Week 3 started with us leaving Ella, the town we had loved the most so far in Sri Lanka. We headed for UdaWalawe in search of wild elephants.
To get from Ella by bus, meant three changes & with the heat, we couldn’t face the hassle. The minivans wanted 6500R but we could find anyone to share, so we asked a tuk-tuk who seemed keen despite the distance.
It was a fun journey & despite him quoting 3hrs, we made it in 2.5 for 4,500 including his tip.
There is nothing much in the village itself apart from a few shops & a couple of food shacks (especially off-season). We stayed at an amazing homestay (the best place yet in SL) see: Nature House
The host, Thilak arranged for his brother-in-law to take us on a 6am safari (cost 3500R). Entrance to the park is extra (5990 for two).
This was the second highlight of the trip (the other, the train to Ella).
The Elephant Transit Home (ETH) – Born Free
Just down the road is the ETH, which is predominantly a feeding station for orphaned baby elephants. The ETH explains: ‘ The orphans at the ETH can only really be seen at feeding times, which are 9am, 12noon, 3pm and 6pm. Entry is charged at LKR500 (around US$5) per person. At these times they can be watched from the viewing platform for about twenty minutes while they are given milk. The rest of the time they spend in the National Park, out of view of people, in preparation for their return to the wild when they are about four years old.’
For more info see: ETH – Bornfree.org
I could go to watch elephants everyday… but it was time to move on. We headed by bus to the coast. First stop…
Tangalle, off season, is a sleepy little seaside stretch of guesthouses & Homestays. There are a couple of cafes but most seemed closed for the season. We stayed in a Homestay which had basic rooms for £10, however the host was lovely & her cooking was amazing especially the SL breakfasts! See Ananda Homestay
There is a busy town situated inland, a fishing port & some attractions including:
Entrance to the consevation area was £5 each & as it was situated 13km out of town, we paid a tuk tuk driver £7 to get there (expensive, but the going rate apparently).
We only saw two turtles on the 3hr watch (low season only 3-5 turtles come ashore each night). Apparently the sand was too wet so they gave up on their attempts to lay eggs when the tunnels collapsed. It seemed such a shame to see them haul themselves all the way back to the sea, knowing they would have to do the same again the following night. It was a beautiful night however, with no light pollution … full of stars & fire flies. 🙂
After 2 nights in Tangalle, we were keen to move on somewhere a little busier & upgrade to a room with aircon (monsoon season brings extreme humidity).
It’s easy to see that Mirissa in high season, would be very popular with tourists. It has a beautiful bay, many beach bars, cafes & tourist shops. The main draw is apparently whale watching with Blue whales, Fin whales, Sperm whales, Orcas (killer whales), dolphins, flying fish, turtles, Manta Rays and Whale sharks, which can all be seen a few miles off the Coast.
However, in monsoon season (now), the sea is very rough. Boats & fishermen do not venture out & there is only a smattering of tourists milling about on the beach & drinking smoothies in the bars.
It’s just the place to relax for a few days, walk on the beach or use one of the larger hotels swimming pools.
We stayed at Relax Duo Homestay for £22 a night (with aircon, breakfast & a lovely private patio). The hosts again, were lovely & we were treated to amazing SL food & welcomed into their home.
Next Week… will be our last week in Asia & we plan to visit the historic Dutch coastal fort of Galle & then make our way up the coast by train towards Colombo (& our flight back to the UK).