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Yala National Park

For centuries, Yala National Park has been revered as an unparalleled testament to the beauty of Sri Lanka’s wilderness and celebrated for being the best spot in Asia to see the famously elusive leopard – in fact, it has been estimated that there is 1 every 2 square metres in the most populated part of the park!

Trust us, witnessing these magnificent creatures slinking around their natural habitat really is a sight to behold. If you miss glimpses of this big cat then fear not, for Yala is home to a vast array of other wildlife: from sloth bears, elephants and crocodiles to spotted deer, buffalo and pangolins and more… Avid birdwatchers will appreciate that a whole spectrum of species can be admired in this reserve, including Indian rollers, bee-eaters and majestic peacocks, as well as those that are endemic to Sri Lanka. Of these, the grey hornbill, black-headed yellow bulbul and red-faced Malkoha are just a few that you can see flitting around or perched up high in trees here.

The park itself is 1,570 square kilometres and has a wonderfully varied landscape. While the majority of the terrain is open grassland (which luckily increasing chances of spotting game), it is also made up of rock outcrops, scrub jungle, lagoons, lakes, rivers and even beaches. It is worth bearing in mind that the nature reserve’s dry season is DecemberMarch, its rainy season is April - June and that it closes in September.

We recommend rising early to experience a game drive first thing in the morning - not only will this increase your chances of seeing animals, but it also means you will avoid the crowds as much as possible and have more time to visit the quieter areas; our favourite being Block 5. For a more exclusive safari experience, we suggest visiting the lesser-visited parks of Wilpattu National Park or Kumana National Park.

Located in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka, this renowned park fits easily into a tour of the island. We suggest either following the coastline around from Galle and Tangalle to the East Coast or venturing inland, where there are countless places to explore, such as the glorious Hill Country - another must-see for nature lovers.

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