Negombo to Yala National Park:

Are you planning a journey from Negombo to Yala National Park in Sri Lanka? Situated at the mouth of Negombo Lagoon, Negombo is a picturesque coastal city known for its extensive sandy beaches and thriving fishing industry. On the other hand, Yala is Sri Lanka’s second-largest and most frequented national park, consisting of five distinct blocks. If you’re eager to witness elephants and leopards in their natural habitat, Yala National Park is a must-visit destination.

Historically, both Wilpattu and Yala were the first designated national parks in Sri Lanka, having been declared wildlife sanctuaries in 1900 and 1938, respectively. Yala’s claim to fame lies in its astonishing wildlife diversity.

The prime time to explore Yala is between February and June during the dry season. During this period, the lower water levels make it easier to spot animals congregating at the lagoons for water. It’s worth noting that the park typically closes for maintenance throughout September.

Traveling from Negombo to Yala offers various transportation options, including buses, trains, private cars, and taxis, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, duration, and convenience.

Where to Begin your Journey?

  • Start your journey at Ceylon Lodge Airport Transit Hostel.
  • Take the 242 bus from Ceylon Lodge to Negombo bus terminal ( Bus stop is located right next to Ceylon Lodge).
  • It will only take 10 minutes to reach Negombo and the ticket cost will be 100 Rupees per person.

Negombo to Yala National Park by Bus

Traveling by bus from Negombo to Yala National Park is a budget-friendly choice. Buses are readily available and affordably priced. However, during rush hours, crowded buses may make your journey less comfortable.

Buses are the primary mode of transportation for locals in Sri Lanka, connecting major cities, small towns, and communities. While bus travel can appear fast-paced, it is one of the most economical options.

You can take the direct non-AC bus (bus number 32) to Kataragama and disembark at Tissamaharama, with the journey lasting approximately 9 hours and costing around LKR 500.

The travel time from Negombo to Yala is roughly 6 hours and 51 minutes by bus, with fares ranging from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500. While this option may be less comfortable and time-consuming, it can be a cost-effective choice.

Consider taking the expressway bus via Ratnapura for a more convenient journey, even though it may be a bit crowded during peak hours.

Negombo to Yala National Park by Train

For an authentic cultural experience and a scenic journey, Sri Lanka’s railways are an excellent choice. Taking the train allows you to see the sights just like the locals do. You have multiple train options for your journey, and the only entrance to Yala National Park is in the city of Tissamaharama.

Trains depart daily from Colombo Fort Station to Haputale at 9.45 am and 8 pm. Reservations for seats in first to third class range from LKR 95 to 320.

From Haputale, you can reach Yala National Park in about one and a half hours by bus or car, making it the quickest route. Visitors often spend the night in Tissamaharama or Yala to allow ample time for park exploration.

Train travel between Negombo and Yala National Park is recommended, taking approximately 7 hours and 12 minutes and costing only Rs. 2485. Although it may take more time, the scenic journey makes it worthwhile.

Negombo to Yala National Park by Taxi

Opting for a taxi is one of the quickest and most enjoyable ways to traverse the country. Sri Lanka boasts abundant taxi services, including the popular and affordable tuk tuks, or three-wheelers, which provide a fantastic way to explore the country.

However, it’s important to note that there are no highways connecting Negombo and Yala, so the taxi journey covers a distance of approximately 208 kilometers and takes at least three hours. The cost of a taxi ride is approximately 10,000 Sri Lankan rupees.

Ceylon Lodge Airport Transit Hostel could arrange you a taxi on your request. Taxis can be costly for long-distance travel, so if you seek a more secluded and luxurious option, this may not be the most economical choice. The journey from Negombo to Yala National Park by taxi takes around 4 hours and 8 minutes.

Exploring Yala National Park

Yala National Park is known for its diverse wildlife and beautiful landscapes. It is home to a wide variety of animals, including elephants, leopards, bears, crocodiles, and many species of birds. One of the highlights of visiting Yala National Park is the opportunity to spot the elusive leopard, which is one of the park’s main attractions. The park also offers stunning scenery, with dense forests, open grasslands, and serene lakes.

During your visit to Yala National Park, make sure to explore popular tourist attractions such as Kataragama, a sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. You can also visit Hambantota, a nearby city with its own attractions, including beautiful beaches and cultural landmarks.

Safari Tours

A safari tour is the best way to experience the wildlife of Yala National Park up close. Many tour operators in the region offer guided jeep safari tours, which allow you to explore the park’s different areas and maximize your chances of wildlife sightings. These safari tours are led by experienced guides who have extensive knowledge about the park and its inhabitants. They will take you to the best spots to see animals and provide interesting insights about the ecosystem.

It is advisable to book your safari tour in advance to secure your spot, especially during peak tourist seasons. You can choose from half-day or full-day tours, depending on your preferences. Remember to bring your camera and binoculars to capture the amazing wildlife moments during your safari adventure.

Best Wildlife Experiences

When visiting Yala National Park, there are several wildlife experiences that you should not miss. Apart from the leopard, you can spot elephants roaming freely in their natural habitat. These majestic creatures are a sight to behold and a symbol of Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity. Birdwatching is also a popular activity in the park, with over 200 species of birds recorded. Keep an eye out for colorful species like the Sri Lankan junglefowl and the painted stork.

Yala National Park is also home to a wide range of reptiles and amphibians. You may come across monitor lizards, crocodiles, and various species of frogs during your visit. Exploring the park’s diverse ecosystem is an educational and enriching experience, allowing you to appreciate the beauty of nature.


Getting from Negombo to Yala National Park is an essential part of planning your safari journey in Sri Lanka. Whether you choose a private transfer or public transportation, each option has its advantages. Private transfers offer convenience and comfort, while public transportation is more budget-friendly. Once you reach Yala National Park, make the most of your visit by exploring its popular tourist attractions and booking a safari tour to witness the incredible wildlife. Enjoy your safari adventure and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Yala National Park!

If you have any further queries or need assistance in planning your journey, feel free to contact us. We are here to help you make your trip a memorable one.

Q: What’s the best way to get from Negombo to Yala National Park?

A: The best way to get from Colombo Airport to Yala National Park is by booking a private transfer. It is convenient and allows you to relax and enjoy the journey.

Q: What type of vehicles are available for private transfers?

A: Different types of vehicles are available for private transfers, including private cars, vans, and SUVs. The vehicle type can be chosen according to your group size and preferences.

Q: Is Yala National Park a good place to spot wildlife?

A: Yes, Yala National Park is a great place to spot wildlife. It is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the Sri Lankan sloth bear, which is endemic to the region.