Animals can be pretty hilarious. It’s no surprise that the most popular Vine videos out there are of cats and dogs and websites like LOLCats are so well known.
I hadn’t realized this extended to the rest of the animal kingdom, however, until I took a safari in Sri Lanka.
Yala National Park is the most visited wildlife preserve in Sri Lanka. Located in the southern part of the country, it’s home to more than 40 varieties of mammal, and more than 200 bird species. So it is no surprise that every few minutes a new creature flew, bounded, crawled, or ran by the safari vehicle. Everything from wild boars, to elephants, to big cats and even bigger lizards make Yala their home. The national park is divided into 5 parts, with 2 of them open to the public.
I didn’t realize what jokesters they were until I went through my photos later, laughing at just about every other snapshot I had.
I can just imagine what the animals might have been saying, if they could speak human:
All kidding aside, the animals in Sri Lanka were absolutely magnificent and truly impressive. In just a few hours on safari, I saw tons of amazing animals, including one I’ve wanted to see my whole life: a Leopard.
Yala has the highest concentration of Leopards in the world, but even at that, there are only about 25 living in Block one where jeeps bring tourists. All things considered, we were very lucky to spot one.
Much more easy to spot were the white spotted deer:
…and the wild boars:
I knew it was a sign I was getting hungry when I started asking questions like, “how does it taste? Can you eat it?” when we passed by the deer, pigs, Water Buffalo, and rabbits.
Then there were birds. There are tons of colorful high flyers in Yala. The Toucans, also a first for me to see, were quite a sight with their massive beaks:
The Painted Storks could be seen just about everywhere:
Eagles are always exciting to see as well:
Along with Green Bee-Eaters (what a name!):
The cherry on top, without a doubt, was seeing a Peacock give a wail and spread out his plumage, proudly showing off to just about anyone who would pay attention:
The way Yala National Park was teeming with life was incredible. One moment I’d see a fox, then in the foreground a monitor lizard would crawl by, all while white-spotted deer bounded in the background and crocodiles hunted in the rivers.
The scenery was incredible as well:
The experience of a safari in Sri Lanka was a memory I’ll treasure forever. I had no idea that the wildlife here was so impressive, and am glad to have had a chance to see it for myself.
Do it yourself (independently):
- Get to Tissa, which can be accessed by a bus bound for Matara (if coming from the North), or a bus bound for Wallawaya (if coming from the South). Exit the bus at the Tissa-Punnegamuwa-Junction and take a tuk-tuk from there to Tissa (about 300+ LKR).
- Hire a jeep to take you to Yala, which can usually be organized through your guest house or hotel. Personally, I booked an Airbnb. While booking in advance is not necessary, only 300 vehicles are allowed entry into the park everyday, so give yourself 1-2 days allowance in case the tours are booked out for the day. The park opens two times a day at 6am and 2pm.
- The cost for a half day including the entrance fees is $50 per person for a private jeep. If you can join a larger group, fees range from about $35 and up. Park entrance fees are $23 for a day pass, $38 for an overnight visit, and $32 for multiple entrance in one day.
- If you are traveling solo, and your accommodation does not offer a safari tour, head to the bus station and you will be approached by tour companies seeking to fill up the seats for the next day – make sure to negotiate!
If you would rather book a tour from Colombo inclusive of transport, here are a couple of options: