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Yala National Park – A great safari experience

After the unique experience witnessing wild elephants up close at the Udawalawe National Park (click here to read), my wife and I had high expectations for our second wildlife safari experience at the famous Yala National Park.

Before I continue, a couple of things:
a) This post has lots of photos. 39 to be exact, so please be patient. It’s worth it 🙂
b) If you have missed out on the earlier posts on my Sri Lanka trip, click here to read it. 🙂

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Yala National Park is famous for one thing, the wild leopard. Block 1 of Yala National Park has become a very good safari park for leopard watching, boasting of one of the highest leopard densities in the world.

It was a challenge to wake up as early as 4:30am during our stay at the “back to nature” Mud House of Saraii Village. It was so calm and peaceful that the alarm clock on our blackberries struggled to overcome the sound of nature. I will share a bit more about the resort in my next post. Somehow we managed to get up and get ready for our 5:00am departure to Yala National Park for our safari game drive.

Wake up!

Arrangements were made by Saraii Village and the jeep from Ajith Safari along with a guide cum jeep driver arrived early for an on time departure.

It took us about 40 minutes to reach the entrance of Yala National Park.Honestly we never realized that it was a 40 minutes ride, probably because we were really enjoying the morning breeze and the nice scenic views along the way.

The main entrance.

Yala received a fair amount of negative feedback online mainly because it can get a bit crowded. True enough, judging by the number of tricks we sat at the national park office, we knew that the park will be a bit busy on that day.

Nevertheless our guide repeatedly mentioned that the park will be big enough to accommodate everyone 🙂 Here are some of the photos of the wildlife captured on either one of our cameras. This was also the day that we realised we need better/longer lenses for Safari shoot!

Our first wildlife sighting. Babi (wild boar) and friends (spotted deer) 🙂

A peacock stalking on us…

Crocodile not being too friendly on that day swimming away from all the Safari jeeps.

Not too far away from the crocs, the water buffaloes.

And not too far away from the buffaloes, this cute little fauna. 🙂

Yala National Park is also great for birdwatchers. Here are some of the birds that I managed to snap.

And of course, the show off peacocks! 🙂

I love this shot.

Halfway through the 4-hour safari drive, we joined most of the other jeeps, trucks and tourists at the ‘beach area’ where during the 2004 Tsunami, a hotel was wiped off the Earth by the Indian Ocean tsunami and killed the staff and visitors.

The memorial.

After about 30 minutes of lunch break, we continued our animal spotting activity.

Some of the wildlife spotted…

Injured.

🙂

Really up-close. If you love elephants, you might want to read our earlier Udawalawe National Park experience, click here to read.

Unfortunately, despite being the national park with highest density of leopards, we did not get the chance to see any on that day. That’s real safari experience, there’s no such thing as making an appointment with the wildlife.

Still we had a blast witnessing the other animals. My favourite must be the spotted deer. Spotted deer are abundant in the park and we got to get really up close by shutting off the engine of the truck from a distance.

Cute!

Yala National Park lives up to its expectation and despite not seeing any leopards, we were satisfied with our second safari experience. The only regret is not going for a full day safari due to the weather. Yala National Park is a good start for us before exploring the possibilities of visiting African safaris in future trips 🙂

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