Yala National Park
Yala National Park or Ruhuna National Park is the second largest and most visited national park in Sri Lanka. Yala is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. It had originally had been designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu it was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of its wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds.
There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. The national park hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused severe damage on the Yala National park and 250 people has died in the park.
Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. The area had been a centre of past civilisations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul vihara, are situated within the park. The number of visitors has risen in 2009 since the security situation in the park improved.
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Recommended review time for sightseeing: 4 h
Snehamuda... [TA], , Bangalore, India
Yala National park is one of the most beautiful national parks in Sri Lanka. The is surrounded by the mighty Indian Ocean. The park has the most number of leopards in the world. There are a number of private agencies that organizes the safari. I went into the park with Janaka Safaris. I had an awesome time at the park. I was fortunate enough to spot leopards, sloth bear, elephants, foxes, deers and crocodiles. I was very happy with the safari guide. He is very knowledgeable and knows the hot spots in the jungle where leopards can be sighted. Yala is a must see place in Sri Lanka. June is the best time to visit.
RuiakaBug... [TA], , Sintra, Portugal
Yala National Park deserves to be visited!! It has more wild life that you can imagine, we just missed leopards...
It's a perfect place to enjoy the wild life. We we're lucky to see elephants and a baby elephant. We also saw crocodiles, wild water buffalos, lots of birds and wild pigs.
NOTE: Stay away from male elephants... one tried to attach another jeep! Respect it!
crazylady... [TA], , ramsbottom
Way beyond our expectations.
5 safaris, 12 leopards, many elephants, snakes, mongoose, spotted deer, samba deer, jackal, wild boar, many birds, monitor lizards, monkeys, crocodiles.
If your interested in wildlife this is a wonderful place to visit. No its not Africa but for its small size it really delivers.
Mike S [TA], , Sydney, Australia
Most go to Yala in early morning but setting out at 12.00 and with 30 minutes each way from hotel plus 5 hours in the park we had a wonderful afternoon. We went to South Africa last year and whilst there weren't as many of the large animals there was still Much wild life to see and so much cheaper. Elephants, crocs, leopard, buffalo, deer, wild boar, many colourful and other birds, etc. A good guide is essential and we were lucky enough to get one. The Park is located adjacent to the sea and the stop by the tsunami monument was sad but interesting. Shame they haven't maitained the monument. Yala was our best day outing of the holiday.
Aditi R [TA], ,
We spotted two leopards within the first half an hour of our safari.
Jeeps arranged were very comfortable.
priyashan... [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka
This was amazing national park we had some great leopards and elephants lots of other wild life
we had an brilliant experience
allison m [TA], , Folkestone, United Kingdom
This was our 2nd visit to Yale, this time with our family and grandchildren, just wanted them to visit this amazing park. We all loved it, and to see the animals in their own habitat is wonderful. We were not quite so lucky this year only 1 leopard sighting against 7 last year butwith all the other animals to see we were not disappointed and will continue to visit Yala, each year on our return to Sri Lanka.An amazing place to go.
DocNewYor... [TA], , New York
If anyone guarantees you a leopard sighting, dont believe them. The leopard is Sri Lanka's apex predator and though Yala is the place with their highest concentration in the world, unless the leopard decides to some out in the open, its unlikely you will see him. That said, the national park itself is really beautiful and you will see a lot of wildlife. Peacocks and crocodiles come by the bucketload. Storks, parrots, beacatchers, pelicans, jungle fowl (Sri Lanka's national bird that so closely resembles a rooster, but with a distinct cry) etc you will likely see. Sambar deer, spotted deer, wild boar and perhaps even the odd elephant may be seen. The flora of the park is also rather nice. There are lots of little and big water bodies. You will probably also take a short break at the park's beach. One thing to keep in mind is that most vehicles seat about 6 and the price of the entrance ticket goes down with the more people that buy together. Use the restrooms by the ticket office.. or else you will have to wait a few hours until you take a break by the beach.
RanilMoun... [TA], , Mount Lavinia
This is the best National Park in Sri Lanka with different ecosystems/ landscapes ranging from wetlands to beach / scrub forests. Best place to spot out leopards, elephants, deer, several species of birds and even crocodiles
Jeanine01 [TA], , Aalsmeer, The Netherlands
Although we did not see any elephant because of nightly rain, we did spot a leopard and a little one in the bushes. We were not the only ones though............
Stourbrid... [TA], , Stourbridge
This was an amazing experience. We were fortunate to see four leopards and one closely for a long time before any other jeeps came by. We took two safaris. One in the am at 5.30 and one in the afternoon at 3pm. Our driver sadjit and our spotter were brilliant and really went out of their way to find leopard on the afternoon. In the morning we saw so many birds, a little tusker elephant, crocodiles, monkeys, spotted deer, boar, water buffalo. We had breakfast by the ocean next to the tsunami memorial. A sad but beautiful spot. Only two jeeps saw leopards on the morning so very few. On the afternoon we had our amazing encounter with the leopard so close and got some amazing photos which I will post on the site when back home. It is difficult when a leopard is spotted as all the jeeps rush to the spot and it can get a bit blocked but generally everyone took their turn and a yala wild employee in the jeeps was moving jeeps on who were taking too long.
Marie T [TA], , Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Excellent park, but a lot of cover which makes looking for the wildlife very difficult. We went two consecutive mornings and saw a fleeting glimpse of a leapord each day, but not a very good view of the secretive animals. The jeep drivers work very hard to find what you ask them to. Well worth a visit.
D C [TA], , Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka
We were here as part of a independent trip to Sri Lanka. We did lots of things in three weeks and this probably was a highlight. Don't expect a wilderness experience with all the vehicles rushing around. The search for leopards was a little over the top, it was nice to see them but we would have rather spent more time looking at elephants. It seems that our predecessors have paid bigger tips when the drivers have found leopards so they are he'll bent on it. We saw other people with guides or rangers, looked like a waste of time/money. If you have some binoculars definitely worth it as due to the noise of the 4x4 's most things are far away.
EstevaPor... [TA], , Aljezur, Portugal
We went with our two children of 5 and 10 years old, and had an amazing expirience. The children love all the animals they saw. unfortunately we didn't saw the Leopard... but a good thing it is that we know they are there undercover! ... well and also saw another turistic atraction... the President of Sri Lank was there... what christma's day we had!
thanks and keep the park protected!
Raad M [TA], , Frankfurt, Germany
It was a great experience, we had a great guide. We had the pleasure of seeing elephants, wild boars, lots of crocodiles, Lizards and a lot of exotic birds. Unfortunately no leopards, but it was a great time none the less.
seascape1... [TA], , Chicago, Illinois
We came to Yala National Park in the hopes of seeing a leopard as it is supposed to have the highest concentration of them in the world. We were not disappointed! Within our first thirty minutes in the park we saw 2 leopard walking single file through the grass in plain sight. Within an hour later we saw one more resting in the forest at the base of a tree. Saw lots of crocodile, elephant, mongoose, wild boar and much more. There is a place on the ocean where the vehicles stop so you can get out and relieve yourself but there are no bathrooms in the park so be advised. We never did seem to get very far into the park as we started to recognize every road we had already been down a dozen times before. The vehicles stay in pretty much just one area of the park it appears. We saw what we came for so it was well worth it. The landscape is very beautiful as well with lakes and open country as well as forest. You cannot go wrong with a visit to Yala.
kenneth b [TA], , singapore
Sri Lanka is a charming country to visit, and it offers great value for travellers.
WIthin Sri Lanka, there is a diverese range of attractions you can choose from: cultural, nature, history etc
This national park is the most popular in the country, and offers a great safari experience at a good price. As africa was out of our budget, we chose sri lanka and we were very glad with our choice. We saw birds, monkeys, spotted deers, leopards and elephants,
We made 2 trips to the safari area (1 day safari tour, and 1 night tour).
Highly recommended. Tip: do allocate 2 nights at a resort near the park to make sure u get to see the leopards, in case of wet weather.
123onther... [TA], , Netherlands
We didn't had a high expectation of this park. But we saw a lot of animals! Crocodiles, deer, big lizard, monkeys, lot of birds, leopard (a little far, but we saw one!)
The setting of the park is nice too. Green bushes and trees, nice little lakes.
All in all a value safari.