This page is about Yala National Park and its immediate surrounding.
Yala National Park is a 'strictly reserved' national park.
Up until 1938, this area was a Game Sanctuary of English colonizers. Hundreds of systemically destroyed ancient water reservoirs are scattered around in this nature reserve and now they have become wildlife hotpots.
Legend has it that in the second century BC, the Sinhalese hero, king Dutthugemenu, took refuge in this wealthy and irrigated area to launch his attack against the Tamil armies that had taken over the northern territories. The ruins of Buddhist temples and Pali and ancient Sinhalese inscriptions recovered in the jungle represent the primary proof of this national past. Paddy field cultivation, permanent dry-land plot cultivation and shifting slash-and-burn cultivation (chena cultivation) existed within this strictly reserve national park.
Now this land is a sanctuary for numerous native and migratory birds, leopards, elephants and bears and so on.
In 2013’s peak visitation periods, more than 500 jeeps accessed the park and daily visitors numbered 3,300.
Read below about Yala's particular fauna and flora.
Facts Corner 1
Size : 126,786 ha (1,268 sq kms)
Climate : Dry zone
Rainy seasons : Oct - Jan (North-East monsoon)
Average rainfall : 1,000 mm
Average Temperature: 26 °C - 30 °C
General terms and conditions
Reservations can be done : Only booking online or dropping us an email.
Price : The price may slightly go up or down at the time of booking.
Payment : Full payment is settled prior to starting the tour/excursion.
Days of the tour or the hours of excursion : The tour or the excursion is completed within mentioned time.
When exceed the mentioned time, per hour vehicle detention fee : 3 USD - Tuk Tuk / 5 USD Standard car & van
Weather : If weather conditions are unfavourable activities will be adjusted accordingly.
Today's Marine Forecast : Sri Lanka Department of Meteorology / Buoyweather
Transportation to a destination : Click here to reserve with this excursion.
Refund : Refund will be determined after reducing third party's and our costs.
About the Excision
Best season : Jun to Sep - All year around
Closed during : 1 Sep - 15 Oct (usually)
Available : Daily
Hottest month :
Best time to start : Early mornings or early afternoons
Arranging time needed : One day
Starting point : Mattala Airport
Activity starting time : Your decide
Tour finishing time : 6 PM
Last intake : 2 PM
Whole touring hrs : 7
Restrictions : Do not touch corals please / Be a responsible and ethical snorkeler and diver / No flash photography of ancient paintings / Cover your knees and shoulders before enter any temple. / Do not leave plastics behind / Please do not feed wild animals.
Price includes : Pick up & drop off from/to Mattala Airport / Entrance ticket to Yala National Park / Safari Jeep with a trekker / All Gov taxes.
Extra : A binocular can be provided at request with a charge of 7 USD
Child price : Aged 6 - 12 is considered a child / Aged 0 - 6 is free of charge.
Feedback us : Our drivers and service providers are advised not to promote any other activities or nudge you for shopping. Please leave your feedback on Google.
Optional : A well-spoken local animal expert / historian could be arranged with an additional fee.
You may bring : Water / Hat and sun glass / Sun cream / Camera
We love holiday planning!
things to do & see
Yala National Park
This park is the second largest national park after Wilpattu national park and it is the most visited park in the island. Situated in the corner of the southeast of Sri Lanka the park is divided to 5 blocks.
The Block 1 & II are the main areas open for visitors.
Topographically the park area is flat. But as it distances from the sea level it mildly rises to about 100–125 meters within the deep interior of park.
Water is abundant after the northeast monsoon, but during the dry season surface water is becoming scare. Kumbukkan Oya from the north-east and Menik River to the south-west tribute the water flow across the park in dry season.
This large nature reserve has a variety of ecosystems including moist and dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, marshes, marine wetlands and sandy beaches.
There are few lagoons too scattered around in the park. Buthuwa lagoon is located within Block I. Pilinnawa, Mahapothana, and Pahalapothana are located within the Block II. Maha Seelawa and Uraniya tanks are also come within the park.
The park is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Yala is known to its has the highest concentration of wild leopards in the world.
Due to droughts and for the breading season the park is tend to be closed between 1 Sep - 15 Oct.
Facts Corner 2
Opening Time : 0600 - 1800
Closed during : 1 Sep - 15 Oct (usually)
Entry points :
Gate I - Katagamuwa - Block 1
Gate II - Palatupana - Block 1
- Block 2
- Block 3
Flora of Yala National Park
The canopy of the forest mainly contains Weera (වීර) (Drypetes sepiaria) and Palu (පලු) (Manilkara hexandra) plant species. Among other 300 of floral species found Ceylon Satinwood (බුරුත) (Chloroxylon swietenia), Terminalia arjuna, Limonia, Berrya cordifolia, Randia dumetorum, Pleurostylia opposita, Gymnema sylvestre, Bell mimosa, Neem, Banyan, Toothbrush tree, Schleichera oleosa, Vitex pinnata, Indian blackberry, Gmelina asiatica, Carissa spinarum, Euphorbia antiquorum and Acacia eburnea are predominant.
The thickest forest areas come mainly in north of the Menik River in Block II and III.
The common mangrove plants in the park are Rhizophora mucronata, Avicennia spp, Aegiceras spp, Sonneratia caseolaris, Aegiceras corniculatum, Acanthus ilicifolius, Excoecaria agallocha, Lumnitzera racemosa and Crinum zeylanicum.
Eatable species of wild of rice is found within the Block II. The Glenniea unijuga (වල් මොර) is an endemic plant species found around the wetlands of the park. The Munronia pumila, Salacia reticulata, and Asparagus racemosus are the medicinal plants found.
Extensive grasslands were found towards the sea side. Bare grasslands are important for grazing animals. The Cynodon barberi is the common grass in Pitiya (bare) grasslands while Zoysia matrella becomes dominant near the beach.
Birds of Yala National Park
Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. 215 bird species have been identified within the park. About 90 of them are waterbirds. And half of the waterbirds are migratory birds.
Resident bird species - Black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), Yellow-wattled lapwing (Vanellus malabaricus), Red-wattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus), Great Stone Plover (Esacus recurvirostris), Lesser whistling duck (Dendrocygna javanica), , Indian Shag (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Black-headed ibis or White Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus), Spoonbill or Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Openbill or Asian openbill (Anastomus oscitans), Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala), Spotted-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis), Purple heron (Ardea purpurea), Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Purple swamphen or Purple Coot (Porphyrio [porphyrio] poliocephalusand), Orange-breasted green pigeon (Treron bicincta), Barred buttonquail or Bustard-Quail (Turnix suscitator), Indian peafowl ( Pavo cristatus), Black-winged stilt (some migratory) (Himantopus himantopus), Crested serpent eagle (Spilornis cheela), White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) and Blue-tailed bee-eater (some migratory) (Merops philippinus).
Migratory birds - Pintail or Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), White-winged tern or White-winged Black Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus), Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata), Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), Ruddy turnstone or Turnstone (Arenaria interpres), Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), Egrets (Ardeidae), Oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster), Garganey (Anas querquedula), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus), Indian paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi paradisi), European Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) and Black stork (Ciconia nigra).
Endemic birds - Ceylon Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis), Sri Lanka junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii), Sri Lanka wood pigeon (Columba torringtonii), Crimson-fronted barbet or Ceylon Small Barbet (Megalaima rubricapillus), Black-capped bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus) and Brown-capped babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillus).
Mammals of Yala National Park
Yala National Park has recorded 44 species of mammals, including elephants, leopards, bears and fishing cats.
Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) - The elephant herd of Yala contains 300–350 individuals. The total elephant population of Sri Lanka are about 2,500- 4,000. The average herd size of a Sri Lankan herd ranges from 12-20 individuals or more. The herd is led by the oldest female or matriarch. Sri Lankan elephant is an endemic species.
Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) - The leopard is a solitary, reclusive species of big cat. As of 2015, it was recorded that Sri Lanka hosts the highest densely living leopard population in a single patch in Yala. And the Sri Lankan Kotiya is also the least studied Panthera among world leopard populations. Sri Lankan kotiya is an endemic species.
The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus inornatus) - The sloth bear is a termite-eating specie found on the Indian subcontinent. And this bear is the island's only species of bear.
Endemic mammals - Toque macaque (Macaca sinica), Wild water buffalo (Bubalus Bubalis), Golden palm civet (Paradoxurus zeylonensis), ...
Engendered mammals - Red slender loris (Loris tardigradus), Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinu), ...
Other species of Yala National Park
Reptile - The reptile fauna recorded from the park is 47 and six of them are endemic. Sri Lankan krait, Boulenger's keelback, Sri Lankan flying snake, painted-lip lizard, Wiegmann's agama, and Bahir's fan-throated lizard are the endemic species. The coastal line of the park is visited by the all five globally endangered sea turtles (leatherback turtle, olive ridley, loggerhead sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, and green turtle). The two breeding crocodile species of Sri Lanka mugger crocodile and saltwater crocodile inhabit the park.
Amphibian - There are 18 amphibians species that have been recorded from Yala while Bufo atukoralei and Adenomus kelaartii are endemic to Sri Lanka.
Fish - 21 fresh species were recorded in the lagoons water of Yala. Mozambique tilapia, Dawkinsia Filamentosa, Olive Barb, Pseudetroplus and Ceylon logsucker are the common fish species.
Invertebrate - Crabs and prawns and a variety of butterfly species are found within the park. Some of those species are the common bluebottle, common lime butterfly, crimson rose, common Jezebel, and common Mormon are the common species.
This temple is situated midst of the Yala sanctuary. Sithulpawwa Temple is an ancient Buddhist monastery built by King Kavantissa (140-100 BC).
The name Sithulpawwa is derived from the word 'Chiththala Pabbatha', which means the hill of the quiet mind.
Things you can see in the temple are ancient ruins of Buddha statues, ruins of Buddhist monastery, a large number of stupas, ancient rock inscriptions, and a cave temple with ancient paintings suspect to be belonged to 3 century BC. The main stupa has been built on the top of the rocky mountain.
You have to drive 28 km from Thissamaharama to Sithulpawwa temple. From pilgrimage town Katharagama it’s 17 km.