|Copyright Notice: Please obtain permission from the author before duplicating, re-publishing or adapting content of a trip report|
|Be a responsible traveler! Watch this video before you hit the road! Download Video: MP4|3gp|
|Do you like to contribute a Trip Report? learn how to or download template and start straight away!|
This event was organized by Adventure Sri Lanka (flickr) group as its 3rd event on this year.
Yala Ruhuna National park also known as Yala block one is situated approximately 280Kms away from Colombo. This is the only allowed area of Yala National park for visitors, since the block 3 is closed after some LTTE attach at in the area. Entrance to Yala block one is at Palatupana. Yala block one is so popular among visitors due to it’s high density of leopards. Park guides at Yala says block one consist of approximately 32 leopards. Yala block one is visited by 15 tuskers. Most common one of them call “Kublai Khan” was died resonantly.
Best time of the year for leopard sighting at Yala is the time of drought. Since water does not available freely like in rainy season, all the animals have to come to water holes where there is some water left. Park authority take action to fill some of these water holes by pumping water from river Manik. Park was normally close for about a month in drought season but this time wildlife department kept it open for visitors all through the year.
|Year and Month||September 2009|
|Number of Days||2 days|
|Crew||8 (between 20-45 years)|
|Transport||Van (Up to the Park) + 2 safari jeeps|
|Activities||Wildlife safari, Photography, birding, river bath|
|Weather||Drought continues as expected|
|Route||We have chose the shortest path to Yala Junction at Kirinda from Colombo.
Colombo-> Abilipitiya -> Patanangala -> Sooriyawawa -> Hambanthota -> Bundala -> Yala Junction at Kirinda
|Tips, Notes and Special remarks||
|Related Resource||Google Earth Way point Map of Yala National Park – Block 1|
The event was organized as the 3rd event of Adventure Sri Lanka flickr travel and photography group. Plan was to be at Yala junction by 4.30 AM on Saturday in the morning. So we leave Colombo around 10 PM on the previous day (Friday). We have booked “Samanala bungalow” at Yala junction which could accommodate about 10 persons. It was owned by the father of our Safari jeep driver Ravindra. We had been there before, so we knew the conditions of the place and Ravindra was a good safari jeep driver with good knowledge about the park. Since we were planning on photography and looked for more hits we have booked two safari jeeps each accommodating 4 of us. We were managed to be there by 4.15 and took some rest, most of them were sleeping on the way. Took a rest about a hour and got ready for journey.
Our plan was to stay inside the park all day. We bought bread as our breakfast from Colombo. Samanala bungalow owner had prepare dhal for the breakfast. We have ask to prepare our lunch and parcel them so that we can take those with us.
We have bought some soft drinks and short eats with us to take inside. We left bungalow to get to park entrance as first people to get inside which will increase probability of sighting more wild life. one of my friend had a contact at park office so we were managed to get one of the experienced trackers in the park at the moment. we have got inside park by 5.45 in the morning as one of the first safari jeeps to get in to the park as early as that.
We were started with the intention of hunting a leopard, so we didn’t stop to common animals like dear, peacocks, etc. We looked for leopards at Kotiyagala, Patanangala, Welmalkema, palugaswala, boraluwala and places like that where leopards are seen before. No sign of leopards or elephants were found in the area.
We were little tired of running here and there without getting any luck. Guys were hopeless and we drive to Buttuwa lake to settle down for a while. Without haveing any hopes we started shooting some birds. Waiting at the lake bank was much better than commuting around.
There were some mammals getting to dried lake for water while we were waiting there
Waiting for about 20 minutes we start heading back again. On the way we got to know that there is an elephant at Palugaswala. We went there strait and there was no sign of an elephant. But there were some jeeps waiting. Suddenly one of us saw the moving legs of a giant. It was heading away from Palugaswala. Looked like it is going to cross the road we came. So we reversed the jeep little by little with the animal. The other jeep was also following us. And finally we met the giant face to face.
We decided to stay with the animal for sometime. A fellow jeep driver has receive a call. It appeared that something special was happening. He gave us a signal to follow them and move on. Without knowing the reason we started to follow them. Our jeep was facing the wrong direction, there was no place to turn it. So the driver reverse it till we find a place to turn. when we have turn jeep around other jeeps were far gone. We followed the jeep track but it seems we have lost them. We headed toward Welmalkema but there were no signs. So we turn around and went back. On the way back we meet another jeep heading toward Welmalkema. Signal was there is something on that direction. We turn around again and follow them. After passing Welmalkema on Mada Para there was a jeep gathering. Our fellow jeep was there and they were anxiously looking at something. Yes it was a big cat sleeping on the rock bed. There was a half eaten sambar deer at the bottom of the rock.
We wait there till leopard move on and finally it went. Seems like it was heading toward Welmalkema water hole. We drove with the cat. It cross the road behind our other jeep. Too bad I miss the shot but our others has capture it brilliantly. We headed to Welmalkema water hole and wait till it appear there. No luck this time. It seems the cat is heading toward somewhere else. We went to a water hole close by yet found no signs of it. We were satisfied about the shots we had. The pray it captured was still there by that rock, which means that it will come back there in the evening. Day was so hot and we were so tired. We had to Manik Ganga bank for a rest and a bath.
We had our lunch there and started again at about 2.30 PM. We headed toward Buthawa lake hoping to shoot some more birds. On the way we met “Waliga Kota” one of the violent elephants in Yala block one.
After waiting about and hour around Buthawa lake we started hunting for leopards again. There were three leopard sightings around the area. But we were unable to see them. So we head back to welmalkema and wait for the previous cat to return. After waiting sometime here it come. It came abound 5.30 in the evening had a bite and jump up to the rock. Sadly light was not so good for me to take photos. This is all I could get.
Rest of them were more blurred. Soon the place was filled up with lot of safari jeeps. Finally leopard seems had enough trouble and move to a little father rock. It was getting dark and sighting it was really difficult. Place had become a traffic jam with about 25 jeeps there.
Things got worse and we had to leave park by 6.30 PM. Finally we escape from there and headed back toward the entrance. We return to the bungalow by 7.00 PM with some satisfying shots with us. Everybody seems happy with the results. After having a wash we gathered around a table to share our experience. Driver Ravindra join us and share his experience at park with us. After getting dinner we went to bed around 10 PM.
There was not much things in line for the second day. We left the bungalow around 10.30 in the mornings after relaxing at the place. Bungalow owner prepared lunch parcels for us to take with. We were heading on Bundala road and wait stopped by Bundala Park Information center for a while. Our next stop was “Sankapala Raja Maha Viharaya” in Abilipitiya where we plan to have our lunch. After taking lunch we went in to the temple. We have learn lot of information about the place which I didn’t know.
We return to Clolombo around 8.00 PM after dropping all by their places.