Thursday, May 20, 2021

Yala National Park - Sri Lanka

Yala National Park is in southeastern Sri Lanka and borders the Indian Ocean. It consists of 378 square miles divided into five blocks, only two of which are open to the public. Block I is 54.44 square miles and was named a national park in 1938. Block II, 38.34 square miles, was added in 1953; Block III, 157.32 square miles, was added in 1967; Block IV, 102 square miles, was added in 1969; and Block V, 25.7 square miles, was added in 1973. It has some adjacent parks to it as well, including Kumana NP (or Yala East NP), Yala Strict Nature Reserve, Kataragama, Katagamuw and Nimalawa sanctuaries are contiguous with Yala. Block I is the main tourist area, but Block III and Yala East are gaining in popularity. We visited in March 2019 with Sanjay of Lankatracker and highly recommend his services. We spent two mornings and an afternoon in Yala, one morning and afternoon in Block III, which has fewer tourists, and a morning in Block I. 
Map from the official website.
Map from Wikipedia

Elephant rock is in the background. 

Judy on Yala beach, on the Indian Ocean, with Patanangala, a rock outcrop, in the background. This is one of the few places we could get out of the vehicle. 

Our safari vehicle, at a lunch break. 
Yala has the highest concentrations of leopards in the world, as well as elephants and sloth bears which are also attractions. I saw three leopards, we saw elephants and Sanjay saw a sloth bear, but we couldn't see it before it disappeared. 

Following are photos from our visit:
Sri Lankan axis deer

Sri Lankan sambar deer

Sri Lankan leopard. Seen the first day.

We saw two leopards the second day, together on a large rock. 

Wild water buffalo

Sri Lankan elephant. We saw elephants in Yala, but we saw more of them in other national parks. 

Stripe-necked mongoose. The first morning Sanjay said we were only looking for leopards the first two hours and were not stopping for other animals. He stopped for this one. I'm assuming it was not a common animal to see. 

Tufted gray langur. Seen near the entrance to Yala.  

Indian wild boar

Indian hare

Grizzled giant squirrel

Mugger crocodile

Bengal monitor lizard

This Bengal monitor lizard was next to our hotel just outside Yala NP. 

Green vine snake

Indian flapshell turtle. 

Green bee-eater

Gray-headed swamphen

Lesser whistling duck

Crested hawk eagle

Crested serpent eagle

Common kestrel

Black-headed ibis

Jungle fowl

White-breasted kingfisher


Yellow-wattled lapwing

Black-winged stilt

Asian open-billed stork

1 comment:

  1. This is a park with a lot of different thins to enjoy. Besides the incredible wildlife and the beautiful scenery, I was really impacted by seeing the beach area where the massive Indian Ocean tsunami hit in 2004 and had horrific consequences. In spite of the very bumpy and dusty dirt road, this was one of my favorite drives on the trip.