While planning our trip to Sri Lanka, I discovered that in addition to tropical beaches and ancient historical capitals, the island is full of natural parks where you can venture on an exciting safari.
Lo Yala National Park is the most famous park in Sri Lanka, an area of 1268 sq km of scrubland, expanses of land and lagoons, where you can see many animals, including elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, peacocks, buffaloes, deer, but above all the leopard.
For me and my partner it was our first safari, perhaps for this reason it was the experience that I most wanted to do in Sri lanka and that I have been waiting with great emotion.
Where to Stay to visit Yala
The best city to stay for organizing the safari to Yala National Park is Tissamaharama.
As a hotel we have chosen the Lake View Cottage, located in an excellent position, just outside Tissa, surrounded by nature in front of a lake populated by buffaloes and various species of birds.
View from the Lake View Cottage
The hotel offers bicycles for guests to explore the surrounding area or get to the city.
There is also the possibility of organizing a boat ride on the lake, which leaves around 17,00 pm. But the best thing is to relax in front of the lake, observing the fauna that populates it (ask the hotel staff for binoculars) and waiting for the sunset.
The Lake View Cottage staff he is exceptional, always available and professional, he welcomed us with an excellent fresh papaya juice, really appreciated given the great heat.
We did the safari through them and took advantage of the transfer service from Mirissa to Tissa and from Tissa to Yala, competitive prices and good cars, one even had wi-fi.
Our room was on the ground floor, spacious and clean, with a large bed, mosquito net and air conditioning.
Overall I recommend this hotel for the great value for money, location and fabulous staff.View the Lake View Cottage on Booking
Lake View Cottage surroundingsCouncil: do you need more information to organize your trip to Sri Lanka? Take a look at my ebook Guide Sri Lanka Do it yourself, you will find all the tips to make your island tour perfect.
The Safari at Yala National Park
The Yala park can be visited aboard jeeps open on the sides, usually half-day excursions are chosen, departing early in the morning or in the afternoon. Alternatively, you can choose the full day tour from 5,30 to 17,00.
We opted for the half day tour, in the morning, organized by Lake View at a cost of 6.000 rupees per person (about € 37).
The appointment at the reception was at 4,15 am, just enough time to have a cup of tea, get a packed breakfast and leave. At 4,30 we got into our jeep together with a nice German family with three small children.
In less than an hour we arrived at the park, where at 5,45 am just as it was dawning, our long-awaited safari officially began.
The drivers of the many jeeps compete to see who enters first, eager to find the first animals, our start was not bad at all, some wild boar, a large group of spotted deer and immediately a large elephant, a little in the distance but clearly visible.
We leave and we enter the heart of the park in search of other animals, with the hope of seeing the king of Yala, the leopard. Meanwhile we see many peacocks, buffaloes, and mongooses.
At a certain point the "waltz of phone calls" begins, the guides keep in touch with each other, the first to spot someone “top animal” call the others.
Finally after a few phone calls, our driver gets into gear and starts at full speed, leopard you are ours !!
We run to a point where other jeeps were stationed, we approach and initially we see nothing, but slowly a large black spot emerges from the bush, slowly it appears more and more visible, a beautiful sloth bear. No leopard, but that too was a big hit, considering there are only 9 bears in the whole park.
The safari continues and we meet 3 crocodiles, some monkeys, other wild boars, buffaloes, even peacocks, until the phone rings and the wild ride starts again!
This time our guide takes us in front of a small lake, where a family of elephants he was getting ready to quench his thirst and have a snack in the bushes, a truly magical moment.
A little less than 2 hours from the end of the safari we make the last attempts to spot the "top animal" par excellence, the Yala's Cristiano Ronaldo, but unfortunately no leopard, we missed him by a whisker.
At about 12,00 we returned to Lake View Cottage, where the staff welcomed us again with an excellent fresh fruit juice, ideal given the heat it was in the Yala park.
Overall it was a nice experience, lots of animals and a unique landscape, we also stopped on a beach and admired the spectacular elephant rock, the rock in the shape of an elephant, which I had seen before leaving in a report on National Geographic on the Sri Lanka.
Important: I remind you that usually between September and October the Yala National Park is closed. Find out in advance about the closing dates if you plan to visit it during this period.
If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka and you have doubts or you need some advice to plan the itinerary, comment on the article or contact me in private.