A Guide to Visit Yala National Park

Sri Lanka is home to many wildlife parks, and Yala is one such popular park that is also UNESCO recognised. If you want to travel deep into the forests and take a closer look at the wildlife, Yala is the ideal destination for you. Planning to visit Yala National Park for the first time? This guide is for you.

Lepord Yala
Leopard in the wild on the island of Sri Lanka image by Byrdyak  via Wikimedia Common,CC BY-SA 4.0

How to Get There!

Yala National Park can only be accessed through Tissamaharama City. You can get to the city via a bus or your private vehicle. Before you visit the park, it is best to leave your belongings at one of the Yala hotels you choose for accommodation and travel light. Leopard Safaris Yala can be an ideal destination to save your travel time.

What to See!

This gigantic park stretches from the jungles to the beach and is divided into five blocks. You are only allowed to explore blocks 1 and 5, and the rest remains close to the public to leave the wildlife as undisturbed as possible. Elephants, leopards, deer, crocodiles, monkeys, and buffalos are some commonly sighted animals, while you can also see a range of birds.

When to Go!

The dry season for the area falls between February to June, and this is the best time to visit the park. You can easily spot animals as they frequently gather at ponds to drink water. If leopards are who you’re excited to see, February and March are the ideal months to visit Yala. The park is usually closed in September, but you can visit any day of the year for affordable rates.

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!

Enjoy A Bumpy Yala Safari Ride to Satisfy Your Adventurous Thirst

Sri Lanka is often cited as one of the premier safari locations in Asia. The island has a number of national parks that harbour an array of fascinating wildlife – both big and small. Among these, Yala National Park is perhaps the most popular and with good reason too!

Where is Yala

Yala lies to the southeast of Sri Lanka and is bordered by the Indian Ocean. Specifically, it is around 300km away from Colombo, but the journey is relatively easy due to Sri Lanka’s highly-developed road network. There are several parks adjacent to Yala as well, all of these in tandem create a hotspot for some of the island’s wildest denizens.

Dan arndt, Wetland – Yala NP, CC BY-SA 4.0

When to Go on Safari

Most Yala hotels, such as the Cinnamon Wild Yala, always keep their guests informed that there are two peak times to go on safari – dawn and dusk. The cool air means that animals are more active during these times, so you’re more likely to spot Yala’s fascinating denizens.

Thilinakaluthotageකැලේ අයුතිකාරයාCC BY-SA 4.0

Interconnected Ecosystems

Yala National Park is made up of a number of unique ecosystems that all intertwine together. Habitats range from dense scrub forests, open grasslands, dense woods, and placid lagoons. Watering holes, in particular, are fascinating biomes that often attract a litany of different animals.

The Park’s Wildlife

By far, Yala’s most famous attraction is its leopards. In fact, the park has one of the highest densities of wild leopard in the world! Now, as you keep your eyes peeled for this elusive big cat, don’t miss out on all of Yala’s other iconic characters – there are the majestic Asian elephant, the ill-tempered buffalo, and skittish chital to name a few.

© Mahoora Tented Safari Camps (https://www.mahoora.com/) / CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons, Leopard in Yala National Park, CC BY-SA 4.0

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!



Wild Life In Yala

Sri Lanka, the stunning tropical island has plenty of wildlife that makes safaris the most thrilling experience! From majestic leopards to giant elephants, animal lovers will find paradise here!


Yala National Park

The entrance to the Yala National Park
The entrance to the Yala National Park | Img. Courtesy: [By Dan arndt, CC BY-SA 4.0  via Wikimedia Commons]
Yala National Park located in the south east of the country is the second largest and most popular wildlife park. Designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1990, you’ll be able to spot many animals here!


Safari jeep

Tourism Yala National Park
Tourism Yala National Park | Img. Courtesy: [By Adbar, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
There are a number of safari tour providers around Yala which visitors can make use of. However, as most Yala hotels offer wildlife safaris such as WildTrails Yala, it’s best to book with them instead – to avoid any unsafe or scam tours.



File:Sri Lankan Leopard - Yala National Park
Sri Lankan Leopard – Yala National Park | Img. Courtesy: [By Thimindu Goonatillake from Denver, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
Yala Park is most famous for spotting elephants and leopards. You’ll see herds of Sri Lanka’s magnificent beasts in the larger open plains of the park while leopards are often harder to spot and can usually be seen resting in the shade.



Eagle in Yala National Park
Eagle in Yala National Park | Img. Courtesy: [By Schnobby, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

You gotta have a hawk’s eye (pun well intended) when you’re at Yala Park. From the proud peacock to the island’s national bird; the jungle fowl, bird types are diverse and colourful!



File:Crocodile in Yala National Park
File:Crocodile in Yala National Park| Img. Courtesy: [By SchnobbyCC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
Yes, there are crocodiles and snakes. Plenty of them! Crocodiles can be spotted lurking the murky waters around the rivers and swamps.


Things to remember

File:Sign advising not to feed the animals
File:Sign advising not to feed the animals | Img. Courtesy: [By Tess McBride, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
Avoid making loud noises when you’re inside the park, as this will scare or aggravate the wild animals, especially since you’re in their territory. Don’t feed any wild animal nor throw your thrash out of the jeep!


Caleb Falcon is a travel writer who specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers. Google+

Yala Adventures

The 2nd largest national park in Sri Lanka, Yala is located in the country’s southern province and covers over an expansive 979km of land. The park is renowned for its large assortment of wild animals such as sloth bears, monkeys, birds, reptiles, the Sri Lankan elephant and one of the largest concentration of leopards in the world. Eco-tourists and adventure seekers eager to visit this beautiful park can easily find good accommodation among the Yala hotels, such as Wild Trails Yala, which offers Eco-friendly spacious tents with modern amenities.
A safari in Yala is the ideal way to enjoy the wildlife. Set off early morning with a guide to stand the best chance of seeing the animals as they roam freely around the park before the sun rises. Elephants, wild buffaloes and boars can be found near watering holes whiles the morning cries of the regal peacock signals the start of another day. The wild animals here are used to the sounds of safari jeeps and don’t shy away from people. Bring lots of water with you and ask your hotel to arrange a packed breakfast for you trip.
The main attraction for most visitors to the park is the Sri Lankan leopard. The native leopard is one of the most celebrated animals in the country, second to elephants, with the highest concentration found at Yala National Park. Because it is the largest predator in the park, it’s extremely comfortable out in the open, usually found perched up the trees or relaxing in the thick foliage.
Yala is made up of various eco-systems, from open grasslands and dense forests, to marine and fresh water wetlands and coastal habitat. Exploring each area is an adventure on its own with over 215 bird species and 44 species of mammals that include sloth bears, the red slender loris and golden palm civet in addition to sea turtles and crocodiles are just a few that can be seen around the park. Be sure to spend a full day roaming through the wildness to really experience the best of Yala.

Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world. Google+

Bird Watching in Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park | Image Courtesy : Green Holidays

The Bundala National Park is located in the Southeast of Sri Lanka. Of course the more frequented, Yala National Park is located in close proximity to it. But it is important to know the distinctness of the National Park in Bundala. It lives up to its status as a popular birding ground and attracts the quiet wanderer and the keen bird watcher. The National Park is said to be the home and temporary home of 197 species of bird. And you will not be disappointed because on merely one visit you are certain to spot over 50 species of bird. Cinnamon Wild Yala is amongst the Yala hotels, in the region that provide easy access to such national parks. If you are keen to spot more and more birds, you simply need to be an early riser.


Birds watching
Birds watching | Image Courtesy: Riolta Lanka Holidays

Arrive at the park at 5.30 am, this is when these flighty beings relax in the watery areas of the park. Hop onto a rickety jeep at the entrance and make sure you request the assistance of a ‘bird tracker’. The fact that your tracker is immersed in his surroundings, gives him the ability to spot the birds of the area with far greater skill than you would imagine.


Greater Flamingos in Bundala
Greater Flamingos in Bundala | Image Courtesy : Srilankan Spirit

You will be surprised to find that the birds are quite accustomed to the noise of your rickety jeep. In fact, they crave some attention. Colourful Painted Stork, Asian Openbills, Spot-billed Pelicans , Black-headed Ibises and flocks of Greater Flamingos are a few birds that you will be able to spot in the park. You will be thrilled at the variety of birds and the great skill of your tracker in spotting these beautiful beings.

It is impossible to keep count of the birds you will spot and there are countless amounts at the Bundala National Park.


Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+