If you want the fast video version of our safari trip - here you go. (Jennifer's note: Watch it! It's worth it just for Sophia's "IT'S A JACKAL!" discovery.) For all the details, keep reading!
Traffic was much lighter for most of this drive, though we did encounter our share of delays caused by congested village streets or the occasional water buffalo blocking the road. Likewise, the Express Bus was no stranger to this route and often whizzed by, nearly running us off the road. By now, this barely phased us. (Jennifer's note: Uhhhh, you weren't sitting behind your parents. Trust me, they were phased.)
But before we even had a chance to check out the beach - and barely had a chance to get settled into our rooms - we were on the move, gathering cameras, sunscreen and bug spray, and climbing aboard our private 4X4 for our first safari! We had booked the safari directly through the resort, and I couldn't have been happier with our driver and guide, Priyantha. It was obvious from the start that he loved his job, loved the wildlife and enjoyed creating an experience we wouldn't forget. Even before we left the resort grounds, we spotted several beautiful birds, a large crocodile, and a Langur monkey bounding down the dirt road ahead of us.
As we headed into the park, none of us were really sure what we would see, and we all had different opinions on what would be the most exciting. For me, I really wanted to see leopards in the wild. For Sophia, Jennifer, and my parents, I think elephants topped the list. For Cooper, who knows, but I think he was secretly hoping to see Batman - or better yet, a Quidditch match break out somewhere nearby (he's currently obsessed with Harry Potter).
Luckily, we all got to see what we hoped we would. (except Cooper - no Dynamic Duo, no Hogwarts). I could write an entire book listing the variety of animals and amazing scenes we saw in the park. In fact, Sophia filled up a sheet of notepaper during dinner, doing just that. To name a few, we saw Asian elephants, leopards, monkeys, crocodiles, water buffalo, monitor lizards, spotted deer, wild boar - and one of the highlights, a pack of jackals. We also saw a large variety of beautiful birds, including bee-eaters, eagles, heron, egrets and peacocks.
Over the course of our two days and nights, and two safaris in Yala National Park, there were clearly three highlights:
After that, we knew it would be greedy and ridiculous to think another day in the park would offer a more unique experience. Instead, we enjoyed some quiet, relaxing time by the pool and on the nearby beach. On the morning of our final day at Chaaya Wild Yala, we enjoyed a mix of western and Sri Lankan style breakfast and met Ruwan for another half day of travel across the country to our third and final destination in Sri Lanka, Buckingham Place, in the small fishing village of Rekawa...(to be continued)