Yala’s most famous residents are its leopards – the park boasts a higher concentration of these elusive felines than anywhere else in the world (block 1 of the park, the only section currently open to visitors, is thought to be home to around 60–70 animals) and sightings are reasonably common, though you’ll stand a much better chance if you spend a full day in the park, which allows you to reach less touristed areas. Leopards can be seen year round, though they might be slightly easier to spot during the latter part of the dry season, when the ground vegetation dies back. Adult leopards are mainly active from dusk until dawn. Most daytime leopard sightings are of cubs and sub-adults, who are dependent on their mother for food. These confident and carefree young animals can provide hours of viewing, often showing themselves to visitors in the same spot for several days running. Much more visible are the resident elephants, which can usually be seen on most trips, though they can be a bit easier to spot during the dry season (May–Aug), when they congregate around the park’s waterholes. Other resident mammals include sambar and spotted deer, wild boar, wild buffaloes, macaque and langur monkeys, sloth bears, jackals, mongooses, pangolins, porcupines, rabbits and (rare) wild cats, as well as plentiful crocodiles.

Yala also offers outstanding birdwatching year round, although from October to March visitors have the added bonus of seeing thousands of migratory species arrive to escape the northern winter. Around 130 species have been recorded here. Peacocks are ubiquitous throughout the park, while you should also spot at least a couple of jungle fowl, a singularly inelegant, waddling creature, like a feral hen, which has been adopted as the national bird of Sri Lanka.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Sri Lanka features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: 5 reasons to visit Sri Lanka

Video: 5 reasons to visit Sri Lanka

From remote, palm-dotted beaches to ancient temples and some of Asia's best wildlife-watching opportunities, Sri Lanka has something to offer every kind of trav…

19 Jan 2018 • Olivia Rawes videocam Video
Your Sri Lanka itinerary: 5 trip ideas to explore the country

Your Sri Lanka itinerary: 5 trip ideas to explore the country

Sri Lanka is deceptive. On a map of the world it appears to be tiny, but the moment you arrive you’ll realise that within its diminutive borders it packs in a…

18 Jan 2018 • Stuart Butler insert_drive_file Article
10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

The tear-shaped Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka is a true culinary treat. Through years of colonisation and trade, many cultures have influenced its cuisine, c…

17 Jan 2018 • Sarah Gilbert insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs