Travel Report Yala National Park
After long research and taking into consideration we were traveling in February/ March when weather is best at the Southwest coast, we came to the conclusion that Yala National Park would be our spot for animal spotting. It hosts a breathtaking variety of animals such as elephants, leopards, crocodiles and monkeys.
Staying at Yala
We booked a package of a 1 night stay incl. morning safari at Beddegama Ecopark – Yala due it’s convenient location after experiencing Ella and the starting point for Yala. For this part of our journey, we decided to go rough but charming at the same time and get a room in a tree house. It’s a one (or maybe more) life-time experience. The tree houses are made entirely out of wood with all facilities you need inside: a huge bedroom with a double bed, a sofa, a living room and a charming wooden-made bathroom with running waters coming from the top of the tree.
The hut has no windows at all. At night, you can hear the animals around and on top of the roof. It’s a perfect communion between you and the wild nature. We never felt frightened or afraid (well perhaps some a bit) but it’s for sure a completely different environment where humans feel smaller next to nature.
We were still half asleep when the Safari started at 4 a.m. and 4×4 came to pick us up. It’s a very tiring day but the encounter with the wild won’t make you feel so. We were incredibly lucky to see so many animals, including leopards (which seems to be quite difficult as they love to hide), elephants, wild pigs, deers, monkeys, crocodiles, buffaloes, peacocks and other wild birds. Not only the wildlife but also the landscape within the park were something for us to admire: several lakes and ponds, high sheltered rock, open patches of grasslands, untouched jungle and an amazing feeling of peace and quietness. Seeing wild animals in their natural habitat was definitely something to not miss.
If you travel yourself, always try to book these safaris with your hotel or official representatives, some of the safari offers are hoax and it can turn things a bit dodgy. We had a couple of friends who had their safari spoiled only because they decided to book very last minute with a local they found on the street (the so-called Safari Mafia). They had to do an advance-payment, the inexperienced driver only arrived delayed, they had to share the car with others and just saw few animals as the trip was shorter than expected.
There is a considerable amount of natural parks in Sri Lanka. It always comes down to the point of when you are going, which monsoon is in that specific area and when/where animals are migrating. As elephants can be found in almost every of them, there is only few that leopards call their home. Here you can find a link with some more info about other National Parks and what is best to see in there.
Travel Info and Tips
Where is it? Southeast Sri Lanka; 305 km from Colombo; 100 km from Ella; 88km from Tangalle
By bus or car/tuktuk. There are several small towns serving as gateway to the park and offering accommodation, the most popular ones are Kataragama and Tissamaharama.How to get there?
What is it famous for? Animal watching, such as elephants, crocodiles, monkeys and the famous leopards
What is good to know? Do not buy safari trips at sellers on the streets (Safari Mafia). Bring cash and own food as there is nothing to buy in the park.
A funny Fact? Take care of your bags when making a break at the only stop in the park. Monkeys are just waiting to steal them from open cars.