Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park of Sri Lanka and therefore a proven great place to embark on a safari. Whether Yala National Park will be the park for you will depend on a variety of things. First of all, this park is famous because of one animal, the leopard. Yala has the highest leopard density of the entire world and for this reason many people get up early to get a glimpse of these beautiful creatures. Unfortunately that also means that you definitely won’t be alone and have plenty of other jeeps surrounding you in the early morning.
Although it can be crowded in the early morning, it is advisable to tell your driver to move away from the crowds. The Yala National Park is incredibly huge, however you can’t get everywhere because of the lack of solid roads. That means you’ll mostly drive through man made roads, but don’t expect it to be an easy ride as there are continuous bumps everywhere.
Next to the famous leopard, a safari in Yala National Park also gives you a great chance to see elephants. While the leopards are mostly seen in the morning, you got a reasonable chance of seeing elephants throughout the entire day. During our day in Yala National Park we were one of the only jeeps that were lucky enough to see elephants, so please be aware that you’re not guaranteed of seeing anything as it highly depends on whether the animals want to show themselves.
You’ll see a lot of big lakes and muddy pools situated all over the park where the animals bade and drink. The big lakes often consist of beautiful flowers and beautiful trees in the water. Combined with some huge rock formations, you’ll almost feel like being in the Lion King.
Here’s just a little shot of an elephant that we had to share!
Another reason why a lot of people come to Yala National Park is because the huge variety of colourful birds. You’ll see them everywhere! When the engine of the jeep turns of, you’ll also hear tons of them singing together at almost every spot in the park.
Yala National Park is definitely a great experience with the potential of seeing leopards in their natural habitat. However you must be aware that this park is the most visited park of Sri Lanka and therefore you’ll experience the most crowds. If you can look past that then you can definitely have a great day with the opportunity of seeing a lot of amazing animals in a very large park. If you’d rather have less crowds and a bigger chance of seeing elephants, we can highly recommend Udawalawe National Park.
If you would like to truly see what a day of safari in the south of Sri Lanka is like, we recommend to check out our video of our jeep safari through the Yala National Park or our video of the Udawalawe National Park to help you decide!
Travel Tips Yala National Park
Best time in the year to visit Yala National Park
– between November and March as it is the dry season
Best time in the day to visit Yala National Park
We advise you to go to Yala in the early morning. You won’t be the only one with this idea, but it gets extremely hot at the end of the morning. This makes the experience a bit less pleasurable unless you’re really good when it comes to the heat. Another advantage of going early is that you can experience a beautiful sun rise in the beautiful natural scenery.
What to bring to Yala National Park
– water, water, water
– warm clothes if you go early in the morning
Costs Yala National Park
A safari through the Yala National Park isn’t cheap. The costs are about $15 a person, however that doesn’t include the costs of a jeep for the safari which is around $40. You’ve also got VAT, service charge and a vehicle fee that together can be up to $10. Apart from that, you’ll have costs to get to Yala of course (you can find how to get to Yala down this page).
Transport through Yala National Park
When you embark on a safari through the Yala National Park, you’ll need to get a jeep plus driver for a day trip. Don’t worry though as there are plenty of jeeps waiting in the area for customers. We advice to choose a driver that speaks proper English so he’ll be able to educate you a bit about the park. Lastly, saying that you’ll give a tip if you see a lot of animals will get you a long way!
Accommodation near Yala National Park
Finding a hotel near Yala National Park is possible and there are a few options. Although most people stay somewhere near Tangalle, we’ve placed some accommodation recommendations down this page, check them out!