Previously known as Yala East this large national Park is Sri Lanka most isolated and is only accessible via along dirt road from Arugam Bay, or by a river crossing from Yala. Its lack of tourist numbers sets it apart from the other Southern parks, and although leopards are scarce, the abundance of other animals and birds and the beautiful coastal scenery makes this a wonderful place to enjoy nature the way its supposed to be.
You really need a 4wd for the trip, which is 40ks on a dirt road from Arugam, and then another 20km around in the park.
On the way , we stopped at the amazing Kudumbigala Monastery, a very sacred place for Buddhists, which is built in and around rock formations close to the park. It is a steep walk up to the main stupa, which affords expansive views of the coastline and national park.
We had a fantastic half day trip, culminating in a tense 20 minute stand off with a rutting bull elephant, who refused to allow us to continue our journey until he had shown us who was boss. There were huge numbers of birds, crocodiles and buffalo, and we were lucky to see many elephants and a family of jackals. The elusive leopard remained elusive – we had eyes peeled for any glimpse but unfortunately didn’t see one.