…Continued from Journey to South Eastern Sri Lanka-Part 1

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In the morning we drove an hour south to Tissamaharama and checked into our new hotel that would be our base for exploring Yala National Park and diving at the Great Basses.

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Peacocks are everywhere

Hibiscus Garden Hotel. This is a fantastic hotel and quite affordable. The staff are great and very friendly. The pool was exactly what we needed to cool down after long days under the tropical sun.
After checking into the hotel we arranged for a safari tour of Yala National Park. Almost all national parks in Sri Lanka only allow visitors to enter in jeeps. The park is home to a variety of animals including elephants (which we never saw) and the elusive leopard. The park is said to have the highest concentration of leopards anywhere in the world…although finding the shy nocturnal cat is still rare.
Thankfully I left my gun and banjo at home

Our driver was great at finding animals
I seem to be missing something
Wild boars

We surprised a troop of grey langur monkeys

They blend into the trees perfectly

Nice beard

Spotted deer

Mugger crocodile

Painted stork

We spotted a leopard in the distance.

Ten minutes and a digital camera latter we decided it really was a leopard. Our guide said that we were lucky to get this view as many in the park didn’t see any leopards at all.

Elephant rock

As we were leaving the park we rounded a corner and came face to face with this beauty.

She walked right up and past us. What a great way to end the safari!

The next day we woke up at 5 am and headed down to the fishing harbor in Kirinda. We hired a diving company from the East Coast in Hikkaduwa to bring us out to the Great Basses. They hired two small fishing boats and we set out on the one hour trip to the lighthouse. The Great Basses are a long strip of rock and coral that have been sinking ships for a thousand years.
Getting the boats loaded up and organized

The lighthouse sits in the middle of the open ocean. Below we can already see fish as the deep ocean gives way to blue tropical waters.
Visibility was about 25-30 meters…nice!

The visibility was much nicer than my fogged over camera showed

A lobster

We decided to head back to the harbor after 2 dives. The wind had changed and the waves were starting to get bigger.
On the way back to Colombo we drove along the edge of Udawalawe National park. Who needs to enter when the elephants come right to road?
A thicker wire would be nice…
During Tamil and Sinhala New Year Kay and I took a 5 day road trip down to the southeastern corner of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is so hot this time of year most people head up into the mountains for the cool weather. We had other plans. With the monsoon shifting from the West to the East Coast a dive site called the Great Basses becomes accessible. It is only safe 4 weeks out of the year and is said to be the best diving in Sri Lanka.

We planned out trip so that we spent one night in the hill country in Belihul Oya, then a night in an ecolodge in Galapita, and finally two nights in Tissamaharama where we went on a safari in Yala National Park and then finally a day of diving at the Great Basses.

We hopped in the car and hit the “main” roads. Luckily the traffic was light and it only took us 4 1/2 hours to reach our first hotel in the hill country.

Beautiful views the whole way up.

We stayed at the River Garden Resort. There was definitely a river and garden, but we never found the “resort.” The staff where friendly enough but rooms we expensive for what they were, and the area so damp that the sheets were always wet. By morning my hat was soaked through!
After a tropical downpour we decided to go for a hike. Armed with a hand written map we set off to find a nearby waterfall.

On the trail

Consulting the “map”

The waterfall in the distance

We bouldered our way up the river.

The ninja lessons are finally paying off.
Trying to find the path.

It is as slippery as it looks.
The waterfall. After all that effort we thought it would be bigger.

Nothing better than a cool mountain river.

The next day we hit the road again and headed out of the mountains.
The roads were great until we hit a split in the road when things got a bit bumpy and the road lost all but one lane.
Taking a break

On the A-4 we came across the Diyaluma Falls.

We arrived for a night at the Galapita ecolodge. There is no electricity and they serve only vegetarian food. Other then them not being ready for us we had a great and relaxing stay.

Around the lodge

A view of Galapita Gala in the distance

A river cuts through the property

You have to cross a suspension bridge to reach the other rooms

Open air hut


Tree house overlooking the paddy fields and mountains

From the tree house we spied two peacocks in a nearby tree
Waking up in the morning

To be continued with Yala National Park and the Great Basses…

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