Having a whale of a time

Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
Trip End Dec 22, 2013

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What I did
Raja and the Whales

Flag of Sri Lanka  , Southern Province,
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chandani the lovely woman from Sam's Guest house flagged down the bus for me to get to Mirissa but before doing so gave me a cold bottle of water for the trip and present; a bracelet. I was very touched by that and her over all hospitality. I would definitely stay with her again and recommend others to do so as well.   Being dumped on the main road in Mirissa was not a problem as there was a taxi there on standby that would take me down to my guest house (Handagedara Guest House); once we consulted with the store owner and one other taxi drive as to the location.  Most of these places just provide their name and the road they are on and not much more, so if it’s not a popular place they drivers don’t necessarily know it.  It’s was no more than 5 minutes away and he only had to stop once to confirm he was going the right way and arrived at another beautiful home with a welcoming host; fresh fruit juice on arrival. 

After getting settled I made my way through the meandering roadways to get to the entrance to the beach which I have to say did take my breath away.   Definitely it is a much bigger beach then Unawatuna with much fewer resorts, restaurants and bars. The surf was also much bigger here because of the large bay the beach is on.  I walked the whole length of the beach taking stock and first finding a small little turtle conservation area.  There were 5 large water tanks were they were holding recently hatched turtles until they were bigger to ensure a better rate of survival in the sea and they also had an area where they’ve re-buried nests they have found and are keeping watch over them.  Nobody was around the first time I was there but when I went by the next day there was and I had a nice chat with him about their program.  He explained that just a few days ago they released 200 turtles into the sea out of necessity because they don’t have enough tanks.  After getting my fill with the turtles I reached an island/slash rock at the end of the beach that will someday be an observation post for the coast guard.  Then feeling the need for a swim found a spot to park and went for a dip.  Wow, it was a challenge getting in between the surf slamming against the shore and then the undertow but still fun.  So pretty much swam and sunned the afternoon away until the clouds rolled in threatening to rain.

Next morning I had arranged to go for a whale watching cruise with a company called Raja and the Whales (www.rajaandthewhales.com) and they had a taxi come pick me up to take me to the harbour which turned out to be a 3 minute walk from where I was staying.  After paying and providing my name and passport details, I walked about 30 m to the boat.  I had been told to try and get a seat on the upper deck but it was full so found myself a nice comfortable seat on the lower deck next to another couple who happen to be from Quebec. Right away we were served tea and cookies and then shortly left the harbour.  After a briefing about where were going and expectations for what we would see, they served us a really nice fruit plate.  About 1.5 hrs in the water, the boat slowed down and we started our search for the whales.  It felt really eerie to me as everyone was so quiet and all you could hear was the lapping of the water.  I was half expecting something to leap out of the water and attack us, just like in movies.  Maybe 10 mins later, one of the guides said 10 o’clock and sure enough in that direction there was a 50m fin whale blowing his spout.  They have strict rules about not getting too close so just watched from where we were until it swam away.   About a half hour later we spotted a blue whale, and then another fin whale shortly after that.  By that time all the other boats had caught up with us and our crew explained the whales will go away as they are frightened.  Fair enough and in the past few days they’ve only been able to spot on whale, one day taking 5 hrs, we saw three within 2hrs.  Turning around to head back to shore we were then served omelets and bread and juice.  A really well done tour and agree with others who have recommended that they really do a good job and also have the proper safety and operating licenses which a lot of the other operators don’t have.   We were back at the harbour by 10:30am so had the whole day to do nothing.  So I chilled out at the guest house for a while trying to catch up my blogs and other stuff and then hit the beach for one last time. 

Tomorrow I head back to Negombo for a day and a half to hopefully help Nuwan with his website and then I’m off to New Zealand to start my next chapter of my trip.  Sri Lanka has been a really nice relaxing break from the type of travel I’ve been doing for the last six months.  I’ve really enjoyed being here and could definitely see myself coming back to explore other areas I didn’t get to and re-visit some I liked.
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Lee Ann on

Turtles! You must be in heaven :)

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