Yala National Park lies on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka and spans a vast 97,878 hectares over the Southern and Uva Provinces. The vegetation in the park comprises predominantly of semi-arid thorny scrub, interspersed with pockets of fairly dense secondary forest. The Park is world renowned for the wide variety of its wildlife, most notably for the Sri Lankan Leopard. Yala is regarded as the best place in the world to film photograph leopards with as high a population as one leopard per square kilometer in block one. Its large population of Sri Lankan elephants and its fine and healthy coastline which is home to many pristine reefs are attractions too.
Yala also boasts a large number of important cultural ruins, bearing testimony to earlier civilizations and indicating that much of the area used to be populated and well-developed. For bird enthusiasts, the birdlife at Yala National Park is fantastic. Not only does Sri Lanka’s tallest bird, the critically endangered Black-necked Stork reside in the park, but often observed is the country’s largest bird, the instantly recognizable and ungainly looking Lesser Adjutant.
The best leopard-spotting opportunities are generally first thing in the morning and then again at dusk. The male leopards in Yala National Park are very confident animals and they are often seen walking the tracks during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the 4WD Jeep, which will certainly guarantee some excellent photographic opportunities.