Weligama / Taprobane Island
We left Colombo at 9am and with a two hour stop in Galle,we arrived in Weligama at 3.30pm. In the morning we woke up at 5am and drove a couple of kilometres towards the Taprobane Island. It is a private island with one villa. We wanted to take photos of the sunrise.
Our next destination was Yala National Park. The distance was only about 150 km but we were driving once again since 9am till 3pm. We had a couple of small stopovers on the way, the first one in Kudawella where we saw a blow hole. As foreigners we had to pay 250RP per person, while locals had free entry. It was a very hot day and climbing stairs to reach the hole was quite challenging. There were many locals selling dried fish, which is apparently a delicacy in Sri Lanka. The smell of the dried fish not so much. When we finally arrived at the blow hole, we have to say it was nothing spectacular. Living in coutries like New Zealand and Australia, we get quite spoilt with amazing coastlines.
The second, very brief stop was at Tangalle Beach which was one of the nicest beaches we saw in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately it was still polluted with lots of rubbish lying around the beach.
Yala National Park
It is the second largest and most visited national park in Sri Lanka. It consists of five blocks, two of which are generally open to public (Block 1 - Rahuna National Park and Block 2 - Kumana National Park). During our visit in October 2014, they were unfortunately both closed due to a severe drought. Instead, they opened Block 3, which was on the other side and it took us over an hour to reach it from the Cinnamon Wild Yala resort where we stayed. Because we left very early, we didn't make it to breakfast. Instead, we got a take away box with a couple of sandwiches, little juice, apple and cakes. We have to say that the food in the box that looked like leftovers from the previous day (and it probably was) was way below average and the standards of this resort.
You can't drive to the national park in your car, you have to book one of the safari tours. They are around 8,000RP, not very cheap. Don't forget that the driver expects a huge tip at the end of the safari (at least 1,500RP). Once we reached the gates of Block 3, we had to purchase tickets. The entry fee for two people is 4,500RP while locals pay only a few cents. Block 3 was not ready for the public and there were no animals. After a couple of hours driving around the park we saw less animals than back in our resort. We were quite disappointed as this turned out to be quite an expensive day. We felt that this block should not have been opened at all, or they should have charged less. It was simply a waste of our time.
The only interesting thing we saw in the park were the dead trees in the lake, but because park opens long after sunrise, we couldn't get nice shots in the soft light.