Yala, the second largest and most visited wild life sanctuary in Sri Lanka, is known locally as the Ruhunu National Park. It is a treasure trove of wildlife and marine life. The grassy, undulating plains of Yala are bordered by the South east coast. The expanse consists of five blocks, only two of which are open for public viewing. The park situated approximately 300 kilometres from Colombo covers 979 square kilometres and is famed for its increasing number of wild animals and seasonal birds.
The park is also a well known site for observing the Sri Lankan Elephant as approximately 350 elephants are found in there. Exploring Yala, you are bound to come across numerous species of water birds and water buffalos scattered around the natural watering holes. The buffalos and deer innocently lapping the water surface fall prey to the crafty crocodiles hiding beneath it. The excitingly open safari rides brings you closer to the leopards, sloth bears, elephants and 42 other mammals inhabiting the sanctuary. Yala has one of the highest leopard densities in the world and is said to have over 25 leopards roaming its grounds.
Numerous lagoons, rock pools, tanks, streams and watering holes are part of the park. The lagoons are home to exotic fish varieties, crabs and prawns while the coastal boundary of the park is visited by five species of globally endangered marine turtles. There are 21 fresh water fish found in Yala including the Ceylon stone sucker, the blackspot barb and orange chromide. The Yala National Park is also renowned for its large butterfly population and the common lime butterfly.
The avifauna varieties found within the preserve amount to a 215 species. Among them are six varieties that are endemic to Sri Lanka; namely, the junglefowl, brown-capped babbler, grey hornbill, black-capped bulbul, crimson-fronted barbet and wood-pigeon. There are 90 water birds inhabiting the wetlands including migrants, lagoon birds and forest birds. Fluttering birds of colour amidst the Kumbukkan Oya and the Menik River provide an amazing scenic experience to the adventurer while the forests and grasslands consist of diverse species of reptile fauna. The Sri Lanka mugger crocodile, Indian cobra, Sri Lankan flying snake and painted-lip lizard are among them.
Yala is the perfect holiday destination for all nature lovers and wilderness explorers. Accommodation close to the sanctuary guarantees all day long expeditions and wild life safaris. A Yala hotel that captures the essence of the natural world is Chaaya Wild Yala, a 4 star Yala Sri Lanka hotel that provides rustic luxury close to the heart of the National Park.