An early morning start for us today as we had a 5:30 am safari booked. This was to be an all day tour, so unfortunately it meant that we didn’t make it until midnight last night – but hey when on tour you need to be practical about these kind of things.
The drive to the entrance of Yala National Park didn’t take us long at all, maybe about ten minutes – longer than the time is took to pay the entrance and get the paperwork.
Yala is renowned as the best park in Sri Lanka so we had high hopes for the day although we knew that it was going to be a long one.
Now the first thing that you have to comprehend is that the national park is set alongside a beach, just the sand dunes separating the waves from the park. Therefore it seems strange that there are wild animals so close to the coast and takes a little to get your head around.
Coming into the park we spotted a large number of deer, some buffalo and numerous birds. This set the scene for the day.
Highlights of the day included:-
• sighting two leopards – ok so they were far away but given that you are not allowed to drive off road, it was as close as we could get. The camera sure came in handy though to capture the animals, one on a large rock and one in the tree – not sure what people expect to capture with their iPhone but you never know
• Macaques – in particular one that took a fancy to the food in our jeep when we stopped for lunch and hovered above, then dropping suddenly scaring the crap out of Philip who thought that it was about to pounce on him (never seen Philip react so quickly, waving his arms above his head whilst holding a large lens)
• Elephants in abundance including a large pack in a massive water hole stripping the plants from their base, throwing them over their heads and then gobbling them up. The babies nearby looking like they were sinking in the mud but still keen to keep up with mum. Another elephant episode that involved elephants being on different sides of the road. They were calling out to one another valiantly with the large mother not wanting to leave until her family was all back together. Wow did they make a noise but it was so amazing to see the care and stress they showed for one another just like humans would for their children.
• The peacock brigade – so many peacocks we have seen on this trip that now unless they put on a show, don’t bother stopping!
• Buffalo, deer, mongoose, numerous beautiful coloured birds big and small and even the images of a sloth bear perched way off in the distance and hidden amongst boulders (the camera does not lie)
We arrived back at Yala Jetwing at around 4pm. It had been a long day but we had seen why people come to this place. The national park lived up to its reputation and there were plenty of highs.
Given that we had not really eaten during the day we decided to not wait for dinner but head to the pool in order to purchase a meal prior to the time dinner serving commenced. We were pretty tired both from a late night last night and the all day safari so the option was taken for an early meal and then off to bed. A chance for Philip to review the copious photos that had been taken in addition to grabbing a little more sleep than usual.