Towards and at Colombo

The trip was now slowly coming to an end. We left Unawatuna in the morning and made our way along the coast towards Colombo. En-route we had a stop at a Buddha Statue near Peraliya, which has been set up here to commemorate the victims of the 2004 tsunami, which heavily affected this area.

We continued heading North for a further stop and an optional boat ride on Maduganga Lake. The boat ride got us out onto the lake, passing through mangroves and with a stop at the Kothduwa Rajamaha Viharaya temple. Overall the boat ride was really nothing special – but certainly made a nice diversion from all that sitting on the bus 😉

Before making it to Colombo, we had a further stop at a sea turtle hatchery. Turtle eggs are gathered here and – after they have hatched, they released to the sea in a protected way, to give them the highest chance of survival at the start of their lives.

We got into Colombo after a quick lunch in a mall food court and a chance for last minute supermarket shopping. In Colombo we essentially stayed on the bus and did a huge circle around town and passing by the main sights; obviously with some stops for photos. Overall I found Colombo pretty underwhelming – not too much to see and do here, it is obviously the administrative and economic capital and caters for that – but there is little of touristic interest … so ultimately, I think, it was a good thing, that we were really just passing through today and not staying here.

From Colombo it was – with a bit of a true traffic deadlock – back to Negombo, from where I was heading to the airport later on for my 2am flight back to Europe.

Putting it all together this trip to Sri Lanka was a packed and compressed one, with very little free time and many early morning – it however was a very multifaceted one as well, covering the main aspects, of what Sri Lanka has to offer – from culture (temples, ruins, dagobas/ stupas, more temples), food (keep that brinjal coming, please) to nature (elephants, peacocks and a leopard) and outdoor fun (rafting, climbing up Adam’s Peak, hiking to World’s end). So to sum up – Sri Lanka for me was just the right mix of everything – – clear recommendation from my end.

Towards Unawatuna

We had spent plenty of time now in the center and the highlands of Sri Lanka – it was now finally back to the coast again; destination for the day was the beach town of Unawatuna.

in the early afternoon (before our arrival in Unawatuna) we had a further stop to visit a local family and get another introduction into the local cuisine and the steps in its preparation. Of course we also had a chance to sample the dishes after preparation, which proofed yummy, as always.

Later in the afternoon we made it into Unawatuna and back into tourist country proper – with a nice beach and a pool at the hotel. Dinner was at the beach – as well as some post-dinner drinks. A welcome and relaxing change after all those action-packed days before.

Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home

We left the camp in the early morning. First stop of the day was at the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home. Here injured and orphaned elephants are taken care of, medically treated and fed – and rehabilitated for life in the wild. Once ready, the elephants get released back into the wild – most straight into Udawalawe National Park. We got to the transit home just in time for the morning feeding time; below some photographic evidence …

Yala National Park

We left the camp in the afternoon to make it over to Yala National Park, where we – once more – changed into jeeps for a game drive around the park. This time the drive was indeed more nature focused – no mud-fun here 😉

We circled around the park, got close to elephants, peacocks and water buffaloes. We also got to see a leopard (in the far distance though, only recognizable with binoculars – so no photos here) – – so successful gaming here.

Water Fall and Nature Walk

We left Ella in the morning, and as such also the mountain country. En-route we had a stop at Ravana Falls (which included an opportunity to buy rocks) before making it to our home for the next night – a permanent tent site about an hour away from Yala NP. Before lunch the site’s naturalist took us for a walk through the area surrounding the camp, showing us the plants and a bit of wildlife of the region.

Train to Ella

We got back into Nuwara Eliya around midday – and with our train scheduled to leave around 15:00, we had enough time for an early lunch, before making it to the train station.

The train did pull in a slight bit late. We had reserved seats in third class – and those were now our home for the next good three hours and until arrival in Ella. While third class may sound bad, it was actually quiet acceptable – certainly not worse than German second class on a regional train – plus the landscape rolling by catered for a welcome diversion. For the first part of the journey we made it through tea country, overlooking the tea gardens of the Ella region. The scenery changed gradually over time – away from the rolling hills of tea to a more mountainous setup with bigger differences in elevation, cliffs down and great valley views.

We got into Ella a bit later than expected, hence made it straight to the hotel. Though with Ella being more of a base for activities in the area around (i.e. mainly consisting of guesthouses, restaurants, bars and coffee shops – and no real attractions) we did not really miss out much.

Teatime in “little England” …

We made it back to the hotel in the late morning, where (a rather late) breakfast was waiting for us. The tour continued after a quick chance to freshen up. We continued deeper into the main tea production area, heading for Nuwara Eliya (nick-named Little England). En-route we stopped at a tea factory for a quick tour through the production process; as today was a Sunday, there was not much happening here – so the focus of the tour was more on the tasting room and the (slightly over-prized) factory shop (assuming one made it through the hordes of Chinese tourists on a tea-buying mission).

After having gotten a glimpse of the production process, we made it to the Grand Hotel in Little England for the classic High Tea experience (and I still cannot believe, that my British / OZ travel companions really needed a German to actually bring that option up).

After tea there was – of course – an opportunity to check out town and get an understanding, where its nick name is coming from. For me – having been up since 1am – it was a short evening (after a long day) and I ended in bed fairly early.