I have always wanted to go on a safari and see exotic wild animals. In my dreams, I pictured going to Safari in Africa, but after reading about the safari opportunities in Sri Lanka I was sold – Safari in Yala National Park here we come!
We were only on our fourth day in Sri Lanka, staying outside of Unawatuna, and it was a loooong way from Unawatuna to Yala National Park (basically on the other coast side of the island).
As we sat in our rental car with our Sri Lankan driver and he told us that the trip to the Park would take 3 hours, it occurred to us that we had done sloppy research and should probably have waited with the safari until we got a bit closer to Yala. Well, well, thankfully it was a really nice car trip to Yala National Park, most of it along the beautiful southern coast of the island.
We even got to see some fishermen fish in the old traditional Sri Lankan way, sitting on poles out in the sea.
Yala National Park
There are two times each day for entrance into the Yala National Park; 6 am in the morning or 2 pm in the afternoon. As the non-early birds we are, we chose the 2 pm time….. 🙂
Once we got to the small town Tissa, we joined the organized safari which our hotel in Unawatuna had pre-booked.
The only way to visit the Park is as part of a Safari in one of their Jeeps. We got a Jeep all to ourselves and had a really nice driver who managed to spot animals that were impossible to see, at least for us non-trained-animal-spotters.
The entrance to the Park is about 21 km from Tissa town.
Once inside, the landscape opened up into beautiful scenery of lakes, open patches of grasslands, jungle, and complete silence and peacefulness!
The Animals To See In Yala National Park
The animals we saw most of were deer, heaps of deer. Really beautiful white spotted deer. Some of them were even together with monkeys.
4. Wild Pig
It is apparently around 300 elephants in Yala National Park. They tend to be a bit shy and keep away from the most-visited parts of the park, but luckily we saw some.
Around 215 species of birds have been recorded at Yala, many of them are visitors here escaping the cold winters in the north part of the world. Maybe some of these have flown all the way from Norway?!
The roads around the park were pretty bumpy and dusty.
Towards the end of the safari trip, we stopped at a breathtaking deserted beach where we were allowed to walk around. Really nice after a couple of hours in the Jeep vehicles on the bumpy roads.
After a lovely day in the park, we drove back to Tissa town in the sunset.
One animal we did not see, even though this is one of the world`s best parks for spotting it, was the leopard. There are apparently around 25 leopards in this park, but we saw 0 :(.
We really enjoyed our day at Yala! A safari trip to Yala National Park is well worth a visit!
How To Book Safari Tours In Yala National Park
We did an afternoon safari trip in Yala National park (4 hours), from around 14:00 (2 pm) until the park closed just after sunset (18:00/ 6 pm).
You can also opt for a morning safari trip in Yala, which starts at sunrise when the park opens at 06:00/ 6 am and ends around 10:00/ 10 am. Or a full day (it is basically two trips into the park, one in the morning and one in the afternoon), or a 2-day safari trip where you sleep in huts, tents, or treehouses inside the park.
Here are the different safari tour options in Yala National Park:
Private Half-Day Safari Tour (morning or afternoon, 3-4 hours)
You can choose between a morning safari tour or an afternoon safari tour. The morning safari starts at sunrise (the park opens at 06:00/ 6 am). Whilst the afternoon option allows you to explore the park from 14:00/ 2 pm until sunset (the park closes at 18:00/6 pm).
Afternoon Yala Safari With Beach BBQ Dinner & Wine (6-7 hours)
The perfect Yala afternoon safari tour where you after the tour in the park, will be taken to a private beach where you have a couple of hours to explore, dip your toes in the cool water, and enjoy a 4-course barbeque dinner with a glass or two of wine.
Full-Day Safari At Yala With Picnic Lunch (11 hours)
This great safari tour gives you two safari tours into Yala NP, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, maximizing your chances of seeing leopards. You get lunch included on this tour. They pick you up at your hotel for free if you are staying in the Yala area, or you can take a taxi/ Uber to the park on your own.
All-Inclusive 2-Day Yala Safari (2 days, sleep in luxurious treehouses)
This is the ultimate 2-day safari tour to Yala National Park where you really get to experience the jungle of Yala! You will sleep in luxurious treehouses. Included in this tour is breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with beer) at the campsite (yes there will even be a campfire in the evening), morning and evening game drive in a safari car, qualified game ranger as your personal guide, snacks and drinks.
By doing safari trips over two days, you will maximize your chances of seeing leopards. A truly unique Yala National Park experience!
We used the Lonely Planet`s Sri Lanka travel guide on our trip. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below which will take you to Amazon.com (affiliate links):
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Do you dream of going on Safari? Would you like to go on Safari in Sri Lanka or Africa? Which of these 6 animals would you like to see the most? We`d love to hear your opinion in the comment area below! If you like this blog post and find it useful, please share and like it on social media! Thank you so much! 🙂