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A Traveler’s Guide: Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park is largely a dry zone covering Sri Lanka‘s southeastern areas, formed more from the perspective of saving the wildlife, making it one of the most famous and frequented national parks in the country, with a variety of ecologies including dry forests, thorn jungles, semi-deciduous forests, marine wetlands, and freshwater, as well as sand beaches. Here’s a map of Yala National Park to help you navigate your way around.

Three animal sanctuaries and six national parks, which are part of a long corridor of forests, are among the greatest sites to visit in Yala for tourism purposes. The park’s safari region is mostly influenced by protracted dry spells, which are in turn influenced by annual rainfall in November, December, and January. From the end of January until the middle of October, there is little or no rain, with the exception of a few showers.

Yala National Park
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How to reach Yala National Park?

By plane:

The quickest method to get to Yala National Park from Colombo Airport is to fly to Hambantota, which takes around 45 minutes, and then drive to Yala from Hambantota. Cinnamon Air, a domestic airline in Sri Lanka, operates daily scheduled flights from Colombo to Hambantota at 7:00 a.m. (non-stop) and 2:00 p.m. (with one stop) for about $270.

Taking the train:

It takes about 9 hours to get from Colombo to Yala National Park by rail, and it’s best to take the train from Colombo Fort Station to Haputale, which is about a 12-hour drive from Yala National Park. Every day at 9.45 a.m., a train departs from Colombo Fort, followed by another at 8 p.m.

By car:

Yala National Park is around 300 kilometers from the Bandaranaike International Airport and is best explored by driving via the Southern Highway in a rented automobile, which is the most convenient option in comparison to the arduous and gruelling rail and bus excursions!

How to Get Around in Yala?

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It is ideal to tour Yala in a Jeep with a driver, and if you enjoy cycling, renting a bicycle for your adventures in the countryside would be exciting!

Best time to visit

The most favorable time to visit Yala National Park is from February to July when the water levels are low and most animals congregate at the same water source.

Spring is in the air (March-May)

Yala weather is hot and dry, with an average temperature of 32.6°C and intermittent rains that occur once or twice a month. This is traditionally the slowest time for tourism in Yala.

Summer months (June to August):

The dry season lasts from June to September, with April-May and July being the warmest months of the year. The majority of animals, including leopards, elephants, and other smaller animals, congregate in herds around the watering hole at this time. The average daytime temperature is 32.6°C, while the nighttime temperature is rarely below that.

Autumn (September to November):

With an average temperature of 31.3°C, the fall season of September-November receives a week to ten days of rain or snowfall, making it one of the greatest times for tourism for the second year in a row.

During the winter months (December to February)

December to February is a dream come true for winter lovers! Rainfall occurs 3 to 9 days per month, the average temperature is around 32.5°C, and substantial rainfall occurs from October to February.

Things to do
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A trip to Sri Lanka isn’t complete without a stop in Yala. Yala National Park covers 1268 square kilometers and is home to elephants, monkeys, crocs, and water buffaloes, not to mention the world’s biggest concentration of leopards!

1. Safari in the Wild:

This is the most obvious thing to do when you arrive in Yala. There are many guided excursions scheduled by hotels and guest houses in the city for Yala National Park, which depart for the safari normally at 4.30 a.m. or 2.30 p.m., with an entry charge of roughly LKR 3,700.

2 Dinner on the grill & Wildlife Camping:

By the light of the hurricane lamps, enjoy a bonfire and barbecue meal in the middle of the woods with succulent meats, fresh green salads, and potato jackets, followed by a camping night stay.

3. Bird watching is a popular pastime:

Yala is well-known for its animal safaris, but it is also known for its bird watching excursions, as it is one of the 70 areas where birds can be found. The Sri Lankan jungle fowl, brown-capped babbler, grey hornbill, crimson front barbet, wood pigeon, and black-capped bulbul are among the migratory birds found here.

4. Fishing:

Witness the daily operations of local fishermen on stilts before heading to Yala for a wildlife safari and to try your hand at fishing in the lake with all the necessary equipment.

5. Tour of the Village:

Take a bicycle tour of the countryside, stopping to see the rice paddy fields, coconut plantations, traditional farming fields, cattle farms, and village homes to connect with the locals.

6. Sightseeing:

Set out on a Jeep excursion to view the ancient ruins in and around Yala National Park, as well as temples and shrines, with a tour guide who will share facts and background information on all of the tourist attractions, as well as answer your questions.

Places to eat scrumptious food-

Aside from a BBQ supper in the Yala National Park’s natural habitat with just an electric fence between you and the wildlife, there are a variety of different ways to sample the local food in and around the park. There’s the Yala Peace Cottage, as well as Tissamaharama, which serves BBQ, Asian, and Sri Lankan cuisines, with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free alternatives. A lovely spot for watching the sunset and peacocks, the restaurant serves delicious food in generous servings.

The Tree Tops Jungle Lodge, on Illukpitiya Road in Buttala, is a fantastic establishment with some delectable cuisine produced using local ingredients and cooked on site. Most travelers recommend the meal here, and it is said to be particularly tasty.

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So, when are you visiting?!


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