We organised our Yala National Tour trip through the Elephant Camp Guesthouse.  We did a full day tour with another couple which made it a bit cheaper.  It was an early start leaving the guesthouse at 5am and we didn’t return until 6:45pm! The jeep was very spacious and it was pretty comfortable for the majority of the trip.

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The first stop was for the driver to buy a permit to enter the park, while we waited in the jeep we saw our first view of wildlife, there were lots of monkeys!

We spent approximately 2 hours driving around the park at the start of the day, spotting a small crocodile and lots of birds.

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We saw much larger crocodiles later in the day, including some lazing on the lakeside.

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We stopped at about 9am at a beach within the park, it was pretty stunning.  There used to be buildings by this beach, but they were destroyed in the tsunami.  We saw village huts on the beach, which were part of a very remote fishing village.

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The first elephants we saw on our trip were quite a distance away across a beautiful lagoon filled with water lilies.  This was one of the most stunning views we’d ever seen, it was so peaceful with birds flying across.

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During the day we saw more elephants closer up, it was incredible to see them walking around, eating leaves and just living!

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We saw a wide variety of birds; Sri Lanka must be a bird spotter’s paradise. We saw eagles and flycatchers and many more.

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We saw wild peacocks, including one peahen leading her young.

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We saw lots of different deer.

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We spotted quite a few mongoose scurrying around.

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We saw lizards.

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We saw water buffalo cooling off in the water in the middle of the day.IMGP1499 cIMGP1486 c

We saw warthogs wallowing in the water.

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At lunchtime we stopped for our lunch, which was included in the trip, by a river where Stu went swimming and Debs paddled, whilst being watched over by a water buffalo lazing in the flow.

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Be warned though as soon as you stop the jeep Mafia Monkeys appear from no where and will steal food, drinks, bags etc. We were watched over by the monkeys during our whole 2 hour break. They were incredible to see jumping and playing in the river.

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The scenery at Yala is magnificent and there is so much to see as it is really vast.IMGP1566 cIMGP1568 c

We really enjoyed our Yala National Park trip until the very end….. we hadn’t seen a leopard, which we really didn’t mind. However, our driver seemed to think we had to see one.  This meant he start hounding the leopards along with tens of other drivers. Whenever one driver spotted a leopard, lots of other drivers gathered around and tried to get their guests to see it too. We tried to tell our driver not to join in, but he didn’t seem to listen. This meant we got caught in ‘traffic jams’ within the park.

It was a shame our experience ended on this sad tone, but it means I would recommend other people to think twice about Yala and to have a look at some of the other smaller or less visited National Parks in Sri Lanka and to check out the ethics of their driver.