Safari in Yala
I was once asked “what is the location with highest density of leopards in the world?” Although I was dumbfounded at the time, I soon found out it was a wildlife sanctuary called Yala in the small island country of Sri Lanka. Since then, I was eager to visit Sri Lanka which also has so many fascinating things to experience. Among them safaris in Yala National Park is certainly one of the best experiences to have.
A popular period to take a safari tour in Yala is during your visit to Sri Lanka during winter season for Northern Hemisphere. Due to the nature of activity by wild animals, recommended times for starting safaris are early in the morning or late afternoon as some animals tend to stay away from open areas during the day. There are dedicated jeeps that are available (with a diver) you can rent for the safaris and the tours are commonly started from Tissamaharama, a town nearby Yala, and from there, you will be embarking on a journey to some of the most stunning sights of wildlife that you may have imagined.
Yala National Park hosts a plethora wildlife such as the famous Sri Lankan elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambar deer, peacock, buffalo, jackal, spotted deer, and the crocodile. Because of the extensive protection on Yala National Park, these animals enjoy an unthreatened lifestyle and they freely roam around albeit being watched by human visitors from a distance. You may have seen some or many of these animals on TV or on the internet—but seeing these creatures live is a whole new experience. In their natural habitat, you can observe different habits and social dynamics while experiencing the environment with all your senses. For example, you may see a group of elephants going somewhere or a loner leopard taking a stroll, but the feeling of temperature, smell, and distinct sounds that are authentic to those surroundings are not something you can mimic on a screen.
Yala is not only for exotic land animals, but also a sanctuary for numerous species of birds who are migrating from Northern Hemisphere during winter. This makes Yala a great location for bird watching enthusiasts as it features birds from various parts of the world—all in a relatively small region.
Not only just seeing the animals, the search for animal sightings can be as just as exciting. In some cases, driver of the safari jeep may get a tip from his fellow drivers about an animal sighting in which case you may to get an unforgettable ride speeding through the bumpy terrain, similar to the feeling of being in an adventure movie. Such remarkable and rare experiences will enhance your life and set you apart from the “crowd” of ordinary living. Your visit to Sri Lanka is your chance for such experiences!
Yala is located more than 250km away from Colombo (where you enter Sri Lanka) and traveling by land will require a drive of about 6 hours. However, you can travel to Yala using Cinnamon Air daily scheduled flights to Hambantota (Weerawila Domestic Airport) from Colombo (right from Bandaranaike International Airport) or Kandy (Polgolla Reservoir) and take a short drive from Hambantota to Yala to reduce the travel time to a fraction of that by land. You can also charter a flight from Cinnamon Air and fly to Tissa Tank in Tissamaharama which is closer to Yala National Park. Furthermore, Yala and its surroundings feature accommodation options such as Cinnamon Wild Yala, Jetwing Yala, and Chena Huts by Uga Escapes.