After our terrific morning at the temple, we had a quick all-you-can-eat vegetarian rice and curry (about $1.20 CAD) and off we went to Yala National park for our second elephant safari!
Yala is a little bushier than Udawalawe so sightings are fewer and farther between, but is apparently home to the highest concentration of leopards of any park in the country (I say apparently because we didn’t see any).
Our safari was great, and we really liked our guide Janith (sounds like Janet). He took his time and waited until we gave him the go-ahead to move on from each animal. We sat and watched the second elephant so long that we got to hear him slurp water up in his trunk before spraying it in his mouth. That slurping sound was the highlight of the day for me.
Janith somehow spotted a crocodile that was sitting so still that I wise-cracked “Looks like it’s made of plastic”. When the crocodile suddenly lunged into the pond and we all gasped, we heard a chuckle from the cab of the jeep and a quiet “No plastic.”
The highlight of the safari for everyone was near the end when we were retracing our steps in the hopes of surprising a leopard, we saw a sloth bear! Sloth bears sightings are even more rare than leopard sightings. They’re called sloth bears for their appearance more than their speed, because that guy hauled ass into the woods too fast for a picture.
Animal hit list
Elephants (two young bulls), a sloth bear, a crocodile, wild pigs, water buffalo, a mongoose, peacocks (one million), spotted deer, weaver birds, and a nightjar (object of the mighty telephotos).