And what a great week it was, great weather, great hotel, great guides and great friends made.
We stayed at the ‘Club Bentota’ in Aluthgama, such a great location – on one side we had a river and the other side was the Ocean. Although the hotel was a little dated, it was such great value for money with great staff, great food, very clean and comfortable, we would definitely stay there again. At the begining of the week we met Luba and his tour guides (Luba Tours, email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) who arrange some tours for us.
The river safari was very good, we saw crocodiles, water monitors, fruit bats, eagles, chameleons, monkeys, cows and unfortunately mozzies which seem to take a fancy to us. As luck would have it we landed on the riverbank and visited a herbal garden which was a blessing as we tried out a magic potion to relieve the mosquito bites, oh my it was good, instantly soothing the itcheness. We got to hold a month crocodile which was very cute with his big beady eyes but we refrained from getting to close to the older crocs.
We also had a great morning tour to the local towns, our guide was great, very informative and friendly and where theres water of course the subject of fishing always arises with hubby, even with the language barrier which did not seem to be a problem as the hand gestures in any language is all the same to describre how big the catch.
Sri Lanka is a very colourful place, hustle and bustle on the roads with many different styles of vehicles, heavily laden bikes, Tuk Tuks, cows, dogs and people everywhere – it seems only the cows know how to use the zebra crossings, which of course made me chuckle when 3 cows nose to tail stopped the traffic in the city by using the crossing – not sure if i’d be brave enough to drive there. The local Buddha temple was 57 metres tall and as bright as it was high, it was a priviledge to be able to visit the temple and see the artwork inside depicting the life of Buddha and the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, you cannot help notice that Buddha has a sad face as he looks out to sea.
Our next trip was the highlight of our holiday, a 2 day trip to Yala National Safari Park and on the way we saw so much. First stop was a turtle hatchery where saw various breeds of turtle, after the turtles are hatched they are kept for a day and then released back to the ocean at night, when hopefully they have a better chance of survival.
Our next stop was to visit the Tsunami memorial which was must for me, just being able to understand a little about the number of people that lost their lives and how the land was flattened, a train carrying 1270 passengers lost all but one person to the Tsunami, the foundations of some of the buildings are still visible along the roadside. Tens of thousands lost their lives, so many more left homeless and the country being in a state of chaos, despite their loss, the Sri lankian people seem so positive and work so hard to re build their lives.
We arrived at our very nice hotel on the edge of Yala National Park, had a quick drip in the pool and then off for the safari trip and oh how exciting this was. Its amazing how many types of animals you can see in such a short time before the sun came down, Leopards, water buffalo, peacocks, monkeys, eagles, crocs, painted stork, elephants, various birds which i seemed to miss in the excitement, wild boar, deer and a stray dog that found his way into the park (soon to be dinner for the leopard if he was not too careful).
Our driver Sambula was just brilliant at getting us to prime spots for the photography and so quick off the mark to race to the leopards location, at times we felt we were part of the ‘Wacky Races’ although the drive over the park was chaotic it was so worth it, even the bruises to the legs and the bumps to the head when we flew over the ruts and lumps and hit the roof of the jeep – A trip I will never forget!
The next morning we visited an Elephant transit home at Udawalawe National Park, it was great to see the elephants all coming through into the feeding area, nice to see they were not chained up and able to interact with each other. This transit home is a refuge for baby elephants that have been affected by being separated from their mothers. When the elephants are strong and old enough they are released back into the wild to carry on with their elephant life.
We drove on to the Ratnapura District where most of Sri Lankas gems are mined, this was really interesting and quite primitive way of mining, I was not expecting to see this set up and to learn that the guys that worked the mines only earned 3% between them where the owners took the rest. You’ll see from the photos that the miners all live and work in this small area in the uncomfortable heat, no home comfort here and all for such a small reward.
There was lots more to see on the trip home but i do have to add my last photo for this blog post – we had a good chuckle! A Sri Lankan trend setter, Thong style underpants!