Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

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Yala combines a strict nature reserve with a national park. Divided into 5 blocks, the park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land consisting of light forests, scrubs, grasslands, tanks and lagoons. Two blocks are currently opened to the public.

Situated in Sri Lanka’s south-east hugging the panoramic Indian Ocean, Yala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and was designated a national park in 1938. Ironically, the park was initially used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule. Yala is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Among its more famous residents are the world’s biggest concentration of leopards, majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted dear, peacocks, and crocodiles. The best time to visit Yala is between February and July when the water levels of the park are quite low, bringing animals into the open.

Srilanka Leopard
Srilanka Leopard
Block Extent Date added to the park
Block I 14,101 hectares (54.44 sq mi) 1938
Block II 9,931 hectares (38.34 sq mi) 1954
Block III 40,775 hectares (157.43 sq mi) 1967
Block IV 26,418 hectares (102.00 sq mi) 1969
Block V 6,656 hectares (25.70 sq mi) 1973


Yala National Park Weather

Yala is in a hot, semi-arid environment despite its lush greenish look, especially during the monsoon season. Temperature ranges from 260C to about 300C. The North-east monsoon season is when Yala gets most of its rainfall from September to December


Be a responsible Visitor to Yala National Park

Yala is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka with record-breaking numbers every passing year. Now as you think of coming to the park, we have a question for you. Why? If the answer is because it sounds like a ‘fun’ thing to do, we want to help you make the answer and your experience much more meaningful and productive. Here’s a checklist of preparations

  1. Do your homework by reading up on wildlife, its destruction and get to know the park you are preparing to visit. Start with its history; geography and the inhabitants. Each animal has incredibly unique features, behaviors, feeding patterns etc. Knowing your hosts will make the adventure all the more memorable.
  2. Get children involved too and friends. Talk about what you know and drive home the fact that you are not visiting a circus. Read to Do’s and Don’ts elsewhere on this page and take them to your heart. A wildlife safari is essentially an educational experience that imparts incredible happiness and doing it with friends and family is truly a ‘fun’ experience.
  3. Be prepared to speak up and act responsibly. Do not condone bad, ugly, selfish behavior and do not entice your trekker to break the law. Every wrong move may endanger the animals and your life too.
  4. Yala in its entirety is 26 times bigger than the city of Colombo. But the public is currently allowed only on two of its designated blocks making the park’s road network over-crowded with vehicular traffic, especially on public holidays. While new areas with more roads are being considered it’s a humongous and costly task experiencing delays. So the best you can do is to travel in an orderly, responsible manner, sticking to designated routes and not speed at any time.
  5. Remember, at all times that you are in someone else’s territory and conduct yourself as a responsible nature lover. Leave with only memories and do not leave even your footprints.
Sri Lankan Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Rule of Thumb of Visiting Yala National Park

The rule of the thumb in visiting a national park is that you must simply blend in and try to be invisible. While you just can’t hide from them, there’s a lot you can do to make sure that the animals can simply ignore you. Each animal has its own personality and the slightest thing can destroy their peace. When you understand their habitat, lifestyle and behavior, you can become a good visitor. Just as much as an irritating and selfish neighbor can drive us wild, destroy our peace and turn us into angry human beings, the slightest thing can upset the equilibrium of animals and that may happen quite unwittingly on your part. This is why educating ourselves is to prepare ourselves for the journey. Avoid any kind of interaction, verbal or through gestures. Did you know even the noise of vehicles seem to affect the feeding habits and personality of elephants, for example? Animals sense who you really are. Be patient and respectful and they will roam freely. Predators can feel mostly under pressure because of photographers, which has huge impact on their hunting, feeding and reproductive habits. Be a spy and never force a photo op on them. Chasing an animal in your vehicle puts them under tremendous pressure and think of having to experience that visitor after visitor, day after day. Some species of birds are more sensitive in special times; the most crucial period for birds is nestling season. Any undue pressure can bring on the kind of pressure they feel when a predator is on the prowl. That’s quite cruel. Learning about animals is fun and adds meaning to life; what’s more, it prepares you to be a responsible visitor to the animal kingdom. Be patient at all times; the VIP is not you but your host, who wants you to come, be amazed and go, all unnoticed!


What in Leopard Mind

Imagine, you are a superstar and you don’t even know about it. And zillion people come at dawn and dusk, just the same way the paparazzi zoom in on their target. They hustle and jostle for vantage points, follow you round like a bunch of possessed men or a pack of looting hyenas. They won’t even let you eat in peace or let you enjoy that well-earned fiesta. If this happens to you, surely you can call in the Police or hire some security guards. You’d give a piece of your mind, at least. A leopard can’t call in the Police but it can give you a piece of its mind but it chooses not to; displaying greater tolerance and latitude that humans show. It has little option but to accept and adjust, letting you enjoy that perfect shot while our irresponsible actions may forever change even their gene pools, as they learn to live with noisy human visitors. There are some 40 leopards, the highest gathering in the world, putting up with you. A gracious host only asks for a considerate visitor!


What to do in an emergency!

When you enter a national wildlife park you accept the risks involved. While animal attacks are rare, you must remember that they can happen. Animals are highly unpredictable, temperamental and may easily be provoked or spring to action without a warning. They are known to guard their herds and territories; with behavior different from one species to another. Elephants offer the highest risk while other predators may pose dangers at close range.

In case of an emergency, remind yourself to be calm and intently listen to the instructions of your tracker. If you are on your own, remain quiet, engine of vehicle cut and do not leave the vehicle at all.

In extremely dangerous situations, your tracker may ask you to put foot to the pedal; remember to keep calm and think rationally. Loud noise should be made only if trekker says so or when no other solution is in the offing, in the face of a violent, persistent attack, which is extremely remote and unlikely.

Your trekker is trained for any eventuality and will take you out of harm’s way. If you do not have a trekker, call for help if you need assistance if you are lost or need urgent help.

Elephant hugging at Minneriya National Park
Elephant hugging at Minneriya National Park

Yala National Park Bungalows (Bungalows inside Yala National Park)

A series of wildlife bungalows operated by the park afford nature enthusiasts to spend a night in the park. These bungalows are very basic, promote open space but give you an unforgettable experience as you experience a night in the animal kingdom. You can book a bungalow here. You can also be out on the beaten track before the rest of the traffic gets in. A series of wildlife bungalows operated by the park afford nature enthusiasts to spend a night in the park. These bungalows are very basic, promote open space but give you an unforgettable experience as you experience a night in the animal kingdom. You can book a bungalow here. You can also be out on the beaten track before the rest of the traffic gets in.

Below are List of Bungalows available for stay upto 3 days continuously,

Warahena Bungalow

First Night: LKR 8008.00

Second Night: LKR 14,504.00

Third Night: LKR 21,000.00


Mahasilawa Bungalow

First Night: LKR 8008.00

Second Night: LKR 14,504.00

Third Night: LKR 21,000.00


Ondaathe Bungalow

First Night: LKR 6,888.00

Second Night: LKR 12,264.00

Third Night: LKR 17,640.00


Heenwewa Bungalow

First Night: LKR 5,768.00

Second Night: LKR 10,024.00

Third Night: LKR 14,280.00


Thalgasmankada Bungalow

First Night: LKR 5,768.00

Second Night: LKR 10,024.00

Third Night: LKR 14,280.00


New Buthawa Bungalow

First Night: LKR 8008.00

Second Night: LKR 14,504.00

Third Night: LKR 21,000.00


Old Buthawa Bungalow

First Night: LKR 8008.00

Second Night: LKR 14,504.00

Third Night: LKR 21,000.00

If you are interested to Book Bungalows located inside Yala National Park : Click Here


Indian Peacock at Udawalawa National Park, Sri lanka
Indian Peacock at Udawalawa National Park, Sri lanka

Are interested in camping inside Yala National Park

The campsite can provide accommodation for a maximum of 10 people at a time. You can also have 2 kids below the age of 6 in addition to that. Campsites are open for any bookings of not more than 3 days.

There are onsite toilets for campers and don’t forget to clean it when you are leaving. Littering inside the park is strictly prohibited so don’t leave anything behind apart from your footsteps. Permanent constructions are not allowed inside a campsite, you have a 20 X 20 ft. land to build your temporary dwellings.

If you have more than 1 camp tent, you may have to pay extra for each additional tent. All campers are entitled to a seasoned trekker when entering the park. No refunds are entertained under any circumstance.

  • The guest registration forms must be filled on arrival.
  • Alcohol consumption and smoking is strictly prohibited on campsites.
  • You have to be responsible for your actions inside the park. Make sure that you leave it as you see it.
  • Any harm caused to the nature by you is a serious crime and will be dealt with extreme prejudice.
  • Campers must be fully aware of the rules of the park and expected to be in line with all of them.


Safari Riders

Obviously, your trip to Yala revolves around the safari ride that takes you on an experience of a lifetime. Remember, this is no circus and animals are not on duty waiting for you. It’s that feeling of uncertainty and adventure that makes it a wildlife experience. To catch the inhabitants of the jungle you need to be there at the best time and thread patiently.


Plan your itinerary

Make a well thought-out schedule. If you are a local planning your first trip to Yala, plan you route and make sure you have proper transport. While a 4-WD vehicle is recommended a van with high ground clearance would do. If you don’t have one, you can hire a safari jeep at the entrance. If you are an overseas visitor, Yala would be among many other local destinations you plan to visit. So, it is important to slot it in well. Talk to your tour operator about travel time from your previous destination and where you need to be after Yala. It’ll give you a good idea if your agent has prepared you a good itinerary or not. The chances are you’d first visit the ancient kingdoms first and travel next to hill country before arriving in Yala, with plans to move on to the southern coast and then ending back in Colombo. Or you’ll do it the other way round. Look at the distance and travel time that will get you to Yala. Keep In mind that the best time to enter the park is when the park opens just after 6:00am or after 4:00pm when animals resurface after taking cover from the sun. You may also opt for a full day tour. Leave adequate time to arrive at the park at the planned entry time.

A memorable safari

Right, now that you just can’t wait to get to this amazing animal kingdom, you need to do your homework before you actually get there. Proper preparation is the key to making the most of your safari to Yala National Park of Sri Lanka


How to get to Yala National Park of Sri Lanka

Top routes from 7 famous locations

Colombo (Capital City)

Colombo 01 – Fort >> Bandaragama >> Horana >> Ratnapura >> Palmadulla >> Kahawatta >> Madampe >> Udawalawe >> Thanamalwila >> Tissemaharamaya >> Yala Block 1 {243km}

Kandy To Yala through Nuwara Eliya

Kandy >> Pilimathalawa >> Gampola >> Nuwara Eliya >> Walimada >> Bandarawela >> Diyathalawa >> Haputhale >> Wallawaya >> Tissemaharamaya >> Yala Block 1 {245km}

Galle to Yala

Galle > >Matara >> Hambantota >>Tissa >> Yala Block 1 {169km}

Arugam Bay to Yala

Arugam Bay >> Buttala >> Kataragama >> Yala


Yala National park Entrance Ticket for Foreigner
Foreign Adult – LKR 3688.00
Foreign Child – LKR 1037.52


Safari Jeeps Price
For Half day tour : LKR. 4000 – 6000
For Fullday Tour: LKR. 8000 – 10000

For more detail contact to Wildlife Department of Sri Lanka, Address: 811A,Jayanthipura,Battaramulla. Sri Lanka. or contact on +94 11 2 888 585 or email to: dg@dwc.gov.lk

Source: Yala National Park Official Website


About Me

I Prasanna Ambigaibagan Cost Accountant by profession and passionate wildlife photographer from 2011, I do many budgeted road tours in overseas and meet many new friends and I do always invite them to Sri lanka and let them to experience Srilanka hospitality.

If anyone wanted to know more about Sri Lankan Wildlife and Wildlife Safaris, you can feel free to contact me by below comment or call me on +94776534669 (I do available in Whatsapp, Viber, IMO and Line).

if you’re interested you can follow my Wildlife photography page on Facebook on below link

Prasanna Ambigaibagan Nature and wildlife Photography
Prasanna Ambigaibagan Nature and wildlife Photography

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