For those who know me well, you’ll know I am not an animal lover. Pretty much every friend I have on Bowen has at least one dog and when we go hiking, the dogs crowd around me, get under my feet, eat my lunch and grab a slobbery kiss when they can. Arghh! For many years, Emily next door had a hamster that used to follow me around their house whenever I popped in next door for a drink. Judi, the one person I thought would never get a dog, sneakily welcomed Missy into her home a few months back. Had I been there I would have had something to say about that!
So you can imagine how amazed I was to find myself making plans to head out on a one-day safari in Yala National Park. I only did this because my long-time friend Rita was visiting Sri Lanka for the first time, and she is an animal lover through and through. My heart was in my mouth from 5am when we set off, to 2pm when we left the Park. But I must admit for it to be pretty cool to see the array of animals up close and personal.
We were lucky with our driver who was really knowledgeable on birds, plants and animals and really only spoke when he needed to. He also did not follow the other jeeps, but instead made his own way around the park, visiting remote watering holes and taking his time for the animals to come to us in the quiet of the park. It’s this kind of patience that got us to catch our first sighting of the elusive leopard by 7.30am. We were stoked!
After our sighting, word spread pretty quickly and by the time the other jeeps had arrived, the leopard had skulked off back into the jungle.
Check out the slideshow below for many other animal sightings, including many elephants (Amira you would have been in heaven!), water buffalo, wild boar, crocodile, deer, numerous types of birds including peacocks, bee-eaters and eagles (much smaller than the Canadian ones), monitor lizards and many other kind of slinky things – shiver!
We had a break right by the ocean, gorgeous beach but hot hot hot there – we stayed under the shade.
The most worrying part of the safari, was how dry the park was. Monsoon in the south-east of the country happens October to February every year, check out how dry it is after monsoon. There is a anxious time ahead methinks.