Safari - Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

We arrived in Kataragama on a humid afternoon of April. Since we left Colombo we decided to travel along the coast by local buses so, by the time we reached the Yala National Park we were glad we could make it until there and very, very tired. Sri Lanka is a great Country, its colours make you feel full of piece and there's positive energy everywhere. In Kataragama we stayed in a lovely modern guest house in the middle of the jungle called Gem River Edge. We had the pleasure to meet Muna, Sri Lankan fascinating guy, married to Karla, lovely portuguese woman who decided to leave her previous life in Europe and follow the love of his life. The place was adorable and wild, but still very comfortable and very well designed. We left early in the morning to start our full day Safari in Yala National Park. I've been safaring in Kenya and I really wasn't sure about what to expect! I knew there were a lot of birds, elephants, boars, monkeys and... the wild leopard.

Obviously, our secret most powerful dream was to see the leopard in its own habitat, but we new it was very very difficult! We drove for hours enjoying wonderful  different landscapes of this amazing park. Crocodiles on the edge of huge rivers, eagles and other curious colouful birds, peacocks, boars and monkeys. Thousands of monkeys everywhere!! We decided to spend a couple of hours chilling out under the shades of some trees besides the river. We stopped, had some food and fell asleep! I woke up because of some weird noises.. And what do I have in front of my eyes..? Hundreds of white and brown monkeys with red faces.. They weren't big, but still pretty hungry and ready to eat everything they could see or smell! We decided not to give up and we stayed in the jeep for a while more, they were not worried as they tried to get in the car several times.. Well, after this sweet wake up service, what's better than a nice refreshing river water before to continue the journey? 
 
We stopped for lunch on a marvelous beach, unfortunate symbol of the Tsunami's devastation of 2004. While we were enjoining our basic sandwiches, our chaperon received a call.. Someone saw the leopard!!! We stopped eating, said bye to that great atmosphere and left, so excited, towards the thrill!!! We drove for long minutes waiting for the guide to stop somewhere saying there it is!! Here we are!! And yeah!!! It happened!! The majestic creature was sleeping on a high rock, perfectly visible and absolutely glorious! Lazy and heedless of us being there he just opened its eyes to close them again few second later. We spend more than 10 minutes admiring this amazing creature until he decided he gave us enough, he stood up and elegantly walked away. It's very difficult to describe such a moment because you feel so proud of yourself for the fact that you decided to wait.. for this! I personally don't like zoos and the idea to see an animal in its own natural habitat make me feel a real and genuine traveller. 
Excited and full of adrenaline because of the moving experience, we kept going, looking for more and more. The driver stopped in the middle of the bush and we couldn't see what he was looking at until he told us there was an elephant eating leaves a bit further. The animal must have been distracted by us because he came closer. And closer. It's been a moment full of different feelings such as excitement and a bit of fear. It was so close to us that I could see all the details of its thick skin. The elephant was coming towards us breaking small trees with such a strength!! It was walking slowly, but we were so close that our guide decided to reverse as quick as possible as you never know what is inside its mind! 
 
What an experience! After the sunset we drove back to Gem River for the night. We pleasantly stay there for 2 days more enjoying some peaceful rest and great food before to leave for our next destination: Nuwara Eliya!
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