Yala national park is the oldest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka, it was declared a National Park in 1938 with an area of approximately 97,000 hectares and is located in Monaragala and Hambantota districts in the Southern area of Sri Lanka. Yala National Park is one of the most visited Parks in Sri Lanka. Safaris are arranged for the more adventurous traveler! It is closed 1st September to mid October due to drought an animal breeding programs.
Yala National Park and the holy town Kataragama are generally approached via Tissamaharama. Yala is located in a agro-ecological region with long dry seasons. The park has a collection of ecosystems that consists of dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, marshes, marine wetlands, moist monsoon forests, and beaches. The North East monsoon generally occurs in this area during October to January.
Its vegetation is generally semi arid thorn scrub and interspersed pockets of fairly dense forest with many flowering trees and rare tropical tree species. There are a number of intermediary and large rivers that flow through the Park that originate in the highlands of adjacent Uva and the central hills.
The fauna consists of elephant, wild water buffalo, spotted deer, sloth bears, leopards, wild boar, macaques, golden palm civet, red slender loris, and a great number of species of birds (hornbills, jungle fowl, peacocks, black capped bulbuls, cormorants, grey herons, black necked storks, pelicans, greater flamingo, lesser adjutant, spot-billed pelicans) and multitudes of migrating water bird can be observed.
Tissamaharama was the ancient capital of the Sinhalese Kingdom of Ruhuna, from as early as the 3rd century B.C. Today only few buildings from that period can still be evidenced. The city has a number of stupas, the Tissa Wewa lake and a number of star rated hotels to be enjoyed.