An ideal holiday for the animal lovers, who are also looking for a short and adventurous vacation would be a 4-5 days tour of the wild side in Sri Lanka.
Did you know? The king of the jungle in Sri Lanka is the leopard – not the lion!
This is no shallow statement dear readers! Yala National Park is the most popular and second largest of its kind in the country and is widely known for its high concentration of leopards. This big cat is the top predator in the area and it roams freely in the jungle.
The fastest way to get to Yala to start off with your wild side tour is to fly direct to Mattala Rajapakse International Airport in the southern district of Hambantota. The immigration facilities at this airport will take you just a few minutes, after which you can collect your baggage and head towards your hotel. Hambantota is the city of peacocks so don’t be surprised if you find a few of them wandering around the streets – simply enjoy the sight as a promising start to your quest!
Jetwing Yala, Cinnamon Wild Yala, Chena Huts – Uga escapes and Wild Coast Tented Lodge are a few luxury resorts in Yala that you can stay at. There is also the option of luxury camping inside the jungle with Leopard Trails and Mahoora Safari Camps. Budgeted camping options such as the Big Game Camp is also available if you want a more economical camping option.
Game drives inside the Yala National Park usually take place twice a day – morning and evening, each of which are about 3 hours long. The morning session begins at the crack of dawn so that you are usually done with the activity before the harsh morning sun hits you. Takeaway breakfast packs are arranged by hotels if you choose to go for the morning game drives. Evening safari begins at 3.00p.m from the park. You could also choose a full day safari that includes the morning and the evening session to observe what the animals do all day long. The park has designated areas to stop and refresh for guests who are on a full day safari.
During the jeep safari at Yala National Park you will see animals such as the jungle-fowl, sambar, spotted deer, elephants, crocodiles, water buffalo and of course – the leopard! The driver cum guide who takes you on the jeep safari has an excellent idea as to where in the park the leopards are spotted. Sometimes you may see them far away walking in and out of bushes to get a glimpse of the sun shine or walking towards a water hole for a drink of water. Sometimes you might even see them crossing your line of path – and that will be a stunning view indeed.
Along with these big animals, you will also spot many interesting bird species throughout the drive. Keep your camera’s in action, ready to capture. Put your phones away in your bags, not pockets because they may fall off on the bumpy jeep ride, and do not attempt to get off the vehicle at any time during the safari.
After exploring the Yala National Park thoroughly for a couple of days, visit the nearby Bundala National Park – which is Sri Lanka’s first Ramsar site and also the fourth biosphere reserve. This wetland along the Southern coast is a port for resident and migratory birds. For a relaxing and mesmerizing experience of hours of flamingo and other bird watching, Bundala National Park is the best option.
Udawalawe National Park, also close to Yala, is known for its elephant population. At any time during your game drive, you can easily spot a large herd of elephants with a beautiful mountainous backdrop. The reservoir at Udawalawe is the key for elephant and bird habitat in the National Park and water holes around the park are where animals are spotted for their dose of hydration.
Calling out to all the ‘wildlife enthusiasts’ – if you have got just a few days in hand for your holiday in Sri Lanka, focus on these three areas and you will have covered a diverse landscape, a variety of wildlife and also the warm hospitality of wonderful Sri Lankans.