Of Leopards and Blue Whales, Sri Lanka March 2013

I have spent the final leg of my travels combing the southern coastline. The ‘wilds’ of Sri Lanka can still be experienced at several National Parks around the country. I spent some time at Yala NP where the terrain of rocky granite outcrops is interspersed with grassy marshlands and tracts of forest that stretch down to the sea. Yala is a haven for the largest leopard population in Sri Lanka so I bounced and bumped around in a safari jeep for two full days for the chance to see these elusive beasts. We made three sightings – the most exciting we chanced upon in the late afternoon. We pulled alongside a tangled grove of trees, and curled up in the shaded depths was a female leopard. Yellow eyes blinked up at us. She yawned and stretched before slinking off to another private cache to sleep off the rest of the day.
More common encounters in Yala were of spotted deer, water buffalo, wild boar and a plethora of water birds. We were fortunate enough to see a ‘tusker’ – less than 5% of Sri Lankan elephants have tusks and Sinhalese legend says those who have the good fortune to see one will be blessed.

I have since hopskotched along several beachside towns where long stretches of white sand beach are fringed with coconut palms and pandanus. Although thousands of lives were lost along this coastline in the tsunami, many of the hotels and beach shacks have simply been rebuilt even closer to the high tide mark. Colourful fishing boats bob on the milky blue turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and famed stilt fishermen teeter on wooden poles high above the battering swell on surf beaches. I have spent my time beside, on and under the waters – on a safari of the marine kind to pull alongside migrating blue whales as well as enjoying a spot of scuba diving.

My final post comes to you from Galle – a charming colonial town established by the Dutch as a key port for their East India Trading Company. The old fortress dates back to the 1600s and the rampart walls now offer shimmering views of the Indian Ocean. Within the fort walls lies the UNESCO listed old town. Restored colonial buildings line narrow bricked streets in the enclave. Their walls are plastered in pastel colours with shuttered windows and terracotta roofs. Rambling bougainvilleas frame porches and balconies and scented frangipani trees shade inner courtyards. I’ve enjoyed exploring the hidden gems of Galle Fort – one of the true jewels of the Serendib.

This entry was posted in Sri Lanka and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Of Leopards and Blue Whales, Sri Lanka March 2013

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *