Yala National Park
Yala National Park (Palatupana) — situated in Sri Lanka’s south-east hugging the panoramic Indian Ocean (5 hours, or 263 km. southeast of Colombo), Yala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and was designated a national park in 1938. Ironically, the park was initially used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule. Yala is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Among its more famous residents are the world’s biggest concentration of leopards, majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted dear, peacocks, and crocodiles. The best time to visit Yala is between February and July when the water levels of the park are quite low, bringing animals into the open.
Yala combines a strict nature reserve with a national park. Divided into 5 blocks, the park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land consisting of light forests, scrubs, grasslands, tanks and lagoons. Two blocks are currently opened to the public. In addition, this park’s coastline was struck by the devastating 2004 tsunami. A Tsunami memorial is constructed at Patanangala, reminding visitors of the devastation it caused and the 250 lives it took. Admission: Rs. 3,688 (tourist adult), Rs. 1,037 (tourist child). Hours: 6:00 am – 6:00 pm. Online reservations can be made through the Park’s website: www.yalasrilanka.lk