Given the fact that Sri Lanka is a short flight away from Bangalore, a visit to Yala has been on the cards since we took up wildlife photography as a hobby. However, it was only recently that we travelled to Sri Lanka and visited the Yala Wildlife Sanctuary, which is considered to have, probably the highest density of Leopards in the world.

We stayed at Leopard Safaris camp, which is located on the bank of a river in the heart of the Yala Wildlife Sanctuary. Noel (owner of Leopard safaris, who is now a good friend) and his team put a smile on your face with their impeccable hospitality, their ultra neat tents and amazing food! The queen size bed with fresh linen in the tent is irresistible after the long game rides into the wilderness and a sumptuous dinner. We would strongly recommend Leopard Safaris to anyone wanting a true wilderness experience in luxury.

With a spectacular spotting of 8-9 different individual Leopards over 15+ sightings and across 3 days, Yala proved beyond doubt that it indeed has the highest density of Leopards anywhere in the world.

Leopards in India are shy and elusive predators and when spotted on the forest floor, they normally either vanish into the Lantana or quickly climb a nearby tree. This may be because they are not on top of the food chain in the Indian wilderness, as that privilege goes to the Tiger. However, in Yala, as the Leopard is on top of the food chain, their behavior is different and when spotted on the ground, are relatively more bold.

We were fortunate to observe this incredible behavior first hand, when on a morning safari into Yala we spotted a large Leopardess walking right in the middle of road towards our safari vehicle. Noel was driving and given the fact that he is a veteran of many such sightings and an expert in his field, he calmly parked the vehicle by the side of the road at a comfortable distance from the Leopard and switched off the engine. Thanks to this skillful maneuver, the Leopard continued its majestic ‘Top of the food chain’ walk till it came to about 15-20 feet from us. It then went to the side of the road and leisurely scent marked the bushes and then calmly crossed the road in front of the vehicle and walked along a commonly used trail into the wilderness.

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