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How To Reach Yala National Park
Amidst Sri Lanka’s beautiful Indian Ocean in the South-East, Yala got labeled as a wildlife sanctuary in 1990 and titled a National Park in 1938. Originally used as a hunting ground during the British reign for the elite class, Yala National Park houses 44 species of mammals and over 200 varieties of birds with some of the largest collection of leopards, sloth bears, elephants, jackals, peacocks, sambars, and crocodiles.
With an expansive natural habitat that’s packed with flora and fauna, the National Park is considered the former kingdom of Ravana from the epic tale of Ramayana. A significant port for trading, Yala’s impenetrable forests, rocky ridges, and open savannahs have a lot to offer its wildlife. It also holds two important spiritual sites for Hindus and Buddhists. Here's how you can reach Yala National Park.
The Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake is Sri Lanka’s international airport situated on the outskirts of Colombo City and has incoming flights from most parts of India, United Kingdom, Singapore, Europe and the Middle East.
On arrival in Sri Lanka, the fastest way to reach Yala National Park is by air. You can take a flight to Hambantota – Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, which is a 45 minute flight and then make the onward journey to Yala National Park.
The journey from Colombo to Yala National Park is about 9 hours by train. From Colombo Fort Station, there’s a train to Haputale at 9.45 am and then 8.00 pm every day and costs between LKR 95-320 for 1st-3rd class seat bookings. From Haputale, it’s about an hour and half drive to Yala National Park.
Yala National Park is over 300 km from the Colombo Airport through the Southern Expressway. Roads in Sri Lanka are usually in top condition, most travellers prefer driving to Yala National Park from the Bandaranaike International Airport. A pre-arranged private car is the best and most convenient way to travel there hence.
However, if you’d like to make the journey by bus, you would need to board a bus from the Colombo Bastian Mawatha Bus Terminal to reach Kataragama, which takes about 8 hours and then from Kataragama it’s a 30 minute drive to Yala National Park. The bus ride will cost you between LKR 100-230 and take you approx. 8.5 hours on road.
With the main objective of visiting Yala National Park being the wildlife safari, the best way for getting around in Yala is to hire a jeep and a driver. You can also explore the nearby areas on bicycles.