Yala National Park

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.
Get more information here

You can also stay a night in luxury tents near the park, Elephant Lake Yala Campsite

Recommended review time for sightseeing: 4 h

Tourist reviews about Yala National Park

Good Safari
Morgan W [TA], , Minneapolis, Minnesota

We saw a variety of wildlife on our safari, including leopards and elephants. Doesn't really matter what company you go through, they are all in similar vehicles and drive to the same places. Try to get a driver that speaks your native language though, that adds to the experience.

Also, arrive early and leave early. Three hours is plenty. Keep in mind the road in the park are brutal. It was fun for the first part of the day, but by the end we were too tired and hot to enjoy it.

I didnot see a leopard
mossgrant [TA], , London, United Kingdom

You are taken round in a jeep. The guide is looking for leopards, elephants, wild pigs, crocodiles, mongooses and many wild birds.
Well worth a visit

A good afternoon out
Pat19 [TA], , Shrewsbury, Shropshire

It's a long afternoon trip and you do get quite knocked about in the back of the jeep (as we were the only two on board this wasn't too bad!) but you do see a lot of the national park and the wildlife therein. Drivers can get a bit wild and sometimes there is a bit of scramble to get at an attraction. Once we spotted a Leopard there must have been 40 jeeps jostling to get a view. Despite this a good day out with lots of Elephant and water buffalo, deer, wild boar, and many varieties of birds.

Elephant paradise
Ana Chris... [TA], , Rio de Janeiro, RJ

We spent 3 hours inside yala National Park and mostly saw packs and packs of elephants. Two of them, trying to protect the young ones, got angry at so many jeeps stopping by them all at one time, that it started "growling" and "shouting" and tried to push one of the jeeps, even sitting on its hood. It was quite a sight! We saw many birds and peacocks, 2 huge crocs, boars, buffalo. Unfortunately no leopards! We reached the beautiful beach, but it was sad to remeber the unfortunate ones who died due to the tsunami.

Rare animal sightings--leopards, sloth bear
Anchorage... [TA], , Anchorage

We really enjoyed our time at Yala National Park. We did one full day safari. We saw 2 leopards--one very close. We saw sloth bears, elephants, mongoose, deer, crocodiles, monkeys, exotic birds, etc. Again, there are no restrooms in the park, which is a big negative. We had lunch at a sandy beach along the ocean where you could wade into the ocean. Ironically, there were no restrooms, so we just had to use the bushes. I find it hard to believe that most people are able to go 8 hours without using the restroom. Seems it would be more environmentally friendly to provide minimal restroom facilities or a port a potty of some sort. Still, the animal sightings were spectacular, the beach stop was fun, and we had a great time!

Elephants all obver the place
Mar L [TA], , Mainz, Germany

I heard the place is crowded with tourists, but we were lucky and had a quiet day with many elephants to see and a lot of other wild animals crossing the street and having a bath in the numerous lakes of the area.

Very nice but busy
Gert-Jan... [TA], , Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We ad a very relaxed driver that showed us everything there is to see. But other drivers were not so relaxed which made it a bit like the Wild West

Good experience
Anthony J [TA], , Almería, Andalucia, Spain

Very nice park with good wildlife. The main park in Sri Lanka to see leopards - we saw one on two out of our three safaris, ut this does mean that the park is pretty busy and too many jeeps congregate around the leopard sightiings. We were lucky with our second sighting as the leopard came out of the bushes in front of us and walked along the road for a bit and we were on our own. We stayed in Cinnamon Wild which is in the park and an excellent base

Weekend trip!
africanbo... [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

I can say that I enjoyed Yala so much that we will go back. We saw lots of wild boars, deers, random elephants, water buffalo, many types of birds and 1 leapord at a far distance. Thankful for a good zoom on my camera.The driver picked us up on time always and we spent a lot of time out. My only dislike is well they drive too fast and are pushing to see the lepoard which can cause you to miss other animals. You can tap on the side of the jeep to get them to stop but I recommend you tell them before leaving what you want to see. Then tell them to stop whenever they see those things you shared with them.

Very exciting and ultimately rewarding safari
123915 [TA], , Greater London, United Kingdom

We liked the variety of species we were fortunate to witness including Leopards. The rides on the jeep are bumpy but this merely added to the excitement.

Beautiful Park with limited animals
crbarton [TA], , Liverpool, United Kingdom

Did the early morning safari in a good jeep just the 2 of us. It cannot hold a candle to African safari's as there simply isn't the volume of animals, but the park is beautiful with lots of watering lakes. Saw tonnes of water buffalo and peacocks, some jackals, no elephants, and a young leopard running round up a tree. One all the other jeeps learnt were it was, it was being stuck in city centre traffic but as we got there second we did ok!!
The fun is in the hunt but the more you do such trips the more you realise it can be hit and miss, at least it was warm throughout unlike Africa!!!

Worth visiting - really enjoyable
Anne W [TA], ,

We spent an afternoon in Yala, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We have never been to Africa, which I imagine would surpass Yala, but still we saw enough and can recommend it. It started slowly, and I thought okay this is like fishing - they tell you there are fish in the sea but you just don't seem to be able to catch them, but within ten minutes we saw water buffalo (wild and domesticated), crocodiles and samba deer. Over the following 2 hours we saw wart hogs, spotted deer, an amazing number of birds, elephants and 2 leopards. From my experience the guides from every tour company were fantastic and all went out of their way to make sure you saw as much as you could. Definitely worth a trip. Here we come Africa - we've got a taste for this!

Loved every minute
Renoir999 [TA], , Lincoln, United Kingdom

We did two safari's, a 4 hour afternoon safari on the first day then a 10 hour full day safari on the second day and loved every minute. Our trip was part of tour arranged by Rainbow tours from Kandy and Tilak who had been our guide/driver for the trip also doubled up as wildlife spotter. We saw 3 leopards including an alpha male very close, elephants, water buffalo, crocodiles, jackals, wild boar, mongoose, monkeys, peacocks, deer, eagles, monitor lizards etc etc and loved every minute. The vehicle we used was a largish 4 x 4 and as there was only 4 of us (driver & guide were sat in the cab) all of us had a good seat. This was one of if not the highlight of our trip to Sri Lanka

It was OK
Atieh A [TA], ,

Ok, so I have been to Safaris in Africa, so this obviously pales in comparison. However, even to Sri Lanka standards, it was not that great and overpriced, as usual. When we went the weather wasn't bad, but the weather the previous days was very bad, so apparently many animals weren't going out. The ride and landscapes were nice, but we were not very lucky in animal spottings. Other than the fact that we only got to see one lone elephant, we did not see any leopards - which can't be guaranteed anyways. We saw a lot of the usual bores and water buffaloes, lots of nice birds (especially peacocks), a few common deers (not the barking ones) and a couple of alligators. The coolest things we saw were the muskrat, which I had never seen, and a huge porcupine, which is apparently pretty rare to see there.
I would still recommend going on a safari in Sri Lanka, if you get the chance, though I'm not sure if Yala would be the best place. Only go there if you want to have the chance to see a leopard, no guarantees - which is something we knew. I heard that Wilpattu may be better, because it is less visited then the high traffic Yala. If you have the chance to visit several times (pricey), then you would probably see some. In hindsight, we probably would have enjoyed the nearby Udawalawe more, because you are virtually guaranteed to see large herds of wild elephants there and I heard the landscapes are more beautiful there, as well, though Yala's were also pretty nice.
I don't blame our driver, he drove us at least a couple extra hours, for free, searching for leopards, but no luck.

dont go there!
annaX5938... [TA], , Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

The guides have no idea of animals an nature. They use the park for car ralleys. Youre not able to see the animals because they drive so fast, you just cant see anything. Guides go out of the cars to disturb the animals so you can make better pictures ( as they say )
If one sees an animal he calls the other guides and the animal is surrounded by 15 cars as has no way to hide or dissapear.
Dangerous and no fun!

Well worth a visit
bethm1UK [TA], , Cornwall, UK

The park is very interesting, with a huge variety of birds and quite enough crocodiles for me. We did not see a leopard which was disappointing, but maybe not unexpected, but we did see elephant. The driver we used was as good as any tracker in terms of knowledge and the ability to spott and recognise wild life whilst drivingy

Not as busy as we had expected
Alex S [TA], , Utrecht, The Netherlands

We doubted whether we should go to Yala or not. We had visited Wilpattu and Wasgamuwa nationial parks before on our Sri Lanka trip and had seen lots of elephants and a leopard. You read stories of traffic jams, cars racing through the Yala park on the internet. But we decided to give it a try and were not disappointed. There we 'only' about 25 safari-jeeps at the park entrance at 6am. As we were birdwatching, we didn't focus on mammals, but on the birds. There are a lot of tracks in the park and despite the number of cars, they didn't disturb our birdwatching. The day we visited Yala no elephants and no leopards were spotted by any car. Keep that in mind when going to Yala. The birdwatching was OK, the scenery was Ok and the number of other cars were OK. So a 3* rating. But.... for elephants go to Udawawale NP (100 % guaranteed) and for wildlife, nice scenery and no tourists go to Wilpattu NP (more wildlife, especially deer).

Simply stunning!
Roberts74... [TA], , Hong Kong, China

Totally beautiful! We took the early morning safari from 5am - 12pm! watching the sun come up over the park was intensly beautiful- just breath taking. We were very fortunate to see wide variety of animals and birds including 3 leopards!

Well worth doing
T1NT1N [TA], , Sydney

Better to do an afternoon tour and when it is cooler during the day as our driver said there was more chance of seeing wild life

Nothing there
Fernand R [TA], , Lausanne, Switzerland

If you're lucky you will see the elephants but overall the wildest best we saw was the Jeeps... hundreds of them around the park fighting for a spot to see an animal. The park itself is beautiful and the sunrise is quite an experience. For the rest, enjoy the ride as the Jeeps are comfortable and if you're lucky you might see a leopard. We were not!

Something different
Cath N [TA], , Hong Kong, China

If you are big fans of peacock or leopard, make sure you don't miss this. But even you don't like animals that much, you can still enjoy the nature and the stunning view. It's good to spend a day with family and friends.

Okay for a first time safari
Halima R [TA], , Dubai, United Arab Emirates

This was the first safari I've been to in my life. We arrived by 5:30, the drive to the park was very nice as it was approaching sunrise so the views and breeze were fantastic. Had to wait a very long time to receive our tickets. Many jeeps go into the park at once. Wasn't too crowded unless an animal is spotted so everyone hovers the area. There were many birds, peacocks, pelicans, some deers, bulls and crocodiles. Sadly no leopards. It was okay to experience a safari for a first time. Not much to see in the wildlife though. Better to do it somewhere in Africa with more wildlife to visualize.

Huge Park. Fun Safari!
ToDubaiAn... [TA], , Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

There are so many jeeps operating in this park, so you need to tell the driver if you want to stay with the 'pack' and hunt the elephants and leopards or are happy to go on the smaller tracks, away from the crowds and see what you can find. Great experience for the whole family.

Who doesn't love animals?!
selz2015 [TA], , Riga, Latvia

We have no big experience with with safari, but we definitely love Yala park.
We visited it with our guide and took local Yala guide. Yala guide was so unnecessary, because we saw animals before him and he was very quite all the time. And we saw a lot of animals, even leopards! So we were very amazed. Only thing you need to come straight to Park opening in the morning. After it will get too crowded.

To many vehicles!
traveler... [TA], , Zug, Switzerland

The safari experience itself was quite positive. We saw a lot of different birds and water buffalos. Even elephants crossed our way!

What we didn't like was the way they did the safari. There have been about 50 jeeps trying (most of the time in a row, we sometimes felt like on a normal Sri Lankan road with to many cars) to find animals. It is rather a mass processing.

we went on a really good day
nlaguiler... [TA], , Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

After reading other reviews I think we must have gone on a really great day. We saw tons of animals including two leopards. There were a lot of other vehicles like many people have noted but we all quickly separated and I rarely saw more than two other vehicles other than when we stopped at the break point. It must really depend on your guide as ours was able to find so many different animals.

Highlight of our trip
afjadhav [TA], , Bengaluru (Bangalore), India

Yala National Park was a fantastic safari experience, made better by using Ajith Safari Tours and our comfortable, affordable stay at Tissa Resort. Just two nights in Tissa but a full-day safari could hardly have turned out better. We saw all the highlights we expected including a really fantastic time with a young male tusker who decided to just show off for us.

Jonathan... [TA], ,

It's like a big zoo. Is it a natural habitat if cars a driving around every day with lots of people?

The vision in Yala National Park isn't nice because there are a lot of bushes. I've been to Africa and you shouldn't compare it because than there isn't much to see over here... If you want to do a safari in Sri Lanka it's smarter to go to Hdawalawe national park. It should be more beautiful.

We had bad look maybe because there was a lot of rain but even without the rain I think we wouldn't have seen much more...

If you still want to go, go early. after sun rise most of the animals will hide and you're driving around but you don't see much anymore.

Lots of Animals - Lots of Jeeps
tdh42 [TA], , Redmond, Washington

Yala NP limits the areas within the park where safaris tours can visit however they don't limit the number of visitors to the area that is open for visitors. This is good and bad, because it is protecting large areas just for the plants, birds and animals. However, it puts enormous pressure on the areas that are open to the public. You will rarely be in a place when there aren't other jeeps around. We had spotted a leopard one day way back in the jungle (all I could see was spots through the binoculars) - and soon had 20 other jeeps there - and another 30+ that drove by. It felt like a traffic jam during rush hour.

You will see lots of animals. Elephants, water buffalo, sambar and white spotted deer, monkeys, jackals, crocodiles, wild boar and more. And tons of birds. Birds of prey, water birds, peacocks, songbirds. You rarely go around a turn without seeing something. And try to avoid rainy days. The first day we saw lots of animals including a leopard. The second day it was raining and we saw mostly deer and birds.

The night before our drive it rained heavily. So, the roads were covered with water. But the jeeps all sit up and have four wheel drive. We drove through several areas that looked like lakes and were fine. But the animals don't like the rain, particularly cats. So we saw our leopard late in the afternoon when the sun had come up and dried things out a little. Patience is required. We waited for 40 minutes for the leopard to come out of the jungle. And were rewarded with the most beautiful and graceful creature. We watched her for about 20 minutes with the jeeps jockeying for place. Then she went behind us and ran across the road.

The drivers all have cell phones and apparently coverage is good in the park - so they will call each other when there are sightings. So you spend a lot of time driving like a bat out of hell to get to a "sighting" area.

Go to this park for all the animals. If you go just for the leopard you may be disappointed. We had to let our guide/driver know we were happy to see the place - the scenery, watch the water birds fishing, watch the jackals hunting - just slow down and enjoy the sounds of the jungle.

We had booked our safari online. But both days we went out with couples who just booked when they arrived in Tissa. Don't book through your hotel - much less expensive to book direcly with the safari company. Many of them are in Tissa, or outside hotels. We could have got a better deal if we had waited. Also we paid in US dollars and received a better than market exchange rate. This way you can also check the weather forecast and book your safari on sunnier days - or morning or afternoon - depending on the weather.

There is one place on the beach where all the jeeps stop for lunch and toilet breaks. The facilities are rustic, so I just walked down the beach and went behind a bush.

Amazing experience
jennath Z [TA], ,

Amazing experience !! We spotted two leopards, a crocodile, many elephants, peacocks and many other reptiles, birds & mammals in the wild.

Due to the rain in the prior weeks the safari path was washed off which made the ride a extra bumpy one.

We went for the early morning Safari which starts of at 5am. It was a fantastic. Fortunately we had a yala official guide sitting in our jeep who guided us through the forest to the right sighting points.

I would like to come back during summer again to see some bears we missed to sight today :)

It's Safari, not a ZOO
Wil H [TA], , Prague, Czech Republic

If you are nature lover, you will probably like it (even you have no oportunity to walk), otherwise you will probably sleep in your jeep like many ppl that se met during our safari ride. Don't expect ZOO like experience and watching animals from close. It's possible that you can not see some animals at all, even elephants. Leopard "hunting" was pretty ugly experience - jeeps from all of the park rides to one place when someone have seen one leopard. Many of animals you can meet out of Yala without any problems, especially varans, many birds, monkeys. For example if you take a walk around Tangalle lagoon.

Biggest Disappointment of whole Holiday
Justine K [TA], , Akyaka, Turkey

I felt I must write this review to warn potential visitors that you may be very disappointed with your safari as my husband and I were. When we pulled up at the gate and saw about 150 Safari Jeeps ready to go in we knew this didn't bode well. It was like a convoy of Jeeps the whole time which obviously chased all the wildlife there is in the park away. We saw water buffalo and peacocks which you can spot anywhere in sri lanka and an elephant at a distance through thick bush. I am sure that in quieter season with less Jeeps there would be an abundance of wildlife to spot. However Yala National Park must do something to control the numbers of Jeeps entering the park at any one time. Whilst they are letting such huge numbers in I would definitely not recommended. It was a very expensive disappoint for us.

Erin L [TA], ,

We saw a lot of animal bird, elephant, buffalo and crocodile, but sadly, it was raining, we didn't see leopard.

Fantastic Wildlife
Kris V [TA], ,

Yala National Park is worth visiting during your trip to Sri Lanka which is abundant with Leopards, Elephants, Bears, Spotted Deer, Crocodiles and many varieties of birds.

It is important that you hire a good comfortable Jeep and a knowledgeable driver for the game drive as they can take you to the prime spotting areas.

Pre booking safaris will be hassle free.

Really good!
Abbey202 [TA], , Manchester, United Kingdom

Managed to see 5 leopards over 2 days! Some parts were quite busy and having a guide was really helpful.

Excellent place for wild life and bird watching
audant [TA], , doha

We did three safaris here, and it was an excellent place for both leopard spotting and bird watching. There are a few suggestions that needs to be taken seriously without which there is bound to be a serious incident very soon.
1. The safari drivers and the guides must be responsible for silence in the vehicle. There is so much shouting that it can easily unnerve a leopard.
2. There has to be a rule that there should be a minimum of five feet distance between two vehicles to allow animals cross roads. Currently as soon as a leopard is spotted you have around fifty jeeps literally one on top of the other. With so many vehicles blocking the roads and with so much noise around, the animal is definitely going to panic and run amok one of these day.
3. There should be a strict ban on people getting down from the jeeps. This should be the responsibility of the jeep drivers. I saw a few people get down the jeep to take pictures of the leopard.

The best park we visited on our tour
catalpa54... [TA], , Redhill, United Kingdom

Jeep safaris of various durations are available. If possible take one early morning and one in the afternoon.Late in our afternoon excursion we found ourselves in a queue of jeeps waiting to get shots of a leopard who had eventually come down into an area where it could be seen.

Guides are keen,sharp eyed and can identify the birds very well and all carry bird guides.

We saw leopard, elephant, crocodile, mongoose, water buffalo, deer.. and many very beautiful birds. The ride can be quite bumpy.. but worth it.

Highly recommended,

Dry season is best for seeing Animals
squarekiw... [TA], ,

Book a jeep through the hotel, they generally get good jeep divers and they agree pricing rather than haggling with locals in jeeps

Amazing wildlife experience
GlobalPG [TA], , Carlisle, United Kingdom

Loved the abundance of wildlife and this is one of the few places in the world that you can see animals like elephants and leopards in their natural environment. Be prepared for a bumpy ride though as the dirt roads can be rough. Animals may not be easy to spot as there is a lot of forest and scrub, but there would be less enjoyment if there was no challenge.
It would be good to see a little more control in how the safari jeeps act when some of the charismatic species are being viewed, although I think they are trying to address this. The drivers feel under pressure to do the best for both the clients and their hotel bosses, as they need good reviews on this site to keep up business. You can see how the happiness of the animals might not always be considered as much as it should be.

Do not go if it is raining!
frenchyin... [TA], , Barcelona, Spain

Complete waste of time and money
Only deers and Buffaloes were out
6 hours... Really boring and unpleasant as I was all wet.

I guess the driver/ guide will make a difference so make sure you pick an experienced one (which can be difficult as the one I booked had good reviews but it was not good...

langying3... [TA], , China

Yala National Park is one of the most attractive place I visited in Sri Lanka. You will be encountered an unexpected wildlife every minute. The safari is full of surprise and curiosity. Sajan is a very nice and excellent driver to do Safari. I really enjoyed my Safari. Yala national Park is a fabulous place to visit, you need a proper guide and driver in a specially designed vehicle there are so many animals..

Timeing is Everything
seafare74 [TA], , SF, California

We booked the 5:00am - Noon jeep safari with "yalasafarisrilanka" through Ebert at Traveller's Home Guesthouse in Tissa. We had a good time bounceing around in the comfortable seats that are positioned so that all six passengers have a good view. We saw many types of animals and fairly close up at times, including large Elephants. Of course we really wanted to see Leopards and we did see just one that was sleeping in a tree at a distance. Our friend went the day before with same company and saw four, so timeing is everything. There are many jeeps in the park and they call one another on their cell phones when a Leopard is sited. This can be good or bad as several jeeps will converge on the same spot and jockey for the best position on the narrow dirt road. We had a good driver and the safari was very professionally operated. You should know that it can be a bit windy and dusty at times traveling in the back of a jeep so a scarf or dust mask helps. Overall good experience though.

Cool approach to Safaring
Gabriel B [TA], , Vina del Mar, Chile

It's a nice experience to see mainly birds, water buffaloes and elephants, the leopards are really hard to see (almost 50%) and if you do, you don't get so close as in Western Africa. Even it's worth the visit!

phoenix27... [TA], , Regensburg, Germany

we saw Elefants,buffalos,birds,leopards. the guide was very friendly and explained very much about the animals

Yala National Park, Tissamaharamaya, Sri Lanka
Wasantha... [TA], , Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

Yala is a very famous National Park, located in down south of Sri Lanka, about 300km from Colombo. This Park is famous for Safari trips operated by well built Safari Jeeps, usually owned by private owners. Inside the Park, it would usually take about 3-4 hours to complete the Safari Trip and it would travel a distance of about 80-100km within the Park to complete the trip.
You may see a lot of wild animals, amongst them are the Leopards, Elephants, Deers, Crocodiles, and various kinds of Birds, to name a few. Peacocks are very common in this area. You may also visit the beach area in a corner during this trip where this beach area was hit by Tsunami in 2004.
The best timing to go on a Safari Trip is either very early morning or late in the afternoon. Usually, during the day time, the animals would not be freely available to be seen.
Also, advisable to carry some water and snacks to refresh yourself.

Better to go to Udawalale
NomadicBo... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

We did a 2 days safari with Master Campers. First day here, second at Udawalale.

We saw elephants at both and were lucky to see leopards at both. But it was easier to spot and more pleasant at Udawalale as there were far fewer people and less trees/shrubs giving you better visibility of the animals.

The high number of vehicles and people at Yala chasing and running to see a sighting became more of an attraction then the animals themselves!

The best national park to visit
Lloyd P [TA], , Kandy, Sri Lanka

The opportunity to see most of the wild animals , spotting the leopard was wonderful. there s migrating birds which flock to the lakes .you can spot peacock very easily

Out of this world experience
GlynisWoo... [TA], , Hednesford, United Kingdom

Yala national Park is a fabulous place to visit, you need a proper guide and driver in a specially designed vehicle there are so many animals, Elephants, jackal, crocodile, leopard and monkeys to name but a few, the bird life is stunning we saw 60 new species.

Wildlife abounds
Louise_La... [TA], , Bristol England

We had 2 half day jeep safaris in this wonderful national park. We saw so many different animals, including leopards, wild boar and water buffalo.

Lucky to see the Leopard TWICE!
BenChiang... [TA], , Singapore

Visit Sri lanka with Samakoon tours with our host and now friend- Sam. Easily the best guide ever. He brought us to visit Yala national park and had a great time seeing all the animals in the wild. The guide/driver that Sam introduced to us could be the best sniper ever with his sharp eyes that spotted the leopard in the trees. Took me 1/2 a min to actually spot it. And we had an encounter of another leopard running across our truck in close proximity! Also, Sam's guide was also 30% cheaper than another service provider. Tasked elephants, deers, crocodiles, and birds were spotted in their natural habitat. It is really a great national park that one must visit when you are in Sri Lanka.

Mother Nature in the Morning
stefkicks... [TA], , Manila, Philippines

This was my 2nd safari and unlike the one in Kenya, was more lush, and jungle like. We started as soon as the park opened at 6am, and were immediately treated to an impressive collection of exotic birds - pelicans, storks, owls, peacocks showing off on top of treetops and other winged friends that I can't even name, crocodiles, and a few elephants that said hello in the middle of our path. We were extremely lucky that our guide/driver turned photographer (sometimes if you can't get a good shot, don't be afraid to ask the guide/driver to snap a picture for you) was a great spotter and even got to see a few leopards sleeping in tree trunks.

Unlike in Kenya, it seems to be harder to spot animals in this park, but the drive itself is stunning as you breathe in the revitalising clean air, foliage, and basically Mother Nature's work all around you.

Start the tour early while the weather is still cool. We started feeling the sun a little around 9:30am, so plan ahead.

The best family experience
rachjuly2... [TA], , New Zealand

From the moment we meet our driver and naturalist for our stay at Yala, our safari experience was highlighted by the superb food, the environmental, historical, and cultural experiences we enjoyed, the care taken for our satisfaction and the expert knowledge of the naturalists and all staff at Yala, who combined to make our visit a truly exceptional experience.
Travelling as a mother and daughter (5 1/2yrs), we were excited to finish our time in Sri Lanka with this special experience. We were so privilaged to see all the wildlife except the sloth, so felt very lucky indeed. We were even taken to witness the perehara festival on our one night stay.
My only regret is that we could not stay longer to enjoy the environment more.
I wish to thank our team for their exceptional care and inclusion of my daughter, it has been a really special experience for her, one she will always remember.

Iva82 [TA], , Bratislava, Slovakia

We had the luck to see all animals we wanted to see including a leopard. The safari is excellent with elephants, bufallos, birds, crocodiles ect. The jeep is comfortable and we had a great guide. Take some water / proviant with you as you can go for 4-5-8h safari and no refreshment options bejond the entrance. Price per head cca 60USD.

Wildlife photography
Botumato [TA], , Bratislava, Slovakia

We were here for taking wildlife photo, ideal place when you have good driver/guide. Crowded, especially when leopard was seen. And many peoples take photo with compacts, mobile and tablets :-) even when 300mm telephoto lens is short

Great park and safari
Catharina... [TA], , Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The park is beautiful, with lots of stunning views and great animals. However, it is weird how all the jeep drivers compete with each other to get the first sight of a leopard, and how they block each other's view. Yala has become too touristic, I think, and it's not really a natural thing to race around in those jeeps. But then again, I saw beautiful things and my own experience was a great one.

Great ride into the National park
RD8211 [TA], , Sydney, Australia

Well kept and maintained. Great to see animals out in the open in their element. Saw wild boars, monkeys, elephants, mongooses, deer and a gorgeous leopard.

The safari guys call each other up and give them the heads up for where the animals are so that the everyone gets an experience / view.

Almost tear inducing
AdamBilgy [TA], , Trowbridge, United Kingdom

Although the national park is stunning with lots of animals to see, the local philosophy is to cram as many tourist in with little regard for the wildlife. We were one of approx. 20 jeeps all going very close to the elephants on their way to the watering hole, and making the large males both angry and scared. I would avoid this place to see Elephants in the wild, with much better options in both Africa and Northern India. After our excursion I felt like I had been part of something that I felt ashamed of.

It was OK
Paladinka... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

Unfortunately we didn't see as many animals as we would hope so. This is perhaps due to the parks layout and the fact that there is a lot of overgrowth and as such preventing to see into the distance. However, we did see a few crocodiles, mongoose, various birds ohh and a trunk of an elephant! Would I come back? Probably no. However, saying that it is an experience and I don't want to put anyone off from trying it. I just didn't feel I go out of it what I was expecting. Perhaps my expectations were high :)

nice but busy
michael w [TA], , Rotterdam, The Netherlands

we didn't see so many animals except some crocodiles and few elephants it was bit difficult to stay 3 hours in the jeep with the children, and for my opinion there are too many cars going around i was expecting more wilderness.

Just a perfect day
Guliz K [TA], , Ankara, Turkey

It was great to see a leopard.. We made an evening safari but i think morning or full day safari is better. You can see elephants, many birds, water buffalos, wild boars, deers and leopards in Yala NP and i am sure i will be impressed :)

Ive seen there a lot of animals
Jakub G [TA], ,

If you love animals its a great place to see them free in their natural enviroment. During our safari we've seen a lot of birds, deers, buffalos, elephants, lepard, crocodiles.
When some driver will see the leopard it could be a lil bit crowdy with jeeps but everyone wants to see them so you must share your view.

It was awesome safari
yasindu [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

we really enjoyed our safari.,.,i would like to tell to the people who taking safari like tour guiders safari cab drivers,,please let every one to enjoy & watch the animals,.,do not be selfish ..,.

Yala National Park
Rohan A L... [TA], , Gampaha, Sri Lanka

This is leopard country, and they are the Lords of the Jungle! With a leopard density that's higher than anywhere else on this planet, these menacing predators prowl majestically in Yala, while elephants roam in their numbers with cautious deer scampering by their side.

Safari trip early morning to Yala
MANOHARI1 [TA], , bgunawar@ap.ansell.com

The jeep ride commenced slightly before 6 am from the hotel which was about a kilometre away from the entrance to the park. The jeep drivers buy your tickets and do not show you the receipt. Make sure you ask for the receipt and check your balance. The sunrise was wonderful. The park had been opened nearly three weeks ago and the were many leopard and bear sightings recorded on the boards at e Cinnamon Wold Hotel where we stayed. We saw many peacocks in various stages of movement. Some were drying their feathers while some were in full display. There were also wild boar, deer and buffaloes not to mention elephants eagles and jungle fowl. However there was one leopard sighting by fellow safarigoers which unfortunately we could not see due to the fact one group reused to move their jeep for a long time and therefore the leopard just climbed down and walked away. All jeep drivers compare notes but there were way too many vehicles inside the park. All in all a balanced experience. However never despair you will still see some in their natural habitat which is rewarding.

Lovely hotel
Rajnikant... [TA], , Coventry, United Kingdom

Like this hotel because pleasant surrounding. Only thing its too far from city so no hustle and bustle.

No better place in the world to observe leopards in the world
jetwin [TA], ,

My wife and I visited Yala on 27th and 28th October.Entering the park on the 27th at around 3pm and going round for 3hrs we were able to see only one onepard on a tree quite close to the road.On the 28th morning we entered the park at 6am and within 15 minutes we were lucky to spot 2 leopards on a 5ft high rockoutcrop just by the road.We watched this male and female cavorting on the rock for over 20mts with surprisingly no other vehicles to disturb us.When they were about to mate 2other jeeps arrived and they were disturbed.In my 50yrs of visiting this park this is the best sighting I have ever had.
In all we saw 4 leopards on this trip but only 6 elephants.The roads in the.park were excellent and the park was.not too crowded.

Pity the wildlife
Beverley... [TA], , Southport, Australia

The park only re-opened after a long drought when we were in Sri Lanka, much to our delight. That must be the reason for the dozens of jeeps tearing around the place at high speed, all arriving at the same time to view the poor leopard! A notice in our hotel said that wildlife had been killed by irresponsible drivers. There needs to be responsible management for this park so that visitors and wildlife alike can enjoy it. We did see a lot of deer, peacocks, buffalo, elephants, etc, but the leopard was lost in the leaves and dust by the time we made our way up the huge queue that had formed. My highlight was seeing a pair of horn bills flying, and hearing their call. If I was to return, I'd certainly stay closer to the park than Tissa, and do an early morning safari instead of the afternoon. I hope there'd be a wake-up call for the wildlife department to take some steps to limit the number of visitors so that you'd need to book a trip.

Early Morning jeep safari
CliveGerr... [TA], , Pontardawe, Wales

We had a really good driver who was patient and knowledgeable. He stopped regularly to pinpoint animals and fauna. He also drove really slowly which was a good thing on those rough parl roads. Some local drivers, drove like typical Sri Lankans, and I felt for the occupants of their jeeps. They didn't see much and were being thrown around inside.

In the park, we saw a leopard, crocodiles, jackals feasting on a kill, deer, numerous water birds, iguanas ... well you get my drift! Its an absolute must if you visit Sri Lanka!

Too many jeeps!
ioan_wils... [TA], , Newtown, United Kingdom

If you are staying in the area you must visit the park but it is so popular that there are jeeps everywhere and when a poor leopard gets spotted they congregate from all directions. Yala 4 is much quieter but you will not see leopard there but there are plenty of other animals and birds there and very few jeeps. You will come across an elephant roadblock on your way there! so have some fruit handy

Great Visit to the park
Alan278 [TA], , Hereford, United Kingdom

afternoon tour of the park...had a great driver who stopped for photo's everywhere he could.... got lots of pics of all the wildlife.... shame I didn't get to see a leopard but what I did see was great... worth a 2.5 hour visit to the park

The worst of Safari
DemarrKla... [TA], , Portsmouth, United Kingdom

I hadn't wanted to go on this trip but went as I was part a group. My fears were confirmed. As the only non Sri Lankan in my group, I had to pay 100 times more than they did, which at best, is unreasonable. So once in the jeep, we sat in a huge queue of vehicles, breathing in noxious fumes while people further down took photos and gaped at god knows what. By the time our jeep got to place whatever was there had long been scared off. It's a pity because it is a magical place, but one that blighted by the dreary commercial spectacle of jeep loads of tourists bombing up and down mud tracks hoping to snap a leopard. We did see a leopard but had to wait in a long queue of vehicles before we had our chance to glimpse. A sad and frustrating experience but with a glimmer of the natural beauty that is Yala.

Spectacular scenery
TrishFD [TA], , Canberra, Australia

See a different Sri Lanka - we did a morning Safari. Sadly with the wet season a little late in coming, a lot of the park was closed and we had to travel further. The scenery is magical and despite not seeing leopards or elephants (except on the road just outside the park on our way home...not leopards, just elephants) we saw many beautiful animals and even more spectacular birds. Depending on your itinerary, a better park choice may be Minneriya according to our dirver...closer to the cultural triangle and the eastern beaches. Colombo to Yala was 5-6 hr drive and the main attraction was the leopards which I do not believe are as abundant in other national parks. The countryside down south is also very different so make the wise choice for you if you have the time.

One of the best National Parks in Sri Lanka
Nugadeniy... [TA], , Maharagama, null, Sri Lanka

Saw most of the animals available in Sri Lanka in the park and it is highlighted the leopard and bear.

Saw other animals also you can see other national parks like elephants, spotted deer, wild bow, wild buffalo, crocodile, peacock and some other animals many other birds.

The park also beautiful and it is very big area that difficult to cover in 1/2 day safari. We can reach to sea at one end of the park.

Park is full of vehicles as lot of people come to do safari there.

One with nature
Amaranthi... [TA], ,

We saw all kinds of birds (peacocks, parakeets, the green bee eater etc), monkeys, deer, wild boars, buffalos, crocodiles, squirrels, etc.. We missed the Leopard and the elephants. The elephants we did see though on our way back to the hotel as they left the park and stood on the street..

Full day safari
Earthling... [TA], , Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

We saw elephants, crocs, water buffalo, monkeys, lizards, dragonflies and damselflies, a sloth bear, a leopard, a jackal, and heaps of birds

Great Safari, watch out for crowds!
Jason H [TA], ,

We had a great Safari and saw almost all of the animal that the park is noted for. The only downside is it can be very crowded at the bottlenecks in the park (or anywhere a leopard is spotted!) Most of the animals are out in the morning so try to get a (very) early start.

good wildlife impression
Veerle M [TA], , Turnhout, Belgium

in Yala you can see a lot of different animals in a short time; unfortunately the leopards were not there when we visited ;-)

Visited in the dry season.
poshian [TA], , Peterborough, United Kingdom

Enjoyed the park, a little out of season so very dusty.
One small tip. Use a toilet before you get to the park.

Dry and hot but worth a visit
MichaelBo... [TA], , Melbourne, Australia

We visited at the end of a long dry spell and the condition for animals was dry but very natural. The safari drivers are good in that they follow the guidelines to stay on the allowed roads. They are keen to get you to see the major animals such as elephants, leopard, bear. We were lucky to see the Sloth Bear up close but waited a long time for a leopard siting which was unsuccessful.

We were concerned about the impact of our visit on the animals but believe it was controlled well enough and there are dates of respite for the animals plus the vast majority of the park is off limits to safari drivers.

We arrived back at the resort hot, sweaty, and tired but certainly enjoyed the park. Staying inside the animal area was exciting in itself waking up with monkeys clambering over our hut roof and the (mild) concern that there was no fence between us and the crocodiles that inhabit the lake nearby.

Close-up experience
LauraisaK... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

Although the trip to get to the national park was roughly 4-5 hours, it was worth it! It was a clear afternoon, with no rain and hardly any clouds! Seeing creatures like buffalo and wild elephant being conserved in area that was so diverse was awe-inspiring! Unfortunately we were unlucky to spot the famous leopard in the area, but hopefully you'll be!

Magical Safari in Sri Lanka
Martin510 [TA], ,

Visited with Samarkoon Tours and had the most wonderful afternoon. Really important that you hire a decent jeep and have a park tour guide (without whom we would not have seen half of the wildlife we did). If you are considering a guided tour of Sri Lanka, I would really strongly recommend that you check out Samarakoon Tours on the web. It was the best choiuce we have ever made and Sam personally ensured we had the best family holiday imaginable (with an ultra safe driver too!).

rajarani2... [TA], , Mumbai (Bombay), India

YALA is a good national park. We sighted bears , crocs, one elephant, many deer, mongoose and peacocks and rabbits and many other animals including the NATIONAL BIRD OF SRI LANKA - THE FOWL. - JUNGLE FOWL.
But no big cats.
And we may go again.
Some times in the enthusiasm to spot something, there is a chaos among the vehicles which makes it a traffic jam in an otherwise silent park.

One of the best national parks in Sri Lanka
Miss-Worl... [TA], , Copenhagen, Denmark

Yala National Park has a variety of birds and wildlife. It is one of the best national parks in Sri Lanka if you want to see many different species. If you are very lucky you can also spot the wild leopard in Yala.

Yala National Park, Jeep Safari and camping
ToyotaWis... [TA], , Singapore, Singapore

The jeep safari is just like any other jeep safari if you had been to the ones in South Africa. But I made sure that was a difference. This was to camp one night in the park because I wanted to have breakfast in the river stream and it was a very good experience.You get monkeys watching you and a monitor lizard strolling past you too while having breakfast. The staff of the company engaged by my tour guide was excellent, so was their service. We were treated like royalty. The one night camp was very comfortable. The tent was huge enough that I could stand straight, and I'm 1.76m tall. The beds were soft, private shower and toilet facilities were provided, including all meals. What we eat and used (cutlery) in a restaurant, we got it here, we were so pampered. Of course not fogetting the animals, the leopards and kingfisher were beautilful

Elephants and leopards
Claire J... [TA], ,

Such an amazing trio. Saw so much wildlife. Make sure you do the full day if you get the chance. You find yourself on your own a lot more, with lots more sightings of animals. This is when we saw the leopard! So amazing!

Half day
RC_Bris [TA], , Bristol, United Kingdom

We did a full day safari which was enjoyable but very long (5:30 am - 6:00 pm). I would think that a half day is better as you would still see all the same animals but without so much driving and waiting. Dusk and dawn are the best times but I would suggest if you only do a half day then dawn was better as there were fewer jeeps than in the evening.

Unfortunately due to the lack of rain lots of the watering holes were dry when we visited but we did still see plenty of birds, deer, monkeys, boar, water buffalo and elephants.

Worth a trip but don't go expecting to see a leopard or you may be disappointed. Our driver said they are only really seen once a week.

Jeewaka J [TA], , Colombo, null, Sri Lanka

my last three visit to yala national park i have seen the leopard!its never forget lot of birds and many more!

pwayland [TA], , Sydney, Australia

Safari jeep, 4 hour visit - herds of elephants, flocks of birds, 2 leopards, a bear and several mongoose. Highly recommended.

Yala Safari
CRJA1964 [TA], , Perth, Australia

Saw a lot of animals - elephants, bears, leopards, crocs, deer etc. Had a great day on Safari. The tracker was friendly and the vehicle that was organised was a high top so we had great view of the wild life and surrounding.

dclarke22... [TA], , Hong Kong, China

Forget zoos. The experience of seeing so much wildlife live is truly memorable. Have been now four times, and each tour has been different. Wonderful. And thanks to the guides for sharing their experiences.

fun trip
Maddy G [TA], ,

I went as a family of 5 and really enjoyed it, we were extremely fortunate to see every type of animal that they had!We had a great time ... the black bears were my favourite!!!!!!

early start but brilliant
missemar [TA], , Reading, United Kingdom

will all depend on what you manage to see ... we were lucky and saw leopard! drivers are excellent and knowledgeable

Sit on the right
Andrew M [TA], , Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

We had an experienced guide and driver. As most of the others have said, there were a large number of jeeps. However most of the time we were only in small groups. On the afternoon that we went (Mon 18), most of the animals were in hiding. On the way back at dusk, our guide took a back road, and we were lucky enough to see what must of been the only Elephant that day.

We were slightly disappointed in not seeing a Leopard, but it is the 'hunt' that counts

Lucky wildlife spotting
chewie999 [TA], , Adelaide

We took 2 safari's in Yala. The first in the afternoon, where we saw a Sloth Bear as well as a lone male Elephant, Deer, Boar, Mongoose and Crocodiles. The 2nd was the next morning where instead of a Sloth Bear we saw a Leopard. It is a good National Park to spot wildlife and reminds me of Kruger National park in regards to the habitat. The negative is that the morning safari's can get very crowded with 80 jeeps in one place if a leopard has been spotted. But overall I would rate it as a must see in Sri Lanka if there for 2 weeks or more.

Excellent Access
VKavasser... [TA], , Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

It was a wonderful and close experience. We managed to see 2 leopards and 1 wild Tusker at absolutely hands distance.

The safari drivers are well versed in the area and are very helpful to show the best to the tourists.

Tom G [TA], ,

We had a brilliant time while on safari here. There's an informative museum (complete with certain skeletons) before you enter and stunning wildlife on offer in the park. It's also worth finding the small beach there which has a memorial for those lost during the 2004 tsunami.

Saw 2 leopards drinking at the water hole
evyinmumb... [TA], , mumbai

Totally wonderful place...sadly there are so so many jeeps and people around but the location is lovely and never knew there were so many animals in Sri Lanka

anna-clai... [TA], , Hastings, United Kingdom

Great safari with Nimal Safari Day Tours, enormous park and currently very dry so hoping for rain, but we still managed to see the Big Three: leopard, sloth bear and elephant plus a lot more.

Good for one day Safari
egysioux [TA], , Cairo, Egypt

Enjoyed half day safari their but its ok for one full day too.
Famous for the highest leopards density I Spotted Two leopards brothers from a close distance directly after we got in !
Also easy to see buffalos , crocodiles , monitors , mongooses and deers plus some birds .

It’s not as the African Safari but still something not to be missed in Srilanka

must see place
gwentroz [TA], , gwent

Seeing animals in their own environment, huge national park. Very atmospheric place as on the beach in Yala national park is where the tsunami came ashore in 2004. You will get as close to nature as any of the other more famous parks of Kruger or Kenya.

Great wildlife siting!
Andrea D [TA], , New Delhi, India

Many parks in Asia you can be in all day and only see a couple monkeys and a deer - here I saw a huge variety of animals (leopards, jackals, elephants, wild boar, water buffalo, mongoose, hares, peacocks, kingfishers, eagles, storks, pelicans, crocodiles, monitor lizards, multiple types of deer and monkeys, hornbills and lizards). The park was well maintained, and had a variety of landscapes to view. So far this is the best wildlife park I have been to in South/South East Asia.

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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