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The main draw here are the Elephants.

Winter is a great season to visit this place but if you aren't bothered by a few hours of afternoon rains then August-September is also a great time to go as there will be less tourists at this time of the year.

Wildlife
TH Thailand
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Facts About Addo

Addo is a year-round destination. Best game viewing months are June to September. It is the drier season and elephants gather in numbers around the waterholes. During September and October, many animals give birth to their young ones. This causes an increase in predator activity and a higher chance of spotting.

Birding

From September onwards migratory birds arrive from the north like the European stork.
More information about birds in Addo.

Weather

It is hot in summer from November to February and cold in winter from June to August. Night temperature can be near freezing. Rain can always occur with two peaks in February/March and October/November. If it is rainy in summer game is not any longer hiding at midday. It is a semi-arid region with little rainfall in total. Best months are April/May and September with mild temperature, and it is mostly dry.

Crowds

It is a popular destination for tourists and residents. Peak season during summer, especially Christmas holiday and Eastern. Also busier during European summer holidays.

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ZA South Africa
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Yala designated as National Park in 1938 is the oldest one of Sri Lanka. It is divided into 5 blocks, four of them are open to the public at the moment (Feb. 2019).

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:

Big Leopard in Yala, Sri Lanka

Leopards

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. 

Jeep congestion while watching a leopard in Yala National Park

Crowds

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. 

Elephants taking a bath in Yala, Sri Lanka

Wildlife

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 to 6. 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.

  1. Palatupana: Main entrance for Block 1 and 2 is the busiest - waiting time up to one hour in the morning.
  2. Katagamuwa: This entrance to Block 1 and 2 is far less crowded.
  3. Galge: Entrance for Block 3 and 5 and less known. Therefore, you do not need to queue at the Galge entrances.
Our driver was checking the depth of a waterhole
Our driver Amare was checking the depth of a waterhole. 
Weather

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.

Weather Yala from 1991-2015
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. 

Wildlife
LK Sri Lanka
4.333335

Declared as a National Park in 1997 to protect the water reservoir and the wildlife of the area. Minneriya is famous for the largest gathering of Indian elephants.

Watching "The Gathering" is an outstanding spectacle and takes place in the dry season from July to October with its peak in August and September. The elephants gather in high numbers up to 300 around the water reservoir due to the lack of water. To enjoy this vast amount of elephants try to book a tour for the late afternoon with fewer off-road cars. Usually, the males are only around during the mating season in June - July. The elephants wander around between three different parks, so it's not guaranteed to spot them in high numbers.

Update 2019

The last tripadvisor reviews are deterring. The jeep drivers don't show any respect for these majestic animals; almost chasing. Better go to Udawalawe. We'd been here as well. The drivers stay on the path and don't drive like crazy to the bush. Also, many other animals can be spotted.

Sambar Deer
Samba Deer in Udawalawe

Weather

Showers can occur throughout the year. During May decreasing rainfall while June to September are the driest months. It's often overcast from June to August. The tropical climate has a humidity of around 80 % most of the time. Most precipitation from October until December. January to April it's frequently sunny. You may experience the most pleasant weather conditions between January and September.

Wildlife
LK Sri Lanka