Yala National Park is a huge area of forest, grassland, and lagoons bordering the Indian Ocean, in southeast Sri Lanka. It’s home to wildlife such as leopards, elephants, and crocodiles, as well as hundreds of bird species. Inland, Sithulpawwa is an ancient Buddhist monastery. Nearby caves contain centuries-old rock paintings. Southwest, Magul Maha Viharaya also has ancient Buddhist ruins. Both are pilgrimage sites
Yala combines a strict nature reserve with a national park. Divided into 5 blocks, the park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land consisting of light forests, scrubs, grasslands, tanks, and lagoons. Two blocks are currently opened to the public.
Situated in Sri Lanka’s south-east hugging the panoramic Indian Ocean, Yala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and was designated a national park in 1938. Ironically, the park was initially used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule. Yala is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Among its more famous residents are the world’s biggest concentration of leopards, majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted dear, peacocks, and crocodiles. The best time to visit Yala is between February and July when the water levels of the park are quite low, bringing animals into the open.
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