Yala National Park

Yala National Park

Check Yala National Park on the Sri Lanka map

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

Tourist reviews about Yala National Park

Worth it!
Birststra... [TA], , Zurich

Wonderful landscape, vast variety of animals. Visiting off-season meant a lot less tourists/cars. Organisation at the gate is a bit chaotic and it took some time to get the tickets. As everywhere, tourist pay a multiple of the price locals pay. When organising the tour/car it is worth asking around and to bargain.

Beautiful park with lots of animals and beautiful views.
Litllewol... [TA], , The Netherlands

We love Yala. This is the second time we been here and it is gorgeous. We have seen a lot of animals. 4 times elephants, a beer, lot of mongoose, buffaloes, wild boar, crocodiles, beautiful birds and so on. We went with Ajith safari, and the driver Anouske made our trip a great one.

Wonderful Experience
JenMats [TA], , Muscat, Oman

Its an amazing experience driving around in the Jeep, we missed sighting the Leopard twice. Got to see many Elephants, Deers, Wild Boar's, Monitor Lizards and many more animals. We had a good driver who didn't keep following other vehicles as a result of which we were not around the area crowded by Jeep's. It is necessary to limit the number of Jeeps in a day to the Park.

Nice park
Nien1986 [TA], ,

We have done a nice half day safari end were lucky to see a leopard and lots of buffelo's, deers, crocodills, mungoose and birds. The roads in the park are sometimes rough. We didn't like that it is really busy, if some jeep see a leopard the tell the other drivers and it id quickly very busy. In the hole park there are none clean toilets.

Wonderful National Park Full of Wildlife
Aleerak [TA], , Sydney, Australia

Having been on many safaris in South Africa, I was hesitant to do yet another safari, but the chance to see a leopard won me over.

After being picked up at 5am, we drove to the park and waited for the gates to open. All the jeep drivers stop to tell each other where the animals are and we were lucky enough to be told where there was a leopard up a tree. We watched him make his lazy way down the tree and across the road into the bush right in front of us.

We kept driving through the park and almost immediately we saw a pride of elephants with their babies, some as young as six months, communicating through noise and the curling of their trucks with one another, as if holding hands.

Although the sighting of animals is not guaranteed, Yala National Park will not disappoint with it's array of wildlife that you get to experience in their natural setting.

All the promises come true
Jean-Pier... [TA], , Deinze, Belgium

Our second park in Sri LanKa and despite of this an absolute must. We saw elephants, crocodiles , buffalos and in our last half hour we spotted a leopard .

Excellent safari
jenn035 [TA], , Manchester, United Kingdom

My first safari here. It was a truly magical experience. From seeing elephants, crocodiles, buffalo, wild boar, birds, monkeys and the infamous leopard. Highly recommended.

Really enjoyable tour for the family
william d [TA], , San Francisco, California

Lots of animals, not that crowded, really great animal spotter

Did not like that we did not see any leopards but apparently they aren't see every day.

June/July are super dry and there are less animals to be seen. Spring or Autumn would probably be best.

With three youngs kids and a grandfather, a half day tour is plenty with lots of bad roads and lurching around. If a young couple then maybe an all day might work but honestly I think you can do it all in a half day.

Not many animals
ackumar [TA], , London

Its an experince, but not many animals were around when we travelled. But please rememeber animals in their natural habitat, it is not in display they only come out when they feel like

Seeing a leopard made it all worthwhile
Sally E [TA], , Letchworth, United Kingdom

In total our safari tour was around 3 hours. For the first half it was really enjoyable as we saw an array of animals including crocodiles, elephants (many babies) buffaloes, boars, mongoose, deer and many birds. However the second half was tedious driving around the same roads with literally no animals in sight. We were just starting to get fed up when we spotted an elusive leopard! We managed to see the leopard for a while. This experience more than made up for the aimless driving around. The quality of your experience will depend on luck, and being in the right place at the right time! However, definitely worth a visit, a great experience!

Honeymoon Sri Lankan tour
Natasha T [TA], , London, United Kingdom

Local driver took us on safari (can book when arrive as so many safari trucks!)
Our driver was an older chap (slower driver) but this was our advantage as he was very attentive and spent as long as we liked at each sight.
We even saw a sloth bear (very rare!) thanks to his patience.
Very very hot, lots of water needed and lightweight cover up clothes.
We always advise going local rather than booking before you go with a tour. This always works to our advantage as we pay a great price but also help out local people.
You have to be Lucky to see some of the animals there (leopards) we saw everything except for them.
Different level compared to Africa (do not compare it's not in the same league!) but a lovely day safari none the less where you can see some lovely scenery and wildlife :-)

Untouched wilderness!
Amy B [TA], , San Francisco, California

We visited during June ~ the off season ~ and it was amazing. Very light crowds (our driver arrived EARLY to avoid the line entering the park) & it was a great time to see wildlife. Rains had not yet begun, so trolling the watering holds provided lots to see. Next time we'll stay overnight in the park. Stunning!

Lots of animals
chrissieM... [TA], , melbourne

We enjoyed our trip into the park. Saw many elephants, 2 black bears, buffaloes, crocs etc. the leopards were elusive although our guide did his best to track them down to no avail.

Way over rated
K B [TA], , Lafayette, California

Yala is supposed to have the highest concentration of leopards in the world. In our experience, it seemed to have the highest concentration of tourists and leopards were few and far between. We were lucky enough to see one for about 60 seconds in between the jeep in front and the jeep behind.
On the other hand, for people interested in water buffalos, peacocks and crocodiles, there were plenty of those.

Abundance of wildlife
Clarkstra... [TA], , australia

Well done to Sri Lanka for setting aside this National park to let the animals and birds live in their natural surroundings. We saw so much including three leopards which was such a thrill. Also saw elephants, wild boar, jackels, deer, crocodiles, mongoose, lizards and a huge variety of beautiful birds. It was well worth getting up at 5am so that we were in the park at dawn.
Huge tourist attraction but unfortunately no facilities at this stage. They badly need a toilet block and cafe for tourist comfort.
Only jeep tours in the park. No private cars.

So much to see
Joan1249 [TA], , Stockport, United Kingdom

I loved the variety of animals & seeing them in the wild was special. Visiting the beach where the Tsunami hit was an experience.

Stands up to its promise!! All kinds of wild life
SlowTripp... [TA], , Dallas, Texas

It's cheap and worth every penny. You will see all kinds of birds, crocodiles, wild buffaloes, leopards, elephants, monitor lizards, bears, a very rare squirrel, monkeys etc etc. Take a guide with you. I have no idea how our guide spotted all the birds and animals. We would have missed it all.

Amazing animal sitings!!!
manzano [TA], , Washington,DC

We saw wild elephants (which was on top of my list of what I wanted to do during my trip to Sri Lanka), crocs. water buffaloes, deer, monkeys, mongeese, birds, birds, birds, wild boar and more.I only wish that the park employee who is required to travel with all visitors knew more about the animals that we were seeing.

Julescox3... [TA], , Hamilton, New Zealand

Had a fantastic day, saw everything from elephants to leopards, highly recommend it! Your guide will provide lunch

Must Visit Place in Sri Lanka
anuranga [TA], , negombo

See all animals in Sri lanka in this National Park....;) Elephants / Leopards / Birds / Crocodiles and lots of lots of wild Animals....

Must visit place in Sri Lanka
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.

Don't miss it!!!!
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!

12 Leopard sightings.
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.

Great afternoon out
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.

Spotted leopards!
Aditi R [TA], ,

We spotted two leopards within the first half an hour of our safari.
Jeeps arranged were very comfortable.

Amazing Yala
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

2nd visit to Yale
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.

Great Park
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.

This is the best National Park in Sri Lanka
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

Nice park to visit
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............

Lucky to see leopard
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.

Yala National Park
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.

We had a good morning
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.

Wonderful park
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.

Amazing experience!
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.

Off the beaten track experience
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.

nice park, lot of animals
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.

Quite a lot of wildlife but very bumpy tracks
wolfhill [TA], , Harrow

We spent four hours in the park and managed to see a great deal of wildlife including Elephants, Leopard, Wild Pig, Mongoose, Monitor Lizard, Deer and a host of bird life.
The only drawback is the dust and the very uneven tracks.

My experience was incredible
Emily B [TA], , Chelmsford, United Kingdom

As with all safaris you take a risk, but we got to see everything, our driver was amazing and it was an incredible experience. The park is beautiful with a gorgeous beach stop half way through. We saw lots of monkeys, crocodiles, birds, peacocks and the leopards and elephants. Truly amazing.

bonitaste... [TA], , Hanau, Deutschland

We were very lucky and saw many animals. Lots of crocodiles, deer, elephants, a turtle, birds, and even a leopard. We went on an afternoon safari and had a jeep just for the two of us, so we could move around and stop whenever we wanted. We were among the first to spot the leopard and it was amazing. There were heaps of jeeps in the end and I think it was a good thing that he was across a waterhole so nobody could try to get too close or chase him.

Great trip
roastlamb [TA], , Yorkshire

Great safari with many elephants, water buffalo, water monitor, peacocks, Bee eaters, Kingfishers and more

CliffandA... [TA], , UK

This was an excellent trip, we saw all the animals including the Leopard who was chilled out sleeping in a tree. There quiet a lot of safari vehicles in the park, our driver took us off the beaten track to watch the animals in peace, take a good pair of binoculars with you.

DarlingK7... [TA], , Hulhumale Maldives

We had to leave our guest house at 5AM but was Totally worth it!!! 20 mins into the park we saw a heard of spotted deer and wild boar grazing in the field, then off to the left under the trees were two leopards stalking the potential prey! Oh my was worth the early rise. We were So Lucky!!! Our guide was very knowledgeable and quick to point out the wild life. We did the 1/2 day tour, at first we thought it was a bit expensive, but seeing all that we did it was worth every penny. Saw many elephants, moms with babies and a huge big tusk one walking on the road trying to see if there was any fruit in the jeeps for him:0) Saw almost everything advertised on the website. Most memorable experience for us!

Beautiful verdant park, animals abound
Threebert... [TA], , Brighton, United Kingdom

Title says it all really. If you are used to drier, savannah parks, you should be thrilled with Yala - even when there are no animals to see (and there usually are), the landscape with plenty of little ponds and natural watering holes is a thrill for the eyes, including some weirdly lovely rock formations. Only "big" sighting we didn't have is leopard. Otherwise, feast your eyes, and enjoy!

Do a safari!
Imation [TA], , Queensland

We did a 2 day safari with Kulu Safari's and couldn't rave about it enough. A fantastic way to see the National Park and he safari camp is 5 star .... don't even get me onto the amazing food!

Best of wildlife
Kanishka... [TA], , Kandy, Sri Lanka

Its still the best park in Sri Lanka where you can see almost all the wildlife leopard, Elephant, Sloth bear Crocs, Sambur you name it of course not forgetting the birds. However this place gets very crowded during weekends and you can hardly spend time watching animals at leisure as most of the safari jeep drivers run a race trying to show their clients much as they can. Be sensible if your a traveler and insist they drive slow inside the park and spend time specially on water holes your see more diversity its not only the leopard and elephant.

OK but
powellnor... [TA], , norwich uk

If you have been to Kruger national park in South Africa Yala is a little disappointing. We did have an excellent tracker guide but failed to see leopard. We did however see a black bear close up a tree(the highlight of the visit).

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