Yala National Park is Sri Lanka's most popular wildlife safari. Situated in the south-eastern corner of the island, it is famous for its high density of leopards, perhaps the highest in the world. You are also sure to see elephants – grumpy lone males during the dry months and large herds in the wet season. Sloth bears are also a big draw. You will also see mammals such as wild boars, several species of deer and wild buffalo.
Yala is also home to a plethora of reptilian species and platoons of crocodiles. Common in Sri Lanka, there is a huge diversity of spectacular birdlife, including migratory species such as the flamingo. It is also one of the few places in the world where you can still see the severely endangered black-necked stork. The park's uniqueness is the sheer diversity of the habitat: dense jungles suddenly give way to lagoons and open plain areas, and the park has a simply beautiful seafront. Huge, stark boulders dominate the horizon, and the elegant, languorous leopard can often be seen basking atop the sun-baked rock.
The best months to visit the Yala National Park are between January and May when the vegetation is most lush. From June to October, the dry season offers a different view of the scenery as the waterholes dry up and the land takes on a parched, dry appearance. The park has been divided into different blocks, and you will need to camp to visit more than one section a day. Most visitors hire jeeps for the day and venture in for both morning and afternoon drives.
As a result of its incredible natural beauty and plentiful wildlife, Yala gets quite busy during the peak months, and you will likely share your viewing time with many other jeeps. If the chance of spotting animals in a wilder and less visited setting sounds better to you, we would recommend trying Wilpattu or Wasgamuwa National Park.
There are luxury camping options in the 'buffer zones around the park, which are an amazing way to experience the park. You will be on a safari drive long before and after all the other jeeps have left, giving you the massive park to yourself.
Accommodation around the park is wide and varied and ranges from super top-end luxury to a couple of glorious but simple jungle lodges. Talk to our specialists to find out which place might suit you.
Selected Wildlife Holiday Ideas:
Birdlife and Natural Wealth of Sri Lanka
This holiday is ideal for those who love nature, especially birdlife. Visit the beautiful rainforests, coast, and wetlands of Sri Lanka.
Nature & Wildlife Explorer
Gorgeous scenery, birdlife, and the varied animal population that Sri Lanka has to offer, staying in tucked away hotels.
Natural & Wild Sri Lanka
Enjoy the incredible wildlife of animals without missing the astonishing scenery, glorious beaches and local life.
Sri Lanka's Big Mammals
Calling wildlife enthusiasts. Travel off-the-beaten-track with expert guides in search of elephants, leopards, whales and far more.