Sri Lanka, a small island in the Indian Ocean, has a number of national parks with a variety of wildlife to rival the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania.The Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera Pardus Kotiya), one of the largest known leopard species, has a firm grip on the island, which has the highest population density of leopard in the world. Because of this, visitors are often rewarded with more than just a glimpse of this notoriously elusive Big Cat when they venture into the wilderness reserves. Yala National Park, only a half day’s drive from the Capital, is one of the most easily accessible game parks in the world. It hosts one of the world’s most stable population of leopard, and thus, safari adventurers go to spot this magnificent beast nestled within the fauna and flora.
While the leopard may be one of the main drawcards for wildlife lovers, Sri Lanka also offers up other stunning wildlife. Visitors will see posing peacocks, spotted deer, crocodiles, wild buffalo, serpent eagles and sambar with powerful and grand antlers. Sri Lanka is also a birder’s haven hosting close to 500 different bird species, of which 26 can only be found on this island paradise.
A few things to remember when planning a safari:
- Dress in light, cool, neutral-coloured clothing – the Sri Lankan sun can burn so it is good to cover up, but in a way that balances the high temperatures (jungle heat). Also remember a hat and your sunscreen;
- Stay hydrated – it is important to take plenty of water along so that you don’t get affected by the long hours in the sun;
- Wear mosquito repellent – this is just good practice when you are outdoors (especially in the jungle);
- Follow safari etiquette (ie: use your ‘inside voice’ when talking to others in your vehicle, try not to block other people’s photo – remember the jungle is there for everyone to enjoy, stay inside the vehicle, do not litter, keep cell phones on silent (if you need to bring them at all) and most of all, respect the wildlife around you);
- Always heed the directions of your Tracker/ Naturalist;
- Patience is a virtue – unlike zoos, the wilderness works on Nature’s schedule so though you may be brimming with excitement, it is important to keep in mind that all sightings, no matter big or small, are nature’s gift to us all.
- Come prepared to wait a while – the experience is a wonderful one, but that is also why it attracts so many visitors.
If you are visiting Sri Lanka, a safari adventure is not to be missed!
Consider adding a night or two at Taru Villas – Yala which is situated in the rural hinterland in close proximity to Yala National Park. Stay at a stylish oasis in the jungle and experience the rush of a wildlife adventure that you will never forget!