Yala National Park’s rugged and varied terrain comprises some 900km2 of rich jungle, grasslands, lagoons, rocky mounds, and striking wild beaches. Sri Lanka’s most visited national park, it is home to the country’s greatest diversity of wildlife and possibly the greatest density of leopard anywhere in the world. Game drives in Yala East and West, the only two of the five areas of the park open to visitors, reveal sambar and spotted deer, wild boar, crocodiles, monkeys, buffalos and elephant (seasonal). Languishing sloth bears might be seen depending on the season, and the phenomenal birdlife includes colourful parrots, peacocks, hoopoes and bee-eaters, to name but a few. Whilst Yala is probably the best place in Sri Lanka to see wildlife, the safari experience is not comparable to Africa. It can get very busy, particularly at weekends and with little regulations, don't be surprised to find yourself sharing a good sighting with a large number of other vehicles. Note, parts of the park are closed from September to mid-October during the height of the dry season.
Accommodation is mostly just outside the park, and there are a choice of tented camps (of which we recommend Noel Rodrigos) and lodges which tend to be more affordable (Cinnamon Wild is good value).