Forming a total area of 1268km2, Yala National Park Sri Lanka lies in the Southern Province and Uva Province, 300km from Colombo. Yala National Park was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and designated as a national park in 1938. Yala National Park is most famous for its highest Panthera pardus concentration in the world, a majestic leopard endemic to Sri Lanka, and is also home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. A large number of elephants also visit Yala park gaining access through the Lunugamvehera National Park, which works as a corridor between Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park.
Yala National Park is sectioned into five, and only two sections are opened to visitors due to the concerns expressed about the threat to wildlife from increasing number of tourists.
The vegetation in Yala park comprises predominantly of semi-arid thorny shrub, interspersed with pockets of fairly dense secondary forest. The vast expanses of open terrain is dotted with grasslands and shrubs, tanks and lagoons, water holes and sand dunes.
The best time to visit Yala National Park is between February and July when the water levels of the park are quite low, bringing animals into the open in search of water.
A Yala National Park Safari is a must-do if you’re visiting Sri Lanka. It is possible to take full day jeep safaris or to split your day into morning and afternoon drives. Early morning and evenings are recommended for Yala safaris due to the heat of the day and animals tucked away in shade. It is evidenced that the leopards in Yala National Park show no fear of the jeeps, thus creating some excellent photographic opportunities during a Yala safari.
Yala safari jeeps and packages are available from all major towns and can negotiate a safari jeep at the entrance to the Yala National Park as well.
Tissamaharamaya is the main gateway to Yala National Park through Kirinda town.