharaya is yet another attraction that can be visited during your trip to Yala. According to chronicles, Vijayabahu the Great has used this temple complex during the battle to unite the country.

Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya
A temple complex that’s believed to be built by King Kawanthissa during the 2nd century B. C., Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya can easily be accessed from many Yala hotels. The main stupa can be found overlooking a large pond from a large mountainous area.

Yala Leopard Centre
Couldn’t spot a leopard during your safari? Fret not – you can visit this incredibly informative centre that offers marvellous insights into the lives of leopards.



A Day at Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya

It is said that the name ‘Sithulpawwa’ has been derived from the word ‘Chiththala Pabbatha,’ meaning ‘the hill of the quiet mind,’ which accurately describes its ambience. Located close to many a Yala hotel the likes of Cinnamon Wild Yala, this temple complex is believed to have been built by King Kawanthissa during the 2nd century B. C.

Getting There

If you’re travelling from Tissamaharama, you can visit the Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya via Kirinda – Sithulpawwa Road in less than an hour. Upon arrival, you may be approached by several wild boars who frequent the area, who are completely harmless if you aren’t trying to interact with them. The premises also carries notices asking visitors to refrain from feeding these animals.

Main Stupa

Overlooking a large pond is a mountainous area, over which you need to ascend to approach the main stupa area. If you go to the left just before entering the main stupa, you will be greeted by the breathtaking bird’s eye vistas of the entire region. The main stupa has been built by flattening the top of this rocky mountain.

Be Respectful

You may need to wear light-coloured clothing that should cover from your shoulders up to your ankles when entering this sacred place in Sri Lanka.

Nearby Attractions

Apart from this main stupa, you can also hike towards the Small Sithulpawwa at this place. You will pass the scenic South Tissa Lake on your way to this place, which contains attractions such as stone umbrella, twin ponds, Buddha statues, and another stupa upon its windy summit.


Explore Yala National Park

When it comes to viewing wildlife, few places in the world can match the thrills on offer at Yala National Park. The stronghold of the famous Sri Lankan leopard is the perfect stage for a daily myriad of action and drama that could rival any soap-opera!

How to Get There

You’ll have to make a choice on whether to travel through Kandy or Galle. Sri Lanka’s extensive, well-kept road systems will ensure that you’ll have a nice and relaxing drive regardless of your choice. You could also take the train from Peradeniya – which is just beyond Kandy.

Places to Stay

While there is an abundance of Yala hotels to choose from, picking the right accommodation can go a long way in making a good experience truly great. Properties such as Cinnamon Wild Yala are not only located close to the park but organise safaris too which adds to the convenience of enjoying thrilling escapades in the untamed bush.

The Adventures that Await

Img via Cinnamon Wild Yala

Experience a full day’s safari at Yala – marvel in the gentle majesty of great elephant herds, revel in the playful antics of a troop of langurs and if you’re lucky, hold your breath as a leopard patiently stalks its prey. You can also check out the ancient rock monastery of Sithulpawwa, a must-see if you’re visiting the park.

When to Visit

June to September remains the ideal time to visit as the temperature hovers around a comfortable 26.4°C. This not only makes embarking on a safari quite a pleasant endeavour, but it also greatly increases the chances of leopard sightings – after all, it’s comfortable for them too!



Leopard Spotting in Yala National Park

Did you know the Yala National Park in Sri Lanka has the highest density of leopards anywhere in the world? What this means is that you have a great chance of spotting these majestic creatures on a safari here!



Introducing Panthera Pardus Kotiya

The endemic Sri Lankan Leopard or “Panthera pardus kotiya” has a rusty yellow coloured coat with characteristic dark spots. Generally a solitary hunter, it is the island’s apex predator and has been listed as endangered.


Planning Your Excursion

Leopard spotting is best done early in the morning or later in the afternoon. It’s best to stay at a Yala hotel right near the park itself. Such hotels generally provide their own guided safaris which add to the convenience.


Nocturnal Sightings

For a truly unique experience look to undertake a safari at night! One such experience you can try is the Infrared Night Drive offered at Cinnamon Wild Yala that features night vision goggles to spot leopards and other creatures of the night without disturbing them.


Best Times to Visit

Leopards may be spotted at Yala all year round, though the park is generally closed in September. May to August is usually the rainy season and you have a better chance of seeing leopards early morning. December to March marks the dry season and an afternoon leopard safari is ideal. Of course, the king of Sri Lanka’s jungle doesn’t follow a particular schedule so you never know when you may spot it!