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Yala National Park is the most famous and most visited national park in Sri Lanka.

It has the highest density of Leopards in all of the world with more than 1000 leopards with a density of 1 per square mile.

“Panthera Pardus” also Called “Kotiya” by the locals, is the main reason why people all around the world pay a visit to this park.

leopard in yala national park sri lanka

Its situated in the south east region of Sri Lanka, apart from the Leopard, you can find the elephant and the Sloth Bear which is three animals out of the big four in Sri Lanka.

Yala is popular for its Safaris and camping inside the park which attracts many. 

A total area of 1268 sq. meters, this is the second largest national park in Sri Lanka, second to only Wilpattu National Park, in the north west.

For wildlife spotting, Yala is the ideal spot to visit. 

How to get here

If you have enough cash in hand you should definitely take air taxi to Hambantota and then book a cab to Yala.

The flight will take only 45 minutes from the Colombo Airport and it will cost approximately LKR 42000.

From the Hambantota airport, Yala National Park is situated 65kms away.

The cab ride will cost you approximately LKR 3500-4000 and it will take about 90 minutes to get there. 

The distance from Colombo to the entry point of Palatupana is 305 km.

There are no direct trains to Yala but you can do half of your journey by train.

Take the train to Haputale early morning from the Fort train station.

The trip will cost you Approximately LKR 350. From Haputale, it’s an hour and a half drive to Yala, where you can take a cab or another bus.

Using the bus will be a hassle because first you will be needing to get to Bandarawela from Haputale and then take the bus to Tissamaharama. 

If you’re happy to do your trip on the bus, then you can take the bus to Kataragama from Colombo.

The trip will take approximately 8 and a half hours and will cost you LKR 250.

The most recommended way to travel is by car since it’s a long and bumpy ride through one of hottest districts in the island. 

Things to do in Yala Sri Lanka

Yala Safari 

Yala is all about safari.

The only reason people come to Yala is to go on Safari inside the Yala National Park. Tissamaharama is the entrance to the Yala National Park.

20kms away from Palatupana where there is an office which offers various information and a tracker to all incoming jeeps. There are Jeeps for hire in the park as well.

Best time to take the safari is early morning. The earlier you go, the more chances of more sightings.

It’s pretty hot and humid so make sure you drink a lot of water and apply some sun cream before you leave your hotel.

Yala National Park has the highest attraction of Tourist on the Island. It is also the second-largest after Wilpattu National Park.

The park is spread through a vast area but the tourist and wildlife enthusiasts are allowed to mingle in just one-fifth of the park

Yala offers a wide range of wildlife and it has a very high density of Wildlife compared to other national parks on the island.

The rich variety and density of various mammals and birds is the main reason why Yala National Park is the most popular national park in Sri Lanka. 


elephant in yala national park

A very high number of mammals are spotted here. 32 to be more precise.

There are three animals listed as threatened. They are the Leopard, Sloth Bear and the Elephant

Many wildlife enthusiasts head on to Yala National park to capture these animals in their natural habitat. Most of them go back satisfied. 

The Sri Lankan Leopard are believed to be descendants of the Indian big cats.

During the months of January and July, there is a very high chance of spotting these leopards.

Block 1 at the Yala National Park is been identified as the area where there is the highest density of Leopards in the park. Yala National Park’s Block 1, on the western side of the park, has the highest density of Leopards.

Close 200-300 jeeps enter Block 1 during the day.

The leopards are pretty used to the noise of the jeeps, especially the males who will just roam around Undisturbed.

The two parks, Yala and Udawalawe are separated from the Lunugamwehera National Park. Apart from the leopards, Yala has a very high density of Elephants which can be spotted easily during the months of May to August.

wild life photography yala sri lanka
crocodile in yala national park
deer flock in yala sri lanka
buffalo in yala sri lanka


There are approximately 130 species of birds in the park. Serpent Eagle, Darter, Orange Breasted Green Pigeon, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Hornbills etc. are few of them.

Migrating birds are found during the monsoon season where the lagoons are filled with water. Some of them are Eurasian Curlew and Waterfowl.

The most common sight around water holes are Mugger Crocodiles. The bigger Estuarine Crocodile are found in the main rivers.

Common monitor is also spotted in the water holes. Other reptiles include Cobra and Russel’s Viper.

One side of Yala ends with coast and a variety of Sea Turtle, Olive Ridley and Leatherback does their nesting around this coast. 

Yala camping 

Many wildlife enthusiasts camp inside the Yala National Park during their visit.

There are campsites run by renowned hotel chains and inside the park there are designated areas where you can camp on your own.

You need to take prior permission from the wildlife department in order to reserve the camping site. 

Final Say 

If you’re a fan of wildlife, Yala National Park is a must go during your visit to Sri Lanka.

It’s vibrant natural habitat and the rich wildlife will make your journey worthwhile.

During your stay, make sure you head on down the beach as well, the sunsets are beautiful in that part of the country.

We have a Kind request from all visitors, try not to feed the animals and please don’t pollute the park during your stay. 

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