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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for 05 Best Outdoor Activities in Yala National Park – Kingdom of the Wild
Joanna James Joanna James
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05 Best Outdoor Activities in Yala National Park – Kingdom of the Wild

The animal kingdom in all its colours is yours to savour within the Yala National Park; not the largest on the island of Sri Lanka, but certainly the most popular and exotic. The bio-diverse environs are just as stunning as the wildlife making outdoor activities here truly unforgettable experiences.


Spend a Night in the Wilds

Most of the hotels in Yala, Sri Lanka are shrouded in greenery offering travellers a sense of being one with nature. Many like Cinnamon Wild Yala, bring the thrills of the wilderness to your doorstep; another option if you want, is to also consider one night right within the park. There are a few bungalows operated by the park authorities, which you can book to spend a night within the park; this way not only are you privy to the nocturnal habits of the animals, you can also be the first to set off on that dawn jeep safari into the sanctuary. The icing on the cake is returning to the comforts of your Yala hotel at the end of the safari.


Take on a Beach Walk

The rustic beaches here are truly beautiful, sandy oases, where sometimes you may see wild elephants. While most of the beaches within the park are restricted to humankind, there are certain places one can get off during a safari. Enjoy the salty air, refreshing breezes, exotic surroundings and a chance to the stretch your legs on one of the wildest beaches in the country.


Bird Watching in Yala is a Treat

Yala National Park features a great many feathered beauties, with the number of avifauna species numbering more than 90. Most of these are migratory, while the endemic kind abound. Take along the binoculars and cameras as you book a bird watching tour via your hotel in Yala, and keep your eyes peeled to spot many exotic species. The park is home to migratory waterfowl such as garganey and lesser whistling duck, and the larger aquatic birds like the black-headed ibis, grey heron, Eurasian spoonbill, painted stork and Asian openbill.


Enjoy Safari Rides

Safari rides are the quintessential Yala experience; which you need to savour. You can book a jeep safari via your resort or get one from the park. Safaris take off in the early hours of the morning or by early evening; with the aid of an experienced guide who knows the animal's favourite haunts. The best experience of Yala is to spot a leopard hunting prey or to see a proud peacock in full plumage while watching out for crocodiles skulking around the water holes. Mind you follow the advice of your guide and stay safe at all times.


Relish a Bit of History

There are some historical sites in Yala which you must visit for a taste of local culture and tradition. Sithulpawwa meaning 'hill of the quiet mind' is home to an ancient rock temple which in the time Sri Lanka was ruled by kings housed over 15,000 monks. Adjacent to Sithulpawwa is the Magul Maha Viharaya which is believed to have been the venue at which King Kavantissa wed Viharamahadevi; the princess who washed up on the shores of the Deep South.