The Northeast monsoon is nearing its end and morning game drives are chilly (approx. 18-23 C) – so bring a shawl! We increase our birdwatching runs to Bundala National Park to view migrant birds escaping European winters. Yala hosts several migrants too. Leopard sightings on trees or on rocks are more common due to the weather. More frequent herbivore sightings make for fun game drives.
The inter – monsoonal period begins around this time, featuring unpredictable showers, (which is very welcomed by the rain to the park). Migratory birds that (some who visit all the way from Siberia!) stay through April to see out winter in Yala and Bundala National Park. This is also an excellent time to see elephants in their herds as well, and common for bull elephants in musth searching out females who are receptive to mating.
Yala is most beautiful through June and the months leading up to it as the park is lush and green after the rains, but just starting to dry out enough for animals to congregate at water-holes. Historically, we’ve seen more young (deer fawns to leopard cubs) post rains. Also, the Palu (Manilkara Hexandrian) tree bears fruit which leads to an increase in sloth bear sightings (a guest favourite!) as they love feasting on Palu fruits. Temperatures range from 30 – 36 C.
The effects of the dry season are seen from July through September as the park starts to dry up and water holes start to reside. The park becomes quite dusty. August brings with it hot winds from the Arabian Peninsula, accelerating the drying process. We start venturing into Block 5 and Lunugamvehera National Parks. Temperatures range from 30 – 36 C.
Block 1 of Yala closes from the beginning of September until the 1st of November due to the dry season and other sectors of Yala such as Block 5, Lunugamvehera and Bundala National Parks are visited. These three areas are excellent for sighting elephants and as it is the start of the migratory season for birds coming in from western Europe and Siberia, an array of waders such as sandpipers and several species of ducks and forest birds such as Indian Pittas and Bee eaters can be seen.
Block 1 reopens in November and intense inter-monsoonal showers spark the first bursts of green after the drought. Animals are more relaxed (hence better sightings) after the rest from park closure and low visitation in November. Sightings of leopards, sloth bears and even the the shy and critically endangered pangolin become frequent and confident as vehicle volume is low. Peak visitation kicks in mid-December. Temperatures range from 28 – 34 C.
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