A few years ago when we were in Luang Prabang we went elephant riding at a sanctuary, and I have to say it is probably my biggest travel regret to date. When planning our trip for last summer I knew I wanted to go somewhere we could safari. Sri Lanka really does have it all, beaches, hiking and is still relatively diluted in terms of tourism.
There are options to stay inside the National Park itself but we opted to stay in a town nearby named Tissamaharama. We took a tuk tuk from Mirissa and stayed in an incredible hotel named Gaga Bees Yala (which I will link in this post when I write a full review later this month). The park is about a fifteen minute drive from this town and we opted to stay there so we had access to shops, banks and restaurants instead of staying in the hotel for the entirety of our time there.
I think for this particular post I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves, but I think it’s worth talking about the cost of the safaris at Yala. There are options to carry out the tours with a guide accompanying you and without, also you can group together with people from your hotel as a way to save money. Both days we hired a truck to ourselves, our first day we had a guide and the second without. It was significantly more expensive with a guide at 16,000 rupees (£70 at the time) and without just 11,000 (£45 at the time). Although our guide was lovely and very helpful at pointing things out, I much preferred the second day when it was just Paul and I. I think because we had already spent a day we were much better at spotting things, and our driver was great at spotting things.
We seen so many animals, we were so lucky. It’s really difficult to spot a leopard and we seen the same one on both days – you can actually see in some of the photographs it had hunted an antelope and had pulled it up a tree. We seen plenty of elephants, warthogs, sun bears, water buffalo, peacocks, birds of prey, alligators and tons more.