After our beach experience, we were picked up by our fantastic travel guide, Sanjaya, and we headed around the bottom of the island. On the way, we saw plenty more beautiful beaches and stopped at the Galle fort – an old colonial army base. It was brutally hot, so we left rather quickly, but we got a few nice pics of a lovely ocean lookout.
Our final destination was a city called Tissamaharama – not because we wanted to visit it, but because it was the perfect base for exploring Yala national park, best known for its leopards.
We left early in the morning and arrived home after dark. It was a long, fantastic ride through the park. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any leopards, but we saw hundreds of other animals.
The ride was rough but really great. Because we were in a real 4×4, we were able to do a lot of off-roading that other safari tours could not do. We definitely saw more animals because of it.
One of those animals was a “tusker” elephant – known to Sanjaya as being a bit aggressive. We came across him in the road and we gave him lots of space as he chased us backwards the way we came. No harm done, and he gave us lots of great photo opportunities – but he has attacked trucks in the past. Luckily he went his way and us ours without any problems.
At sunset, we said goodbye to the park and returned to the hotel. The next day, we visited an elephant orphanage during “feeding time” – the babies were given milk through funnels and tubes followed by some tasty greens. Our kids were not so into it, but that could have been because of the hordes of local schoolkids lining up to see the show as well.
Afterwards, we spent a few hours touring Udawalawe national park. This one is known for its elephant herds, and it most certainly delivered. We saw over 100 elephants that afternoon, and many of them were right up close in the road or beside us. We had a picnic lunch in the jeep right next to a herd of at least 10 elephants, including one baby that was no more than a few days old. That evening we drove north into the mountains for a visit to Ella.
For extra credit, here is our (mostly complete) list of animal sightings:
Jacana (water hen)
Black wing stilt
Great thick knee (plover)
Sri Lankan Elephant
White sea eagle
Crested hawk eagle
Grey headed fish eagle
Tufted Gray Langur
Open bill stork
Jaguar (tracks only)
Fishing Cat (tracks only)