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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for 5 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Yala - The Sri Lankan experience into the wild
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5 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Yala - The Sri Lankan experience into the wild

Once a prestigious hunting ground for the British elite, 'Yala' is now a nature reserve and a national park located in the south-east coast of Sri Lanka.



Home to 44 varieties of mammals and 214 bird species, the park boasts of holding the highest concentration of leopards in the world along with Elephants, Sloth bears, Sambars, Spotted deer, Jackals, Peacocks and Crocodiles who roam freely in their natural habitats. Here are five things to know before you get to witness the untamed wild which will surely be a 'one of a kind' experience.


The best time to visit

Located in a hot semi-arid environment, Yala receives its yearly rainfall from the North-East monsoons from September to December nourishing its greenery and inhabitants. The temperature ranges from 260C – 300C. The best times to visit are between February and July when water resources are scarce, and the animals are driven to the open in a quest to replenish their thirst.


Mode of transport and what to expect

Once you arrive at your designated accommodation you will need to book in a wildlife safari to the park. Unlike a regular journey to the zoo, this is a real-time adventure and you need to adhere to the instructions of your tour guide or trekker. There are designated places where you can always get off and stretch a bit or even take a short walk but follow instructions.

Animals tend to shy away from human contact but always be prepared for unexpected encounters.

The ancient ruins of 'Sithulpauwwa' and the 'Magul Maha Viharaya' are located within the park and encompass historical significance. Locals visit the site as a place of worship.


The Rules of the Jungle

Well, as much as cities and towns have their own rules, so does the jungle. And this is to make sure that the animals, plant life, the environment and the ancient ruins are safe and preserved for times to come. So, make sure to strictly follow these rules;
• Any object that can cause harm to nature is prohibited. (weapons, matches, lighters, drugs, cigarettes or alcohol)
• Use electronic devices with care. Cameras, video cameras or mobiles phones should be put on silent and no flash can be used.
• Don't honk inside the park.
• Don't feed animals.
• Don't litter around the park.
• Consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited.
• Don't touch or take anything within the park.
• Leave the park before the designated closing times.


Expect everything to be basic

The infrastructures within the park are yet to be fully developed and facilities such as toilets, restaurants may not be what you would expect. So, make sure to bring in your own water, first aid and adapt yourself to the environment. After all, this is the wild!


Travel Responsibly

As much as being with the wild can be an exciting prospect to look forward to. It is important to consider your contributions to the conservation of the natural habitat. Here are a few things that you can consider doing as a wildlife enthusiast and an eco-tourist.

• Combine your visit to a village-based eco-lodge, camp or resort. When it comes to eco-friendly hotels, Yala has much to offer. There are camping grounds within the park, a series of wildlife bungalows maintained by the park or even star hotels such as the Cinnamon Wild Yala which provides an intimate experience with the wild in a perfect blend with luxury.
• Read up information on the park and be prepared of what to expect.
• Know that the funds accumulated through the sale of tickets help maintain the park and preserve the species within it. Some of which belongs to the endangered list.
• In an emergency, you need to stay calm and follow instructions from a designated guide or call up the emergency numbers. Hence make sure you make these arrangements before you plan your safari.