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Travel Guide of Yala National Park in Sri Lanka by Influencers and Travelers

Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks.

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How to visit Yala National Park ?

Why traveling there?

Yala National Park is a must-visit destination in Sri Lanka, known for its diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. It is the second-largest national park in the country and is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including elephants, leopards, crocodiles, and hundreds of bird species. It offers visitors an incredible opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, embark on exciting safari adventures, and explore the ancient Buddhist temples hidden within the park.

How to get there?

Yala National Park is located in the southeast region of Sri Lanka, approximately 300 kilometers from the capital city, Colombo. The easiest and most convenient way to reach the park is by car or private transfer, which takes around 4-5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train or bus to the nearest town, Tissamaharama, and then hire a taxi or tuk-tuk to reach the park.

What to book in advance?

It is highly recommended to book your safari tour in advance, especially during the peak season (December to March). Many companies offer guided jeep tours that include a knowledgeable guide, park entry fees, and hotel pick-up and drop-off. Booking in advance ensures you have a confirmed spot on a safari and helps avoid last-minute disappointments.

What are the costs?

The cost of visiting Yala National Park depends on various factors such as accommodation, safari tours, and meals. The park entrance fee for foreigners is around $15 per person. Guided jeep safaris can range from $30 to $100 per person, depending on the duration and group size. Accommodation and meals can vary widely based on your preferences and budget.

What are the best things to do?

The main attraction in Yala National Park is embarking on a wildlife safari to spot elephants, leopards, and other fascinating creatures. Additionally, visitors can explore the ancient Buddhist temples such as Sithulpawwa and Magul Maha Viharaya, go birdwatching, or simply enjoy the breathtaking scenery and landscapes.

Where to eat?

1. The Green Cabin: This eco-friendly restaurant offers delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine, made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. They also provide vegetarian and vegan options.
2. Tuskers: Located within the Cinnamon Wild Yala resort, Tuskers offers a fine dining experience with a diverse menu featuring both local and international dishes.
3. Refresh Restaurant: This popular eatery in Tissamaharama offers a mix of Sri Lankan and international cuisine at affordable prices.

Where to stay?

1. Cinnamon Wild Yala: This luxury resort is located close to the park entrance and offers comfortable accommodations, a swimming pool, and on-site dining options.
2. Jetwing Yala: Another luxury option, Jetwing Yala features stylish rooms, a spa, and a restaurant with stunning views of the Indian Ocean.
3. Yala Adventure: For budget travelers, Yala Adventure offers affordable eco-lodges with basic amenities and easy access to the park.

Off the beaten path

For a unique and lesser-known experience, visit the Kataragama Temple, a sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. This fascinating temple complex is located just outside the boundaries of Yala National Park and features a blend of religious architecture and ceremonies. During the annual Kataragama Festival, held in July or August, thousands of devotees gather to participate in rituals, fire-walking, and vibrant processions, offering an unforgettable cultural experience.

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