Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka


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    Drive-through safaris, camping for adventurous types and bungalows for quieter visitors all combine to make your Yala experience one to remember. The second largest national park Yala is home to leopards, herds of elephant, deer and wild buffalo. Best visited during dry spells when animals throng to dwindling waterholes.

    Located in southeast Sri Lanka bordering the Indian Ocean, Yala National Park is approximately 305km from Colombo along the western and southern coastline. Yala can also be reached through Ratnapura and Embilipitiya, passing Udawalawa or via Ella and Wellawaya if travelling from the hill country.

    Yala National Park was established in 1938 and is one of the two oldest parks in the country along with Wilpattu National Park, the largest national park in Sri Lanka. Yala is divided into 5 blocks and is approximately 125,000 hectares in extent including the strict nature reserve. Visitors can only visit Block 1, which has the highest density of large animals and birds. Yala is recognised as one of the best parks in the world to spot and photograph the leopard, having one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Famous for large herds of elephants as well as the occasional nasty lone elephant the park is also home to the sloth bear, spotted deer, sambhur, crocodiles, wild boar, wild buffalo and jackal.

    Small mammals such as the black naped hare, grey, ruddy & striped necked mongoose, grey langur & porcupine are common small mammals. Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka with abundant bird life. Approximately 140 species have been recorded so far within the park. Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Jungle Fowl, Painted Stork, White Ibis and Black Necked Stork are commonly seen in Block 1.

    It is possible to take a full day jeep safari or to split the day into morning and afternoon safaris. The best chance to spot leopards and other big game is generally early in the morning and then again at dusk as the animals tend to avoid the hot sun and do not come out much during the day. There are 7 bungalows and a few camp sites inside the park. Visitors to the park could do standard or luxury camping inside the park with one of the experienced camping providers in the country.


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