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Yala Wildlife Photography Tour

Bewitching Biome

In the island country of Sri Lanka is an ecosphere that fosters many a wild being in its emerald warmth. Enter Yala to be bewitched by the mightiest and the gentlest of them.

Tour Highlights

  • A 4-night/5-day exclusive experience in the most renowned national park in Sri Lanka
  • A soul-enriching exploration of wildlife, particularly leopards and elephants
  • A productively satisfying time enjoying wildlife photography
  • Extensive photography learning under the guidance of accomplished experts
  • A wide range of experiences in the wild worth cherishing for always

Photo Gallery

Upcoming Departures

Photo opportunities maximised

Led by ace photographers

Immense experience

Hands-on assistance on and off the field

Image reviews and presentations

Photography gear on rent

Expert Advice

Want to tailor-make your own tour?

If you are not looking for a fixed group-departure, we can tailor-make a Personalised Vacation for you to suit your dates and travel needs – all with a great price match!

Photo Gallery

How Is It?

A biome comprising a universe of wildlife.

Yala National Park – a land of past civilisations – nurtures a biome comprising a vast array of mammalian and avian life in its various ecosystems, including moist and dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, grasslands, thorn forests, marine wetlands, marshes, and sandy beaches.

Bordering the Indian Ocean, the Park harbours one of the highest densities of leopard in the world. It is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka.

Like a much-needed respite from the eternal forest-whisper, the Yala Beach, which is inside the National Park, will surprise you with its oceanic roar.

What You Will See and Photograph:

Endemic, exotic mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.

Because Yala has one of the highest leopard concentrations on the planet, the possibility of seeing and photographing this spotted phantom of the jungle is very high. When a Sri Lankan leopard emerges out of the obscure depths and crosses a road or walks on it – its every step rhyming with the racing heart of you beating frantically in awe – making images of it is an experience no less than meditation.

The presence of an elephant inspires an awe that is gentle upon the faint human heart. The Sri Lankan elephant in Yala is no different in evoking the intensity of reverence in a wildlife photographer whose being is beckoned to unrude awakenings in the beauty of the wild.

Yala is also home to the nonchalant mammalian beauty that the water buffalo is, along with the amazing monitor lizard and the adorable black-naped hare.

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The coastal line of the park is known to be visited by the all five globally endangered sea turtles. Freshwater fish and amphibians, too, are a part of diverse Yala’s ecosystem. The two breeding Sri Lankan crocodile species – marsh crocodile and saltwater crocodile – also live here. The breathtaking Indian cobra and Russell’s viper are among the reptiles that inhabit the park, including Sri Lankan krait, Boulenger’s keelback and Sri Lankan flying snake.

In the avian department, too, Yala is a rich destination. About 215 bird species are known to be living in the park, seven of which are endemic to Sri Lanka, including the Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, crimson-fronted barbet, black-capped bulbul, blue-tailed bee-eater and brown-capped babbler. There are 90 species of waterbirds in the wetlands of Yala, and half of them are migrants.

The adorable black-necked stork and lesser adjutant, the migrant great white pelican and the resident spot-billed pelican have also been recorded to be inhabiting this park. Other waterbirds such as the lesser flamingo, the rare purple heron, night heron, purple swamphen, egrets, and Oriental darter, and forest-birds such as hornbills, the gorgeous Indian paradise flycatcher, Asian barbets, and orioles are also seen.

Tour Itinerary

Please note: This Tour begins at Colombo on the morning of 12 June, and ends at Colombo on 16 June 2019. Transport between your home and our hotel in Colombo is NOT included in the Tour itinerary or cost. However, all required assistance will be duly provided.

12 June 2019, Wednesday

Upon arrival in Colombo, participants are transferred to Yala by road – a six-hour drive – and are checked into the hotel. After lunch that day, there will be a briefing session on the Tour agenda and photography by the Skipper. You will be introduced to what Yala has in store for you, in terms of natural history as well as photography, and everything you can look forward to during your full-day safaris.

13 to 15 June, Thursday to Saturday

These three days, we spend time in Yala National Park on full-day safaris, exploring various wildlife and newer, more innovative ways of making pictures. These safaris will be interspersed with highly insightful real-time guidance on photography by the Skipper.

If you are fortunate, the Sri Lankan leopard and the Sri Lankan elephant can emerge from the enchanting, enigmatic depths of the jungle and render themselves into frames that you will cherish for a long, long time.

Apart from these most-loved mammals, there are a lot of other endemic mammals, reptiles and birds that Yala contains in its lovely confines, and making images of them can be nothing short of a meditative experience.

The evening sessions on photography and image-review at the hotel will be followed by a delicious dinner, before we retire for the night with dreams of creatures of the wild.

16 June, Sunday

We will checkout from our hotel and will be transferred to Colombo, from where we catch our homebound flights with a lot of memorable, storytelling photographs.

Cost and Terms


USD 1200
  • Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation


USD 2300
  • Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation

Toehold Patrons

USD 1100
  • Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation

All prices above are excluding taxes. 5% GST would be applicable.

Toehold Patrons: Customers who have participated in at least three previous Toehold Photo Tours.

What’s Included?

  • Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable hotels
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea)
  • Permits and photography fees

What’s Not Included?

  • All airfare
  • Transfer expenses between your home and Colombo
  • Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, extra meals and beverages ordered
  • Insurance, laundry and phone calls
  • Bottled water and soft drinks
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • All applicable taxes
  • Anything that is not included in the inclusions list

Payment Terms

  • 15% of the Tour fee as booking amount (non refundable)
  • 50% of the Tour fee before 1 February 2019
  • 75% of the Tour fee before 1 March 2019
  • 100% of the Tour fee before 1 April 2019

Cancellation Fees

  • 15% of the Tour fee on or before 10 February 2019
  • 50% of the Tour fee between 11 February and 10 March 2019
  • 75% of the Tour fee between 11 March and 10 April 2019
  • 100% of the Tour fee on or after 11 April 2019

Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Toehold Photo Travel vs Vacations

While Toehold Photo Travel is one of our most popular offerings, we work as a travel agency without bringing the photography guide element in to your travel. In short you would be using our travel experts service to just plan the vacation and execute it.

  • Unlike a Photo Travel experience, your Vacation is completely personalised.
  • The dates, style of travel, class of hotels and lodges, destinations, everything is tailor-made to suit your custom requirement.
  • A Skipper or a photography guide doesn’t travel with you to guide you unless you decide to take our customised and guided photo travel experience.

So take advantage of the immense experience and field knowledge that we bring in to your Vacation’s planning without having to pay for our time and costs. Plus, we don’t charge an additional fee for our time and travel planning services.

Who should participate in this Tour?

Anybody with an interest in wildlife, photography or both, and is over the age of 18 (unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian) is welcome to join the Tour.

I am a newbie in nature photography? Am I eligible?

Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold’s eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend that you be familiar with photography fundamentals. If you’re not, we suggest you join an Art and Science of Photography Workshop before the Tour.

How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Tour?

Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours, the local expertise we leverage and the experience of our Skippers, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. The Kabini part of Nagarahole is home to a healthy population of Asiatic elephant and of all the Indian parks, this area offers the best opportunity to photograph a leopard as well. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, sightings – especially of big cats – are NOT guaranteed.

What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?

For mammals, especially elephants, a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 70 to 200mm/300mm or 100 to 400mm works very well. Telephoto lenses of greater focal lengths also can be used to good effect for leopards perched in the canopy. For bird photography, a lens with a focal length of at least 400mm is usually essential. A wide-angle or normal zoom to capture landscapes or creative perspectives of wildlife is recommended. And since the light conditions in the forest can often be challenging, an image-stabilized lens and a camera body that performs well at high sensitivities are boons. However, if you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. What’s more, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Tours!. Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer.

How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?

Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven’t experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge-sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.

Interested? Make a Booking Enquiry

It’s easy. Call us on 1800 1200 901 (Monday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.) or simply fill this form, and we’ll get back to you like the whirring wind.

Yala frame