We spend the afternoon at the Wilpattu National Park. It is one of the larger National Parks on the Island but I had never visited previously because it had been closed for most of the duration of the war. The roads are quiet and mostly deserted now and I find it hard to imagine this peaceful place rocked by bombs.
It is the stories of leopard and sloth bear rather than those of the Tigers that has brought us here. I was excited and not disappointed. Not long after we had driven in, we spot a leopard in the bushes. Our hearts are racing as we see this majestic animal emerge from the bushes. He walks toward us and I will him to come closer. Naufer cautions against getting closer as my mum is in the front seat. For a lady who has just turned 80, she is still game for most things and doesn’t scare easily for which I am grateful.
Unfortunately, our leopard is only game to come so far and vanishes into the bushes, only to emerge behind our vehicle.
We reverse slowly watching him for ages before another vehicle approaches and scares him back into the bushes. Shortly afterwards, a larger leopard emerges from the dense jungle. We watch him too but he is more elusive and doesn’t get close enough to engage with us.
We didn’t see the sloth bear but the jungle is teeming with beautiful bird life. I am lucky to capture a few good photos. We also see a sambar deer and spot many bee eaters, spotted deer, water birds and finally a star tortoise as we reluctantly head back to our hotel as the sun sets and the sky darkens almost immediately.
“If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb