It was Friday afternoon; the sun was setting slowly over the Yala National Park. We were a group of 6, including our guide and a spotter of Leopard Safaris, who were driving us on a dirt road in the middle of the Sri Lankan bush trying to spot wild leopards. In this National Park there are still about 45 wild leopards according to Sajith, our guide.

Ranjith, our spotter, works for the department of wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka and is assigned to our tour. He has incredible eyes and sees nearly every single animal on our tour. It doesn’t matter if it is a small bird sitting on a tree in the horizon or a big elephant walking in the distance. He sees them all. I guess that is why the job is called “spotter”!

First sightings minutes after leaving the camp!

About 30 minutes after we left the camp we already encountered many animals. A group of water buffaloes is chilling in the water and looking at us with no big interest. A big saltwater crocodile is relaxing near the water with its mouth open in order for its head to stay cool and a group of spotted deer’s are paying high attention at what we are doing!

Animals at Yala National Park

“Wow, we are in the Sri Lankan bush”, I thought and was amazed by the colors of the sun setting and the sounds of all the different animals surrounding us.

Yala national park has a big variety of animals. To write them all down would take too long and fill this article but the most impressive are the wild leopards, the sloth bears and elephants. But also jackals are living here, many snakes including cobras and pythons and many more. From December throughout January-February many migrant birds live in the national park, which makes it the perfect time for bird watching.

Animals at Yala National Park

First leopard sighting

The sun was nearly gone when we turned around the corner. The female leopard was walking on a field and didn’t notice us. I stopped breathing for a second and I think my heart stopped for a little longer.  What a feeling, to see this creature in its natural habitat. Not surrounded by a cage or a fence! It was moving freely and with elegance, which you will never see a leopard moving in a zoo!

I always adored big cats. My favorite one is the tiger but this leopard was the first big cat I saw in the wild and it wasn’t the last one during my stay in the Sri Lankan bush.

Leopard at Yala National Park in Sri Lanka

Animals at Yala National Park

Would you go on a safari? Which animal would you want to see in the wild? Looking forward to your opinion in the comment section below!

Disclosure: This stay was sponsored by the awesome people at Leopard Safaris who offer great safaris at Yala National Park. However, editorial control remains all mine…

 
Sebastian Canaves

Sebastian Canaves

Publisher & Marketing Consultant at Transit Media
Sebastian is the main contributor of Off The Path. He has been writing here for more than three years. Until today he has traveled to more than 60 countries and lived in more than 7 countries around the world including Australia, The Netherlands and Thailand.
Sebastian Canaves

@offthepathcom

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19 Responses

  1. Federico

    I’m jealous too. It’s been a long time I have wanted to go to Sri Lanka, and I still have to make it there.

    Reply
    • sebastian

      Go there soon… it’s not that popular yet but I can imagine that it’s going to experience an incredible boom in the next years!!!

      Reply
  2. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    I *really* want to go on a safari someday – it’s high on my list! Elephants would probably be my top choice to see, as I love them dearly, but thankfully we got to play w/ elephants in Chiang Mai. So I wouldn’t mind seeing a leopard or two. ;)

    Reply
    • sebastian

      I’m heading to Chiang Mai in two months, cannot wait! But if you wanna see elephants in their natural habitat and not surrounded by a fence then Sri Lanka might be perfect for you. And the country is very affordable, which makes it even better!

      Reply
  3. Erica

    YES! I cannot WAIT to go on a safari of sorts. I can’t imagine how much money I would drop on lenses. :X

    Reply
  4. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    That leopard looks like it’s sizing you up for a meal.

    Reply
    • sebastian

      He got incredibly close… he could have easily attack us but it seemed like he just had dinner when he saw us!!!

      Reply
  5. Alex Jones

    I love your shot of the leopard. Great lighting and pin sharp. I will definitely put Yala NP on my “to do” list.

    Reply
  6. Emily M.

    I would love to see a hippo. They just look so silly in photos, so I wonder if they manage to be more majestic in person.

    Reply
  7. nick

    I cannot believe that you were able to see a leopard up close and personal. I have seen them at the zoo and that was cool enough, but seeing one out in the wild would be a trip within itself. I am interested in how the tour group, including yourself, reacted to such a graceful, but dangerous animal.

    Reply
  8. Saranga

    The close up photo of the leopard is very nicely captured. Sri Lanka is a wonderful place for wild-life photography…

    Reply
  9. Fatih Elma

    I ll be there on september. Unfortunately i learned that Yala would be closed on september. Is there any chance that i may meet a Leopard at Undawalawe national park ?

    Reply

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