I stayed with my 2 kids (14 and 12) in the family tent which was great as we all had enough space, and were spolied with the air con. We had electricity to charge phones and cameras, but we loved leaving the tent after dark with just our torches. The walkways are lit by lantern and you eat by candlelight (torches attract the moths and insects so they are switched off). Looking at the stars was amazing.
There had been quite a lot of rain before we arrived, so the roads were bumpy, but you are met by the team in their specialised 4x4 - high off the ground so you can access anywhere.
The team could not do enough for us, the food was all fresh, home cooked, and something different to try every meal.
We went on 2 safaris, one on the afternoon we arrived, and the other the following morning to get a different experience. We were lucky enough to watch a leopard fro about 20 minutes the first afternoon, and while other jeeps came and went, the location of our camp meant we had accessed Yala by the "back door" - the other jeeps all left to get back to their entrance before 6pm, and we could wait for the leopard to come down the tree... lovely.
I booked with Noel Rodrigo leopards safaris 6 nights : 3 in Wilpattu camp and 3 in Yala Camp for an average rate per night of 372 USD for a "single mobile tent" including the safaris, the food and drinks. So for Yala National Park, the expérience was not good as the "Block1" the more famous for sightings (more crowded too) was closed so only Block 5 and 3 were open. They were not good and over-crowded and i didn't see a leopard during 6 safaris (except a leopard patch far away at night). I ignored that a National Park can be splitted in many blocks very far away from each others or worst, separated by a road between blocks 5 and 3. And this road is horrible and i can't understand there was an authorization for such road crossing a National Park and there is many problems : elephants are begging every day for food along that road where vehicules are driving very fast killing wild animals,uneducated people who throw rubbish on this road, including the plastic that the animals ingest and the landscape is horrible with this colorful plastic along the road and even inside the national Park. So i didn't appreciate Yala National Park. For the camp after the bad experience in Wilpattu, i wanted to cancel Yala and be refunded but the owner refused. The 2 first nights he upgraded me to a "luxery tent" which mean only tent with ensuite bathroom , but still basic and far of the pretty tent published. But the last night, it was beyond my strength to return to a shabby tent so i found a very nice hotel with bathroom, wifi.. for 55 USD at 5 kilometers and don't ask the refund , but the owner refused to bring me with one of the jeeps. So i stayed against my will and i had a bad night eaten by bugs and mosquitos, also big problems to close the tent and i was angry because i had to stay in that horrible place. So the rate of this camp is unacceptable, even all inclusive, for such basic old tent with no ensuite bathroom. Also the owner was proud to show me the leopards pictures strolling at night in the camp by automatic cameras. So it means leopards can be encountered at night in the Camp, as it is close to Block 1 , and you never know what can happened if you get outside at night to goi to the toilets. So for many reasons i don't recommend that camp : too expensive, not confortable,risky and also the Yala national park is allowing all jeeps to come - so too much cars and not good sightings and few chances to see leopards with such mess. I will never come back in Yala as it was too depressing. But for the people which wants to come to Yala : just book an hotel, quite cheap, and book the jeep safaris separately - i am sure the hotel can help to book it
We had 2 nights and 3 Safaris with Noel at his Yala campsite, not only fantastic food accommodations staff and surrounding but everything was perfect the attention to detail is fantastic.
Of course the Safari hit all the top Mark's as well. Of course we know we were lucky to see a Leopard on our 1st outing which the took the pressure off the next 2 Safaris. If you stay make it a minimum of 2 nights as you'll regret only booking one.
The extra luxury of AC was pretty nice.
Waking up with monkeys on our tent was just an added bonus. Lastly a big thank you to Sam who also lead us on our 2nd day and did a stella job.
When we started to consider to take a trip to the Yala National Park for some days, we contacted the Noel Rodrigo Leopard Safari company through their website. Immediately, we have received the most amazing and kind support from Cecile, who did not hesitate to go the extra mile for us. We got help in planning our trip and she even organized a reliable taxi driver for the 6 hours trip from Negombo to Kataragama/Yala National Park.
Everything worked out well and the driver was waiting for us on time and he drove us to Kataragama where we were picked up from the fabulous Yala Noel rodrigo team. The trip from Kataragama to the camp was already exciting and when we arrived, we found us welcomed with a King Coconut drink and a refreshing towel. After our heartful and warm welcoming the team showed us around the camp and our luxury tent (tusker). I cannot find words to describe how amazing the tent was. There was a real bed, AC, shower, toilet and everything one has in a hotel room as well. The camp operates plastic free, and you will find glassboxes and glassbottles instead of plasticboxes and bottles. All of the employees are true naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts the same as earth lovers. The nature and the wildlife was treated with respect!
Furthermore, I really need to mention the pool and the lounge. The pool was very clean and inviting to swim. It was an amazing feeling to refresh during the hot hours and it felt special to swim in the middle of the jungle. The lounge was always very welcoming and we had every night a briefing with the camp manager Pasi there. During the briefing and recap, we were served with any kind of drink (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and with freshly cooked sri lankan appetizers. This topic leads to the next big thing to mention! The food!
The food in the camp was the most amazing food we have ever had! Throughout our whole Sri Lanka trip we have never found any food delicious, fresh, beautiful and tasty like we had it in the camp. The chef was really lovely and took care of special needs and also of our wish to have the food authentic hot and spicy. We had most of the typical Sri Lankan national dishes during our stay there such as Pitu, String Hoppers, dhal, different currys etc. We even had a little cooking course in the camp. All my friends are impressed of my coconut roti now:) The team organized special candle light dinners for us and we had a different spot of the camp for dinner every evening. Also, they organized a sparkling wine to celebrate the birthday we have spent in Sri Lanka. We went once on an early safari trip and a wonderful breakfast had been organized for us inside the park-was simply the best!!!
The safari itself was incredible. Pasi our Camp Manager was a real expert and he knew everything and had an answer ready for all our questions. We loved to be with him on tour! He made our stay precious and he took always the best routes for us. He checked the amount of cars in the park sections to choose the best and least crowded Yala section for us in order to be able to observe the wildlife and nature in peace and not within 100 other cars! He avoided mass tourism and this was exactly what we wanted! Seeing leopards was our number 1 mission in Yala, yes maybe even our number 1 mission for all the Sri Lanka trip. We were more than rewarded when we saw a mother leopard with its cub and on top of that a male leopard the same day. Moreover, we saw many other animals such as elephants, water buffaloes, monkeys, mungos, crocodiles, deers, peacock, wild hogs, iguanas, turtles, eagles, beeeaters and many other beautiful birds etc.
Thank you Pasi so much, you made our trip unique with your warm, open and welcoming way and your huge knowledge and deep respect towards the nature and the wildlife. We will definitely come back for staying a whole week with you very soon. It was really our best, tastiest and most impressive holiday ever! Thanks to the whole team at Yala Noel Rodrigo Leopard Safari Camp, you made our stay fabulous!
See you soon,
Michelle & Marco
We were on holiday in Sri lanka and went to Noel Rodrigo's leopard Safaris on the recommendation of our daughter who had been there in 2016.
We were totally impressed.
The food was amazing and the staff couldn't do enough to make your stay special.
We also had Passi as our guide on safari and he was most knowledgeable about the wildlife and took us to parts of the park away from the main operators, with a better chance of seeing the animals . I would say if you want to a Safari I Sri Lanka, this is the company to use.