Are you looking for a National Park in Sri Lanka with a wide variety of animal species? Be sure to visit Yala National Park! Yala is the second largest but most visited national park of Sri Lanka. We visited Yala from Tissamaharama. In my opinion it is an ideal place to stay if you want to take a safari in Yala. In this article, you will find more information about a safari in Yala National Park.
The accommodation where we stayed, LakeSide Cabana, is located along the Debarawewa Lake in Tissamaharama. We slept here for $ 10 including breakfast!
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Yala National Park
Yala consists of five different blocks, some of which are accessible to visitors. There are several national parks in Sri Lanka, with elephants being the main attraction. For example, we visited Kaudulla. We saw more than 50 elephants there, and only a few other species. But in Yala you’ll find many different species. That’s why the park is very popular.
Yala is home to 44 species of mammals and 215 species of birds. You can encounter deer, pigs, leopards, elephants, sloth bears, deer, birds of prey, peacocks, monkeys and crocodiles. The best time to visit Yala is between February and July, when the water level in the park is relatively low. This causes the animals to emerge more often.
Yala Safari costs
You can buy a ticket and visit the park yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend that. The park is very big, and everything looks exactly the same, which makes it difficult to find your way back. Besides, you’ll also need a 4×4, because they are all sandy paths and they can be filled with water. That’s why I advise you to book a safari with a driver (and possibly a guide). We did this via the accommodation where we stayed, but around Yala you’ll meet countless men who want to sell you a safari to Yala for about 5,000 to 6,000 rupee. You can also book the safari through them. As the competition is fierce, the price is usually cheap.
Note: do not pay in advance, because there’s a chance they won’t show up!
The safari at our accommodation cost 6,000 rupee per person. This included early access to the park, a shared jeep for six people with driver and guide, breakfast and lunch. You can choose between a half day or a full day. We opted for half a day. Are you most curious about the whole experience of a safari? A half day would do just fine!
Early departure and animal species
Our jeep left at 4:00 in the morning, one of the first. The ride to Yala takes about an hour. The park didn’t open until 06:00, but we were at the front of the queue! You’ll soon notice that everyone wants to spot a leopard and the guides even turn it into a kind of competition. When a leopard is spotted, the location of the animal is shared and before you know it, many jeeps will have arrived at that spot.
Unfortunately, we had bad luck! Our guide spotted a leopard within 15 minutes, but because of the morning rain, it stayed hidden in the bushes and we couldn’t see it properly. We did see elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, deer, pigs, mongooses and numerous bird species! We had a very nice morning and are of the opinion that a safari in Yala should always be part of your visit to Sri Lanka.
Accommodations Yala and Tissamaharama
You can’t stay in the park itself, but we couldn’t find an (affordable) accommodation. However, there are a number of accommodations on the edge of the park. We booked an accommodation in Tissamahamara, a small village 30 kilometers outside the park. There are many accommodations here and the prices are a lot lower. Tissamaharama also has some other nice sights, which you can combine with a morning safari.
Tip: Are you curious about what else you can do in Tissamaharama? Keep reading!