There’s nothing quite as thrilling in Sri Lanka as exciting game drives at Yala National Park which give you a chance to spot some of the island’s wild inhabitants.

Planning Your Trip

Yala is close to 300 km from the commercial capital, Colombo; you can either stay beside the park or be based in the south coast at destinations like Tangalle. Hotels and resorts in the region offer Yala excursions and while the park is generally open from 06:00am to 06:00pm, early morning and late afternoon are the best times for safaris.

Thilinakaluthotage, කැලේ අයුතිකාරයා, CC BY-SA 4.0

Yala Game Drives

While the park has five zones, Yala game drives usually take place at either zone one or five. Do remember you will need a jeep or 4WD vehicle and it’s always better to have a guide. Properties such as Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort organise safari excursions which provide a convenient option worth considering.

Wildlife Highlights

Of course, the premier draw here is the chance to spot majestic Sri Lankan leopards in their natural habitat. On a game drive, you also have the chance of seeing Sri Lankan elephants, wild boars, water buffalos, spotted deer, sloth bears, jackals, sambars, estuarine and mugger crocodiles and more.

AdbarElephant Herd Yala National ParkCC BY-SA 3.0

Diverse Birdlife

Yala has over 100 recorded species of birds including migrating waterfowl who visit the park each year. Peacocks, grey herons, flamingos, white-bellied sea eagles, grey herons as well as Sri Lanka grey hornbills and Sri Lankan junglefowls are amongst the birds one has a chance of spotting.