Yala National Park is the most popular
wildlife destination in Sri Lanka because of the high chance of
encounter and variety of animals. Its diversity of bird, mammal and
reptile life is unrivalled in the country and there are particularly
high densities of its two keystone species: elephants and leopards.
Current estimates suggest there are around 70 leopards and, as the apex
predator in the park

But being near the top of ‘things to do’ in Sri Lanka brings its
challenges. Camera-toting crowds are a common sight in busy months. So
are jeep jams and jostling vehicles cutting each other up to get the
best views of the animals. But arrive armed with a little knowledge, a
good guide and some good insider information and a jeep safari in Yala
will be an unbelievably rewarding experience, bringing you close to the
unique wealth of wildlife that calls this region home.

And the national park is only a part of the Yala story. This area is
situated along Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast. Still largely unknown and
unexplored by travelers, it is a vast and stunning setting beside the
Indian Ocean where golden beaches and hump-backed dunes meet warm seas.
It offers some of Sri Lanka’s best (and safest) surfing, swimming and
diving; think reefs, lighthouses and ancient wrecks dotted among
shallow, turquoise waters. It was here that Sci-Fi author Arthur C Clark
discovered the Great Basses wreck. This Indian ship was lost as it
carried a treasure trove of silver rupees to buy the marble to build the
Taj Mahal.

With so much to do, the key to getting the best from Yala is asking
someone in the know. So we caught up with two local experts to get the
insider lowdown on this amazing region.