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10 places to visit on Yala national park tours

Watching a leopard stalking on prey is an unforgettable and rare wildlife experience you can count on this kind of experience in Yala national park safari tours. It is a great site and a truly spine-tingling memorable experience that any nature lover can imagine…

What are the top 10 places to visit on Yala national park tour?

Suppose you start the Yala national park tour from Colombo and take the Colombo-Galle main road, here are the top 10 places to visit along the way,

  1. Bentota beach
  2. Madu River estuary
  3. Sea turtle conservation centre
  4. Mask museum and gem museum
  5. Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary and the beach
  6. Galle Fort
  7. Kande Viharaya Buddhist temple
  8. Spice garden
  9. Mirissa beach for whale watching
  10. Kataragama temple

Few other useful links

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Yala national park tours for a top-notch leopard sighting

From Leopard spotting and ancient ruins of archaeological sites to serene beaches around the park, the magic of Yala national park takes the visitors by surprise always. Yala national park is the most popular for wildlife tours on the island and many thousands of travellers entering the park every day. According to the authorities, the park is over visited.

Don’t feed animals during the safari

The hoards of tourist in the park have deteriorated the lifestyle of the animal up to a certain level. Even though it earns money to the country on the other hand wildlife safari at Yala causing some damage to the wildlife.

To make it worst the jeep drivers and the visitors are not adhering to the rules and regulations, which should be observed during the safari. E.g. many elephants in Yala national park have become used to being fed by visitors. When the animals are frequently fed by the human, the elephant makes it a habit to rely on the human for food.

This type of elephant habits are innocent initially but they tend to become more aggressive gradually over time, like “Gemunu”, a bull elephant live in Yala national park, which blocks the dirt tracks and halting safari jeeps to sniff out food inside.

Where is Yala national park

Yala National park is near the southern border of Sri Lanka, which is 280 about km from Colombo. This very remote national park is located near the town of Tissamaharama, bout 20 km from Tissamaharama.

Yala safari tour provides a great opportunity to explore Sri Lanka’s wildlife

It gives you the maximum of wildlife adventure, it is rustic, scenic and wild at wildest. The vegetation of the Yala national park is dominated by shrubs, thorn bush and various types of grasses. Isolated big trees are seen at the beginning of the Yala national park safari tours while dense jungle dominated as you go deep into the park.

Venturing on Yala national park safari tours is the best way to explore the rich wildlife of Sri Lanka. Yala national park is the most popular safari destination on the island of Sri Lanka and it is set in the island’s legendary Ruhunu kingdom of southern Sri Lanka.

Yala national park safari tour is one of the most popular activities for travellers, who visit Sri Lanka and it includes most road trips of Sri Lanka. Tour operators such as seerendipity tours organize one day tours, multi-day Sri Lanka tours and adventure trips to beach holidays with the inclusion of Yala national park.

Yala National Park is the second biggest wildlife reserve on the island. It spreads over a huge area of rainforest, grassland and lagoons bordering the Sea, in southeast Sri Lanka. It’s home to wildlife such as leopards, elephants, sloth bears and crocodiles; to name a few, as well as hundreds of bird species. Yala ranks among the best places for Sri Lanka jungle tours and attracts a large number of travellers every year.

leopards at wilpattu
Yala national park is one of the best places for Sri Lanka wildlife tours and also included in most Sri Lank trips such as 4 days Sri Lanka southern tour.

Spotting leopards on Yala national park tours

I had done Yala national park safari tour many times with our customers and had the opportunity to spot the leopards a few times. However, spotting a leopard in the park cannot be guaranteed and it is difficult to find leopards most of the time they are hiding in the bush.

Jeep tour with an experienced driver

You need a trained eye to spot animals and most importantly you should have a good idea about places, where they are roaming at, for instance, the elephants and many other animals are coming to waterholes afternoon. Fortunately, the jeep driver can help you to find animals. So having an experienced guy is a key to the success of your Yala safari tour. Success in the sense, I mean the spotting a leopard, encountering other animals such as Elephant is fairly easy on your Yala safari tour.

Watching leopards in Action

Watching a leopard stalking on prey is an unforgettable and rare wildlife experience that you can count on a Yala national park safari tour. It is a great site and a truly spine-tingling memorable experience that any nature lover can imagine.

Unfortunately, only a few places allow you to have that experience and a few travellers get the opportunity to witness this magnificent hunter in the action. Count on Yala national park for similar kind of experiences, it is Yala where you can hope spotting this big cat in action because Yala has the highest number of leopards compared to any other national park of its size in the world.

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Historical facts about Yala national park

One of the notable difference between Yala and other national parks in Sri Lanka is the collection of fascinating ruins within the borders of Yala national park, the ruins belong to a Buddhist monastery complex dating back to 2nd century BC (visiting a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka these are the rule need to know).

Wild animals such as monkeys, deer, elephants, wild boar and even leopards are roaming around the monastery. The monastery is situated at one of the highest places towards the western borders of the park commanding a breathtaking view from its lofty position.

What animals do we spot on Yala national park tours?

  • Leopard
  • Elephant
  • Deer
  • Crodocile
  • Monitors
  • Jackal
  • Buffalo
  • Bear
  • Sambar deer
  • Wild boar
  • Mongoose
  • A large number of bird species
  • Many species of vertebrates

Undoubtedly, spotting a leopard is the most sought-after experience of the visitors who take Yala national park safari tours, but, spotting the leopard is the most difficult and it cannot be guaranteed. Even though the park is the home for a large number of leopards, spotting this magnificent carnivore is a daunting task and need a great deal of patience as well as the luck. In some cases, you will be able to spot all the creatures living in the park such as leopard, sloth bears, deer, crocodile, elephant, monkey, mongoose, jackal, water buffaloe etc during your Yala safari tour. But there are instances that you only see few species of these animals during the Yala national park safari tour.

The extent of Yala national park

Yala national park is the 2nd biggest national park in the island and it was established in 1900 as a wildlife sanctuary. The park spreads over 978 km2 and one of the best places to observe wildlife on the island.

Geological facts about Yala national park

Yala national park has a fascinating blend of ecologically different places such as lakes and water holes, huge boulders, grasslands, thorn bushes, and sand dunes. Yala national park is the most popular national park on the island mainly due to the large concentration of leopards.

Sloth bear, another rare animal that can be spotted in Yala national park

Why is the Yala Safari tour special?

The visitors are lavishly rewarded by mother nature when they take part in Yala national park safari tours. You can see gorgeous scenery across the grasslands, and huge lakes filled with rainwater with colourful birds. You can spot majestic elephants, leopards, and various other animals.

Colourful green bee-eaters are everywhere and they allow you to have a close look at them. You see the isolated mongoose, herds of buffaloes, deer and wild boar in the distance as you pass the grasslands. You will be greeted by wild crocodiles as you come across the ponds and waterholes.

You will encounter large herds of deer, numbering hundreds on some occasions, grazing on the lush green growth. Leopards are the rarest animal to spot here and you can see this predator everywhere in the park. It can be occurring in treetops, grassy plains, on boulders or near the water holes.

Grasslands and shrub forests are very frequent at the beginning of the Yala national park safari tours, where you see the animals even in the distance with ease. Unlike most national parks, you don’t drive hours without spotting any animals at Yala. In Yala, you see the animal at every moment of your game drive, at least a troop of monkeys.

Watching elephants in Yala

One of the most common animals in Yala is the elephant. Almost every traveller gets the opportunity to see several elephants at any given time of the day. These jumbos are starting to appear as you drive about 2-4 kilometres deep into the jungle. Usually, jeep drivers wheel around the Elephants and position you to have a better view of the animal all the time. Sometimes the elephants are getting very close to the jeeps. In some instance, they are standing next to your jeep and not more than 15 feet away from the door.

Unlike in most other national parks such as Minneriya national park and Udawalawe national park, it is very convenient to spot wild animals during the Yala national park safari tours. Visitors are not required to drive many kilometres from place to place to spot animals. The visitors can spot the animals in every 10-15 minutes interval. After about 2-3 hours the jeep covers the entire circuit (usually the safari takes place in the Zone 1 of Yala national park) of the safari trip and guests are able to spot most animals during this time.

Most rare animal to spot Yala national park is the leopards, still, Yala is one of the best places to spot leopards in the world. Usually, the travellers are able to see a large number of wild animals in every safari, but it is difficult to find the leopard and bear compared to other animals such as Elephant. Other than leopards and bear wildlife sightings are very common during the Yala national park safari tours.

It is always recommended to use professional safari jeep drivers for Yala national park safari tours. Because the success of safari largely depends on the drivers, they have a very good eye and can easily spot wild animals hidden in the woods. Same times they have a good idea of where the animals are roaming in the park. The animals show-up in different places in the park depending on the season and the time of the day. Normally the lakes and waterholes are the best places to spot wild animals. These lakes are also occupied by hundreds of different species of birds.

What is the best time to do the Yala safari tour?

Usually, the Yala national park safari tours start early in the morning (at around 5.00 AM) or afternoon (at around 2.00 PM), therefore most travellers who are coming from far away destinations spend one night in a nearby hotel (before or after the safari) and do the Yala national park safari at a most suitable time.

Seerendipity tours organize Yala safari tours from 40+ hotels around the island. You can book regular Yala jeep safari as well as full-day Yala jeep safari tour with us, please contact us on admin@seerendipitytorus.com for more information.

Full day Yala Safari tour vs regular 3 hours Yala safari tour?

If you come to Yala in order to spot a Leopard and don not want to miss the opportunity, I recommend you to do a full day Yala safari tour. Regular Yala Safari tour lasts about 3 hours and therefore chances of spotting leopard are very narrow. However, if you venturing on a full day Yala Safari tour, chances of spotting leopards are far greater than the usual safari great. A full day safari starts around 05.00 am and last until the dusk, and the full day safari includes drinks as well as a picnic lunch.

Yala safari invariably means spotting leopards because the expectations of most visitors of Yala wildlife reserve is spotting leopards. It is highly recommended to do a full day Yala safari in order to realize your target. It could be difficult to a leopard on a half-day regular jeep safari but full-day jeep safari increases your chance of spotting leopards considerably and thereby you can realize your expectations.

On the full-day jeep safari usually, the safari organizer provides a picknick lunch in one of the designated areas to spot in the park. There are 2 picnic spots to choose from one is near the beach while the second place adjoining the river. Most number of guests who are on jeep safari choose the beach in order to take a rest.

Tissamaharama the gateway to Yala national park

Tissamaharama is the nearest city to Yala and most accommodations facilities available around Tissamaharama. All types of accommodations, from star class hotels, Eco-hotels to cheap guest houses are available here making it a destination that suitable for any type of budget. Tissamaharama is situated about 10km from Yala national park. Tissamahrama is the gateway to Yala national park and most accommodation facilities you find here not near the Yala national park. Only a very few hotels are located near the Yala national park.

sri lanka safari jeep, Yala national park tours

There are several campsites also available near Yala national park, for travellers who are interested in camping. These campsites are not located directly in the park but at the border of the Yala national park. These luxurious caping sites offered with all meals and 2 safaris trips in Yala wildlife reserve.

Yala national park is one of the best places to witness leopards in the world

Yala is considered to be one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka and it is one of the biggest national parks in Sri Lanka with 97880hectares. Densest population of biggest leopards in the world is recorded in Yala national park. Sri Lankan leopard is identified as a sub-species of common leopards (panthera pardus kotiy) and, which is endemic to the island.

Yala national park initially used as a hunting ground during the British rule in Sri Lanka. As the number of animals drastically reduced due to the hunting, Yala is declared as a national park in 1900 and became a safe place for wildlife. Yala is the biggest national park is divided into 5 zones. Bio-diversity of the national park considered to be high and Yala mainly recognized as the best place for observing leopard in the country. Other than the leopards there is a number of other animals in the park such as Elephants, Deer, Buffalo, Wild boar, Bear, monkey’s etc.

Spotting Sri Lankan leopard in Yala

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Yala has a reputation as one of the best places to witness leopards (panthera pardus kotiya) in the world with 17 ½ big cats per 100 square kilometres. Naturalists are saying that in the Block 1 of Yala National park could be home to the densest population of leopards in the world, the density of leopards in the block one around a leopard per every 2 sq. kilometres. Thirty adult individual leopards are identified by the naturalists in Yala block 1 other than the cubs.

Unlike most other national parks where leopards can be seen in dark Sri Lanka leopards are on the move during the day as well. One of the main reasons for the great concentration of leopards in Yala is the abundance of games for the animals. One naturalist has said “There is no competition for food. So they are not bothered about protecting a kill. We have noted a number of kills left here and there. Leopard kills feed a number of other animals. They actively keep the prey in check”.

Leopards are the most fearful and biggest carnivores on the island. Physical characteristics of leopards are varying depending on the habitat, and leopard in Sri Lanka considered being the biggest leopards in the world, which grows up to seven feet in length and up to 170 pounds. Larger body size of the leopards enables them to prey on larger animals such as full-grown sambhur or big buffalo. The leopard in Sri Lanka is identified as a sub-species of common leopards in the world. Sri Lanka leopard (panthera pardus kotiy) is endemic to the island.

Yala national park is not only a great place to watch leopards. It is also a great place to watch dry zone birds and other favourite animals. And of course, the bears, the microcosm of biodiversity including crocodiles are on show at the Yala National Park. Yala is also a good place to see crocodiles in action, and during the dry season, they could be seen feeding and preying on dead buffaloes.

How to determine where leopards are occurring

Usually, most Yala safaris take place in block 5, which is the most area to spot leopards. Block 1-4 are deep in the jungle and tourist are not going that much deep into the jungle. Patience is very important to spot leopards and some times you need to stop the jeep and wait for many hours until the leopard show-up to kill its prey. Usually, drivers (who has a lot of experience) are able to determine where the Leopard is hiding, by the warning calls made by the deers, as well as the direction the deers were looking.

Spotting birds in Yala

Yala is also considered to be one of the best places to see birds, especially from April-October; migrating birds also flock into the park during this period. Yala is the home for many endemic birds such as Lanka Habam Kukula – Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Lanka Wali Kukula – Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Lanka Mailagoya – Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Lanka Giramaliththa – Hanging Parrot of Sri Lanka, Layard’s Parakeet, Lanka Alu Girawa. Yala also attracts a large number of seasonal birds, especially during the bird migration from October to April.

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Yala Safari price

There are a few factors that decide on the Yala safari price. The main contributor to Yala safari price is the entrance fees and the cost of the jeep. The entrance fees for most national parks in the island is similar, which stands at LKR 2,730 (USD 18 approximately) per adult (the breakdown of the entrance fee LKR 1,740 + 40% + 12%). Jeep & tracker charges are LKR 250 and it should also be added to the Yala safari price. Other than the entrance fees the cost of the jeep of the safari is also counted for the Yala safari price.

The cost for the jeep fluctuates between LKR 4000 to LKR 6000. If you wish to have a modern Jeep with more comfortable seats, it cost around LKR 6000. So Yala safari price for 2 persons is approximately LKR 10000. As the number of persons in the group increases the Yala safari price per head reduces. Because, mainly the cost of tracker, service charge and the cost of the jeep hire is divided among all the members of the group.

Hotels near Yala national park

There are only very few hotels near Yala national park to stay during your Yala national park safari tours. Most tourists who wish to make Yala national park safari tours opt to stay in a hotel near Tissamaharama rather than in Yala. Tissamaharama is the main city near Yala national park, which is around 20 km away from Yala national park. There are a large number of good hotels in Tissamaharam. Here you can find accommodation from very cheap dormitories to luxurious boutique hotels. Whatever the budget you have you can find suitable accommodation here.

Apart from a large number of possibilities to get accommodation, there is another important reason why most travellers stay in Tissamaharama, which is the possibility (of course with different prices and different categories) of exploring many other historical and natural attractions such as Kataragama temple, Tissa lake, Kirinda etc. Yala is a remote isolated area with dense foliage whereas Tissamaharama is concerned it is a very populated area with markets, shops, restaurants, hotels, bars and many historical places around.

How to go to Yala national park

Yala is located at South-east Sri Lanka and the park is far away from cities and other populated areas. The park entrance is well above 10 km away from the main road and travellers need to travel 20minutes between the forest in order to reach the park entrance. The ticket counters are located at the park entrance.

Because the park is located in an unpopulated area do not expect to have public transportation to reach the park. At least the last leg of the trip  (10 km between the main road and the park entrance). Since every traveller goes to Yala to observe wildlife they have to rent a jeep sometime of the trip. Usually, most jeeps are stationed at Tissamaharama and jeeps do not charge anything extra for the drive from Tissamaharama to Yala national park. Therefore it is recommended to start the jeep safari in Tissamahara where you can find accommodation easily. It is easy to reach Tissamaharama from any part of the island and you find direct buses to Tissamaharama from most cities.

Where do I get a jeep for the safari

You can get hold of a jeep either at the entrance of Yala national park or in Tissamaharama. You get a large number of jeeps near the lake of Tissamaharma and you can book a jeep spontaneously.

Other popular places near Yala

Kataragama temple, Yatalatissa Buddhist temple, Kirinda

What are the does and doesn’t of Yala national park safari tours?

1. Don’t ever take fruits into the national park elephants smell the fruits and come to you

2. Take a bottle of water

3. Take binoculars to see animals and birds

4. Wear a hat

5. Wear a light cotton dress, it is very hot and humid in the Yala park

6. Apply sunscreen if you start your Yala national park safari tour in the morning

7. Roads are very dusty in the park, therefore, be prepared to get dirty

The road is very dusty and there is a very high possibility of getting caught in duts clouds. It mainly happens due to the speeding-up of the jeeps that drive in front of you. Sometimes the drivers get hints from other jeeps, about the places, where animals are occurring, for instance, when a driver spot a leopard on a tree he informs the other drivers, over the mobile phone, about the leopard. Once the message is passed to other jeeps, other drivers are also rush to the place, so that they can show the leopard to their guests. I have never seen this type of communication in other national parks in Sri Lanka.

Why you should choose Seerendipity for Yala national park tours?

Seerendipity tour is a fully locally owned travel company with a head office in Colombo. The highly experienced local staff is a key strength of Seerendipity tours and they can plan your dream holiday to Sri Lanka.

Best price for your Sri Lanka vacation packages

When you book a tour with us, you directly book the tour with the local company, which means there are no middlemen and therefore you can guarantee the best price. Simply get in touch with us and let us know when you travel and what you like to see.

Plan your best Sri Lanka vacation packages with experts

Our staff makes a personalized program for you, which you can change until you find the best package for you. You can also browse our existing tour packages for inspiration; all our ready-made tour packages are customizable and can be tailored to meet all your expectations. Write to us at admin@seerendipitytours.com

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