Situated along Sri Lanka’s south-eastern coast, Yala National Park is a popular destination among wildlife enthusiasts. The 988 hectare park with its thorny shrubs and thick forest is home to Sri Lanka’s endemic animal and bird species. Yala Hotels provide accommodation with some like Cinnamon Wild Yala organizing excursions.
The Park’s main entrance lies in Palatupane where visitors can purchase a ticket to enter the first of the Park’s five blocks. Here, visitors are greeted by a troop of black-faced monkeys endemic to Sri Lanka’s South. Mud tracks branch out across the park guiding visitors through the park’s various geographical landscapes ranging from thorny shrubs, vast grasslands, wetlands and rocky regions. The best sighting of wildlife is seen at 6 a.m and 6 p.m and a visit at dawn will bring the sight of majestic peacocks perched atop distant trees. The dry season from May-September is the best time to visit the park while migratory birds can be seen in the October-April months.
Home to 44 varieties of mammal and 200 bird species, a drive on a safari jeep through the park’s two visited blocks will bring visitors in close proximity to Yala’s wildlife. Early morning animal sightings include a crocodile lying lazily beside a water-hole, a flock of deer sprinting across grasslands, wild buffalo half-submerged in a lake while nearby, a herd of sambar take a drink of water. Yala National Park has the highest concentration of leopards in the world with about thirty leopards believed to reside within this sanctuary. The endemic Panthera pardus kotiya, is often spotted basking in the morning sun on a rock amidst ancient ruins. The park’s dense shrub-land is home to abundant vegetation half-concealing elephants and sloth bear. Among the bird species found here is the Jungle Fowl, Gray Hornbill, Lesser Flamingo, Paradise Flycatchers, Crested Hawk Eagle, Painted Stork and Spot-billed Pelican. The park’s eastern boundary is a beach which is a popular nesting ground for endangered Sea turtles and where stands a monument in remembrance of the victims of the devastating 2004 Tsunami.
Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.