Tissa and Yala Nationalpark – Bats and Leopards in Sri Lanka

To finally escape the fog and rain I decided to share a taxi from Ella down to Tissa. We got a good deal and for once I was able to ride in style rather than a crowded bus. Tissa is an extraordinary place and unlike all other places I have been to in Sri Lanka, I guess because it’s rural enough to see the real deal. Tourists only stop by to go to Yala National Park, so the town kept its authentical flair. Here’s a list of things I have witnessed in Tissa but nowhere else:

  • A person driving by on a traktor (? – or something like it) competely covered in mud. Literelly from face to heel – must have taken a dive into the rice fields..
  • People bathing in the river, but not without bringing their own soap
  • Cows casually hanging out in the streets “downtown”
  • 1000s of bats flying around at dusk – looked like an Invasion of small spaceships
  • No veggies have been served in the restaurant because they didn’t have any clean water to wash them with
  • However they did serve chicken and we saw the shade of the butcher / cook / random person who prepared it with a big knife like in a horror movie scene

At 5 am the next day we got picked up to leave for an adventurous safari and maybe spot some cool animals. Regarding that I have been in several game parks in South Africa I was more than sceptical about how awesome this would be… but I joined anyway. The sunrise has been beautiful, and so have the many birds we saw, but nothing really exciting happened til the moment when some other safari van sped by. Our driver fitfully turned around, chased after it on bumpy, dusty roads and finally squeezed in the very front of an enormous amount of other cars. It’s been very unfortunate for that Japanese group that was just about to take a picture of the leopard and now has some nice memories of our blurry faces or van parts. WE however had an awesome view on the big cat that did nothing else but laying around really and occasionally turning its head.

The next 6 hours we spent driving around to spot some other cool stuff, but never really did. Whilst there was a second leopard somewhere on a tree like 2000 metres / more than a mile away and everybody got excited about seing its tail (I didn’t), I lost my sunglasses and got bruiced several times while walking around inside the van when it was moving. I mean really, a tail? We’ve just seen the whole thing, who cares about a black line in the far distance that could be anything?!

After a beach break (now THAT was lovely), the driver chased an elephant we saw – again in the far distance – before our trip was finally over and the guide asked: “Are you happy??” politely we said “Sure” what he replied to with: “Then you’re welcome to give an extra tip!!”

All in all I have the following advice:

If you travel to view beautiful landscapes, beaches and ancient culture. Go to Sri Lanka!

If you travel to spot big game in national parks: Go to Africa and enjoy!

 

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