February 18, 2019

Wild Coast game drives during Dry Season and Block 1 closure

The “Yala Complex” (informal definition) is a contiguous expanse of jungle that includes the 5 sectors (or Blocks) of Yala, as well as Lunugamvehera national park.

  • Block I (adjacent to Wild Coast Lodge) and the most frequently visited block/sector.
  • However, Block 5 and Lunugamvehera National Park (we use the east entrance of LNP) are also viable options and used at various times of the Year.
  • Bundala National Park is also visited frequently. While it’s a birding-focused park due to its number of lagoons, there is adequate biodiversity (except Leopards) to keep guests engaged by our guides and performed extremely well throughout 2018 in terms of sightings to drive guest engagement.

So, what happens during September, October, November:

The drought takes effect from July into October, before the monsoon rains in November/December. As a result, Block I is often closed to “rest” the park in September and October. During those months, our rangers venture to Block 5, Lunugamvehera and Bundala.

Lunugamvehera National Park delighted Wild Coast guests in 2018, during Block 1 closure, due to the multiple herds of elephants that venture onto the lake bed in the afternoons. As the waters of the Lunugamvehera reservoir recede during the drought, the grasslands on the banks of the lake are lush and guests are privy to rich insights into detailed behaviour of elephants (as explained by our rangers). Also, Sri Lanka experiences lowest visitation volumes during these months, thus vehicle traffic to our national parks is quite low which supports a quality, guided experience. Other game is also visible to round out a quality game drive. The only catch is that the drive to Lunugamvehera is around 40 minutes from the Lodge. However, we feel it’s worth it for the quality experience.

Block 5 has seen impressive leopard sightings in the past couple of years. However, leopard sightings can vary from season to season based on the rains, deer and prey populations and their movements, and the territorial dynamics of individual dominant cats. So we cannot predict what kind of sightings can be expected months ahead. However, the biodiversity in Block 5 is similar to Block 1, and also includes slightly more diverse terrain/ecology that Block I — providing a slighter richer “wilderness experience”, as explained by our rangers. What we recommend for Block 5 is to throw in the “Jungle High Tea” option, so the game drive starts early and breaks for tea on the banks of one of the canopy-covered streams inside the park.

The WCL Ranger Team offers an overall “Wilderness Experience” rounded out by our guided Nature Walks that are really interesting in terms of “tracking” and seeing smaller animals intimately on foot, as well as visits to ancient jungle monasteries like Sithulpawwa, bike ride to explore our rural neighborhood intimately and the junior ranger program.. So guests would never be short of experiential activities.