Rainy safari

Trip Start Dec 16, 2011
Trip End Jan 01, 2012

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, December 23, 2011

The ambience in Tissa (full name Tissamaharama) reminds me of Cambodia with it's paddy fields and humid climate.  It feels like we're in a different country entirely after leaving the Hill Country behind.  The whole place is so much more laid back and I feel so much better escaping Nuwara Eliya after 2 days of rain and a damp hotel.

Our afternoon safari started off well with sighting of quite a few animals and birds.  We were lucky enough to catch a male peacock with it's tail feathers proudly on display for a passing peahen.  Peacocks/hens here are like pheasants back home; stupidly running around in the road getting in the way.  The difference here however, is that there is no central reservation and all the jeeps are driven fairly slowly so they have a much better chance of survival.

After the first couple of hours the flow of wildlife reduced significantly, probably largely down to the number of tourist filled jeeps that were now there.  It's peak season so understandably very busy, but we had a good driver/guide who insisted on taking us away from the hoards of visitors.

We wanted to try out one of the campsites on the edge of the park but also to take the luxurious option.  Our driver had recommended a company who would arrange the safari and then the accommodation; the former of the two had turned out very well, but then we arrived at the accommodation...

There was nothing luxurious about this place.  After complaining a little we were given alternative room options and eventually ended up with an ensuite consisting of a tin pot roofed treehouse with makeshift bathroom of just a squat toilet with a old coke bottle filled with water to flush it with, which I suppose saved me the long trip down the ladder to the bottom of the tree at least!

Certainly rustic and an experience, particularly at 1am when torrential rain threatened to batter us out of the tree!

With a 4am start it was difficult to get any sleep and getting up in pitch darkness we were faced with the same perception as when we had arrived after sunset... with no idea how bad this place was... and worse, it meant no opportunities for photo's so you will have to imagine, much as we are, what is would look like!

The morning safari was disappointingly a bit of a wash out, with constant rain and cloud which kept all the animals indoors (or wherever they go when it's bad weather?).  After 5 hours of bumpy tracks and little more than a few elephants and a snake, we were ready to depart and move on to our next destination.  However the guide had other ideas and insisted on a further detour before leaving the park.

Thanks to this short diversion we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a leopard sitting in a tree.  Moments later he was gone, back into the undergrowth and away from the wet.  No photo's of course as I had only time to catch him out of the corner of my eye!

So, overall the safari was great, I was surprised to see so many animals whilst there after all the reviews from people who saw very lttle.  The accommodation would have been worth it at a much more reasonable price and it would have been nicer to see it in daylight.

There are lots of places in Tissa where you can book a jeep so it's worth bargaining rather than just settling for the first one you are pushed upon, and staying in a hotel or guesthouse nearby would be recommended after a long day out in a jeep... with hot showers and proper toilets!
Our next destimation is Ella, back in the Hill Country, but our driver has already decided to ditch us there, which he says is because the road from Ella to Kandy is closed after landslides and therefore we need to get the train.  I was a little jubious about this but as he agreed to arrange seats in the observation carriage (1st class) on the train for us, so it didn't seem the worst thing to have to deal with.

 Update: now we're in Kandy, and had to get a private taxi here - the train option didn't really work out :(.  Note to self: trust your instincts next time... oh and stop getting ripped off lol!
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Amy Tidd. on

Wow! Can't believe you saw a leopard! Super jealous. Have a great Christmas. Stay safe. Amyxxx

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