Leopard spotted (sorry, all out of original ideas)

Trip Start Oct 31, 2009
Trip End Feb 25, 2010

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Despite our Rough Guide warning us that leaving Ella by bus was sure to be an unseated mistake we manage to bag a couple of seats and squish our luggage on too with no particular bother.  We then leave the hill country behind and above us - the bus taking the beautiful winding route straight through Ella gap.  Once we hit the planes the miles just disappear and soon we're checking into our hotel in Tissa.  It is more of a resort type place than the guest houses we have become used to and worthy of note due to it's beautiful brand new pool - complete with sunken bar and built in bubble jet spa.  Perfect after a dusty bus journey.

The early mornings see no sign of dropping off and the alarm gets us up at 5am for a 5.30 jeep pick up.  Today we head to Yala National park - the most celebrated NP in Sri Lanka, with the highest concentration of Leopards in the country;  and we have the whole day to find them!

Yala is a wonderfully scenic spot for wildlife hunting.  There are lakes, rocky outcrops, open swampy areas and even a beach as well as some thickly forested areas.  During the course of the long day we saw plenty of elephants (including 2 very cute tiny babies and one down on the sand!), wild buffalo, jackals, crocodiles, mongoose (er, we now know what we thought were mongoose before were actually otters.  They grow a lot bigger round these parts...), monitor lizards, 2 types of deer and a variety of colourful birds.  Phew!  We even managed to get a great view of one beautiful leopard lazily sunning himself on a rock not far from the road. 

Monkeys interrupted our lunch time snooze on the benches in the jeep by creeping in and stealing some bananas from the floor between us.  We were just glad they preferred them to our bags and cameras which were also lying about!

After lunch our driver took us to the bottom of one of the rocks and we climb to the top for great views of the surrounding area.  In open glades in the forest below we see a small herd of elephants and then a family of wild boar pass through - tiny from this distance.

It was a long, tiring day and we were very glad to have a sparkly hotel to come back to.  Even if it was rice and curry for dinner again...
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