Yala National Park

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Yala National Park Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 1-3 days

Best Time: February to June Read More

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"Highest population of leopards in the world!"

Yala National Park Tourism

Sprawled over 979 square kilometres, Yala National Park in southeast Sri Lanka is the nation’s largest and most-visited wildlife conservation zone. As Lanka’s oldest wildlife sanctuary, Yala shelters a vast area of unspoilt jungles, grassland and lagoons bordering the Indian Ocean, home to the highest population of leopards on the planet, alongside Sri Lankan elephants, crocodiles, and over 400 bird species.

Yala National Park is sectioned into five blocks, and there are eco-friendly campsites all over. By paying an admission fee of USD 15, you can enter through one of the four gates: Katagamuwa, Palatupana, Kataragama Road, and Galge. The fascinating thing about hiking here is discovering the park’s diverse terrain, ranging from marine wetlands, deciduous and thorn forests, freshwater lakes and ponds, mainly composed of Precambrian-era metamorphic rocks.

A large section of the park is covered by marshes and sandy beaches, where families enjoy picnics and swimming. Further inland, Sithulpawwa is an ancient Buddhist monastery where caves display centuries-old rock paintings. Magul Vihara is another pilgrimage site displaying ancient ruins within the park. The best way to enjoy a Yala National Park tour is to take Jeep safaris with a driver, but you can blaze your own trails with bicycles.

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Things to do in Yala National Park

1. Spotting the Sri Lankan leopard: This animal is the reason why Yala National Park always has a lot of tourists. Not only in Asia but Yala National Park has a high density for leopards in all over the world. Take a safari when you are here. Choose a time of either early morning or late evening as it's the best time to spot a leopard. Your safari ride would be of 3 to 4 hours.

2. Wildlife Safaris in Yala National Park: The park is is split into five sectors and out of these only two are open to visitors. You can also find a herd of Asian elephants. If you are lucky you might as well see a sloth bear apart from crocodiles and deer. Also, there are around 400 bird species which includes 33 that are rare. Don't forget to carry your binoculars while you're in for safari ride! The safari rides last nearly 5 hours and will take you on a wildlife experience of a lifetime! The thrill exists in unexpectedly coming across animals in the wild, in their habitat. You never know what you could find here! Cost: It could cost you up to 4800 INR for a 5-hour trip, per person. A number of people: a typical jeep safari can accommodate up to 5 people in one jeep, excluding the driver and guide.

3. Beach Walks: Because a large area of the national park is the sandy beach, you can also spend a day walking in the sand or spend the evening watching the sunset, having a relaxing time with friends and family by the beach, enjoying the cool breeze.

4. Bird watching: In a national park that houses over 400 species of birds and 30 unique species, what could be better than going for a long day of relaxing birdwatching? As you may have guessed already, birdwatching here is a popular activity. You will get many paid guides to show you around the best locations to spot some of the most uncommon birds.

5. Camping: If you want to stay the night at the national park, the eco-friendly camping sites are also available for you to witness the marvels that a forest brings out at night. Sleep under the stars and spend some time spotting animals and birds who are nocturnal, in the dimly lit area by natures torches, the fireflies!

Wildlife at Yala National Park

Yala National Park is home to the largest number of leopards in the world. The park is also home to many elephants and deers that freely roam about in the vicinity of tourists. It is easy to spot them amidst your safari or any other tour. You might even witness the Sri Lankan Sloth bear in its natural habitat if you are lucky.

When it comes to birds, the national park has over 215 species. With a mix of migrating birds, endemic birds, and national park-bred birds, this national park is filled with various colourful and different species of birds. For this reason, Yala National Park is considered to be one of the 70 most Important Bird Areas (IBA) in the world.

In the list of reptiles are a wide variety of snakes (including water snakes) and lizards which are endemic. Yala National park is also very important because it aims to preserve freshwater aquatic life. There are more than 20 types of fish bred here. Crabs and prawns are also seen frequently here.

Restaurants and Local food at Yala National Park

Here are a few most sought-after restaurants in the area -

  1. Orchid Restaurant: This restaurant serves some of the best fish curries in the area! You will love the spread during the buffet, which consists of a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items.
  2. The Grand Gala Restaurant: If Sri Lankan local cuisine is on your mind, head to this place. Their service is even better than their marvellous food.
  3. Smoky Kitchen: A unique way to spend the evening is by spending time in their live cooking session, where they will cook your favourite dish in front of you. The food is reasonably priced, and the atmosphere here is fantastic!

Flora at Yala National Park

The vast land area of Yala National Park, being home to such a massive number of plants, animals, and birds, also supports several ecosystems on its own. The ecosystems vary over a number of types because the national park is a culmination of different types of lands and water bodies.

Including dry and wet monsoon forests, the national park also has marine wetlands, deciduous forests and thorny forests and even sandy beaches. The trees are, thus, from a variety of species like mangroves and others that support the endemic species of the forests. The Yala National Park has been divided into four blocks - all consisting of different species of plants, trees, and vegetation. Some of these blocks are out of bounds for the common public, while others remain open for safari tours.

Accommodation facilities at Yala National Park

You will find easy accommodation here but here are a few of them that are most popular. These facilities are within an affordable range, and their services are impeccable! You should not miss out of having the local food here, as that is what they specialize in. Some spots include: 1. Cinnamon Wildman 2. Lakeside cabana 3. Yala safari camping

Best Time to Visit Yala National Park

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What is the best time to visit Yala national park?

Although it is considered to be a year-round destination, people often say that best sightseeing can be done during the dry season from February to June because during this time the water level is lower and animals come out in open in search for water. Although the park is closed during September month for maintenance. April is known to be Tamil new year and therefore you'll find a lot of families gathering near beaches of Ayala. It's the best time as all around you'll find temples being decorated.
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What are the places near Yala national park?

The top places near to Yala national park are Galle which is 154 km from Yala national park, Colombo which is located 195 km from Yala national park, Kandy which is located 138 km from Yala national park, Nuwara eliya which is located 101 km from Yala national park, Sigiriya which is located 189 km from Yala national park

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