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Yala National Park

SRI St Sri Lanka Wilpattu Toqu Macaque Monkey Credit Petr Salinger

Yala National Park

Nestled in the south-eastern corner of Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is the island’s principal national park and offers the greatest diversity of animal and birdlife in the country. The habitats found in the park are wide-ranging, from freshwater lakes to beaches, rocky outcrops to green plains and jungle. This creates an area of immense biodiversity and is one of the world’s most popular destinations to spot the elusive leopard, who love to lounge on the huge granite boulders that dot the parkland. The density of the leopard population within the park makes sightings – although not guaranteed – a regular occurrence, and Yala is an extremely popular attraction for this reason alone, despite its many other highlights.

Wildlife and Weather of Yala National Park

A rather wild and rugged area of the country, Yala has long, windblown beaches with crashing waves that make it dangerous for swimming, many of which are backed by sand dunes and lagoons and a backdrop of forests and plains. The experience of being on safari in Yala is virtually comparable to Africa, as you set off early in the morning by jeep and enjoy afternoon game drives, but it also offers the added cultural element of important Buddhist temples.

No visit to Yala is likely to disappoint, and wildlife that you are likely to view aside from the infamous leopards includes Indian elephant, wild boar, mongoose, crocodile, spotted deer, crocodiles and lizards, amongst others. The birdlife of the park is equally varied, with in excess of 230 species that may be spotted and this includes a number of endemic species such as jungle fowl and grey hornbill.

Situated in a dry zone of Sri Lanka, annual rainfall for the Yala region is between 900 and 1300mm depending on location, with December and January generally the wettest months and drought between May to September. One of our specialists who visited the area in what is usually considered the least likely time to spot leopard had two sightings, so the park is a great destination for wildlife and enjoyable at various times of year, although the roadways do tend to be bumpier after rainfall.

The specialist leopard safaris consist of two vehicles with long wave radios in order to cover as much of the park as is possible. A specialist local wildlife expert who is experienced in tracking the leopards and also a professional wildlife photographer will ensure you get the most from your experience.

Please note that Yala usually has an annual closure throughout September and until mid-October, but please contact us and we will be happy to advise and create your itinerary around this.

Yala National Park Accommodation Options

You have the option of mobile camping safaris in Yala National Park, with Leopard Safari Camp and Mahoora Safari Camp both providing luxury under the Sri Lankan sky, and a great chance to really get up close with nature and explore. If you prefer a more permanent structure, then Yala Village, which borders the National Park, is the ultimate in untamed nature resorts, with an enormous ten acres of jungle and pristine beaches.

Contact us for a bespoke quote.