Here we are in a new country to us: Sri Lanka! Our first destination is the southern province, where we will stop at coastal cities of Galle, Mirissa and slightly on the inside Tissa, for Yala National Park.
We find a sort of bus stand, more of a dusty courtyard, where we hop on the first of many buses we will use during next three weeks: colourful, cheap, crowded, hot, always with local loud music pumped on. We are soon delighted to skip the capital, saying it’s chaotic would be an euphemism. It takes over an hour to cover the 30 km from the airport to Colombo Fort train station.
Having dropped our heavy backpacks, we are now free to explore the surroundings: the first afternoon we walk around Galle Fort, with its beautiful walls, the lighthouse, and many colonial buildings.
The second day we go to the popular beach of Unawatuna: it’s located in a quiet bay a few km from Galle, we reach it by super cheap bus+a little walk. Time for our first swim in Sri Lanka! We would stay more, but pushed by curiosity we go searching for Jungle Beach.
After a long 3-km hike, we find it, secluded in a remote bay: it is nice as well, but less wide and spacious, there are 30ish people, locals and tourists. We wish we stayed at Unawatuna!
We come back at night for a simple dinner: chicken and fried rice, that costs us 500 rupees altogether (3$!).
As soon as we leave our backpacks, we go for the beach: it is really amazing, wild, fascinating and romantic too. There’s nothing to do here, and nothing else we would do apart from enjoying this marvellous place.
A few of them are sitting on the bank, they call us and we talk for a while, asking nothing but smiles in exchange. We were very lucky and so glad to find these guys!
We spend the rest of the day at Mirissa Beach, jumping and diving in the wavy sea. There’s also a wild rock island to climb, from where the view on the beach is rewarding.
Unfortunately we have to leave the day after, we loved Mirissa so much we could have stayed easily for a week!
The area is nice, very wild as expected, not crowded as it can be (we read of 70 up to 150-200 jeep in high season!), and our driver takes all the dirt roads he knows, stopping by here and there, pointing and explaining where and what to look. We see monkeys, crocodiles, elephants, mongooses, peacocks, buffaloes, eagles, ibis, jackals, dears, etc., but no sign of leopards so far.
Suddenly reports via radio say there has been a leopard spotting nearby. When we get there, it’s already gone, there are some 15-20 jeeps, and it’s not coming back now for sure. We keep on moving and exploring the area, the sun high in the sky is becoming hotter and hotter and animals hide in the shades. Talking with another driver, we are informed we missed the leopard again, crossing one of the main roads. Guess it wasn’t our lucky day.
Now that we’ve left the coast, we are ready to explore central Sri Lanka!
WHERE TO STAY:
- Shalona Holiday Home, Galle: 2000rupees/night, fan, private bathroom, 2km from town;
- Nuwan Guest, Mirissa: 1000rs/night, fan, big room, private bathroom, sweet family;
- Nature Resort, Tissa: 1500-2000rs/night, fan-AC, private bathroom, helpful owner.
- You can pre-book all your stays in Sri Lanka with free cancellation here.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND:
- Bus, airport to Colombo Fort: 160rs/person;
- Train, 2nd class, Colombo-Galle: 120rs/person;
- Tuk-tuk, Galle station-guesthouse: 300rs;
- Local bus rides, guesthouse-town-Unawatuna:12-24rs/person;
- Bus, Unawatuna-Mirissa: 50rs/person;
- Bus, Mirissa-Matara-Tissa: about 200rs/person;
- Buses, Tissa-Welawaya-Ella: about 180rs/person.
- You can pre-book your tickets to travel in Sri Lanka on amt.12go.asia
- Moto for rent from Nuwan Guest: 700rs/24hrs;
- Fuel: 100rs;
- Safari, Yala National Park: 4500rs/person, jeep+driver+entrance fees+pick up/drop off;
- Airport, exchange 50€=7700rs;
- Galle, exchange 100€=15.900rs;
- Tissa, withdrawal 24.000rs=155€.
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
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