When it comes to spotting Sri Lanka’s leopards, the dry woodlands and scrub of 377-sq-mile (978-sq-km) Yala National Park are unsurpassed. It is the country’s oldest and most popular reserve with lovely varied landscapes encompassing forest, parkland, rocky outcrops, small lakes and lagoons. Despite the prolific birdlife, herds of roaming elephants and opportunities to glimpse the elusive sloth bear, the chance to spot Yala’s leopards is why most people come here.
The park currently has around 35 leopards – among the highest population densities anywhere in the world. Sightings, however, remain a matter of luck. A typical jeep safari with an obligatory tracker covers just one section of the park. For the best sightings along the rougher, less-used tracks, opt for a tented camp inside the buffer zone.