Jonathan Scott (of Big Cat Diary fame) once told me he had seen more leopards in a week in Sri Lanka than a year in the Masai Mara. I was naturally sceptical, but when asked to visit the Yala National Park in the south-east corner of the island, I saw it as an opportunity to prove him wrong.
Three days and thirteen leopards later, I was eating serious humble pie!
And not just leopards. Yala is sanctuary to an incredible range of wildlife, and I enjoyed some wonderful elephant sightings and also recorded 52 different bird species with little effort. I was told that a hundred plus in a day is not unusual.
My base was in the buffer zone just outside of Yala at Leopard Safari’s mobile camp of eight tents, you can then be ‘on the spot’ first and last thing. I also found time to explore the fortress citadel of Galle on the south coast and to stay at Aditya Villas - a delightful boutique hotel (it only has twelve rooms) that I can highly recommend.
All in all a fabulous week, but two would have been better!
I could then have combined Yala and the south coast with the cultural triangle of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, Kandy and the ‘hill country’ around Nuwara Eliya.
I shall have to return.
Read more about vacations to Sri Lanka.