When people have researched about going on a safari, the most googled options are Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. However have they ever considered going to the simply stunning Yala National Park in Sri Lanka? One of several National Parks in the Country, this particular one has a very rare large cat; the leopard. During our stay at the park we were fortunate to see not one but two of them!
Located in the South East of Sri Lanka, the stunning Yala National Park is easily accessible from the airport…..an approximate 4 hour drive. You will not remotely be bored on this journey though as there is so much going on for you to watch out of the window. The miles and hours will just fly by. Whilst watching you it will become clear why it takes four hours to get there…..best described as slightly organised pandemonium!
The park is divided in to six blocks, two of which are open to the public for safari tours and accommodation.
Elephants Up Close
Having never been on any kind of safari before I was really excited to get going after our arrival dinner on the first evening. Our guide had organised our own jeep so we didn’t have to wait around for anyone else. Little did I know on our first trip out I would see herds (yes herds) of elephants and get a glimpse of a leopards bottom! I would have to be patient for the whole leopard the next morning. However, the evenings
Yala is the most famous of all the parks due to the leopards who have made it their home. The park has the highest density of these wonderful creatures in the world so hopefully you will be able to spot one during your stay. At the time of writing there are close to 50 in one block alone, they are however tricky to locate so get yourself a good local guide. Our guide spotted one having a drink at a watering hole. We had broken away from all of the other jeeps which were flying around the park. Sitting patiently we were rewarded by this beautiful creature coming out of its hiding place.
Luxury Lodgings Actually In the Stunning Yala National Park
Our home for two nights was a beautiful wooden lodge on stilts inside the park called Cinnamon Wild Yala. It was close to a watering hole used by elephants and crocodiles (!!!!) so we were not allowed to leave the room unguarded after dark. To go to the restaurant or bar we had to call reception who sent a member of staff. I thought they would be coming armed in case a crocodile or a wild boar got a bit close but they just arrived carrying a torch!
The lodge itself was stunning. A four poster bed in the centre with a lush bathroom to one side and a veranda out the front to watch wildlife roam around.
In our particular lodge there was even a swimming pool right so you can cool down after a hard morning out animal spotting!
If you enjoy a luxury lodging when travelling around Asia, check out my blog about Luxury Lodgings in Borneo! Out of this world!
A la carte dining
Hungry? Don’t worry, the food here is amazing. Upon arrival we were told they were only doing the a la carte lunch! Oh no, only posh amazingly tasty food on offer? How terrible! It was divine and set us right up for our first safari. The breakfasts were lovely with an amazing choice and the buffet dinners had more than enough variety for even the fussiest of eaters!
Viewing Platforms Over Stunning Yala National park
Fancy a drink after dinner somewhere a bit different? Head upstairs to the viewing platform/bar area. This outside seating area has a view over the watering hole in the centre of the ‘hotel’. Enjoy a gin & tonic whilst watching the wildlife have a little drink too.
The tsunami of 2004 hit Sri Lanka about 90 minutes after the earthquake occurred, it was directly in the path of the 20 foot waves. Tourists were out early in the morning having a drink and snack at the beach side restaurant in the park when the waves impacted. 47 people sadly died. What is left of the restaurant has been left as-is, and a piece of memorial artwork has been erected to remember those who lost their lives.