When is a great time to spot wildlife? Wild animals can be found in ecosystems like deserts, forests, rain forests, plains or grasslands. Often wildlife is hidden and difficult to spot. Here you will find the right time and areas where the chance for a wildlife sighting is much higher.
Yala is a must if traveling to Sri Lanka. The National Park is popular for the biggest leopards, lots of wildlife and it's birders paradise. Of course, everybody wants to see a leopard at Yala, but to increase the chance of a sighting stay at least two nights! What is the best time to spot them? Read on for our detailed tips:
Yala has the highest density of leopards. The best chance to spot them is around new moon combined with a safari/tour in the afternoon when it’s also less busy. They are more active around dusk during new moon days.
It’s often very busy with many jeeps. It's super crazy if a leopard got spotted. Avoid weekends and public holidays. The morning safaris are the busiest. You can't enter the park immediately; first, your driver has to queue to get the ticket. Many tourists stay just for one night and leave at midday. The afternoon is much quieter.
The best time to spot leopards, as well as other wildlife such as elephants and wild boar, is from May to August. More animals gather around the waterholes during the drier months. From October to December it’s more likely to spot deer, crocodiles, and birds. The park is often closed in September until October (too aggressive animals after a heavy drought). The best time of the day to spot wildlife is either early morning or from afternoon till evening. From late morning until afternoon they usually hide under thick foliage.
Opening Hours and 3 Gates at Yala
The park is open from 6 am to 6 pm. Yala is divided into five blocks. Block 4 is not open for safaris. Most visited are Block 1 and 2 with two entrances. Hundreds of jeeps seek for a leopard in Block 1.
- Palatupana: Main entrance for Block 1 and 2 is the busiest - waiting time up to one hour in the morning.
- Katagamuwa: This entrance to Block 1 and 2 is far less crowded.
- Galge: Entrance for Block 3 and 5 and less known. Therefore, you do not need to queue at the Galge entrances.
Our driver Amare was checking the depth of a waterhole.
In general, you can visit Yala year-round. It's never really bad. The dry season runs from May to September. Increasing precipitation in October. The ‘mild’ rainy season runs from November to January and some more rainfall again in April.
Average Monthly Temperature and Rainfall for Yala from 1991-2015
Top Tips Where to Stay
First of all stay at least two or three nights to increase the chance of spotting a leopard. Choose an accommodation which is nearby. Pro; you can go on safari in the morning and afternoon and spend the lunch break at your hotel.
The best time for wildlife viewing is in southern winter from May to September. The game concentration at waterholes is high, vegetation is low, and animals are easier to spot. Hyenas are night active, and we were lucky to spot two of them close to our camp by night.
Crowds and Weather
Southern winter; the dry season (May to September) is not only the best time for wildlife but also low season with fewer tourists, except for school holiday: It’s less busy in camps and on the roads. Days are sunny with low humidity and nights are cold. Fewer mosquito and a very low risk for malaria.
The busiest months in the main camps are in southern summer (November to March) if possible avoid the Christmas school holidays. The rain starts end of October. The scenery gets lush and green, but during summer it’s also hot and humid and heavy rainfalls occur. If rivers get flooded, you can't pass bridges. Wildlife game viewing is not as good as in southern winter.Our favorite month is September: still dry, even more, game to spot and temps rise.
Best time to visit Rinca (Komodo National Park) is during dry season.
During the wet season from January to March the paths are really muddy and difficult to walk.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds: :
Crowded in July and August and less busy from September to November.
Brown bears are in the area from mid-spring until October. Usually, the salmon run takes place from mid latest end of June until the end of July but can be August as well. The salmon run is not predictable. The sockeye salmon is swimming and jumping upstream to spawn before they die. Brown bear viewing is best between July and September. During the salmon run, you can spot the highest concentration of bears hunting for red salmon along the Brooks River and Falls. You may spot 20 to 50 bears along the falls. Usually, in June and August is less food is available. Anyhow, you always may spot bears just fewer.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
In July expect crowded conditions at the viewing platforms. There is a limit of 40 people watching the bears for maximum one hour controlled by rangers. September is much better with fewer tourists.
Visit in September when it's less crowded. Time of day suggestion: Stay overnight at the lodge or the campground. Then you can get to the platforms between 5 and 7 PM when the day visitors already left. Livecam: Brooks Falls Bears Livecam
In late spring, summer and early fall it's often rainy, overcast. Especially in the summer months, the weather is unpredictable. Summer temperatures range from 30˚ to 80˚ Fahrenheit (-1˚ to 27˚ Celsius). Winters are drier and colder.
Seasonal Bear Activity Overview
- Mother and Cubs and mating season – Mid-May to mid-July
- Salmon Runs – July to mid-September
- Bears Resting – Mid-September to mid-October
- Bears digging a den before November
- Bears Hibernation – November until March
- Up to four cubs are born in mid-winter
- Bear fighting – April to Early May (higher slopes)
Best month for the crab migration is April but you may see them until June.
Great experience and wild life viewing in Winter.