Most of Sri Lanka’s surface is covered in green and 9% of the land are dedicated national parks. We decided to go with the most popular option, Yala, to get a chance to see leopards 🐆. We were not to be disappointed…
National Parks in Sri Lanka
There are about 22 different national parks in Sri Lanka. Here is a link with a good overview of each one of them. Yala is the biggest (see green spot bottom right).
We booked a full day for U$100 each including two meals. 5:45am was pick up at the hotel and off to Yala we went.
We hadn’t even entered the park yet when a fellow guide spotted a leopard lying on a hilltop. He probably just got up. Amazing! Good morning to you! There are only about 30 leopards in the park (tendency sadly falling) or 1 per 33sqkm. Lucky!
Mid morning break – monkey mob attack
We stopped for toilet & refreshments … A stop well known to monkeys who wasted no time to go through our rubbish. They even brought the little ones along …
Thereafter we saw basically all the animals you can see in the park … Truly breathtaking!!!
It is estimated some 700-950 wild leopards roam Sri Lanka (+75 kept in captivity worldwide). Since 2008 it is considered an endangered species. For leopards (which live in Africa and Asia though ever less present in the latter) they are rather on the large side at up to 100kg for a grown animal. Even though smaller than tigers, the tamil have used the leopard as symbol / mascot (‘tamil tigers’).
By noon had picked up lunch from the park entrance and relaxed near a beautiful beach. We were both pretty tired and nursed a headache – partly due to the constant rattling on the park roads. 🚙
After a morning session that kept the camera clicking as we moved around the park, the afternoon session offered no new animals (other than a rabbit) and the tactic was more to wait at certain locations like waterholes. It turned into a longer waiting game and wasn’t as enjoyable anymore.
However, just before it was time to leave Yala luck stroke again as we spotted a leopard roaming through the bushes. Not as clear a shot, but amazing still. Love 🐆!
A few videos …