Where is Yala National Park?
Yala lies about 260km south east of Colombo (6 hours by car) and 190km east along the coast from Galle (4 hours 30 by car).It is the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Yala National park boasts of largest density of leopards in Sri Lanka and is the most preferred national park by the foreign and local visitors both. There are 44 specials of mammal, including an estimated 25 leopards, 350 elephants and many species of bird. The habitats found in the park are wide-ranging, from freshwater lakes to beaches, rocky outcrops to green plains and jungle. Yala National Park covers around 979 square kilometers and located about 300 Kilometers from Colombo.
When is the best time to visit Yala National Park?
The best time to visit Yala national park will be during the dry season which comes in between February and June. Because of the dry season the park is less in foliage and you can easily spot wildlife. The best time to spot wildlife in your visit to yala national park is from 6.00 am to 10.00 am and 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm. If you are willing to get the best out of your Yala safari game drive it’s recommended that you visit Yala national park in off peak days because the park is mostly crowded in weekends and public holidays. The overcrowded situation makes wild animals to hide in their burrows and lairs. During January to February the monsoon rains are getting cleared and park is filled with chill climate.
Where to stay in Yala National Park?
If you are going to experience a safari in Yala national park it is recommended that you stay somewhere near Yala. When you are visiting Yala National Park there are plenty of accommodations dotted around edge of Yala and Tissamaharama to suit your every budget. Inside the park there are options like Jungle Chalet and Glamping prices vary of these according to the luxury you need.
What are the main entry points of Yala National Park?
There are four entry points to Yala National Park and main ones are Palatupana and Katagamuwa. The other two are Galge entrance and Yala west gate. The Palatupana and Katagamuwa are the entrances that leads to Yala Block 01 and Yala Block 02 that are the most visited parts of the Yala National park. The Galge and Yala west gate leads to blocks where less crowded and the Leopard sightings are much higher in this area.
What is the Yala National Park opening time?
The opening time of Yala National Park is from 6.00 am in the morning to 6.00 pm in the evening. You can enjoy your safari rides between this times.
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What kind of animals to see in Yala National Park?
Yala national park is an amazing place to observe wildlife, birdlife and flora and fauna. Yala national park is the best place to witness four out of big five in Sri Lanka. Those are the Leopard, the elephant, the sloth bear and the wild buffalo. There are herds of elephants, deer, monkeys, buffaloes, large variants of birds within the park. There are crocodile species such as mugger crocodile and saltwater crocodile. There are small scale reservoirs like Butuwe and Mahaseelawa while Uraniya is best known for its aquatic Aquafina.
Can you see Leopards in Yala National Park?
Yala national park is famous for its high density of Leopards and it’s believed to be the highest in the world. Leopards in Yala national park are in the highest level of the food chain and is the “apex predator”. It is a common view to see leopards strolling under the thicket of Yala national park. . They are less nocturnal because they are in the top of the food chain and can be seen on top of trees and near waterholes during the day.
Is Yala National Park a good bird watching site?
Yala national park is a good place to witness birdlife for a keen birdwatcher. Yala national park is filled with birds in their natural habitat. There are around 215 bird species inside Yala national park and six of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. This birds consist birds such as Sri Lanka jungle fowl, Sri Lanka Gray Hornbill, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, Crimson fronted barbet, Black capped bul bul and Brown capped babbler. There are lots of migrant birds which comes to Sri Lanka in winter.
Leopard Watching in Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Yala National Park boasts of largest density of leopards in Sri Lanka and is the most preferred national park by the foreign and local visitors both.
There are 44 specials of mammals, including an estimated 25 leopards, 350 elephants and many species of bird.If you are planning to spend a vacation in Sri Lanka Yala National Park is a must travelling place in Sri Lanka. Yala National Park is famous for the biggest leopard lot in Sri Lanka and it’s definitely a birders paradise.
The best time to witness Leopards in Yala National Park is in times of new moon and leopards are more active in the evening times of Yala National Park and when it’s less crowded. Dawn or dusk are the most suited times to capture the perfect portrait of a leopard, the monarch of Yala National Park. The Leopard in Sri Lanka is subspecies in Sri Lanka called Panther Paradus Kotiya. The subspecies in Sri Lanka is bigger than the other found around the world.
Witnessing a Leopard in Yala National Park is every safari goer’s dream. This is due the rareness, elegance, beauty and the mystery lifestyle of the Leopard. The Sri Lankan Leopard has no competition so it’s the Monarchy of Sri Lankan wildlife. The best time to see Leopard on a hunt is the night .With superb eyesight, the leopard prefers the darkness to maul and kill its favorite prey of deer, sambur, boar or monkey.
Dawn or dusk is the perfect time to take pictures of Leopards you can find Leopards lurking under the ticket or drinking water near a waterhole with its slender neck extended, eyes still alert, and his golden skin with black rosettes glowing. If you are very lucky you can spot a Leopard in a distance with its mid-day hunt or chewing a carcass.
The very convenient time to spot Leopards and other wildlife such as Elephants, sloth bear and wild boar is from May to August. Most of the animals gather around waterholes during the drier months. From October to December you can spot deer, Crocodiles and many birds. The park is closed from September to October because the animals gets too aggressive after a heavy droughts. Yala National Park is divided in to five blocks and most visited are the block 01 and block 02. Block 04 is not opened for public. There are three main entrances to Yala National Park and they are Palatupana – where is leads to Yala Block 01 and Block 02 , Katagamauwa – This also another entrance to Block 01 and Block 02 but less crowded. Galge – entrance to Block 03 and Block 05 less known and less crowd.
You have to note that when it comes to safari in Yala National Park there is a possibility of overcrowding a Leopard and tis a downside of seeing a Leopard in Yala National Park. This makes the Leopard usually shy and nocturnal creatures to flee from their natural habitat. We have to respect its privacy during our safari ride in Yala National Park. It’s in the best interest of wildlife and Sri Lankans if can ensure that future generations will have the same incredible leopard spotting opportunities that we have today.
Below mentioned are some tips to Know before you go to Leopard spotting in Yala National Park
• If at all possible, go more than once. This will greatly increase your chances of seeing a leopard at least once. Plus every time you go you see something different.
• Go with a reputable company that emphasizes the animal’s welfare over a great photo opportunity. It’s possible to balance the two.
• Appreciate whatever you see in Yala…even if it’s not a leopard. It truly is an ecologically diverse park with so much to see.
• While you will have the best chances of seeing a leopard in Block One, if you find that it’s too crowded, you can also arrange for safari jeeps in other blocks. ut you will need to arrange this ahead of time.
Sloth bears of Yala National Park
Sloth bears of Yala National Park plays a major role to attract tourist to Yala National Park right after the elusive Leopard. Sloth bears are the only member of family Ursidae that are found in dry zone forest such as Yala, Wilpattu and Kumana. The Sloth bear found in National Parks such as Yala and Wilpattu have evolved from the Eurasian Brown bear over several millennia’s. The Sloth bears of Yala National Park have a shaggy,dusty and untidy black coat of fur. It is unmistakable if you are to spot a Sloth Bear in Yala National Park.
Sloth bears of Yala national park are similar to sun bear because that they often has distinctive pale yellow v shaped marking on their chests. Sloth bears of Yala national park has the longest tail that can be grown into seven inches long. Even though it appears that sloth bears in Yala national park are clumsy they can run faster than humans. Sloth bears in Yala national park are expert tree climbers.
Sloth bears in Yala National Park are insect eating mammals and Sloth bears of Yala national park has specially adapted lower lip and palate for gathering their food. The Sloth bear of Yala national park makes a noisy grunts every now and then while they run along in search of food. The Sloth bears of Yala national park keeps nose closer to the ground in search of insects and fresh fruit. Most of the time Sloth bears of Yala national park feeds on ants and termites which they find on decaying stumps and termite mounds. You can hear the Sloth bears of Yala National park eats out their food with a large sound of “Slurps” about 300 feet distance. Sloth bears of Yala national park are known to hunt smaller mammals as well.
May to June are the best time to spot Sloth bears of Yala national park where they are often seen around the Palu (Manilkara hexandra) trees to feast on its sweet nourishing fruit. Sloth bears of Yala national park spend considerable amount of time around Palu trees. They can’t hide their craving for irresistible flavor of Palu fruit. Other than the Palu Sloth bears of Yala national park feeds on Madan (Szsygium cumini) and Weera (Drypetes sepiaria) during the fruit season. In return bear helps to spread the seeds across the Jungle through defecation.
The Sloth bears of Yala national park once mated it will take six to seven months of gestation period and they normally give birth to two or three cubs most likely under a rocky den. The Sloth bear cubs ride on mothers back till they get to fit for the nature. This is called as Sloth bear huddle a unique trait among sloth bears.
Sloth bear of Yala national park are mostly nocturnal animal and can be found both in dawn and dusk in the open areas of Yala national park. The primary dangers to the Sri Lankan sloth bear are human expansion into forested areas and severe deforestation, and because there is little scientific knowledge about sloth bear habits, it is crucial that Sri Lanka maintains its acknowledgment of its numerous natural treasures. To be able to be proud of its unique and endemic species of sloth bear, Sri Lanka must continue to preserve and conserve the sloth bear's environment.
Rarely seen animals of Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the most visited national park of Sri Lanka and it is situated in southern tip of Sri Lanka on the boarder of Southern and Uva province.Yala national park covers an area of 377.9 square miles.Yala national park features a diverse ecosystem that includes monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, thorn forests, marine and freshwater wetlands, grasslands,marshes and sandy beaches along the coast.Yala national park is located in a dry semi-arid region with rain occurring mostly during the northeast monsoon season.
Among the animals of Yala national park the elusive Leopard, the Sloth bear, majestic elephant remains most popular. But Yala national park shelters some rarely seen animals such as Red Slender Loris, Toque Macaque,Purple face Langur and fishing cat. According to IUCN clarification are endangered due to habitat loss.
Red slender Loris
The first of the rarely seen animals of Yala national park is the Red slender Loris. Red Slender Loris is characterized by its enormous eyes and long thin limbs. Its scientific name is Loris tardigradus and it is a nocturnal animal that comes under primates found only in Sri Lanka. The Red Slender Loris has identified as a global conservation priority due its evolutionary uniqueness and threatened status. The population of Red Slender are drastically declined according to lose of the habitat. Today fewer than 2500 individuals are thought to be survived in forests of Sri Lanka.if you are lucky you can spot one of Red slender Loris in Yala National Park.
The second rarely seen animal in Yala National Park is the Toque Macaque known as Rilawa in local language. This monkey named Toque Macaque (Macaca sinica) has a golden brown fur and the most characteristic feature of this monkey is the toque like swirl of hair on its head top. These monkeys physiological characteristic vary from one another depending on the climatic conditions. The population in cooler climate exhibits thick dark brown fur coat and relatively short limbs and tails. In other hand those who inhabits the lowland rainforest display reddish or golden fur and longer bonnets. The Toque Macaque that are in the drier habitats have lighter fur and longer limbs and short swirl hair on their head.
Purple face Langur
The next rarely seen animal in Yala National park is the Purple faced langur known as the Kalu wandura in Sinhalese. The scientific name is Semnopithecus vetulus. The Purple faced langur is endemic to Sri Lanka. A type of Old World monkey that is unique to Sri Lanka is the purple-faced langur (Semnopithecus vetulus), also referred to as the purple-faced leaf monkey. The animal is a long-tailed arboreal species that can be recognized by its primarily brown coloring, dark face (with whiter lower face), and extremely reserved personality. The species was once very common, found in "wet zone" villages and suburban Colombo (areas with high temperatures and high humidity year-round, while torrential downpours happen during the monsoon seasons), but rapid urbanization has resulted in a significant decline in the monkeys' population level. It was previously categorized within the lutung genus Trachypithecus, but because to DNA data showing that it is more closely related, it was reclassified to the genus Semnopithecus.
Another rarely seen animal in Yala National Park is the fishing cat. It is larger than a domestic cat. The scientific name of the fishing cat is Prionailurus viverrinus and is well adapted to catching fish which is its primary prey. The fishing cat has a deep chested body with short legs, a big broad head and a short tail. It has a short, coarse fur is a grizzled grey in colour, and tinged with brown. There are elongated dark brown spots arranged in longitudinal rows extending over the entire body. These cats are typically found in a number of water habitats, including marshy thickets, mangrove swamps, and densely vegetated areas along rivers and streams. They have been recorded at elevations up to 1,525 meters in the Indian Himalayas where they frequent dense vegetation near rivers and streams. They have also been observed in degraded habitat such as near aquaculture ponds.
Birds in Yala National Park
Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka.Of 215 bird species of the park, six are endemic to Sri Lanka. They are Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, crimson-fronted barbet, black-capped bulbul, and brown-capped babbler. The number of waterbirds inhabiting wetlands of Yala is 90 and half of them are migrants.Waterfowl (lesser whistling duck, garganey), cormorants (little cormorant, Indian cormorant), large waterbirds (grey heron, black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, Asian openbill, painted stork), medium-sized waders Tringa spp., and small waders Charadrius spp. are among the common waterbirds.
. Black-necked stork and lesser adjutant are the rare birds that can be seen in the park. The migrant great white pelican and resident spot-billed pelican are also have been recorded. Other waterbirds attracted to the Yala lagoons include lesser flamingo, and pelicans, and rare species such as purple heron, night herons, egrets, purple swamphen, and Oriental darter. Thousands of waterfowls migrate to the lagoons of Yala during the northeast monsoon. They are northern pintail, white-winged tern, Eurasian curlew, whimbrel, godwits, and ruddy turnstone.
The visiting species mingled with residing lesser whistling duck, yellow-wattled lapwing, red-wattled lapwing, and great stone-curlew. Rock pigeon, barred buttonquail, Indian peafowl, black stork, black-winged stilt, and greater flamingo are among the other bird species. Crested serpent eagle and white-bellied sea eagle are the raptors of the park. The forest birds are orange-breasted green pigeon, hornbills, Old World flycatchers, Asian paradise-flycatcher, Asian barbets, and orioles.
Migratory Birds in Yala National Park
Yala National Park, nestled in the southeast of Sri Lanka, offers not only a visual feast of diverse landscapes but also a seasonal spectacle as migratory birds grace its skies. A Yala Jeep Safari becomes a unique journey through time and space, providing an opportunity to witness the enchanting phenomenon of bird migration.
Yala National Park serves as a crucial stopover for countless migratory birds traversing long distances. These avian travelers embark on epic journeys, seeking refuge in Yala's hospitable ecosystems during specific times of the year. The open-top jeeps provide an unobstructed view, allowing visitors to marvel at the sheer numbers and variety of migratory birds that grace the park.
From the graceful Siberian Stonechat to the vibrant Indian Pitta, Yala becomes a temporary haven for a myriad of migratory species. The park's wetlands, lagoons, and coastal areas attract waterfowl like the Painted Stork and the Greater Flamingo. The yala jeep safari experience becomes a voyage of discovery as flocks of birds create a vibrant tapestry against the backdrop of Yala's scenic landscapes.
Planning a Yala Jeep Safari with migration bird watching in mind requires timing synchronization with the migratory patterns. The winter months, from November to March, witness an influx of birds seeking warmer climates. Early morning and late afternoon safaris during these months provide optimal conditions for spotting and appreciating the diverse migratory species.
Yala's significance as a migration hotspot underscores the importance of conservation efforts. Preserving the park's habitats ensures that migratory birds find a safe haven during their journey. Sustainable tourism practices, including responsible jeep safaris, contribute to the protection of these crucial stopover points for migratory species.
To enhance the migration bird watching experience during a Yala Jeep Safari, enthusiasts should bring binoculars for a closer look at distant flocks. Additionally, a field guide can aid in identifying the various migratory species that call Yala home temporarily. A knowledgeable guide accompanying the safari can provide valuable insights into the behaviors and patterns of these migratory birds.
Embarking on a Yala Jeep Safari during the migration season unveils a mesmerizing spectacle of winged wonders. The park's role as a sanctuary for migratory birds adds an extra layer of enchantment to the safari experience. With the wind in your hair and the calls of migratory birds echoing, a Yala Jeep Safari becomes a timeless journey through nature's grand migration symphony."
Raptor Birds of Yala National Park
Yala National Park, situated in the southeastern corner of Sri Lanka, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and thrilling safari experiences. Among the myriad creatures that call this pristine wilderness home, raptor birds stand out as some of the most awe-inspiring and captivating species to encounter during Yala jeep safaris. Exploring the park's vast expanses in search of these majestic birds of prey offers visitors a unique opportunity to witness nature's drama unfold in real-time.
Yala National Park boasts a rich avian diversity, with several species of raptors inhabiting its diverse habitats. Among the most notable raptors found in Yala are the Crested Serpent Eagle, the White-bellied Sea Eagle, the Changeable Hawk-Eagle, and the Grey-headed Fish Eagle. These magnificent birds exhibit a range of hunting techniques and behaviors, from soaring high above the treetops to executing precision strikes on unsuspecting prey.
Yala National Park offers numerous prime raptor watching spots scattered throughout its varied landscapes. The park's open grasslands, dense forests, and water bodies provide ideal habitats for raptors to thrive and hunt. Visitors embarking on Yala jeep safaris have the opportunity to explore these habitats and witness raptors in action, whether perched stoically on tree branches, circling overhead in search of prey, or diving swiftly to capture their next meal.
Yala jeep safaris offer an exhilarating and immersive way to experience the park's diverse wildlife, including its resident raptor species. As visitors traverse the park's rugged terrain in open-top jeeps, expert guides lead them on thrilling adventures in search of elusive predators and other iconic wildlife. The thrill of spotting a majestic eagle soaring overhead or a hawk swooping down to snatch its quarry adds an element of excitement and anticipation to every Yala jeep safaris excursion
Yala National Park plays a crucial role in the conservation of Sri Lanka's natural heritage, including its raptor populations. Efforts to promote sustainable tourism practices, such as limiting the number of vehicles allowed in the park and enforcing strict guidelines for wildlife viewing, help minimize the impact of tourism on raptor habitats and behavior. By participating in Yala jeep safaris conducted by reputable tour operators committed to responsible tourism, visitors can contribute to the conservation efforts while enjoying unforgettable wildlife encounters.
Yala National Park offers a thrilling and unforgettable safari experience for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers seeking to discover the beauty and diversity of Sri Lanka's raptor birds. From the thrill of spotting a majestic eagle in flight to the awe-inspiring sight of a hawk swooping down for its prey, Yala jeep safaris provide unparalleled opportunities to witness these magnificent predators in their natural habitats. For travelers seeking adventure, excitement, and a deeper connection with nature, a safari in Yala National Park promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of Sri Lanka's wilderness.