A Travellerspoint blog

April 2019

The day we fell in love with a baby elephant

Nature Junkies- get your fix

sunny 35 °C
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If you are a wild life buff, love the beach and, or surfing or snorkelling/ diving, love freshly cooked seafood, chilling out or even partying then the southern coast of Sri Lanka is the place! Not one day went by without seeing something amazing. The people are more relaxed than further north, living life at a slower pace.

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We arrived at Tissamaharama, “My Village hotel” to a three hour power cut.
Until the monsoon arrives at this time of year and replenishes the lakes, there is not enough water to generate electricity…so each day a three hour cut followed by another one hour in the evening occurs. Life just adapts. The pace slows.
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Tissa is the gateway to Yala National Park, famed for The Leopard but also many other walks of life; elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, deer, and the black bear, to name but a few. We left at 4.45am and travelled with a nutter driver for the 30 minute “race” to get tickets. He was obviously not happy with the left hand side of the road, taking each blind bend on the right whilst texting. Conveniently he was in a closed cabin from us and we could not tell him - until later.
A thunder and lightening storm gave us a show on our arrival to the reserve. Unbeknown to us, this also prompted many animals to go home, deeper into the reserve.
Our second safari, the next day proved much more successful. We saw everything - elephants, leopards, a black bear crocs and so much more!
The elusive leopard

The elusive leopard


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One of the most memorable moments was going for a walk near the hotel, only for a 1.5 metre silver snake to wriggle furiously to the side of our feet. After absolutely “cacking" myself and screaming to Fhi, who just stood calmly, I turned to see it coiled with the top half vertical and hissing straight at us. Sorry to say, much to Fhi’s frustration, I did not get a photo of this. It was “the one that got away.” You’ll have to believe me.

Ananthaya Beach

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Set on a cliff top, our next (Ananthaya Beach) hotel was fantastic. How the other half live! We had a couple of easy walks and even helped the local fishermen pull in the nets, but this was to be a place of relaxation. Swimming was a little bit too dangerous here in the sea so we had to settle for the infinity pool! Life is tough!
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At around 9.00pm we went to a local turtle conservation centre to witness a turtle lay her eggs and because we were in luck, also to see hatchlings race to the sea. I admire the work they carry out at this centre, but felt they should have capped the limits on people there. Even though it was gobsmacking to see mum lay her eggs and the hatchlings, maybe too many people were present. Still watching a massive turtle dig a whole, lay eggs and then spend an hour flapping her fins to fill the whole back in was a once in a lifetime experience.

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Tangalle (Golden Pearl) beach was where we went for a swim in the sea and to watch the larger fishing boats dock in the harbour and unload their bounty for the market. The fishermen spend 12 days at sea on their wooden boats before returning to the markets to sell their catch.

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Mirissa (The Pineapple Retreat) provided us with the sea’s equivalent of the safari parks.
Straight off the beach at Turtle Bay we could swim with turtles. Inquisitively they swam around us, or shot off if they were getting fed up. The bay itself was beautiful; small with shelter, unlike Mirissa Beach itself which was more like a baby Benidorm of the future. This was our favourite haunt for the three days- tired of chilling- we would just go for a swim with the turtles at a paradise beach. Amazing.
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We travelled out with Raja and The Whales Boat tour from Mirissa. Wow! A company that kept to it’s promise of not harassing the whales, but also kept away from any other tourist boat too. We saw thousands of spinner dolphins, a Bryde’s whale and about five Blue whales- even more from a distance.

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Plenty more power cuts here too!

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And in our hostel accomodation we happily chatted to so many people with stories to tell of their own adventures around Sri Lanka. One crazy kiwi, who’s mate had just come off a motorbike and was being prepared to be flown home- stories of “tips” for officials to get them off! One couple who went for a scooter ride, only to have their bike taken and held for ransom- they tried escaping! One Welsh couple who had the tour company experience of nightmares, including many blood sucking leeches (the real life creatures). They literally witnessed them jumping onto them to suck their blood! Mirissa was the place to hear the stories.

Mirissa was also home to a couple of great eating places too. We chose one fish straight off the ice board outside in what was one of the nicest fish dishes I’ve ever eaten.
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Udawalawa National Park proved to be our “winner” though. Slightly north again, we stayed at Mansala Safari House, a family with a couple of young children. We were so blessed to stay with this family. A lovely house set in the jungle and the most phenomenal food for us to eat. Enoki was an amazing cook making us hoppers, poori, pancakes, cakes, so many curries, vadai and so much more.. all from scratch. A treat of talented proportions.
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To top it off, they had their own safari jeep and the host came with us, and his 3 year old to Udawalawa park.
Our favourite park and favourite experience was here. Elephants, even babies a few weeks old surprised us around the many twists and turns of the reserve. So graceful.
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As we drove around one bend, we were greeted by a huge adult male casually walking toward us. We stopped. Silent. He just kept walking in slow motion within touching distance. Wow again. Eagles, bee catchers, and a cracking sunset completed the experience.
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Posted by PhilFhi travels 23:26 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged elephants leopard Comments (0)

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