Isle of the Leopard
Sri Lanka is ranked amongst the world’s top spots for watching and photographing the elusive leopard. Free from competing with other large apex predators, the Sri Lankan Leopard is the island’s top cat and is much bolder and are habituated to safari jeeps within protected areas such as Yala and Wilpattu regularly being seen during daylight hours. Leopards can be typically encountered patrolling their territories along the jeep tracks, resting on a tree, feeding on a kill and occasionally stalking their prey during a hunt. Given adequate protection and an abundance of prey, the Sri Lankan Leopard mates year-round and if lucky, one can witness a mating pair out in the open. At any given point, there are often a few sets of mothers with their cubs, who are visible in both Yala and Wilpattu. The cubs stick around with their mother for about 1 ½ years and the cubs can often be seen play fighting out in the open. In the dry season, staking out selected waterholes provides a good chance of getting a Leopard coming down to drink water.
This itinerary offers you the opportunity to view this charismatic big cat within its natural habitat in two of Sri Lanka’s most iconic national parks. Yala is known for its iconic rocky outcrops, scrub jungle and open grasslands, while Wilpattu is typically a forest with clearings known as villus, where if one is lucky can spot a leopard resting on the white sands. A variety of other wild animals including the Asian Elephant, Sloth Bear, Jackal, and Mugger Crocodile along with prey species such as the Spotted Deer, Sambar and Barking Deer may also be encountered.
Day 01: Arrival and transfer to Yala (4 hour drive). Remainder of the day at leisure. Time permitting, go on an afternoon safari in Yala National Park. Spend 03 nights at Cinnamon wild in Yala.
Days 02-03: Early morning and afternoon safaris in Yala National Park for wildlife viewing with an added emphasis on Leopards.
Day 04: Early morning, one last morning safari in Yala. After breakfast, travel to Wilpattu on the north-west coast (7 hour drive). Spend 03 nights at Aanawila Wilderness Bungalow in Wilpattu.
Days 05-06: Full day safaris in Wilpattu National Park for wildlife viewing with an added emphasis on Leopards.
Day 07: Time permitting, go on an early morning safari to Wilpattu. Afterwards, leave for the Bandaranaike International Airport (3 ½ hour drive).