Safari at Yala West National Park
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The Yala National Park is located in the southeast of Sri Lanka and should not be missed during a tour through in this special country. The park is visited by nature lovers and is often seen as one of the highlights of a visit to Sri Lanka. Definitely one to add to your bucket list.
The Yala National Park consists mainly of dry forest with open plains and lakes. It is next to the sea, so you can even go to the beach at certain places. You will also see a lot of wetlands, grasslands, dirt roads and very impressive rocks. Everywhere you can find small water pools where you can spot different animals. There are chances you will find elephants, water buffaloes, peacocks, monkeys, wild boar, crocodiles and leopards .
If you visit Yala National Park you need to go on a jeep safari. It is not allowed to enter the park with your own transport. Most jeep safaris go early in the morning or in the afternoon. Only a small part of the park is open to the public, which makes it feel crowded in high season.
Where to stayThe nearest town and best base for visiting the park is Tissamaharama, at 22 kilometers from the park. There are several good hotels in the area of Yala National Park. However we highly recommend the Flameback Eco Lodge. This is a fabulous place in a stunning location. It is situated next to a lake and they provide tents that have everything you need.
Waking up to birds and overlooking the lake was amazing and we loved the beautiful pool. A real gem! On booking.com they get a superb average rating of 9.4.
Best time to visit
Yala National Park can be visited throughout the year. The best travel time is indicated by October to December. However from December to March you have the biggest chance to see leopards and elephants with March as the best month. This is because of the low water level, all animals from the park come to the remaining water pools. The chance that you spot leopards in Yala is big compared to for example many parks in Africa. Small note: The park is a lot less green during this "dry" period.
To get a good picture of the weather it is useful to know that there are two rain seasons in Sri Lanka. You have the Yala Monsoon; this causes rain in the west, southwest and inland from April to September. The other is the Maha Monsoon; it causes rain on the east coast from November to March. In addition, Maha Monsson can also provide rain in October and November.
The 'winters' are generally sunny and dry with an occasional shower. In summer it is warmer and the chance of rain is slightly higher. It will rain strongly for an hour or two, and then it will switch back to beautiful sunny weather. However do not expect that you can blindly trust the best travel time for Sri Lanka. The weather can quickly turn. Click here for more climate details.