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Sri Lanka - Yala National Park

Today we go on safari!

sunny 33 °C
View India and South East Asia on philosipha's travel map.


One of the things we were hoping to see much of while on our travels was wildlife. To see exotic animals not in cages but to witness them in their natural habitat.


We had heard about a wildlife safari on the Yala National Park in the south east of the country. After some research we found a highly recommended safari guide who has spent a great deal of time and effort in the conservation of the wildlife at the park particularly the leopards in the area of which sightings were very rare.
The guide also ran the hotel so it was an all in one package.
It takes about an hour and a half to drive from the hotel to the park. We needed to be there for half past five to get to the front of the large queue when the gates opened. Wearily we dragged ourselves out of bed at four in the morning after only a few hours sleep and prepared ourselves for the day ahead.


Along the cold and dark journey we were lucky enough to see a porcupine before it dashed back in to the trees. There was even an elephant poking out of the bush at the roadside that was nonchalantly eating, apparently not concerned with our presence. It was almost as if he (Or she.) was say hello!
Finally we arrived at the first gates where our guide purchased the tickets. We waited here for a while until the next gates were opened allowing us to grab a coffee at the roadside. Then our guide beckoned us and we jumped back in to the truck for the dash to the main gates to the park. It was good advice to get there super early as we were the first in the queue of easily over a hundred vehicles waiting to get in! Another tentative wait and as the sun rose we were finally through the official gates and into the park.


Our guide knew exactly where to find the elusive leopards and raced for the location while the other trucks darted off in different directions. After one hour of driving the truck slowed down occasionally switching off the engine while he looked deeply in to the bush.


Then without warning the driver stopped the engine and everyone went silent. It seemed like ages before we saw anything.
Then finally at last. What we had come here for. A sighting of a leopard!
The excitement in the truck was tangible.
The big cat casually appeared in front of us and sat on it's hind legs staring at the truck, then walked across the muddy track in front then disappeared back in to the bush as casually as it had appeared. We couldn't believe our luck! One of the very few leopards who live here at the park and we got to see it!
We continued on to search for more. Unfortunately that was the last leopard sighting we had, however after stopping to talk to other trucks that came the other way we soon realised that we were the lucky ones as the other trucks hadn’t seen any!


While on the safari we also saw many crocodiles, buffalo, birds of all sizes, monitor lizards and many elephants. At one point near the end of the day we stopped at a lake and watched as a herd of around eight or nine elephants slowly walked down to the waters edge.


Two who appeared to be adolescent jumped straight in and were clearly having fun as they jumped on top of each other. There was also a very young elephant who didn’t stray far from its parents also having a lot of fun splashing around in the water.
We have been playing animal bingo since we started travelling and today we have ticked off many.

Tired but wholly satisfied with what we had witnessed we drove back to our hotel.
Tomorrow we drive to Ella.

Link to the Yala National Park Gallery here.
(This has to be our favourite photo collection to date!)


Posted by philosipha 22:05 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged elephant bird safari crocodile reptile leopard

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