Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean. It is situated in the southeast region of the country and extends over two provinces of Hambantota district of southern province and Monaragala district in Uva province. The park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares and is located about 12km from Kirinda and 300 kilometers far from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. Yala National Park consists of five blocks. Adjoining the eastern border of the park is Kumana. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards, and aquatic birds.
The national park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. The mean annual rainfall ranges between 500–775 millimeters while the mean temperature ranges between 26.4 °C in January to 30 °C in April. It is windier in Yala, during the southwest monsoon compared to the wind during the northeast monsoon with wind speeds more. The area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilizations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara, are situated within the park which contributes to the Yala tourism attractions in another way. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused severe damage on the Yala National Park and 250 people died in its vicinity.
Flora and fauna
There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. Park hosts a variety of Animals and a variety of trees. It is one of the 70 important bird areas in Sri Lanka. Yala harbors 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that have been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. The largest concentration of Leopards can be seen in this region through the chances of seeing this animal are very low, and the creature is said to be one of the most endangered species.
Yala National Park has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, marshes, marine wetlands, and sandy beaches. The forest area is restricted to around the Menik River while rangelands are found towards the seaside. Other habitat types are tanks and water holes, lagoons and mangroves and chena lands. The park is located in the dry-zone region where the drought season is very long. The daytime average temperature is over 30 degrees which are not uncommon in the region. The parkland makes up most of the reserve but also includes lakes, beaches, jungle, rivers, jungle beaches and scrubland.
Things you can do in Yala
- Yala safari ride
- Bird watching
- Beach Walks
- Yala camping
- Yala stay nights
- Visit pilgrim sites
Yala Safari is something you should not miss if you are holidaying in Sri Lanka. Obviously, your wild safari 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 of Yala safari that makes it a wildlife experience. You can find a safari jeep in this place at any time to catch the inhabitants of the jungle and to have that exciting experience. The park gives you a chance to exercise your legs and take a stroll on the golden sandy beaches. And also bird watching is one of the most famous activities that you can do here. Variety of birds including 125 species are inhabited in the Yala National Park.
A series of wildlife bungalows and villas near Yala operated by the park afford nature enthusiasts to spend a night in the park. These are very basic, promote open space but give you an unforgettable experience as you experience a night in the animal kingdom.
As a result of the breath-taking activities mentioned above Yala National Park is the most visited park in Sri Lanka. Though Yala spreads over an area of 1260 square kilometers, only one-fifth of the area is open to the visitors. Four-fifths of the park is a strictly designated Natural Reserve. Block III and the adjoining Kumana, however, are becoming popular in their own right too. Most of the visitors stated that the reasons for their visit are to see the beauty of Yala along with the wild animals, and the elephant is stated as the most preferred animal. The visitors like to see bears, leopards, birds as well. The visitors are allowed to see the wild animals from 5.30 am to 6.30 pm. Due to droughts the park used to be closed to tourists from 1 September to 15 October annually. So tour Sri Lanka and visit the best national park in the world, Yala, and have that great adventurous experience to your life.