Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s second-largest national park. This is one of the top places most tourists visit. It is 979 square kilometers and is about 300 kilometers from Colombo. In 1900, Yala has declared a wildlife sanctuary and named a National Park in 1938. There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries adjacent to Yala National Park. The park is located in a dry semi-arid climate zone. The main rainfall comes during the Northeast Monsoon. There are two important pilgrimage sites in the park, the Sithulpavu, and the Magul Vihara.
Six soil types have been found in Yala. Reddish-brown soils and low humic gray soils are prominent. Yala National Park has a wide variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi-deciduous forests, thorny forests, grasslands, marshes, marine wetlands, and sandy beaches.
The park is popular for a variety of wildlife. The most important of these is the Sri Lankan elephants and the Sri Lankan leopards. Many tourists come here to see free elephants. There are about 215 species of birds living in the Yala National Park, including six endemic species. About 44 species of mammals live in the park. About 300–350 elephants live in the Yala Elephant herd. The forest buffalo also lives here.