Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash
Yala National Park is a huge area of forest, grassland and lagoons bordering the Indian Ocean, in southeast Sri Lanka. It’s home to wildlife such as leopards, elephants and crocodiles, as well as hundreds of bird species.
For the most reliable wildlife sightings, it's best to visit Yala in the dry season from February to June. With the water levels lower, it's easier to spot animals coming out to the lagoons for water. The park normally closes each year for the month of September for maintenance.
This is a leopard country, and they are the Lords of the Jungle! With a leopard density that's higher than anywhere else on this planet, these menacing predators prowl majestically in Yala. There are four Gates to the Park. Gates at Palatupana and Katagamuwa leading to Blocks 1 & 2 remain the most visited. However, the two Gates at Galge on the Buttala-Kataragama Road, covering Blocks 3 & 5 are becoming known among visitors who do not want to contribute to congestion. There are reports of frequent sightings of leopards on these routes, too.
Yala is divided into 5 zones. The two zones that are open to public and tourists are zone 1 and zone 5. The other zones are reserved only for professional research and documentary filming. This allows for a large part of the park to remain a natural environment for the animals without the intrusion of safari jeeps.
Image by manuranga from Pixabay
Inland, Sithulpawwa is an ancient Buddhist monastery. Nearby caves contain centuries-old rock paintings. Southwest, Magul Maha Viharaya also has ancient Buddhist ruins. Both are pilgrimage sites.