Thanks for signing up!

Check your inbox each week for our inspirational newsletter and special offers.

Sign up to great deals. Easy peasy.
Please enter a valid email address
Asia Singapore Hong Kong
Australasia
Dubai and Middle East Bahrain Jordan Oman
Indian Ocean Maldives
North America Mexico
Australasia
Australia

Sri Lanka

Yala National Park Holidays

Get inspiration

Yala safaris? Walk in the park.

Visit Yala National Park, and you’ll soon see why wildlife safaris in Sri Lanka are now so high on the world’s holiday wish list.

Yala is Sri Lanka’s largest national park, stretching over an area of 370 square miles on the country’s peaceful south east coast. It’s home to Asian elephants, sloth bears, buffalo, mongoose, pangolin, wild boar and more than 120 bird species. But the star resident in this wildlife park is the leopards. Nowhere else in Asia has so many in one place, so your chances of spotting one on your Yala National Park trip are fairly high. And, depending on when you visit, it’s even possible to catch a glimpse of leopard cubs in the company of their elegant mothers.

Of course, no safari anywhere comes with guaranteed sightings. But Yala National Park is known for its highly experienced guides, which is really all you need on a 4x4 game drive – apart from good binoculars. Leopards are very elusive, and have a tendency to lounge on tucked-away rocks. Elephants, on the other hand, are hard to miss. And it’s not unusual to spy crocodiles basking in the sun, jackals roaming at dusk, or even catch sight of a sloth bear ambling around – their celebrity status is second only to Yala’s leopards.

Despite what you may think, a holiday to Yala National Park isn’t about tropical Sri Lankan jungle. Instead, its mix of grassland, plains, mangrove clusters and coastal lagoons add up to excellent safari territory. Pockets of Yala’s south coast beaches are also prime turtle-watching territory. And the park completely closes in September for mating season – so any safari holiday between October to December has a higher than average probability of spotting adorable young in the wild.

Best time to go

Things to do

Days out

Activities

Best time to visit Yala

For the best safari experience, visit book your holiday to Yala National Park between March and June. At this time of year, it’s dry season – so wildlife congregates around available waterholes, which makes spotting even the most elusive creatures much easier.  

It’s worth remembering that mid-April is New Year in Sri Lanka, so the park tends to be busy over this holiday period. But, if you time your visit to coincide with the nationwide Vesak Poya festival in May, prepare to be enchanted. All the roads around Yala will be lined with decorations and fresh flowers, while stalls offer free food and drink to travellers.

Show More
Show Less

The park closes for mating season in September and re-opens in October. So if your heart’s set on seeing new-born mammals, November and December are the best months to go to Yala National Park.

Park temperatures are about 30°C year round and most months see some rain. But you should expect the wettest weather between January and March, when rainfall’s persistent and often monsoon-like, especially in January.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do in Yala

Naturally, most visitors come to Yala National Park for the wildlife, and it’s not shy. Between Asia’s largest concentration of leopards, herds of elephant, rare sloth bears and packs of jackals, there’s always something to see. Guided 4x4 game drives at dawn or dusk make for rewarding safari experiences, and experienced trackers know where to go and when, to give the best chance of seeing wildlife.

Show More
Show Less

Mammals might be Yala’s biggest draw, but train your eyes to the skies and you’ll find a multitude of birdlife here too. Over 120 different species are recorded, several of which are rare or only found in Sri Lanka. So look out for beauties like blue-tailed bee-eaters and graceful black-necked storks, crested hawk eagles or even imperious flamingo.

When you fancy something less wild, visit Sithulpauwwa to see the ancient rock temple and discover why this peaceful part of Yala is called the ‘Hill of the Quiet Mind’.

Show More
Show Less

Days out in Yala

If you feel like mixing up your wildlife watching, Bundala National Park is an easy day out from Yala. Less visited than its famous neighbour, Bundala is the place to see flocks of migratory birds on vast wetlands. And you’ll be able to spy monkeys, mongoose, monitor lizards and crocodiles, as well as elephants, of course. Bundala’s known for its beaches and four of Sri Lanka’s five species of marine turtles nest here. If you go between October and January, take a tour to have a chance of spotting Olive Ridley, Green, Leatherback or Loggerheads.

Show More
Show Less

Sri Lanka’s lovely south east coast is famously peaceful and trimmed with soft and sandy Indian Ocean shores. For some beach time, head west to Kirinda – a small fishing village with an impressive white temple overlooking the gorgeous beach. Or, better still, stay right on the beach at UGA Chena Huts resort or Wild Coast Tented Camp, both just a few minutes west of the park.

Show More
Show Less

Activities in Yala National Park

A private safari in Yala is the best way to see wildlife – you can explore in comfort and avoid crowds at busier times in this very popular park. A full-day game drive can last between five and seven hours, as you’re transported by a luxurious 4x4 and your expert guide points out local wildlife. Glamping is another great Yala experience. Consider staying at Leopard Trails tented camp, in the heart of the park, where curious langur monkeys, gentle elephants and the occasional sloth bear provide excellent evening entertainment.

Show More
Show Less

Pockets of Yala Beach are also open for exploring, so spend some time wandering the flawless sands and admiring mighty Patanangala Rock. If you want to tick a grand temple off your Sri Lanka to-do list, take a tour of colourful Kataragama just north of the park. It seems like a small town, but it’s actually one of the country’s important pilgrimage sites, and you can’t fail to be awed by its remarkable temple complex.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Yala

For the best safari experience, visit book your holiday to Yala National Park between March and June. At this time of year, it’s dry season – so wildlife congregates around available waterholes, which makes spotting even the most elusive creatures much easier.  

It’s worth remembering that mid-April is New Year in Sri Lanka, so the park tends to be busy over this holiday period. But, if you time your visit to coincide with the nationwide Vesak Poya festival in May, prepare to be enchanted. All the roads around Yala will be lined with decorations and fresh flowers, while stalls offer free food and drink to travellers.

Show More
Show Less

The park closes for mating season in September and re-opens in October. So if your heart’s set on seeing new-born mammals, November and December are the best months to go to Yala National Park.

Park temperatures are about 30°C year round and most months see some rain. But you should expect the wettest weather between January and March, when rainfall’s persistent and often monsoon-like, especially in January.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Yala

Naturally, most visitors come to Yala National Park for the wildlife, and it’s not shy. Between Asia’s largest concentration of leopards, herds of elephant, rare sloth bears and packs of jackals, there’s always something to see. Guided 4x4 game drives at dawn or dusk make for rewarding safari experiences, and experienced trackers know where to go and when, to give the best chance of seeing wildlife.

Show More
Show Less

Mammals might be Yala’s biggest draw, but train your eyes to the skies and you’ll find a multitude of birdlife here too. Over 120 different species are recorded, several of which are rare or only found in Sri Lanka. So look out for beauties like blue-tailed bee-eaters and graceful black-necked storks, crested hawk eagles or even imperious flamingo.

When you fancy something less wild, visit Sithulpauwwa to see the ancient rock temple and discover why this peaceful part of Yala is called the ‘Hill of the Quiet Mind’.

Show More
Show Less

Days out

Days out in Yala

If you feel like mixing up your wildlife watching, Bundala National Park is an easy day out from Yala. Less visited than its famous neighbour, Bundala is the place to see flocks of migratory birds on vast wetlands. And you’ll be able to spy monkeys, mongoose, monitor lizards and crocodiles, as well as elephants, of course. Bundala’s known for its beaches and four of Sri Lanka’s five species of marine turtles nest here. If you go between October and January, take a tour to have a chance of spotting Olive Ridley, Green, Leatherback or Loggerheads.

Show More
Show Less

Sri Lanka’s lovely south east coast is famously peaceful and trimmed with soft and sandy Indian Ocean shores. For some beach time, head west to Kirinda – a small fishing village with an impressive white temple overlooking the gorgeous beach. Or, better still, stay right on the beach at UGA Chena Huts resort or Wild Coast Tented Camp, both just a few minutes west of the park.

Show More
Show Less

Activities

Activities in Yala National Park

A private safari in Yala is the best way to see wildlife – you can explore in comfort and avoid crowds at busier times in this very popular park. A full-day game drive can last between five and seven hours, as you’re transported by a luxurious 4x4 and your expert guide points out local wildlife. Glamping is another great Yala experience. Consider staying at Leopard Trails tented camp, in the heart of the park, where curious langur monkeys, gentle elephants and the occasional sloth bear provide excellent evening entertainment.

Show More
Show Less

Pockets of Yala Beach are also open for exploring, so spend some time wandering the flawless sands and admiring mighty Patanangala Rock. If you want to tick a grand temple off your Sri Lanka to-do list, take a tour of colourful Kataragama just north of the park. It seems like a small town, but it’s actually one of the country’s important pilgrimage sites, and you can’t fail to be awed by its remarkable temple complex.

Show More
Show Less

Chat With Our Sri Lanka Experts

With 40 years in travel and hundreds of experts ready to help you realise your dream holiday.

Follow us on
You might also like...

Take a look at these popular places in Sri Lanka.

Still surfing for inspiration?
Sign-up today to get expertly curated holiday deals straight to your inbox.
Please enter a valid email address
Privacy notice
Follow us on:

Out There Made Easy

Every day, our travel experts help people realise their dream holidays. We take care of all the details, to make your experiences easy and hassle-free.

Knowledge

Between them, our travel advisors can boast almost 800 years of holiday expertise.

Ease

Our tailor-made packages make it easy for you to discover more of the world.

Value

Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

Knowledge

Between them, our travel advisors can boast almost 800 years of holiday expertise.

Ease

Our tailor-made packages make it easy for you to discover more of the world.

Value

Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

Cookies: We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our website, you are agreeing to use our site cookies.

See our cookie policy for more information on cookies and how to manage them.

I Accept

Call our experts 020 3944 2201
Callback