Yala National Park or Ruhuna National Park is the second largest and most visited national park in Sri Lanka. Yala is situated in the southeast region of the country, Yala lies at the edge of Southern Province and at the begining of Eastern province. Yala park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. Originally Yala had been designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu it was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. Most notably many elephants and Leopards. Yala has been the centre stage for many Wildlife documentaries produced by popular TV networks. Yala boasts the highest population of Leopards in the world. In order to spot the Leopards ideal times are early morning 6 - 8AM and later afternoons 4 - 6 PM when they bask in the sun on the rocks.
In addition to Leopards and Elephants Yala is the home for three varieties of Monkeys, Deer, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Mongoos in additiion to many bird varieties.
The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. The national park hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. The best time to visit Yala is from February to September. June, July and August are the peak months in terms of animal spoting when the drought hits its peak and many animals can be seen near lakes as they come to qunech their thirst. From mid October to Mid January is the rainy period in Yala but that too is a beauty when the lakes filled with water and the whole park become vibrant green.
Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest Leopard densities in the world. The area had been a centre of past civilisations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul vihara, are situated within the park.
In our opinion, Yala's location is very strategic since it is located in the most popular touristic province of Sri Lanka, the southern province which is famous for its beautiful beaches. Yala can be reached in two main roads,
- From Colombo via Galle passing beautiful coastal towns of Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Mirissa, Tangalle, Hambantota, Weerwawila, Tissamaharama then Yala. This is the most popular and scenic route but often slow moving and it will take 7 to 8 hours. (approximately 300 kms)
- The other route runs via Rathnapura is an inteior route where you will be passing Pelmadulla, Kahawatte, Udawalawe, Thanamalwila, Pannegamuwa, Tissamaharama then Yala. This will be less than 6 hours drive. (Approximately 250 kms)
As opposed to doing Safaris by staying hotels outside the park it is a definite advantage when camping inside the park where you will have more time for safaris living at the heart of the jungle. By being in the middle of the jungle you wil have easy access to popular spoting locations located deep in the jungle. Hence, Safari Camping is the best way to expereince the widlife in Yala National Park and to see the elusive Leopards. We Operate Safari Camps inside the Yala National Park with the options of 1 night, 2 nights and 3 nights Tented Safari Camping. More tailor made packages can be provided on request.