Yala national park, also known as Ruhunu national park is the most visited second largest park in Sri Lanka. It is in the southeast region of the country and lies in the Southern province and Uva province. The park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land which is divided into five blocks. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants and aquatic birds. Yala national park consists of light forests, scrubs, grasslands, tanks, and lagoons. It was initially used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule. Yala is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species with seven are endemic bird species in the country.
The best time to visit Yala national park is between February and July when the water levels of the park are quite low while bringing the animals into open. A duration of 1 night 2 days is ideal for a trip to Yala national park, within that, a duration of about 5 hours is adequate to explore the park, including all the major activities like safari, wildlife spotting, exploring the beach, and visiting the major attractions inside the park. The best safari times for optimal wildlife spotting are between 6 am – 9 am and 3 pm – 6 pm. There is a higher chance of leopard spots on Yala national park safari, which has the highest density of leopards anywhere in the world. One of the main things to note is that there are no shops in Yala National Park and you need to bring everything with you.
No visit to Yala is likely to disappoint, and the wildlife that you are likely to view aside from the infamous leopards includes the Indian elephant, wild boar, mongoose, crocodile, and spotted deer, amongst others. The birdlife of the park is also equally varied. The safari tours in Yala dedicate their team to adventures that are completely eco–friendly. The safari takes you to the depth of exploration into the heart of Sri Lanka’s Yala wildlife. The sight of watching these beautiful animals wandering into the profundity of nature is awe-inspiring and breathtaking. Watching the elephants play around in the marshes, deer caring for their offspring, and leopards hiding in the thickets, waiting to prance on their prey, you won’t get to see such engaging sights in any zoo. The feeling of what you encounter next and the anxiety associated with spotting a leopard will give you an adrenaline rush like no there. To catch the inhabitants of the jungle you need to be at the right spot at the right time, which is why Yala provides guided safari tours with experts accompanying you in your safari vehicle and informing you about every aspect of the jungle during the tour.
When you visit Yala for a safari there are plenty of places to visit. Buduruwagala is considered as Yala’s biggest attraction, the stunning rock-cut buddha figures are nearly 1000 years old. The enormous Buddha stands at 15m. becoming the highest on the island. Okanda devalaya which is located at Yala national park is considered to be an official entrance to the Kumana national park. As the believers say, God Skanda was the first to have sailed into Sri Lanka in a golden boat that turned into a rock, Ran Oru Gala. Regarded as the destination of pilgrims, Okands is the joining point where pilgrims rest before visiting Kumana national park and then Yala national park. Located in the 4th block of Yala national park, Kebiliththa is one of the most religious and sacred places to visit in Yala. It is considered to be highly sacred amongst Buddhists and Hindus and attracts visitors from all across the world. Yala national park offers the best of both worlds-the thrills of a jungle safari and a refreshing visit to the beach. Yala is considered as one of those rare wildlife parks in the world with a beach. While much of the long coastal stretch of the shore is not accessible by humans, there is still a long, pristine stretch of the shore where you can take a leisure walk, stretch your legs, back in the sunshine, and witness the nearby tribal fishing villages, a charming sight for sore eyes.