Yala National Park & the Beach in stunning Sri Lanka!

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Yala National Park & the Beach!

It may be difficult tearing yourself away from the magical environment at Jetwing Kaduruketha but there is a lot more planned for this Sri Lanka Road Trip.

Before departing, the car is blessed ensuring a safe journey. This final touch completes Jetwing Kaduruketha’s superb hospitality.

Our destination is Yala National Park and the crystal waters of the Indian Ocean. Let’s go!

As the road leads out of Wellawaya, the southeastern plains display the region’s produce. Tamarind trees shade roadside stalls selling eggplants (aubergine), peanuts, red beans, lentils, cucumbers and delicious wing beans (used in salads for a distinct crunch and sweetness).

Yala. Sri Lanka.

These plains produce Sri Lanka’s wood apples. You’ll smell their blue cheese fragrance before you see them. Wood apples have a hard, “wooden” shell with smooth sweet-sour flesh. They’re an acquired taste. Generally found in smoothies, jams and desserts, you may also find their juice at a hotel breakfast spread.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Marrow is big news. Multiple varieties grow prolifically here. Mainly used in curries, their soft flesh is perfect for soaking up rich curry flavours.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Orange flags line the road denoting this region as predominantly Buddhist. Pilgrims from all over Sri Lanka visit this area for annual festivals and celebrations at local temples, both old and new.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

In no time, “elephant crossing” road signs begin to appear. On our right, signs for Weheragala National Park and left our destination, Yala National Park.

The terrain morphs into salt flats and undulating sand dunes. We have arrived at the coast in time for an afternoon safari.


Yala National Park

Yala National Park comprises 130,000 hectares of light forest, scrub, grassland, lagoons, and of course, wildlife. Segmented into 5 sections, only two are open to the public.

A wildlife sanctuary since 1900, Yala was designated a national park in 1938. A complete contrast to its previous use as a hunting ground for the British elite.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

The afternoon jeep safari begins around 3 pm and lasts for three hours. An early morning safari can also be arranged.

Yala is home to 44 mammal varieties and 215 bird species. Majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted deer, peacocks, and crocodiles live here.

As with all safaris, it’s the luck of the draw whether native animals are spotted. It’s their park after all.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Yala National Park’s claim to fame is its 35 leopards, the world’s largest concentration, and classed as “vulnerable” within the threatened range on the conservation scale.

Leopards are solitary animals. Adults associate only during mating season. Cubs begin to hunt at 3 months and can look after themselves by 12 months. Their mortality rate is 40-50% in their first year so they generally hang around their mothers for 18 – 24 months. Leopards live for an average of 12 to 17 years.

While there may be 35 of these cats at Yala, the leopard’s camouflage makes sightings rare. Not to mention the jeeps are not exactly quiet, so if they don’t want to be observed, they won’t be.

On the occasions where a leopard is spotted (pardon the pun), guides communicate locations so there’s a chance for everyone to experience the sighting.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Jeep safaris are popular at Yala National Park so you’re rarely alone but on sighting any animal, the guides show respect and keep their distance. Engines are switched off giving us a chance to simply sit and watch.

To prepare for a Yala National Park Safari, visitors are asked to wear unobtrusive comfortable clothing in muted colours, keep noise levels to a minimum and follow your guide’s instructions at all times. Whatever you do, do not get out of the vehicle.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Approach this safari without expectations, you may not get to see a leopard, but you will see hundreds of water buffalo, wild boars, spotted deer, monkeys, crocodiles, land monitors, mongooses and more.

The birdlife is abundant with bright green honey-bee-eaters, prancing peacocks, and one of Sri Lanka’s national emblems, the Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

The best time to visit Yala National Park is between February and July when water levels are low, bringing animals into the open.


Jetwing Yala

On arrival, the first thing you’ll notice at Jetwing Yala is the vista. The Indian Ocean’s blue-green hues open up as you enter the airy lobby.

Tucked in the sand dunes adjacent to Yala National Park, Jetwing Yala is another of the company’s exceptional properties blending with the landscape, focused on sustainability, and offering yet another unique Sri Lankan experience.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Feeling elated from wildlife spotting, you deserve a G&T while watching the sunset. Lie back on a chaise on your private deck, or grab a bar stool on the extensive terrace, either way, you’ll have surround-sound and a 3D screen.

The close proximity to Yala National Park means, at this time of day, animals and birds venture onto the property busy with their evening rituals.

A recent visit from a bull elephant has us all peering into the fading light. Elephant crossing traffic signs on the way to the beach make it clear this is a well-used path.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

With French doors open to the deck, the whoosh of an overhead fan, and the ocean’s gentle lullaby, a good night’s sleep is guaranteed.

Waking bright and early, after the world’s best sleep, you may notice the signs of some nocturnal visitors.

A cheeky squirrel still has its nose in the door and on the outskirts of the deck, yep, that’s monkey dung. A quick scoot around to check all is still in its place confirms these monkeys are not thieves.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Maybe not thieves but definitely naughty. Incessant teasing of the pool attendant receives the desired effect as he chases them from the edge of the magnificent 75-metre swimming pool only to have them somersaulting in the trees laughing their heads off.

A quick tip, keep your eyes peeled for massive land monitors, they tend to search for shady areas around the pool. Is that one under your banana lounge?

Yala. Sri Lanka.

When was the last time you had breakfast with a family of wild boar? Never, you say? Well, at Jetwing Yala it feels like a fairly regular occurrence. Dad stands on guard while mum relaxes with babes attached until they’ve had their fill.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

A glorious morning walk takes you along the deserted beach. Turtle nests are cordoned off awaiting their hatching date. Jetwing Yala closely observes this stretch of beach where five turtle species return to lay their eggs. The progress is monitored until the eventual release of hatchlings to the sea.

Later, lifeguards trained by Life Saving Victoria (Australia) are on deck for your safety, beach volleyball, surfing, and kayaking get underway, and the beach bar opens.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

As with all Jetwing properties, Jetwing Yala is serious about sustainability by implementing initiatives that preserve, protect, and promote their surroundings.

Onsite Jetwing Yala has a glass bottling plant, wastewater treatment, seawater desalination, and the largest solar grid in any Sri Lankan hotel. Add the organic garden, composting, and nurturing strong relationships with the local farming communities, and Jetwing Yala continues to rank high in the sustainability stakes.

Yala is another Jetwing property that you’ll find difficult to leave. Surrounded by nature in a deserted coastal location with guilt-free mod cons, it’s a place we love….

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Yala. Sri Lanka.

Disclaimer: This article contains discounts and upgrades that will never affect our 100% honest opinions.



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Getting There & Getting Around

If you’ve decided on a Jetwing Travels itinerary then you don’t need to worry about this at all. Your guide/ driver will be there to take you where you’d like to go.

Yala can be reached from many directions via bus, train (to Badulla) and automobile.

Cinnamon Air offers flights from Colombo to Matala Airport, 55 kilometres from Jetwing Yala. Arrange transport through the resort to ensure your safe arrival. Matala Airport has very few flights so taxis are not guaranteed.


When To Go

Yala is on the south coast of Sri Lanka with a tropical monsoon climate. Heavy rains occur October & November.

Average daytime temperatures reach 30-32C and drop to 23-26C in the evening. Humidity is between 70 and 80% throughout the year.

For more Sri Lanka info, please follow this link to plan your adventure. “Sri Lanka: Where to Begin?”

Sri Lanka: Colombo, the Commerical Capital! gives an overview of where to #eat #drink #explore #shop & #stay in the commercial capital.

If you’re interested in road-tripping Sri Lanka, our first leg is covered in Sri Lanka: Colombo to Kandy Road Trip!

Continuing through tea country on Sri Lanka’s famous Blue Train can be found in Sri Lanka Road Trip: Hill Country, Highlands & Plains!

For a unique experience at Sri Lanka’s first Agro-Eco-Luxury resort please follow this link to Sri Lanka: Kaduruketha.


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Yala. Sri Lanka.

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