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Testimonials  
   

I am a freelance wildlife photographer and in my line of business you rely on having an excellent tracker and driver to find your animals and birds and know their names, I can highly recommend Sumudu who has excellent knowledge of all the wildlife in Yala reserve I chose him on the recommendations from local Sri Lankans friends he is also good company to be with that is why I used him again this year 2013 for the second time and will for future visits.

Mic Clark
http://micclarkphotography.co.uk/

 

We had a wonderful safari with Sugathe in Yala. He is, as you well described, a true "old hand' and very knowledgeable of Block 1's ways. Vicki and myself constantly felt we were in the hands of someone who knows where he is and where he's going. In the morning we were the first in the park and as soon as we got our entry Sugathe, with the park officer's agreement, sped away from whoever came behind, so we could have Yala for ourselves for a while. Whereas not super important, I think this was a nice thoughtful move. The idea was to be able to spot leopards without the crowds, and, although we failed in this mission, it was truly nice to feel Yala without any other jeep, an experience that is hardly repeated in later hours of the day.

Sugathe correctly found a leopard hangout place and we spotted a beautiful young creature. We were the second jeep there, so fair enough. Frankly, as we had spoken, finding a leopard would've been a bonus for me, so seeing it at around 8 am, after an already beautiful ride amidst crocs and deer, was great. Throughout the day, Sugathe spend most of the time trying to follow leopard, elephant and bear tracks, the first two of which were rewarded later with solo sightings of a group of elephants in some back-road of the park. We were the only jeep there. Full credit to Sugathe for finding them. It was not luck. She same applied to a leopard street crossing: Sugathe was not the first there BUT had been there before everyone else following footsteps. When we didnt find them we went for a round and then came back to the spot where he was sure at some point the leopards would pop up and...they did. An extraordinary sighting.

Sugathe's jeeps are by far (at least the Tatas) the best vehicles on display, and I am absolutely convinced that he offers a guide/tracker service at least as good or better than anyone else, so I am 100% convinced that anyone seeking for something a bit better than being crammed in an old jeep with horizontal benches, should choose him as a safari driver and guide. I am very satisfied with his service.

Luis Guimaraes

 
   
   

I visited Sri Lanka in July/August 2011 in order to do some voluntary work in Galle. I knew I had a free weekend and so I looked into doing a jeep safari in Yala before leaving my country of residence. I came across Sugathe's Yala Jeep Safaris thanks to a google search and I have been most impressed with the service I have received from them ever since. For example, I was sent a very long and highly informative email which greatly helped in my decision making process. I decided to make the most of my free time and so I provisionally booked two morning safaris.

I was staying at the Elephant Reach Hotel and this hotel seems the best placed one, which is currently open, from which to have 5am starts, as we were amongst the first at the park entrance office both mornings thanks to my driver's punctuality in picking me up. The process was seamless and my driver was very friendly and helpful. Dharmasiri who drove the vehicle was attentive, realised I had cameras, lenses and was really interested in the wildlife and he made the entire safari extremely pleasant. He was patient and drove down a vast array of tracks and different areas, to enable me to see the most I possibly could. Indeed, I managed to have 5 different leopard sightings; fantastic!! This was also in part because I asked to add in an afternoon safari too, on the first day and this was no trouble at all. I really enjoyed having the jeep to myself, so that I did not have to compromise on what I wanted to see and do because of any other people. That was a huge bonus.

The fact that this Sugathe has more than one vehicle in the park means that sightings of wildlife are likely to happen even more, as the drivers communicate with each other and do their best to ensure that their customers have a good experience. The jeep was extremely comfortable, the Tata one. It made going over the rough roads a lot nicer than if I had been in a rougher kind of jeep, which lots of other visitors to the park were in. I also felt that my driver was very safe and considerate and he was very good indeed at spotting animals and birds; we took it in turns I think as we both had different height vantage points. Nothing was too much trouble and he was not in a hurry to leave the park on any of the 3 safaris which I did.

Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this service to anyone who is thinking of trying to see a leopard in the wild, never mind all the other birds and animals which can be found in Yala. I would not hesitate to use them again if I have the chance to revisit Yala in the future. I have lots of great photographs and fantastic memories thanks to this jeep safari service and to my driver in particular. Thank you!.

Emily Ray (UK)

 
   
   

We booked an evening and full day safari in Yala in April 2011 and were extremely impressed with the amount of wildlife we were able to see, thanks to the skill and knowledge of our driver. Some highlights were a young tusker enjoying his bath, a crocodile hunting a wild pig and two magnificent leopards.

The Tata jeeps were very comfortable and the envy of other travellers in the national park! Sugathe was also able to arrange transport for us down the coast from Tissa to Mirissa at a very reasonable price and with little notice. I have already recommended Sugathe's jeep safaris to colleagues in London travelling to Sri Lanka: he provides great service and excellent value for money.

Iain Drennan

 
 
I booked a full day safari with my father for Yala on the 2nd July. From the booking to the pick-up the whole process was simple and seamless. We were one of the first vehicles to enter the park, and almost immediately saw our first leopard lying on a rock, as well as the reclusive porcupine (a 1st for me despite being on many wildlife tours throughout the world). Yala must be one of the best national parks to view leopards.

Our driver was Sumudu and he was really superb. As Sugathe and Sumudu operate several vehicles they communicate sightings to each other, which is essential due to the jungle expanse of Yala. In total we saw 5 different leopards (most other tourists only saw 2!) due to our driver's knowledge of the roads, and instinct as to where the animals might be. We took some great photos as result of impressive "jostling", necessary when there are numerous other vehicles crowding around the same position. I felt the driver wanted to take the time to show us as much as possible, even though he must have been here hundreds of times. Even when the sweltering heat was beginning, we were enlightened to many different bird species that are on show- each one identified by the driver's whose knowledge cannot be underestimated.

As we were on a full day safari (in order to save on paying the obligatory park entry fee twice), we spent a few hours in the middle of the day when most of the wildlife are sleeping, at a beautiful spot on the sandy banks of a slow-flowing river which was as tranquil and idyllic as we would have handpicked ourselves.

In my opinion, the most important person for a jeep safari is the driver, who doubles as a tour guide. His effort and determination to show and identify the wildlife by driving around and around was magnificent. By comparison the day before the jeep safari organised by our UK travel agent exited Yala at 8am. I saw Sugathadasa's half-day vehicles leaving at closer to 10 am. Considering we were still seeing leopards and elephants at 9.30am, it is pretty obvious which safari provided better value, and fulfilling experience.

I now know who to call when I next visit Yala!

Suresh Nathan
UK

 
   

We have used the jeep services of Sugathe and his son Sumudu for just over six years and many visits to Yala. We feel they are more customer-oriented than many, and in fact believe they take significant pride in their work. This includes punctuality when picking us from the bungalow, cleanliness of the vehicles and the effort made to get the best out of the park, especially on rounds where not much seems to be going on. This combined with their excellent knowledge of the animals and good rapport with the Wildlife Department guides who accompany us (this is mandatory) has resulted in many wonderful memories.

For those keen on their wildlife photography, Sugathe and Sumudu are also quite conversant with a photographer’s needs and try to factor in the best angles when positioning the vehicle, a skill especially valuable when the park is more congested. Their animal spotting abilities are as good as most guides and provide a very valuable additional set of eyes.

They also understand that locating animals is only part of the challenge; the rest is about ensuring it remains in view. A sudden move or taking the vehicle too close can end a potentially lengthy sighting in seconds. On several occasions we have been at the receiving end of other over-zealous jeep drivers charging forward for a closer view, only to send the animal(s) into the jungle and out of sight.

Finally, those conversant in the local lingo are likely to find the conversations lively, for both father and son can tell a good story. Whether these are true or false or a combination of both does not matter. Given the time they spend in the park, many will in fact be true or at least be based on actual events.

Definitely recommended.

Sanjiv de Silva (0777-465548) and Indika Samarakoon
Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka

 
   

We first used Sumudu’s safari jeep services in December 2003 at Yala National Park, when the park was in the midst of a severe flood due to excessive rains. During that trip, we were impressed with his ability to maneuver his Land Rover jeep in difficult terrain – especially where flood waters were quite deep. He drove us safely during all the trips to the park and also assisted other vehicles that had been stranded in flood waters. Despite the floods, we had an excellent sighting of a young, male leopard on the main Yala road.

Since then, we have always used Sumudu as well as his father Sugathe during our many trips to Yala. Although we have a 4 wheel drive jeep and have used it in the park, we prefer to be driven around by Sumudu as it gives us the opportunity to relax and enjoy our favourite pastime – wildlife photography, with maximum flexibility to move around at short notice. During our many trips to Yala during the past 6 years, Sumudu has helped us in spotting an amazing array of wildlife – from the large, charismatic animals such as leopard, elephant and sloth bear to the smaller, but just as interesting fauna including bee-eaters, hoopoe birds, paradise fly catchers, kingfishers and many more.

Sumudu is a very keen wildlife enthusiast and is always ready to share his knowledge of the fauna and flora of Yala, whilst making every effort to show the amazing wildlife of the Park, first hand, to his clients. What has impressed us most is that he does so with minimal disturbance to the animals and is always mindful of their wellbeing. Sumudu’s cheerful personality, his in depth knowledge of the Park and his excellent rapport with other safari jeep drivers as well as the Wildlife department guides make it a pleasure to use his jeep services.

Gihan and Charmalee Jayasinghe
Nawala, Sri Lanka