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Optimal Time to Visit Yala National Park in Sri Lanka

Yala National Park is the most famous and visited the park from Sri Lanka.

It is the ideal place to spot wild creatures in their natural environment.

Leopards, elephants, buffalo, monkeys and many species of birds could be seen in this park.

You have to realise that spotting wildlife in their natural environment is a matter of luck.

You are at the mercy of faith! It is something completely different than going to a ZOO, where you know for sure what animals you would see.

best time to visit Yala National Park Sri Lanka Buffalo

Buffalo in water in Yala National Park


There are certain moments of the day when you have bigger chances to spot wildlife and I am talking about morning and late afternoon.

And certain moments of the year when animals are more active.

But when is the best time to visit Yala National Park Sri Lanka?

To answer this question you need to know a little bit about wild animals’ behaviour and needs.

First of all, most wild animals hate heat.

So, in the middle of the day when the sun is up and is burning, they are not very active.

Some animals hate rain; especially wild cats.

So, the chances to spot a leopard when outside is raining are pretty low.

The best time of year to visit Yala National park is during the dry season.

In that time, the animals are very active in the morning and in the late afternoon.

Bird watching Yala National Park

Bird watching Yala National Park


The dry season in Yala National park is from May to September, but the good thing is that Yala is an all-year-round destination.

We visited the park in April and we had wonderful weather.

We have been so lucky that we spotted 3 leopards on the same safari.

Even if Yala National Park has the densest population of leopards in Sri Lanka, they are very hard to spot.

The best time to spot leopards is around dusk and around the days when there is a new moon.

Morning safaris are the most crowded because is the best time to visit Yala National Park Sri Lanka for seeing more animals.

More than that, most tourists spend their night somewhere close to Yala National Park and leave the area in the afternoon.

Yala National Park Hambantota Sri Lanka

Yala National Park Hambantota Sri Lanka


One of the best places to spend the night near the park is Laya Safari , a place hidden in the wilderness, right on the beach with beautiful and large rooms and an outstanding view.

We booked a night here and the only regret we had was of not staying longer.

There are two things you should know and be aware of when planning your safari at Yala National Park.

The first one is that there are many tourists and many jeeps during the visiting hours of the park.

The crowds are really big. When a leopard appears everybody what to see it.

The race for the best spot to see the animals starts.

All drivers compete for the best place.

The atmosphere became pretty tensed and nervous and the animals feel that and they run away.

Fortunately, elephants, buffalo and crocodiles are much easier to spot so there is not that much stress in the air chasing the poor wild animals.

So both morning and afternoon safaris are best time to visit Yala National Park Sri Lanka for spotting elephants and buffalo.

Elephant crossing Yala National Park

Elephant crossing Yala National Park


You will have many opportunities to spot these beautiful animals and to photograph them.

You will take some great photos with animals near water or animals eating or playing.

We’ve got some memorable shots from the park!

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Take with you a bottle of water to keep you hydrated, a camera for taking the best photos, a scarf to breathe through because the air is full of dust from all the jeeps running in all directions and sun cream and a hat to protect you from the sun.

Buffalo Sri Lanka National Park

Buffalo Sri Lanka National Park


And the second thing you should know is that the park is often closed from September to October.

So, if you plan to visit Sri Lanka during these months you should think to another national park for a safari.

Do you know why they close the natural reservation and consider that this is not the best time to visit Yala National park Sri Lanka?

Because the animals are too aggressive.

The heavy drought is guilty of that!

The water supplies become fewer and the heat is more intense, so the animals are more unpredictable.

World wide travel tips for visiting Yala National Park:

For tourists’ safety, the local authorities decide to close the park when the animals become more aggressive and unpredictable.

This usually happens in September and October.

When you book the safari to this beautiful park bear this in mind!

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation
We always use as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money.

When we go for longer trips around the world we get Globelink Insurance as it offers a good cover for an affordable price.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected costs caused by medical events like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.