Our destination this morning was Tissamaharama (Tissa for short) and it’s a town primarily used as a gateway to Yala National Park. We had heard that there would be plenty of drivers offering tours around Yala to see leopards and even as we were arriving in the town a guy got on the bus and began giving us a fairly hard sell. We politely declined and instead decided to head to our guest house and then make some decisions there.
Yala National Park is described in the guidebooks as a “must see” destination in Sri Lanka but unfortunately we had also read that the place had become pretty busy with hundreds of jeeps criss crossing the park all phoning each other when an animal has been spotted. We had also read that nearby Bundala National Park was actually more beautiful in terms of landscape and was only missing the leopards and the tourists!!
We were 50:50 until our guest house host described Bundala as beautiful and peaceful and Yala as a war!!! So off to Bundala for us and a further benefit of the unpopularity of the place was that we managed to get a jeep and driver all to ourselves!!
The Park is full of lagoons of various sizes and before we even arrived we were gazing at water buffalo and a whole variety of birds. Not only are there plenty of native birds but many migrate here from colder climates and our driver Tula was an expert first of all in spotting them and then in identifying them for us too.
It was so serene and peaceful cruising around watching the wildlife and the variety of birds was quite something. A favourite of mine would have to be the local bee eater birds which have an iridescent green body with orange heads and either green or blue tails. Our driver/guide did get very excited with one of our spots which was a Pied Kingfisher!! Apparently it would make many a twitcher jealous!!
The whole day was brilliant with us seeing a whole variety of wildlife and birds and the fact that it was just us and the driver a lot of the time made it all very peaceful. It also meant that we could stop and watch things for a long as we wanted which again was brilliant!!
While the trip had been good we would be lying if we didn’t admit we were a little disappointed that we hadn’t seen an elephant. Luckily though as we were nearing the end we spotted a lone adolescent male elephant eating while cooling down in one of the huge lagoons!!
He was a really impressive sight and we sat watching him for ages and eventually he got out the water and scooted off into the bush with pretty impressive speed!
The day was complete. What a fantastic safari experience we had had, the whole day was just perfect and to finish it off we went to a little roadside “restaurant” where I scored with a fantastic curry!! I have to admit Sri Lanka just keeps getting better and better, already I can’t wait for tomorrow!! T
Water Buffalo grazing and lazing in the lagoons.
A typical scene in the park with the water buffalo and an incredible abundance of birds. Egrets eating the insects following the buffalo and a stork waiting for fish.
Every five minutes we came upon another beautiful Lagoon.
I can sit and watch monkeys for ever!
Peacocks were as common as pigeons in London! The stunning plumage on the males was very impressive, unfortunately we didn’t manage to see any with their tails spanned out trying to impress the ladies!
A fair sized crocodile sunbathing!
A land monitor looking for lunch.
This land monitor came right up to the jeep. Like I said before it was so much fun spending ten minutes or so watching each of the animals we saw.
Rare to see this tortoise out and about. Watching him move just made everything seem so difficult.
Our elephant eating the reeds and relaxing in the cool waters.
He finally had enough and headed off into the bush. Just such a majestic animal. So that’s the largest sea and land mammals seen in Sri Lanka within a week! (Well it might be the African Elephant but still…)
The monkeys just have a way of looking as if they are up to no good!
Difficult not to be enjoying the day!
We couldn’t believe how much wildlife we were seeing! The antlers were huge on this deer.
Sarah looking professional.