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How to Spend a Weekend in Galle and Yala National Park

The Southern Charm of Sri Lanka

By Daphne OlgaPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Byrdyak, Leopard on stone in Yala National Park, CC BY-SA 4.0

Stretching from Yala to Galle, Sri Lanka's South Coast is a blend of pristine beaches, lush national parks, and dense jungles. Coupled with that is the constant hum of activity from the bustling Sri Lankan villages dotting the coastline. In this piece, you’ll delve deeper into the enchanting aura of the South Coast and explore its unique offerings.


The South Coast intertwines colonial history with Sri Lankan traditions to create a rich cultural fabric. As a holiday hotspot, this region perfectly combines the warmth of tropical sunshine with immersive nature experiences. When speaking of must-visit sights, two stand out: Yala, which proudly wears the crown as Sri Lanka's premier national park, and Galle, with its historic Dutch fort. But beyond these iconic landmarks lies an unbroken stretch of powdery white beaches, bridging the distance between Yala and Galle, waiting to captivate your heart.

The Southern Coast of Sri Lanka retains a fresh and unspoilt charm. This region also touts a host of luxury boutique hotels in Sri Lanka, and some of them are associated with brands like KK Collection. This means that you’re spoilt for choice; whatever you pick, you’re guaranteed a comfortable stay.


Unlike the hilly regions in Sri Lanka, the landscape in Tissamaharama is flat, but it's punctuated by some lovely lakes. The most prominent ones you'd spot from the main road are Tissawewa and Wirawila. Interestingly, these lakes aren't natural – they were crafted some 2300 years ago by the Ruhuna King who once ruled this region.

Tissamaharama isn't just known for its lakes. It was once the ancient capital of the south, and these lakes played an essential role in the region's agriculture, supplying water for the rice fields. Even today, you can spot rice fields and remnants of old rice storage structures in the area. Linking these lakes are ancient irrigation canals, and it's quite a sight to see locals taking a dip in them!

Yala National Park

Out of the numerous national parks in Sri Lanka, Yala stands out as the most renowned. Yala boasts a diverse landscape, encompassing everything from dense jungles and woodlands to arid savannahs. The park also stretches out to a long coastline.

The park is particularly famous for its leopards. In fact, Yala National Park claims the record for the highest leopard density in the world. This might be attributed to the large population of spotted deer in the park, a primary food source for the leopards.

Yala Elephants

Spotting elephants at Yala is a treat!  If you're planning to explore Yala, you'll need to book a jeep safari. For safety, remember to stay in the jeep at all times. There's no shortage of safari tour operators in Tissamaharama, and these tours typically include a knowledgeable driver who can also act as a guide. The best times to embark on these safaris are either early morning or late afternoon, as that's when the animals tend to be most active.

Yala to Galle

The South Coast of Sri Lanka is essentially a long stretch of beaches, lined with white or sometimes reddish sand, flanked by lush green palm trees.

While Unawatuna and Ahangama near Galle are among the more famous beaches, the coastline is dotted with countless other pristine beaches.

Now, when it comes to fishing here, it's not always done while being in boats. The sight of fishermen poised on poles is something you won't forget.


Galle is a historic town with its roots tracing back to Dutch colonial times, and it's surrounded by imposing walls. These walls have not only stood the test of time but have also ensured that Galle remains the best-preserved colonial town on the island.

While the tsunami took a toll on the newer parts of the city, the age-old thick walls shielded the historic Dutch quarter. However, Galle's history doesn't begin with the Dutch. First were the Arabs, followed by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and finally, the British. The Dutch were responsible for much of the city's architecture and the stone walls, while the British later fortified the city further, adding 14 forts and enhancing the ramparts.


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