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It was still dark out when we set off on our Jeep Safari through Yala National Park, the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The elusive appeal – an opportunity to spot a leopard in the wild – was enough to draw us to the town of Tissamaharama, a gateway to Yala National Park, during our trip in Sri Lanka in December 2013.

Yala National Park is known to have the highest concentration of leopards in the world and one of the best places for wildlife enthusiasts to spot these beautiful creatures in the wild, but there is so much more to Yala than that!

It took us about 30 mins to reach the park entrance. Tired and groggy, we bounced around the back of the jeep half asleep. I’m really not the early mornings type, but the incredible beauty of a sun rising up from the horizon quickly jolted me out of sleep. Excited by nature’s incredible show, I grabbed my camera and didn’t let go of it for the rest of morning.

Sunrise at Yala National Park

Sunrise at Yala National Park

“Life goes on here like this every day”, I heard David Attenborough narrating in my head. “The animals awaken from their sleep and head to the nearest water source to quench their thirst”

Sun rises over a lagoon in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Sun rises over a lake in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Water buffalo at sunrise in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Water buffalo at sunrise in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Within minutes it was day light and the water buffaloes were joined by dozens of other animals. All happily co-existing together.

It was wild life at its best. Uninterrupted. Free.

Water buffaloes are joined by other animals in Yala National Park

Water buffaloes are joined by other animals in Yala National Park

Deer gather near the lake in Yala National Park

Deer gather near the lake in Yala National Park

Water buffalo bathing in the morning sun in Yala National Park

Water buffalo bathing in the morning sun in Yala National Park

Yala National Park boasts a variety of ecosystems including monsoon forests, grasslands, marine wetlands, and sandy beaches. Additionally it is home to over 2oo bird species, 44 mammal species, and 46 reptiles. There is no shortage of animals to observe and admire.

The vast flora of Yara National Park: beaches, forests and mountains seen in the distance

The vast flora of Yara National Park: beaches, forests, and mountains seen far off in the distance

Swamp near Lunuganwehera Reservoir inside Yara National Park

Swamp near Lunuganwehera Reservoir inside Yara National Park

Wild Boar in Yala National Park

Wild Boar in Yala National Park

Peacock.. unfortunately he never opened his stunning tale for us

Peacock… unfortunately he never opened his stunning tale for us

Monitor lizard in Yala National Park.. and a sneaky little mosquito just above her

Monitor lizard in Yala National Park.. and a sneaky little mosquito just above her

One of 215 birds in Yala National Park

One of 215 birds in Yala National Park

Mugger crocodiles cooling off in Yala National Park

Mugger crocodiles cooling off in Yala National Park

Family of elephants, just a few of over 300 that reside in Yala National Park

Family of elephants, just a few of over 300 that reside in Yala National Park

Baby elephants in Yala National Park

How cute are these baby elephants?

We spent hours upon hours roaming around the park in search for a leopard. Luck wasn’t on our side that day, but it didn’t even matter! Of course, it would’ve been amazing to catch a glimpse of this rare animal, but it wasn’t the only reason why we choose to visit Yala National Park. We enjoyed out safari with Ajith Jeep Safari and especially our guide Anushka whose expert wildlife knowledge helped us get the most out of Yala.

It was our first wildlife safari, but we know it won’t be our last…

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Yala National Park is known to have the highest concentration of leopards in the world and one of the best places for wildlife enthusiasts to spot these beautiful creatures in the wild, but there is so much more to Yala than that!

Have you ever been on a wildlife safari anywhere in the world?
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