Elephants in Yala National Park

Yala National Park – The Jungle Book of Sri Lanka

This post was last updated on April 9th, 2020 at 01:55 pm

Yala National Park is the Jungle Book of Sri Lanka. It is one of the best-known and most beautiful nature parks in the country. Monkeys swing through the trees, elephants move through the woods and leopards secretly find their way through the park. The park has extensive forests and open plains. A safari through this park is a unique experience that you cannot miss.


Yala National Park

The Yala National Park is located in the southeast of Sri Lanka. With almost 100,000 hectares (about 247,000 acres), it is one of the largest parks in Sri Lanka. And with 130 animal species, it is also particularly impressive. However, you cannot see the entire park; a small part is open to the public. There are various ecosystems present in the park which must be preserved.


There are wet areas but also extremely dry areas. In addition, important rivers flow through the park such as the Kumbukkan Oya and the Menik Ganga. These rivers provide the animals with sufficient drinking water during the drier periods. Most travelers come here to see the elephants.


Wetlands in Yala national park
Wetlands in the Yala National Park


During a safari through the park, you can see deer, buffalo, monkeys, bears, crocodiles, elephants, and boar with a little luck. The leopards that are sitting there hardly show themselves. In addition to special nature and a variety of animals, the park also offers ancient ruins such as Kataragama, Sithulpahuwa, and Magul Maha Vihara.


TIP – You can find plenty of travel information and highlights about Sri Lanka here.


Peacock standing on a rock in the jungle
Guys… I think we’re being watched!


Visiting the Park

Most travelers visit the Yala National Park from Tissamaharama or Hambantota. If you are a true nature lover and prefer to spend several days in the park, you can also spend the night in the chalets of Chaaya Wild, which is three kilometers (1.86 miles) away from the park.


Although the park can be visited all year round, October to December is indicated as the best time to visit the park.


Booking a Safari

The easiest way to book a safari to Yala National Park is to travel to Tissamaharama first. From here you can book a safari with any tour operator or accommodation.


You can choose from a half or full-day safari. The safaris start at 5:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. We recommend that you book an all-day safari, as you have the best chance of spotting wildlife in the morning.


In addition, only a limited number of cars are allowed in the park. It is, therefore, possible that you can no longer enter the park in the afternoon because it is too busy. Go as early as possible!


The costs for a safari depend on the number of people in your jeep. In addition to the costs of the jeep, you also have to pay an entrance fee for the park.

  • The costs for a 3-hour safari are between US$20 and $30.
  • The entrance fee to the park is approximately US$20.


The entrance price often changes, so check with your accommodation or tour operator so that you are not faced with any surprises.


What Can You See in the Park?

Yala National Park is known for its highest concentration of leopards in the world. Yet it is difficult to spot these beautiful animals in the immense park. The leopards that are there rarely show themselves.


During a safari through the park with a bit of luck, you will see deer, buffalo, monkeys, bears, crocodiles, elephants, and pigs. In addition to special nature and a variety of animals, the park also offers ancient ruins such as Kataragama, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Maha Vihara.


You can find more information about the park on the official website.


Spotted Deer on a Field in Yala National Park
You can find beautiful spotted deer in the park


Spending the Night Near the Park

The easiest way to reach the park is from Tissamaharama. Here you will find many accommodations in all price ranges. Most accommodations are located in the town of Tissamaharama, a half-hour drive from Yala National Park.


If you are a true nature lover, there are also accommodations closer to the entrance, so you can enter the park as early as possible.


TIP – View the range of accommodations in Tissamaharama here.


Best Time to Visit the Yala National Park

Although the park can be visited all year round, October to December is the best time to visit the park. In the months of April to September, you will be bothered by the Yala Monsoon, which means it rains a lot.


The best months to visit Yala National Park are October to December.


Since the country has several monsoons, the best time to visit differs per region. An overview of the different monsoons and the best travel time per area in Sri Lanka can be found here.


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