So I started telling you about the awesome time I had in 2 weeks in Sri Lanka, and I am guessing it would take me a few more posts to tell you about all I've seen and done in such a short time! But, I'll try to make it as brief as possible, and hope that it intrigues you enough to visit the country and see for yourself!
Continuing my journey, after the beautiful beach town of Mirissa, I began to experience more of the culture and wild life of Sri Lanka...
Yala and Minneriya National Parks
During my research about the island's wild life, I got lots of recommendations for Yala National Park as the biggest national park in Sri Lanka, with the widest variation of animals and birds... Most special of which is the elusive leopard; we could only catch a glimpse of it from afar, but we got to see many elephants instead.
In Yala, expect to see buffaloes, bores, gazelles (or bambis as they call them), crocodiles, birds like peacocks, storks, etc. and a few elephants... But if you really want to see herds of elephant families, then Minneriya National Park is where you should go because that's mostly what you'd see there. You can see photos of both parks in my Facebook album.
Spending about 3 to 4 hours, up to half a day, in either of the parks should be more than enough to get your fill of wild life. For Yala, starting at dawn is recommended to catch animals going for early swimming in the lakes. For Minneriya, the afternoon is recommended to see the elephant families strolling around and eating.
For either parks, you'll need to hire a driver/guide with a vehicle, so it's best to do this with a group in order to split the cost. If you're hiring the driver personally, then make sure you yourself buy the entrance tickets to the parks as the drivers tend to inflate the prices to squeeze more money out of you.
Yala National Park is in the southern province, so for accommodation, you can stay in one of the towns nearby. I was staying in Kataragame, which had nothing special much, but friends of mine were staying in River Inn Face, where I met them to go to Yala National Park together. It's quite a nice and clean place by a river, and with very nice staff.
After 4 days in Sri Lanka, spending a night in each location, and around 5 hours trip of changing buses from Kataragame to Pottuvil, I finally got to Arugam Bay where I spent 2 nights, just to relax and lazy off by one of the world's most famous surfing spots!
The beach is quite a popular tourist destination, especially for surfers, but also for those who want to enjoy one of Sri Lanka's largest gorgeous beaches on the East coast, while the West coast is off season. Still, the beach town wasn't quite what I expected... I was expecting a well-developed city with a very busy beach, but again, it was just another small town with a few tourists here and there along the beach... Check it out in my Facebook album.
The beach town is 20 minutes away from Pottuvil, the main town where the bus station is, a Muslim-populated town, with the most beautiful sunset scene I witnessed in Sri Lanka.
There are many options for accommodations by the beach; I personally stayed at Funky De Bar, that had good food, and nice beach beds to lay down outside. Another great option for accommodation and food, if you want something really special, is Ranga's Beach Hut.
Passikudah Bay was the last beach town I got to enjoy, after around 3 hours by buses and a tuktuk from Arugam Bay, and it was quite different than all the other beaches. The sea was quite calm and shallow, and the beach was engulfed with luxury hotels only.
I spent a peaceful time there, swimming, snorkeling, and chilling on a commercial yacht that can be rented per night. There aren't any affordable options for accommodation or dining by the bay, but a 5 minutes walk away, there are a few good ones. I don't even recall the name of the place where I stayed, in the photo below, but it had awesome room cabins with open outdoor showers! I saw a squirrel running across the wall as I was taking a shower; such a thrill haha
Enjoy more of Passiqudah's beauty in my Facebook album here.
Up till this point in my trip, it has been nothing but "smooth sailing" in coastal towns... Then it was time for the other part of my trip, where I took a bus from Passiqudah and headed to Habarane to start my journey in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, which you can read about in Part III here.
Have you been to Sri Lanka or planning a trip there? What caught your attention most? Let me know in the comments below, and don't forget to share!