The Australian newspaper’s travel writer Kendall Hill extols a recent visit to Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s premiere wildlife reserve, while luxuriating in the comforts of Chena Huts safari camp and beachfront lodge.
His first visit drew a blank with the park’s famed leopards, but instead came across another of Sri Lanka’s top wildlife attractions, the sloth bear (pictured above), a “magical bear moment”.
“Sloth bears are sweet-looking creatures with pale snouts and white ruffs on black fur coats. Ours is cuter than most because he has a limp, a legacy of that time a few years back when he got so drunk on fermented rosewood berries he fell out of a tree and broke his leg.
“The sight of a wonky sloth bear cheers me so much I forget all about leopards. Senior ranger Haritha Pilapitiya seems pleased with the sighting too, and he’s in this park every day.
“I ask him what’s the most incredible thing he’s ever seen at Yala. “An eight-foot crocodile being eaten by a python,” he says, putting our quaint little bear into startling context.
He writes that Chena, opened a year ago, is a perfect vantage point from which to watch elephants lumbering down the beach or sea turtles laying their eggs by moonlight.
And after finally spotting a leopard, he concludes: “This is that delirious moment where holiday dreams and reality meet and, given the leopard lingers in plain sight for more than five minutes, it exceeds all expectations. This is what we travelled across the world to see. The bear was a bonus.”
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