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Yala National Park

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Yala is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka, and for good reason. The park boasts an incredible diversity of wildlife, with 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. In particular, Yala is known as the best place in the country to spot the Sri Lankan leopard. But you can also see water buffalo, sloth bears, Sambar deer, crocodiles, and elephants. According to park rangers, the elephants are known to obstruct the roads, refusing to move until the driver gives them a fruit bribe.

The park sits on Sri Lanka’s east coast, and has both fresh water and marine wetlands. In the dry season from February to July the waterholes attract animals from around the park as they come out to drink, making them much easier to spot. Yala is one of the oldest and largest parks in the country; established as a wildlife reserve in 1905. The park was formerly used for game hunting by the British elite.