So, you’re looking to experience glorious, glorious nature and the famed wildlife safaris of Sri Lanka. Yala tops virtually every list for good reason, but it also comes hand in hand with hoards of tourists, where you’ll spend a lot of time among other jeeps.

However, with 26 national parks on the island to choose from, we know that deciding which to visit can also make that decision extra hard. We’ve whittled it down to five alternatives that’ll get you up close and personal with nature, minus the masses.

Spanning over 131 thousand hectares, Wilpattu is Sri Lanka’s largest national park and one of the country’s oldest. Its landscape of dry woodlands, natural lakes, dense forests, and open grasslands make it one of the best parks to spot a variety of animals, including leopards, sloth bears, crocodiles, deer, elephants, jackals, and an abundance of coastal birds. You can also go on a day trip to roam the ruins of the ancient capital city of Anuradhapura.

Best time to visit: May to September

Travelling from Kandy? Why not check out one of the most biodiverse areas on the island?

Wasgamuwa is about an hour’s drive away and is known for its large population of elephants and sloth bears. A day-trip safari will take you through picturesque forests and water pools, while a 3D2N camping experience gives you the added joy of stargazing. The ancient ruins of Buduruwayaya are also located within the park.

Best time to visit: November to May

Jungle drives. Boat safaris. Guided birding and mountain hikes. Gal Oya is the most untouched of Sri Lanka’s national parks and is the only park that offers you the unique opportunity to explore by boat. You might even hit the jackpot and see elephants swimming from island to island, Mugger crocs sunning themselves, or a wildcat by the waters’ edge.

Best time to visit: June to October

Cool climates. Misty montane cloud forests. Rolling grasslands. Situated 2,100 meters above sea level, Horton Plains is an otherworldly hiking spot of surreal landscapes, often said to resemble the African savannah. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the sambar deer, Horton Plains slender loris, and the Sri Lankan leopard, among other endemic species—but they’re elusive, so you have to be very early, really quiet, and keep those eagle eyes peeled.

Best time to visit: December to March

Zafigo tip: The park has a daily visitor limit, so it’s best to get there early to secure your entry!

Forest reserve. Biodiversity hotspot. And sadly, Sri Lanka’s last viable area of primary tropical forest and one of the few virgin rainforests left in the world. Here, you’ll have a chance to see threatened, endangered, and rare species like leopards, elephants, and langurs. If you’re looking for a wild adventure, then Sinharaja’s for you, as the only way to get around is by foot—along mysterious jungle trails.

Best time to visit: January to May & August to December

While Yala is undeniably the popular choice, Sri Lanka boasts a number of incredible alternatives to quench your thirst for a wild adventure. Just take your pick!