We started the day fresh with a typical western breakfast and made our move from Kandy towards the South-Eastern part of the island country. We knew it was going to be a long drive, but scenic and worth every bit.We passed through the tea plantations of Nuwareliya, the rain-forest mountains and waterfalls of Ella and we finally reached Kathargama around 6 in the evening. The locals helped us locate the Magampura Eco resort and we called it a day after the long journey to unwind and relax.
The next day started pretty early . We were ready by 5 AM and waited for our jeep to take us for a safari in Yala National Park.We paid 6000LKR for a person for a 4 hours jungle safari. Kathargama to Yala national park is a 30 mins drive and we were on time to enter the park,right at the break of the dawn.I was beyond excited as we entered the gate of the national park. Crimson red mud trail, lush green forest and the sounds of the peahens were enthralling and we drove though the forest with a tight grip on the rods in the jeep and eyes scanning the dense forest around us with hopes of spotting a mighty beast.
So here’s what you need to know about the Yala Safari.
1.It is not uncommon to spot peacocks, rabbits,wild buffaloes and elephants. But the real treat is to spot a Leopard.Unfortunately we did not spot one!
2. Yala park is divided in 5 zones and zone 1 is populated with around 25 leopards. This is the most explored and the dense jungles end in pristine beaches.
3. The zone 1 was devastated during the 2004 Tsunami and killed over a few 100 animals and park staff.However it is now recovered and fully functional with tourists activities round the year.
4. Yala national park is diversified with a vast spread of dense forest, thorny bushes, grasslands, wet marshlands , water-bodies, sandy beaches, rocky mountains.
4. Apart from leopards, deers and elephants, herons, pelicans, ibises and vultures make up the living creatures in the park. Precisely, a bird -watcher’s paradise.
5. Book your safari well in advance through trusted safari operators.
6. A 4wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance is a must for entering the national park. Visitors are not permitted to walk. However a few sections of the beach are safe to explore by walk.There is also a facility for toilets near the shore.
7. Carry your packed breakfast as the safari will extend from 4-6 hours. Carry ample amount of water to keep yourself hydrated
8. Get your binoculars and those zoom lenses to capture the once-in-a lifetime moment
9. Wear dark colored clothes and avoid using cosmetics and perfumes. Remember to take a cap and a sunshade
10. Remember to tip your guide and driver at the end of the safari
How to reach Yala
Yala can be reached via 2 routes.
1. The scenic coastal drive from Colombo via Bentota – Matara – Hambantota -Tissa -Yala. This is approximately 270 kms
2. Kandy- Nuwareliya – Ella – Wellawaya – Tissa – Yala . This is 200 kms approximately, but keep in mind the hilly terrain and the ghat roads
How to book your safari
Most of the resorts in Yala or Kathargama arrange safaris on request. However,you can book your safari through Yala Safari
Where to stay
Yala has a few luxury resorts in close vicinity to the national park. But ,we chose to stay at Magampura Eco resort at Kathargama. A calm place that’s both luxuriuos and eco friendly with friendly staff at a reasonable price.We totally loved the food spread.
When to visit
The best season is from February- August.June-august are the dry months and more chances to spot the elusive beast.
Park Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM
We hope this piece of information will be of some help in planning your safari to Yala. Should you have any questions, feel free to ask us. Stay connected via Facebook & Instagram.
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