Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Leopard Safari in Sri Lanka

To watch leopards in the wild is definitely an experience of a lifetime

Leopard Safari
Leopard Safari
Leopard Safari

Visit the Yala National Park during this time of the year to get the best view of leopards. Moreover, there are many other spectacular animals and birds. Yala covers nearly 130,000 hectares with lush forests, scrubs, grasslands, and beautiful lagoons. Only part of the park is open to the public. Previously the park served as a hunting ground for the local elite, while Sri Lanka was under British rule. Now the park is home to 44 mammal and 215 bird species.

The park is home to endemic Sri Lankan leopard - Panthera pardus kotiya, that was first described by a local zoologist in 1956 and is currently among the endangered species. Its population in the wild is less than 1000 individuals.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Yala National Park for leopard safari?

The optimal time to visit Yala National Park for leopard safari is during the dry season from March to October, with more favorable weather conditions and higher chances of spotting the elusive leopard species out of the forest to search for water. It's worth noting that the park can have high visitor numbers during the peak season. Show more

Where is Yala National Park located in Sri Lanka?

Yala National Park is situated on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka in the Hambantota and Monaragala districts. The park is about 300 km from the capital Colombo, and there are two ways to access it, either from the Southern Expressway or via a picturesque train journey to nearby towns such as Tissamaharama or Kataragama, located beside the park. Show more

What other animals can be spotted in Yala National Park apart from leopards?

In addition to the leopards roaming the park, Yala National Park has diverse wildlife, both animal and bird species, such as Asian elephants, sloth bears, spotted deer, wild boars, water buffalo, various primates, and over 215 bird species, including migrant birds like flamingos, pelicans, and storks. The park also has crocodiles, snakes, and marine animals such as whales, turtles, and dolphins along its coastline. Show more

How big is Yala National Park and what kind of landscape does it have?

Covering an area of around 130,000 hectares, Yala National Park is divided into 5 blocks, with the public access being allowed only to 2 blocks. The park's landscape has varied terrain with forests, scrublands, grasslands, and lagoons, and rock outcrops. With a dry zone climate and temperatures usually between 81-95°F during the day and dropping a bit at night, the park is known for its rich biodiversity and a coastal stretch which is home to various marine animals. Show more

What is the current status of the Sri Lankan leopard population in the wild?

The Sri Lankan leopard, which is scientifically referred to as Panthera pardus kotiya, is an endangered species that counts for less than 1000 individuals remaining in the wild. The species is endangered due to habitat loss, human-leopard conflicts, and poaching. Conservation efforts are needed, including research, awareness, education, and community involvement. Yala National Park, which has various conservation programs and research projects, aims to manage the remaining leopard populations, their habitats, and mitigate human-leopard conflicts to sustain the leopard populations. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin