Anna Gregory, known as the Would Be Traveller to her blog readers, recently travelled on our Wild About Sri Lanka tour. Whilst enjoying the culture, food and scenery of Sri Lanka, Anna was surprised with the amazing safari opportunities the country holds. Here she recounts her wild tales of her time on the tear-drop island.
Here’s a question for you – where’s your favourite place in the world to spot wild animals on safari? Is it Kruger in South Africa? Or the Masai Mara in Kenya? How about the national parks in Sri Lanka? If it isn’t the latter, you might want to think again. Sri Lanka has seen a massive surge in popularity as a beach and cultural destination recently. But many people aren’t aware that it’s one of the best places in the world to spot some incredible animals in the wild. On the Go Tour’s ‘Wild About Sri Lanka’ trip gives you plenty of opportunities to spot Asian elephants, monkeys, leopards and even blue whales, with trips to no less than three National Parks and an incredible unique excursion out to the Indian Ocean.
Udawalawe National Park
Home to hundreds of native species, including over 250 Asian elephants, Udawalawe is a fantastic introduction to all that Sri Lanka has to offer. The plants and trees in the national park are of relatively low height, making it really easy to find even the smallest creatures. On our two and half hour afternoon game drive, we spotted a whole herd of elephants that walked right up to our jeeps. They’re such elegant, beautiful animals and seeing them in the wild is just incredible. We also saw water buffalo, crocodiles and water birds that live in the huge reservoir in the centre of the park.
Bundala National Park
Bundala is the place to be if you’re a fan of bird watching. Its bushy landscape and lagoons make it the perfect habitat for the 197 species of bird that nest there. You could catch a glimpse of flamingos, heron and storks among others. If birds don’t get your heart racing, you will be kept entertained by the predators of wild jackals or the primates including grey langurs and toque macaques that leap from tree to tree.
Yala National Park
The second largest national park in the country, Yala is your best opportunity to spot the elusive leopard. While Sri Lanka holds one of the world’s highest concentrations of leopards, they are incredibly hard to spot as the high temperatures push the big cats into the bush to hide from the sun. However our fantastic guide was determined to help us achieve our dream of seeing one. He picked up on the alarm call from a peacock that danger was in the vicinity, and positioned our truck right in front. Half an hour passed of us staring longingly into the bush and, ready to give up, we started putting away our cameras. Just then, quick as a flash, a magnificent leopard leapt from the ground high enough into a tree for us to see him in all his glory. We were also lucky enough to see tusked elephants, as there are only 7 or 8 in the whole park, crocodiles, monkeys and even more birds.
Mirissa Whale Watching
If you were unaware of the safari opportunities in Sri Lanka, you may also be surprised to discover that it is one of the best places in the world to spot blue whales, particularly in their migratory season between December and April. About an hour into our turbulent trip out to the Indian Ocean (make sure to pack your sea sickness tablets) we were treated to the magnificent sight of 20 dolphins leaping out of the sea and circling our boat. This only left us wanting more. Half an hour or so passed when we saw a group of boats huddled together in the distance. Just as we got to the same position, we saw a giant blue whale dive down into the depths, treating us to the famous tail flip as a wave goodbye. It was the most heart-stopping beautiful sight, something I will never forget.