Yala National Park, the most visited and second largest park in Sri Lanka which is filled with wildlife. Is it a must visit if you come to Sri Lanka or should you pick a different park? Here’s all you need to know.
Which park to pick?
Locals told us that 10% of Sri Lanka is national park. Yala is the most popular and largest park, but not always the best choice. In the North West you will find a higher number of leopards for example. Udawalawe is smaller than Yala but most people say it’s the better one. For one, you can get very close to animals, particularly the elephants. Smaller national parks like Gal Oya and Kumana are great because you won’t run into other jeeps and it feels much more private. We booked our tour with Wild Yala Safaris for 60 dollar per person. If we knew everything prior our booking, we may have picked another park.
Get up early
Wild Yala Safaris, and most other safari’s for that matter, will pick you up at 4AM at your hotel so get an early night in! Our hotel was located in Tissa and it takes about 1 hour by jeep to get to the entrance of Yala National Park. Keep your eyes open because we spotted our first massive Elephant when it was still dark outside! When you enter the park you need to wait for about 20 min with the other jeeps before you can enter (a good opportunity to take a quick nap?)
The park itself is beautiful: You won’t find any plastic or other trash
Safari in Sri Lanka is an experience we will never forget
The Big Five Sri Lanka Style
In one day we managed to spot 2 leopards, countless elephants, wild boars, several birds, crocodiles, water, monkeys, buffalos etc. We saw most wildlife after lunch which is arranged by the driver and it’s delicious and super fresh. Expect some rice, vegetables, chicken in curry sauce, dahl and fruit. Good to know: the price is almost the same at every other agency, so the experience is what counts. Drivers even help each other when they see unique animals in the park. They call each other and drive as maniacs to the spot.
Our tips before going on safari in Sri Lanka:
» Bring some breakfast, toilet paper, sweater or wind jacket, sunscreen and sunglasses
» If you have some, bring some binoculars
» Check out other national parks in Sri Lanka! Yala National Park was on the way and with only 2,5 weeks to go, this seemed like the best option.
» Don’t be too disappointed if you don’t spot a leopard, it’s rare and most of the time they are hidden or far away.
» You can book group or private tours so pick wisely
Check out our full Sri Lanka Guide | a 2,5 week travel itinerary