Wilderness Updates

All what you need to know about Yala National Park Sri Lanka

All what you need to know about Yala National Park Sri Lanka

Nathasha, Safari Specialist of Eco Team writes . . . May 2021

It was an adventure waiting to happen: the Yala National Park of Sri Lanka; it was pinned on my bucket list about a decade ago and I have been going there regularly ever since. I am so glad that now I am on a vocation where recommending what to do, at one of my favourite vacation spots: Yala National Park, is part of the job.

Where is Yala National Park Sri Lanka?

One of the most frequent questions I get is, where is Yala National Park in Sri Lanka?

The location of the Yala National Park could be best explained by starting from the commercial capital of Sri Lanka; Colombo.

The distance from Colombo to Yala National Park, which is located in the rather dry, south-eastern coast of Sri Lanka, is about 300km and works out to a 4.5 hour drive. I prefer taking the Southern Expressway as it cuts down travel time by an hour and also offers its own scenic drive.

There are other ways of reaching the park, depending where you are in Sri Lanka, and I will be happy to help you sort out the logistics.

About Yala National Park Sri Lanka

sloth bear at yala national park sri lankaThe Yala National Park in Sri Lanka is one of the island’s oldest national parks, first opening in 1900 as a wildlife sanctuary and later on in 1938, being recognised as a national park. Yala uniquely combines a strict nature reserve with a national park. With a protected area of over 130,000 hectares of light forests, scrubs, lagoons and lakes, the park has been divided into 5 blocks. But Yala keeps revealing so much - and let me tell you why.

Generally hot and dry at the Yala National Park, its expansive landscape flaunts much biodiversity, from savannah grasslands to dry monsoon forests - but more interestingly, Yala is home to some really impressive residents: the Sri Lankan leopard, Sri Lankan elephant and Sri Lankan sloth bear - among many others. Hands down though, the leopards of Yala are the stars here. With a density of at least one leopard per square kilometre, you have a great chance of sighting this elusive cat at Yala - than anywhere else on the planet!

Jeep Safari Yala National Park Sri Lanka

Yala Jeep Safari Watching Distance ElephantsThough you are allowed to take your own vehicle to the park [ provided it has enough ground clearance ] taking a jeep safari in Yala National Park Sri Lanka is most recommended. Yala safari jeeps are mostly operated by the locals and widely available. There are different brands / models with varying roadworthiness conditions. Yala Park has some rough terrains and during rain, conditions may become really challenging. Hence having a reliable jeep with suitable tyres, required accessories like winch & high-lift jack for eventuality and required tools, plus being driven by an experienced, professional driver, will ensure that your jeep safari in Yala National Park Sri Lanka will be memorable.

Another highly recommended way to enhance the Yala National Park Sri Lanka is to be accompanied by a professional wildlife guide / naturalist who will explain and interpret everything you see; in flora and fauna terms.

Premium Lodges & Tented Camps provide an all inclusive Yala safari experience with reliable, comfortable jeeps driven by professional drivers / experienced wildlife guides. The experience includes all entrance & permit fees and water & snacks.

Yala National Park Sri Lanka safari prices vary depending on the number of people, the type of vehicle and other customised services you require.

Non Sri Lankan residents pay a significantly higher price in Yala entrance fees, in comparison to Sri Lankan residents.

If you need more details about Yala National Park Sri Lanka costs or safari costs - please contact me for any information required.

Yala National Park opening times are generally at 6am and closing at 6pm, Monday through Sunday.There could be a half an hour variation during certain months.

The Yala National Park is generally closed for visitors, throughout September from the 1st to October 15th, in order to enable the animals to keep their natural routine and to attend to maintenance work of the park.

Best time to visit Yala National Park Sri Lanka

Weather at Yala National Park Sri Lanka is generally hot and dry with temperatures hovering around 29°C around the year. You may ask, when is the best time to visit Yala National Park? Though Yala is almost a year-round destination, your chances are best between March and October. Yala National Park weather is at its warmest during this time. The warm weather means the water tables are low - drawing the leopards and other wildlife to venture out further looking for the lagoons, watering holes and exposed lakes. You can do Yala Safaris only in Block 5 & neighbouring Lunugamwehera Park in September & up to mid October, as Block 1 of the Yala National Park normally closes for maintenance, and Yala experiences the northeast monsoon with its heavy showers from September to December.

Animals in Yala National Park Sri Lanka

A question often asked from me is, will I actually see big game at Yala National Park?

The answer is a big YES !

Firstly, the animals that live in Sri Lanka reflect a diversity that will amaze you. The Yala National Park boasts of over 40 species of mammals including three of its Big Five: the Sri Lankan leopard, Sri Lankan elephant and Sri Lankan sloth bear. Watch out for the other animals in Yala, such as the: toque macaque, red slender loris, golden palm civet and the fishing cat.

With a density of at least one leopard per square kilometre, The leopards of Yala National Park evoke a special thrill when spotted; whether lazing on a tree or tending to its cubs. Ever watchful, the leopards of Yala National Park command a respect unlike any of its other residents.

If you are interested in finding out more about the birds, insects and amphibians that live in Yala National Park, just ask me.

Yala National Park Sri Lanka accommodation

Hotels near Yala National Park Sri Lanka are numerous, ranging from hostels, home stays, boutique hotels, one star to five star hotels and world class glamping options. It is crucial to pick the correct hotels near Yala National Park Sri Lanka that match your budgets, duration of your stay, and your personal preferences to maximize the Yala Experience.

You need to be concerned about how long the drive to entrance is also when you select an accommodation in Yala. I am sure you don’t want to waste a lot of precious wildlife viewing time, early mornings and late evenings, on commuting by selecting the wrong place.

So how do you choose a hotel near Yala National Park Sri Lanka? You can either do extensive research on Yala National Park Hotels to find exactly what you want, or simply tell what you're looking for.

Map of Yala National Park Sri Lanka

The Yala National Park map will give you an idea as to how extensive this park is, stretching over 970km3 with different blocks and entrances.

Entry Point to Yala National Park

The Park consists of five blocks: 3 of which are now open to the public, alongside one adjoining park.

Block 1 is also referred to as Ruhuna National Park as well and can be accessed through the crowded Palatupane entrance or the less crowded Katagamuwe entrance.

You can enter through Block 2 with a special permit and this route offers a different adventure altogether.

Block 3 is not open for visitors, while Blocks 4 and 5 can be accessed via the Galage entrance.

It's worth noting that though we call it Block 5, it’s part of a different and interesting park named Lunugamvehera National Park.

Though the Kumana National Park is adjacent to the Block 2 of Yala National Park, it is not permissible to visit the former without a special permit which is issued usually for research purposes.

I receive inquiries about whether there are crowds and traffic jams in Yala? Yes there are - mainly due to the rising popularity of Yala National Park. It is during the period of December to February, that the park gets its biggest crowds and creates traffic jams within the park. The best way around this situation would be to take a full day safari with a designated guide, who would know to avoid the usual route and jams around the park, and ensure you have a memorable safari tracking the elusive leopard and other wildlife at the Yala National Park.


Mahoora tented safari camps Sri Lanka.

© 2024, Eco Team - Sri Lanka

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