Yala is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka and it is best-known for its eponymous national park—the Yala National Park. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or not, you should visit Yala at least once, so here are 4 reasons why you should visit Yala NOW!
Yala is a park that is blessed with an innumerable amount of wildlife, and it is famous for housing the ‘Big Three’—elephants, sloth bears and leopards. However, the park’s main attraction is its leopard population; Yala has the highest density of leopards in a geographical area and this virtually guarantees you will see one of these elusive creatures on a game drive.
One of Yala’s best kept secrets is that it is one of the country’s best diving locations. 13km off the coast of Yala is the Great Basses Reef and its lighthouse, one of Asia’s most magnificent offshore lighthouses which was built in 1873. The Great Basses Reef is teeming with a variety of colourful fish and coral species, as well as Grey sharks and sea turtles. There is also an amazing shipwreck which was once a treasure ship belonging to the Moghul Emperor Aruangzeb. However, it is recommended that only experienced divers swim here as the current are quite strong.
Wild Coast Tented Lodges
People are usually reluctant to visit the park, feeling as though they must compromise on comfort for the wildlife, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Wild Coast Tented Lodge is found on the cusp of the park, these “tents” redefine camping. Each tent is carefully designed so it is only as tall as the surrounding shrubbery, truly giving you that ‘one with nature feel’… while not having to skimp out on all your modern luxuries, from Wi-Fi to a spa! Also, because of its proximity to the park, you will sometimes see its inhabitants wandering through the property, truly making it a jungle oasis.
Sithulpawa is an ancient Buddhist monastery situated on the edge of Yala National Park. It is believed that the temple was constructed by King Kavantissa in the 2nd Century BC, and it contains several stupas, cave paintings, Buddha statues and an image house. The temple is placed on a rocky outcrop that is surrounded by shrub jungle, and in the Mahavamsa- an ancient epic poem which chronicles the history of Sri Lanka- Sithulpawa was known as ‘Chiththala Pawatha Vihara,’ which translates to “hill of the quiet mind” and that sense of serenity still exists today.
If you want to experience the best of what Sri Lanka has to offer, then Yala is a must.