Yala National Park

Posted by ross




We started off from the hotel around 0500 in the morning. The driver wanted to be at the park entrance by opening time which was 0600. Because of the extreme heat during the day, most of the parks inhabitants are visible during the relative cool hours of the morning or evening. We arrived on time and paid the park fees and were assigned a park guide to accompany us on our safari, although it was obvious that our driver with his 25 years experience was the real guide on this trip.



Arriving in the park just as the sun starts to rise over the horizon. It was as if all of nature was waking up.  Birds of all kinds were flying from tree to tree or looking for water.

(painted stork and ibis in the tree)





Here is a picture of the 25 year old Land Rover we had for our journey through Yala. It was about as hard a ride as any I have ever had. Winking smileIf you hadn’t had a back problem yet, after riding in this vehicle for several hours, you are guaranteed to have one Surprised smile



One of the remarkable things about travelling in a land rover through Yala is, how impervious the various animals react to the presence of a vehicle. Of course the driver travels very slowly, partly so we wouldn’t scare the animals and also to facilitate our photo options. But the animals did not seem to sense any threat from our presence as long as we stayed in the land rover. Our guide explained, that this is why NOBODY (not even the guide) is allowed to get out of the vehicle near any animal even if it means not getting a perfect photo. Of course there are several break areas in the park where we were able to off the land rover.



big_crocodileLarge Crocodile waiting for the sun youngCrocodileYoung Crocodile sun bathing



1youngLeopard 2youngLeopards 2youngLeopardsAttacking


We were very lucky to get a glimpse of these two young teenage leopards playing with each other. Open-mouthed smile It is of course everybody’s dream to see leopards in Yala and our guide tried very hard to keep our expectations in check. After several hours of travelling over some of the worst dirt roads in Sri Lanka he received a call from another guide that there was a sighting, so off we went, and to our joy, we saw these two teenage leopards playing with each other, totally ignoring us. After a few minutes all of the guides had notified each other and eventually  there arrived too many vehicles on the small road where the leopards were playing (ruining the show) so the leopards just ran off deeper into the forest. Sad smile



cobraInTreeCobra climbing a tree landMonitorHidingLand Monitor (Waran) lizard hiding in an old ant nest whiteMonkeyBlack Face Monkey (Grey Langur)



One of the main reasons for wanting a good guide is his ability to point out camouflaged wild life that, to the untrained eye, is difficult or impossible to see at first glance. This was very often the case on our safari. I remember hearing stories from other tourists that they hardly saw any wild life in Yala. Huh! Had we gone by ourselves that would have probably been our statement as well, however we were very lucky to have a guide with 25 years of experience, and more important, he loved showing us the wild life that otherwise would have gone undetected.


2birdsTwo painted storks, you find only in India and Sri Lanka. AdlerEagle birdCamouflageda hawk, we saw plenty of hawks in the park




KingfisherA common Kingfisher commonBirdunknown but outstanding bird


spottedDeer_01 spottedDeer_02


Fresh food for the leopards in the park PlateSmile

It was interesting to note that much of the wild life seemed to be oblivious to our presence, this was not the case with the Chital or Spotted Deer. They were always nervous and mistrustful about us. A deeply rooted survival instinct not to trust any unknown presence.


wildboarRunning wildBoarHerdThe park had large herds of Wild Boar.





This elephant came into the river near where we and several other van loads of people were taking our lunch break. Normally contact with the park animals is strictly prohibited but in this case he initiated the contact; if unknowingly.  He entered the river to cool off in the water and of course everyone started lining the banks of the river opposite him. Unfortunately he tried but couldn’t get out of the river on the far side from us because the banks were to steep and overgrown with trees and bushes. Now he felt threatened by all of the people wanting to take pictures. At this point the guides were very nervous and tried to move the tourists further away from the elephant.


elephantLeavingEventually he found a way to get out of the situation Smilewhich made us all relieved.









While we were on our lunch break, Christel had been walking around photographing various objects and when she came back she announced that she had seen a Crocodile in a tree. Winking smile

I knew she must be joking but the guides got all excited and wanted to see what she was talking about. With a little imagination one can see a Crocodile in the branch.




mother_child_01 mother_child_02
mother_child_03 mother_child_04



It was interesting to watch this elephant mother and her two young ones foraging. When we first noticed them coming out of the brush the driver stopped the vehicle and killed the engine so we would have a chance to watch them. They really didn’t seem to pay any attention to our presence  which made the situation very enjoyable.  Open-mouthed smileHer two young ones appeared to be several years of age different from each other.




Yala National Park is very special and a must-see during a visit to Sri Lanka. At the moment, only the western part of the park is accessible to the average tourist. There is an eastern part but it was not allowing visitors when we were in Arugam Bay. It is rumored that they will open the eastern part of Yala as well. That is supposedly where the real wild life is, because of no tourists.

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