The diversity which Sri Lanka upholds, despite being so tiny, is unfathomable. This tear-shaped island country on the Indian ocean is home to various species of birds, animals, insects, plants, and flowers and is a great example of wildlife conservation for the entire world. This is proven in the large number of national parks that Sri Lanka has – as many as 21.

History of Yala National Park

Primarily regarded as an abandoned land, formed from metamorphic rocks of the Precambrian era, Yala National Park 1900 was titled a wildlife sanctuary. Along with Wilpattu, this sanctuary and Wilapattu got the names of national parks in 1938. Also known as Ruhuna National Park, during the 1940s, this park was not as big as now.

It started with 14,101 hectares of land in Block I and gradually expanded as wildlife in this area flourished. Mythologically, Yala National Park holds significance, too. It is said that Ravana from the Ramayana, had his Kingdom established here as the Ravana Kotte, which is now under the waves. During British colonization, Yala was used as a popular hunting place. Apart from this, the settlement of Sithulpawwa and water tanks made by Sri Lankan kings can also be seen in Yala National Park, even after dozens of years.

Wildlife in Yala National Park

Wildlife in Yala is diverse and indigenous. Yala National Park aims to strike a chord and keep a balance between man and nature, celebrating life in all forms. Leopards have the highest concentration in Yala National Park in the world. One can see elephants playing and walking off the streets, accompanied by deer, buffaloes, golden palm civets, fishing cats, and sloth beers too. The lagoons of Yala are not vacant as well. Filled with crabs and prawns, the other water areas have more than 20 varieties of fish like a stone sucker, olive barb, orange chromite, and many others. In the shabby water areas, crocodiles yawning in the sunshine is a very common scene spotted in Yala National Park.

The coastline of the park is frequently visited by turtles and other endangered species like the hawksbill turtles, green turtles, olive ridley, and a few more. Indian Cobra and Russell, two extremely dangerous snakes carrying the most venom, can also be found loitering around. 215 species of birds can be heard chirping around Yale National Park. There are Sri Lankan endemic birds like the hornbill, jungle fowl, wood pigeon and also migrating birds of different areas like egrets, painted stork, Asian Hornbill, little cormorant, and more.

Things to do in Yala National Park

  1. Safari Rides in Yala National Park

The first and foremost thing which nobody can give a miss when at Yala National Park is the Safari ride. A safari ride is a point of attraction for visiting here and thinking of witnessing wildlife at its best. There are authorized companies that conduct safari tours. There are provisions inside Yala National Park where one can book safari tours. Pre-booking facility is also available. There are two types of Safari tours – half-day tours and full-day tours; individuals can choose their tour depending on budget, time, and other constraints.

  1. Beach Walks in Yala National Park

The coastline that faces Yala National Park is not open to the public for recreational purposes. There are assigned areas, with proper safety measures, which can be visited. One can take a quick walk around the beach. Also, the Tsunami hit location, which killed many innocents, can also be visited.

  1. Birdwatching in Yala National Park

There are around 215 species of birds that are found in Yale National Park. There are both endemic and migrant birds. Even if not interested in bird watching, the birds are varied in colors that will amaze the visitors. There are birds like Orange Breasted Green Pigeon, Hornbills, Ruddy turnstone, Eurasian Curlew, and many others. Witnessing so many birds together will be an exhaustive experience.

  1. Camping in Yala National Park

Inside the park, campsite accommodation is available. A family of ten with two kids below age 6 is allowed for a single site with not more than 3 days of living. Under the sky, with wildlife at its best and nature encircling one, camping gets a whole new definition in Yala National Park. However, there are strict rules of camping that must be adhered to such as no alcohol consumption, no smoking, no loitering around, no littering of food, keeping the campsite and tent clean, and so on.

  1. Night in Yala National Park

Nature enthusiasts can also get hands-on experience by spending a night in Yala National Park itself in the park-provided bungalow. One can also pre-reserve the bungalow. The bungalow isn’t anything luxurious but it provides for a more rustic and rural experience. No wonder, one can hear leopards gently yawning or the trumpeting elephants’ slow walk. Waking up in the morning amidst nature, surrounded by wildlife will be an overwhelming and unforgettable experience.

  1. Sightseeing in Yala National Park

One can get to see the 2200 years old Buddhist monastery on their visit to Yala National Park. This monastery named Sithulpawwa is an ancient rock temple that has a rich lineage of history and is heard to be the home of 12,000 monks. Buddha and Bodhisattva images can be found here. For those who have an affinity for history and archaeology, this monastery is worth the visit.

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