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.





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.