Sri Lanka wildlife – Yala Safari

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Your Sri Lanka tour itinerary would not be complete without safaris in some of the wildlife sanctuaries in the country. The flourishing ecosystem of the country provides homes for a variety of endangered animals from the famous Sri Lankan leopard to the majestic elephants, monkeys, spotted deers, wild boars and so much more that trot the jungles of Udawalawe, Wilpattu, Wasgamuwa, Lunugamvehera, Laudulla, Lahugala, Minneriya, Horton Plains, and the famous Yala National Park. 

We at Olanka are here to guide you on your Sri Lanka wildlife tour, helping you choose the best wildlife experience in the country. Today’s hot pick is Yala. 

Yala National Park 

The Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s most renowned park is located in the southeastern region of the country and extends over two districts – Hambantota and Monaragala. The entrance to the park is in Palatupana, 12km from Kirinda. The distance from Colombo to the entry point of Palatupana is 305 km.

The gateway to the Yala National Park is Tissamaharama which is a 20 km drive via Kirinda. Dawn and dusk are the best times for Yala Safari tours. The climate here is usually hot and dry. 

The rocky outcrops scattered over the park provide vantage points to enjoy the sprawling dry zone landscape: low scrub and woods. The southern boundary of the park bordering the south-eastern coast, and the brackish lagoons and dunes enhance the distinctive charm of the Yala National Park.

Of all the National Parks in Sri Lanka, the Yala National Park gives the best opportunity to witness Sri Lanka’s wide spectrum of wildlife: colourful painted stork in troops can be seen perched at the shores of lagoons where crocodiles too choose to doze; lovely fan-tailed peacocks in their resplendent blues and greens parade amidst the woods where monkeys hang, leap and chatter; in the bush jungle are the Elephants; crossing the tracks and wandering off into the thorny scrub jungle is the star attraction of the park: the leopard.

You can also enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of camping on site. Camping could also be organized for you at one of the many luxury hotels, resorts, or villas that surround the vicinity of the jungle. Choose to stay at the picturesque Uga Chena hut, Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Topan Yala, the Sanctuary Yala, Jetwing Yala, Leopard Trails, or Tharu Villas. 

Wild Coast Tented Lodge

Wild Coast Lodge redefines safari as a holistic wilderness experience and is blessed with diverse habitat, ecology, and scenery across the five sectors of the Yala National Park Complex and Bundala National Park which is a Ramsar Wetland. The strikingly breathtaking hotel aspires to showcase the entire spectrum of nature from casually strolling leopards to vibrant birds that streak across the sky in bright colours.  

Uga Chena Huts

Set amongst the golden dunes and the lush greenery in Yala, Sri Lanka trips, the Uga Chena Huts combine Sri Lanka’s most celebrated features which are its tropical beaches and its exotic wildlife. These beautiful huts have been designed with their surrounding tropical jungles and saline lake in mind. Enveloped in a world of scenic splendour and exotic fauna, the huts are luxurious private cabins that offer awe-inspiring views of the surrounding wilderness and seascape.

Jetwing Yala 

Located between the serene tranquillity of the Indian Ocean and the natural wonders of the Yala National Park, Jetwing Yala rests within an uncharted patch of coastal wilderness at the end of Sri Lanka’s southern shoreline. This beautiful hotel is equipped with a host of modern luxuries and offers a wide range of amenities from free Wi-Fi to room service, daily housekeeping, and more. 

Leopard Trails 

Leopard Trails bespoke tented safaris return to the original spirit and true essence of safari, reminiscent of a golden era – an era of elegance, romance, and adventure and aims to provide a unique Sri Lankan safari experience in solitude and soothing comfort. 

Tharu Villas 

This luxury boutique hotel in Yala is nestled amongst a lush green haven and set amidst a community of “Chena” farmers. Home to curious monkeys, posing peacocks, and other exotic flora and fauna, the hotel welcomes you to sample the rugged wilderness of the Yala National Park at its doorstep. Tharu villa is the ideal place for you to relax and recuperate after a thrilling wildlife safari or a long journey.  Retreat to the cooler confines of your private villa to recharge after a guided bush walk or an exciting game run in search of the park’s most prestigious inhabitants, the leopard, the elephant, and the sloth bear.

Experience beachfront camping at the world-renowned wilderness of Yala, as you indulge in the luxury of a safari camp. These hotels offer the best of Sri Lanka’s hospitality alongside a wide array of amenities and facilities from exquisite dining experiences to private butler and spa services, guided bush walks, and game drives.

Kumana Bird Sanctuary 

On your trip to Yala, you can also enjoy a day trip to the beautiful Kumana Bird Sanctuary that is located in the southeast corner of tropical Ceylon. The 18,149-hectare Kumana national park is a well-known eco-tourism attraction and bird sanctuary where a multitude of birds breed and roost. 

One of the most significant features of the park is the ‘Kumana Villu’ which is a 200-hectare natural swamp lake, fed by the ‘Kumbukkan Oya’ through a half-mile-long narrow channel. It is at this mangrove swamp that many water birds nest in May and June. Regular sightings include such species of bird as pelicans, painted storks, spoonbills, white ibis, herons, egrets, and little cormorants.

The very rare, black-necked stork has also been spotted in the swamp. Besides the prolific birdlife, Kumana is also home to some of the mammals found in the larger Yala national park, such as elephants and leopards. The vegetation in Kumana consists mainly of mangrove trees, kumbuk trees, and the Karan fern, as well as the open marsh area. For bird-watching enthusiasts, the park is an ‘absolute must’.

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