Our 4 Day Visit to Yala National Park, SRI LANKA, with Ruhunu Safari Camping
January 18, 2017
As one of Sri Lanka’s top attractions and known to be home to the greatest density of Leopards worldwide, Yala National Park was always top of our to-do list during our two week visit to this beautiful, diverse island.
In order to get a true authentic safari experience, we feel there is no better way to do so than submerging ourselves in the natural environment amongst the very diverse wildlife of the national parks whilst also being able to enjoy the most authentic means of accommodation being camping.
Despite the countless number of luxury hotels in the town of Kirinda, Ruhunu Safari Camping really is how you would envisage the ultimate safari package.
Located within the buffer zone surrounding Yala National Park, it is one of the few accommodations located within this protected area surrounding the park and therefore gave us the opportunity to get away from your typical hotels and instead submerge ourselves in what is a very comparable environment to that of Yala National Park. As a self-sufficient campsite, set up in amongst the wild, undeveloped landscape and only a short ten minute drive to the park entrance, this luxury camping experience allows you to be surrounded by a great range of active wildlife which roam across the national park boundaries and enjoy the vegetation surrounding the camp.
Rich in birds and reptiles, you are guaranteed to enjoy a number of sightings simply from the entrance of your tent before even having to go in search of the rarer species. As well as the more common animals, the location and set up of the camp, along with its expertise also gives you a good chance of potentially sighting some Langurs or maybe even the iconic Leopard if luck is truly on your side. The opportunities are most certainly there as although we did not see these cats around the camp, fellow glampers did get this opportunity as they drove down the dirt track to camp.
Along with its ideal location in amongst the thick of nature, the setup within camp is pretty special. For those who love the idea of camping, or even the outdoors, but cannot quite cope without their luxuries, Ruhunu Safari Camping provides for exactly that. Despite not permanent fixtures and fittings each of the tents have it’s bathroom with all your needs and an external shower giving you that unique opportunity of having a wash under the stairs which I must say is pretty outstanding. Worrying about a good nights sleep really is not necessary as these large luxurious tents are equipped with large comfy beds and black out blinds, some tents also equipped with aircon.
Situated only ten minutes away from the park entrance, and early starts a must in order to have the best opportunity to sight some of the parks rarer animals, it means there is also no need for ridiculously early starts and long drives before your day truly begins. With most, if not all visitors unfamiliar with the park and its wildlife, it is all very well being driven around by one of the locals but having a well knowledged guide will guarantee a much more complete experience.
Along with the great importance placed on providing an exceptional experience within camp, Ruhunu quite clearly placed an equal importance on our experience out on safari. Despite sightings being completely out of their control, putting us in the hands of their very enthusiastic, well knowledged naturalist Roy, gave us the best chance in doing so. As a guide wanting to get to know us and interact with us, as opposed to just following his job description, he did not simply sit there and bore us with endless facts, but was extremely entertaining, making each and every safari thoroughly enjoyable. The combination of his knowledge, experience and enthusiasm, along with his very friendly, jovial character, meant that over our two and half days in Yala National Park we were fortunate enough to come across most of the park’s inhabitants whilst having a very good time when in search of these animals.
As a National Park which still seems to be unfit for such an influx of visitors, unfortunately, through no fault of Ruhunu or any of the resorts from the surrounding areas, the park does get a little chaotic especially when a leopard has been sighted. With jeeps having little respect for each other, at times these narrow dirt tracks became grid locked with close to 20 vehicles all budging for space which can make many visitors’ experiences slightly unpleasant.
With many visitors focused on Yala National Park, many ignore Bundala National Park and therefore in complete contrast here we did not come across a single other jeep. Despite not being too far away from Yala, the large expanses of fresh water which occupy a significant area of the park, give it so much life and it’s much greener appearance and therefore gives a very different safari experience which would be silly to miss out on.
This great abundance of fresh water naturally attracts a great variation of wildlife which includes crocodiles, elephants, Langurs, deers and boars, along with an abundance of bird species to name a few. Guaranteed to see so much life and activity and with it being such a peaceful ride we were really able to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of the landscape, foliage and animals in unity as well as the tranquillity which radiates throughout the park. This additional half day extra which is included by Ruhunu Safari Camping is just another perk which gives it the extra edge over most other places when after a complete experience.