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Yala National Park

Without question Sri Lanka’s most popular national park, Yala is situated about 260 km southeast of Colombo. Officially designated as a national park on 1st March 1938, Yala spans an impressive 978.807 km2. It’s located along Sri Lanka’s southern coast, overlapping Uva and the Southern Province.

The park is divided into five ‘Blocks’, with Blocks 1 and 2 being open to the public, while Blocks 3 and 5 are less frequented. The gates to these Blocks are in four separate locations: Galge, Yala West, Palatupana and Katagamuwa, with the latter two being the more popular ones, leading to Blocks 1 and 2.

Given the massive area Yala covers (it’s the second largest national park in Sri Lanka), for the wildlife enthusiast who wants to receive the full experience, a safari tour would be the ideal option. On your way to Yala, it’s quite possible to spot leopards along the trails leading to the gates! So, in reality, your safari starts there.

Yala is home to a variety of native critters, as well as endemic ones. Up to 215 species of bird, 44 types of mammals, 47 species of reptiles, 21 species of fish, and 18 of amphibians can be found here. Of course, these include elephants, leopards, jackals, sloth bears, and crocodiles.

There are few things as thrilling as being able to get up close with Mother Nature the way a safari lets you. The best part? You can always zoom away if it gets overwhelming, so it’s great if you’re travelling with kids. Besides, there is no shortage of safari tour operators who are ready to be at your service! The ideal time to visit would be between February and July when the water levels are lower as more animals tend to be out and about then.