4 July 2010

Of Leopards and Bears @ Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

We’ve checked in to the Yala Village for 3 nights. We’ve arrived late on our first night there so we have a fairly early night in anticipation of a full day safari in the national park with a small break for lunch.  Yala National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s premier wild life parks popular for big cats, sloth bear, elephant and other mammals and numerous birds.

The village is set in a beautiful location with the observation deck above the restaurant looking out to the park, the pool and the ocean.  In fact, I spent a fair bit of time up there writing my blog and catching up with friends on Skype!Yala, Bundala & Kirinda1I had almost willed the Universe to provide me a leopard sighting, and well..what can I say!  Leopard was the first thing we saw that morning..:)IMG_9279 It was in a perfect spot..on top of a rock..and if not for the numerous other jeeps jostling for position, it could not have been more perfect!








The shots are not perfect, because the leopard spent too much time either sleeping or looking the other way…but it could have been a whole lot worse!IMG_9282 The park is full of crocs, and we saw wetlands with more than a dozen crocs, coexisting with painted storks and other birds.  Interesting!IMG_9287 IMG_9343 





This is one part of the island that was badly affected by the Tsunami.  Many hotels including the one I had stayed in when I visited as a kid had been washed away.  I spoke with one of the hotel staff who related to me how he got swept away with the massive wave and only survived by climbing a tree and staying up there for hours.  Many tourists lost their lives that day and we visited a monument/art feature in the park remembering some Germans and Japanese tourists who had been swept out to sea.  P7010020

We don’t see as many elephants as we did at Uda Walawe but there was the occasional herd and quite a few bull elephants.IMG_9400 The were many aquatic and other birds and the wetlands here were just as spectacular as at Bundala. IMG_9293














There are many monitors, lizards and goannas in the park and the hot weather meant I got some good shots of them sunning themselves.  


There are many water buffalo sloshing about in the water but I liked this guy ‘cos he looks a bit majestic!IMG_9382 We saw many more species including elk, deer and a tusker but right at the end of the day we got really lucky and also saw a sloth bear.  Unfortunately, he was fast asleep in the tree so the picture isn’t very revealing!


While we had the park to ourselves for most of the day, the bear and leopard sightings seemed to almost always result in a convergence of every single vehicle in the park!  A bear jam perhaps?

P7010034And so we came to the end of a long, tiring day on bumpy roads with lots of excitement.  While Yala National Park may not have the variety or quantity of wild life found in Africa, it does have its fair share of excitement and you will certainly not be disappointed if you visited!


I should like to spend my whole life travelling, if only I could borrow another to spend at home" William Blake

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