Yala National Park is the most popular safari park in Sri Lanka. Situated along the South Eastern coastline, it is the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Yala consists of five blocks of which only two are open to the public. Namely, they are Ruhunu (Yala Block 1) and Kumana (Yala East). All of five blocks account for an area of 979 square kilometres. Six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries located in close proximity to the Yala national park makes the area a wildlife paradise. Characteristically, the park spans over a dry zone landscape, which is semi-arid. The park consists of light forests, scrubs, grasslands, tanks and lagoons. It is most popularly known for a high number of leopard sightings. In fact, Yala national park records the highest density of wild leopards in the world. Other than that, the Yala elephant herd is made up of more than 300 Asian elephants, making it easy to spot wild elephants. It is also home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. The Kumana (Yala East) block is popular with birdwatchers for its wide range of migratory species. Usually, the said migration occurs between April and July. It is one of the 70 important bird areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Some of the endemic birds occurring at Yala national park are Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, crimson-fronted barbet, black-capped bulbul, blue-tailed bee-eater and brown-capped babbler.

Yala Map

Safari Information

Yala National Park Opening and Closing Times – 6.00 a.m to 6.00 p.m

Yala National Park Entrances

  • Palatupana entrance (Yala Block 1) – Busy entrance, Highest leopard density out of all the blocks
  • Katagamuwa entrance (Yala Block 2) – Less traffic
  • Galge entrance (Yala Block 3 & 5) – Less traffic, Second highest leopard density out of all the blocks
  • Kumana entrance (Yala East) – Best for Bird Watchers, Less traffic

 Yala Safari Duration – 3 hours (Extended safaris, full day safaris, birdwatching safaris and night safaris can be arranged.)

Major eco-systems inside Yala National Park

  • Moist monsoon forests
  • Dry monsoon forests
  • Semi deciduous forests
  • Thorn forests
  • Grasslands
  • Marshes
  • Marine wetlands
  • Sandy beaches
  • Freshwater lake beds

Area in Yala National Park

Total Area – 97880.7 hectares

  • Yala Block 1 –  14,101 hectares
  • Yala Block 2 – 9,931 hectares
  • Yala Block 3 – 40,775 hectares
  • Yala Block 4 – 26,418 hectares
  • Yala Block 5 – 6,656 hectares

Other informations about Yala National Park

Status – National Park, Important Bird Area (IBA), Kingdom of Rohana archaeological site

Altitude – Sea level to 125 metres

Annual Rainfall – 500-775 mm (Mainly Northeast Monsoon)

Monthly mean temperature range – 26.40 – 300

Closest Towns – Kataragama, Tissamaharama, Buttala

Nearest Hospital – Debarawewa Base Hospital

Access Roads to Yala Block 1 (Palatupana Entrance)

  1. Colombo to Yala Block 1 via Udawalawe (258 km)
  2. Kandy to Yala Block 1 via Nuwaraeliya (256 km)
  3. Galle to Yala Block 1 (191 km)
  4. Arugam bay to Yala Block 1 (191 km)

Major Attractions in Yala National Park – Sri Lankan Leopard, Sri Lankan Elephant, Bird Watching, Fresh water crocodiles, Sri Lankan Sloth Bear

Best time to visit Yala National Park – June to September

Useful Tips for Yala Safari Drive

  • It will be hot as the sun get up. Yala is located on a semi-arid zone. It is the driest landscape in Sri Lanka with a rainfall between 19.7–30.5 inches. Temperatures are always above 260. It is best to start early or late in to the afternoon when the sun is not directly above you.
  • It will be sunny. Yala is less humid than the rest of Sri Lanka. Almost savannah-like. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
  • Take enough bottled water. Don’t forget to stay hydrated.
  • Take care of yourself and others. Never get out of your safari jeep unless permitted by your tracker. There are records when wild elephants had attacked safari jeeps that drove too close to them. Always remember that you are in the wild.

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Historical attractions

Sri Lankan Tour Packages