So you want to go on a Safari in Sri Lanka? Great choice!!!
If you have arrived here in search of information, good news, you have come to the right place.
Which National Park should I choose?
In Sri Lanka there are two main safari areas – Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park. We decided to choose Yala as it is the larger of the two National Park and has the highest density of Leopards on Earth!! You can also see sloth bears, elephants, deer, crocodile, water buffalo and a wide array of birds, insects and reptiles.
What you will see
Where did we stay?
Most of the accommodation on offer around Yala National Park are all inclusive eco-lodges. They range from fancy 5-star resorts to camping. They often include all your meals, ability to book tours and room service. We chose to stay at Cadjun Wild because they had good prices, offered a more ‘safari-nature’ style experience and their property boundary directly adjoins Yala National Park, this means that we didn’t have to drive as far to the entry as some of the other ‘camps’ which meant a bit more of a sleep in (YAY!!!).
A little about Cadjun Wild….The rooms are clean and tidy and the bathroom facilities were great. You can choose a room with air-con which is a nice touch, or you can choose to go all out safari style and sleep in an open air bungalow which is equipped with mosquito nets. The lodges are set in an open plan design which was so tranquil, there is an outdoor, covered dining facility and a pool which is perfect for cooling off after a long day of safari-ing!! The staff were friendly and there was an abundance of smaller wildlife that lived around the grounds.
The best part was THE FOOD!!!! Oh my, this was 100% Sri Lankan food and I can say, with my hand on my heart, this was the best traditional cuisine we had on our entire SL trip (from main through to dessert!!). On the last night we had a huge BBQ and bonfire– all Sri Lankan style!! Don’t expect this to be a 5 star hotel, it’s an eco-lodge and a great one at that!!
What company did we choose?
We were staying with Cadjan Wild (in Kataragama) so we decided to organise our safari through them also. We found there tour and service amazing, they pre-packed our breakfast and lunches along with snacks and water/ juices so we really just had to get ourselves ready in the morning.
Our driver was truly incredible. In peak season this was his main source of income. The guide spent every day in the Park which was a massive asset for us as he knew where the animal’s main ‘hang out’ spots were. I was in admiration of our guide, his usually working day, started at 5am and finished well after 7pm. I cannot imagine doing such long hours every single day in my job back home. Thanks to our driver we saw a huge amount of wildlife whilst on Safari, check out the pictures below.
What time should we start the day?
My advice is the earlier the better. Our Safari day began at 6am, we decided to start early as this is when the animals are most active. In hindsight we probably should have started a tad earlier, around 5-5.30 am to make sure we got into the park on sunrise. We were woken up by the sound of the Jeeps rolling onto the property and the excited chatter of the tour guides. Usually i would not have been impressed by this early wake up, but there was wildlife viewing to be done so alas i jumped out of bed and began dressing at an inhumanly speed.
what to pack
- Camera, Go-Pro (obviously!!)
- Inspect repellent
- Patience (you will definitely need to pack this).
- Disinfectant wipes and toilet paper/tissues.
- Snacks and water if you want more than what is on offer.
Before entering the National Park
If not included in your tour package, your driver will pull up at the entry and allow you to purchase a National Park entry ticket. This costs about $30-40. A word of warning, if you struggle to go a few hours without a bathroom stop I suggest you go here as bathroom stops are limited. If you need to go while on safari the driver will have to drive all the way back to the entry or to an open air area where there where about 30 other vehicles also doing the same thing – no privacy. Our driver explained that there used to be a small toilet block here but the elephants get bored and like to deconstruct building in their spare time. Make sure you pack some toilet paper and disinfectant hand wipes.
After the safari is over
The driver drops you home at Cadjun Wild where you can go and freshen up before a traditional buffet dinner (which was amazing). A shower at this point feels incredible after a dusty, sun filled day. There is a good size pool on the grounds which is also very refreshing to sit in and watch the animals play. The food was incredible, all traditional Sri Lankan style.
I hope this has been helpful!! Are you planning a Sri Lankan Safari? Let me know if you have any questions and i will do my best to help 🙂