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The Drunken Bears of Yala and the Irresistible Trees of Palu


Much like the lighting of the Olympic Flame to inaugurate the Olympic Games, the fruiting months of the Palu trees inaugurates the season of the Sloth Bear!

Yala National Park is amongst the oldest and best known of Sri Lanka's 15 National Parks. It covers approximately 1300 square kilometres and is home to a range of ecosystems found nowhere else in the country. There are 44 species of recorded mammals in Yala, which include the Sri Lankan Leopard, Sri Lankan Elephant and – sighted mostly during Palu season – the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear!


Typically during the months of May to July, a Yala National Park Safari may bring your camera the joy of sighting these furry mammals on or below the branches of Palu (Manilkara hexandra) trees during the daytime – a rarity as sloth bears are the most nocturnal of the bunch! You might even see these slow moving fur balls get ‘drunk’ as over-ripe Palu fruits ferment rapidly and is known to get bears a little tipsy! As Palu trees fill with golden fruits, ripe and scented within the dry zone jungles of Sri Lanka, it calls to Sloth Bears from afar like a siren – and if there is anything that's irresistible to a wild Sloth Bear, it's the scent of the succulent Palu fruits. These are quite sweet hence a refreshing energy booster especially during months of hot weather, making it a possibility to witness bears in a happy daze lounging on the branches – almost like the bear equivalent to chilling with mojitos in the summer!

These otherwise elusive bears – the only member of Family Ursidae in Sri Lanka – are found in dry zone forest habitats. Mostly solitary by nature, they amble through the forests, emitting noisy grunts and snorts while walking, and keep their nose close to the ground in search of insects and fresh fruit. During the fruiting season, fruits like Palu form a major component of their diet. Sightings during any Yala Safari during these months show an increased level of activity of bears closer to Palu trees.

How to spot a bear-ridden Palu Tree:

  1. The Palu or Ceylon iron wood, is a hardwood tree with a blackish-grey vertically furrowed trunk. The leaves are small and dark green with a broadly obovate shape. Flowers are yellow before they turn into fruit.
  2. Book an all-inclusive stay with Mahoora, which includes two safaris with a naturalist and tracker.

An Ode to Coconut Ice Cream in the Wilderness



When the mid-afternoon sun hangs high,

And in the shade do sleepy animals lie,

What bliss it is to taste a lusciously cold dream,

Made entirely out of coconut ice cream.


The fluffy texture alike a summer’s cloud,

With soft notes of flavour hitting you aloud,

A dry zone forest your ice cream parlour,

Handcrafted with love by Mahoora Yala.


With one taste of this impossibly creamy dish,

You can’t help but preposterously wish,

For a bigger second helping of this coconutty glee,

Towering above you for as far as the eye can see!

Wings and Feet on the Star Deck


The air was heavy and still while the warmed scent of an afternoon in the wild settled heavily on the Stargazing Deck at Mahoora Safari Camps in Yala. I propped my feet up on a beanbag and let the lazy afternoon lull me into a state of moody happiness. The air was alive with butterflies and beetles. My beer started to sweat as the day grew hotter and more bugs wandered into the Deck for shade and, quite possibly, to keep me from napping by mildly annoying me. This was achieved by flying at 40 mph into various parts of my body. Little did they know it was oddly welcoming as it resulted in the most unorthodox massage which, no doubt, made its way into an anecdote over cocktails served at Mahoora’s iconic 7-course dinner in the wild.
I soon realised this was merely Act I of their perfectly coordinated performance. Neatly lined on the banister was the beginning of Act II: so you think you can dance. Little wings and legs from beetles and butterflies collided with each other, almost earnestly, as they dismounted from the banister with grace and landed mid-air on another insect with, well, less grace. This dance lasted till sundown, at least for me, as I had to head back to my tented accommodation for a flashlight. I didn’t expect to be out this late and entertained this greatly by bugs on a misadventure of sorts, but, in hindsight, I’m glad they kept me from what could only be a boring afternoon nap.

Mahoora Mobile Tented Safari Camps offer you the chance to experience an adventure which will dazzle, inspire and astonish. 
Choose from many locations and enjoy them with a team of individuals who set the benchmark for safari camping in Sri Lanka.


Mahoora Tented Safari Camps, 20/63,

Fairfield Garden, Colombo 08,

Sri Lanka  

T (+94) 70 2228222

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