Day 11 of Sri Lanka Trip, Yala National Park on July 21, 2017

Eleventh day of our tour of Sri Lanka as we planned to visit Yala wildlife zoo National Park today.


The images in this post are hosted on Imgur. Email me should there be any display problems.

It’s said that there’s “best time of day” to visit Yala National Park so that animals are most visible, and that’s early in the morning or late in the afternoon. For this reason, we had to get up at five and pack our cameras and meet our jeep driver outside our hotel for a thirty-minute ride through quiet villages in darkness to the ticket station of Yala National Park. But the reality I believe was that, in this manner the safari jeeps could carry two groups of visitors each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon while giving each group maximum possible amounts of tour time in the park. There’s nothing wrong with this business cunning, but I just felt the “best time of day” theory was made up, as during our brief visit I didn’t notice any change of animal spotting probabilities.

By the way, it’s called “Jeep” in Sri Lanka but it’s actually modified pickup trucks where seats were mounted in the back of the truck, which was enough for Yala’s unpaved but even roads.
And for reference, the morning jeep safari for four people cost us 22,000 LKR (~145 USD), half of which were presumably tickets. If I remembered correctly, tickets for Yala and Horton National Park were the same price.

Yala National Park

Jeeps at Ticket Station


Jeeps at Ticket Station

At the ticket station, there were swarms of jeep cars the drivers of which were waiting in presumably inefficient ticket lines, just like Horton National Park. The difference was that, Yala did have a two-lane entrance gate later (that tracks time of entrance and departure) that resembled a highway toll gate, making which into a ticket station would be much better than the chaos at the actual ticket station.

Dog at Ticket Station


Dog at Ticket Station

So after 45 additional minutes of waiting, we finally made our way into Yala National Park.

Fields

Fields
Fields

Once inside the park, our jeep driver drove us around while showing us where the animals were. Unfortunately, we were not as good as an animal spotter as our driver. So here’s the usual situation going on in our jeep

Driver: (pointing at side of road while staring ahead, unbothered) Here’s a lizard.
(five seconds later)
Us: Wow!
Driver: (still unbothered) There’s a buffalo.
(five seconds later)
Us: Wow!
Driver: (unbothered) There’s a crocodile.
(ten seconds of silence)
Driver: (You stupid!) Give me your camera, I will take a photo and show you.

That is, until he spotted a puma, for which it was like winning a lottery for him.

So in the following part I will display photos based on different categories of animals. I’m not an animal expert, so I may not label some of these correctly.

Crane

Crane


Crane
Crane
Crane


Birds and Crane


Birds and Crane

Deer

Pack of Deer


Pack of Deer
Pack of Deer


Pack of Deer behind Bushes


Pack of Deer behind Bushes
Pack of Deer behind Bushes

Peafowl

Peafowl


Peafowl
Peafowl
Peafowl
Peafowl


Peafowl in Middle of Road

Peafowl in Middle of Road
Peafowl in Middle of RoadPeafowl in Middle of Road
Peafowl in Middle of Road


Peafowl


Peafowl
Peafowl


Peafowl Crossing Road


Peafowl Crossing Road

Mustelidae (not sure)

Animal

AnimalAnimal
Animal
Should be some kind of Mustelidae.


Animal

Animal
Animal
Animal
Should be some kind of Mustelidae.

Crocodile

Crocodiles often submerged most of their bodies under water, which made them very hard to spot.

Crocodile


Crocodile


Crocodile in Water


Crocodile in Water


Crocodile Peninsula


Crocodile Peninsula
Crocodile Peninsula


Crocodiles Swimming


Crocodiles
Crocodiles
Crocodiles

Lizard

Lizard


LizardLizard
Lizard

Bird

Bird Drinking


Bird Drinking


Bird


Bird


Buffalo and Birds


Buffalo and Birds

Buffalo

Buffalo in Middle of Road


Buffalo in Middle of Road
Buffalo in Middle of Road


Pack of Buffaloes

Pack of Buffaloes
Pack of Buffaloes


Buffalo


Buffalo
Buffalo


Pack of Buffaloes

Pack of Buffaloes
Pack of BuffaloesPack of Buffaloes
Pack of Buffaloes
Pack of Buffaloes


Buffalo Drinking

Buffalo Drinking
Buffalo Drinking


Buffalo Bathing


Buffaloes BathingBuffaloes Bathing
Buffaloes Bathing


Field with Buffaloes


Field with Buffaloes
They are a family?

Puma and Wild Boar

For other animals, you are almost guaranteed to see all of them during any safari trip. But this couldn’t be said about puma. It’s said that there was only about a couple hundred of these left in the park. Our driver seemed pretty unbothered pointing at other animals for us, but when he spotted this puma, I could literally saw his eyes light up as he pulled out his camera and joined us in photo taking.

By the way, we spotted a (large) group of wild boars drinking by the water first. Obviously, this large group of prey attracted this puma, as he sneaked his way in behind the bushes. Unfortunately, one of the wild boars spotted this looming predator and alerted the rest of the pack. So in the end, this puma returned empty, though in my mind, I was expecting a scene of carnage which would make better photos.

Pack of Wild Boars Drinking


Pack of Wild Boars Drinking
Pack of Wild Boars Drinking


Puma


Puma
Puma


Pack of Wild Boars Drinking


Pack of Wild Boars Drinking


Pack of Wild Boars Running away from Puma


Pack of Wild Boars Running away from Puma


Wild Boar


Wild Boar
We spotted this wild boar before the lakeside chase, who’s by his own. Obviously got alerted by us, this guy ran away from us in lightning speed.

Monkeys

Monkeys on Doorstep


Monkeys on Doorstep
Monkeys on Doorstep
There are houses in the park, presumably residences of park rangers. Obviously, these monkeys were going through whatever they could find around these premises, like bags of garbage.


Monkeys on Tree

Monkeys on Tree
Monkeys on Tree
Monkeys on TreeMonkeys on Tree
Monkeys on Tree


Monkey on Tree


Monkey on Tree
Monkey on Tree

Miscellaneous

Rabbit in Bushes


Rabbit in Bushes


Pair of Ducks


Pair of Ducks


Flower


Flower


Elephant and Buffaloes Bathing


Elephant and Buffaloes Bathing


Lake


Lake


In the middle of our tour we took a brief break in what looked like a campsite by the sea. Our tour guide guaranteed us that the nearby grounds were crocodile-and-puma-free, so we took a walk.
Rock


Rock


Beach


Beach

After more than five hours in Yala National Park, we went back to downtown Tissamaharama where we took a shower in our late-check-out hotel to wash off dusts from the morning’s jeep ride, and made our way East along the coastline.

Yoda Lake

Yoda Lake
Yoda Lake


Buffalo Eating Grass


Buffalo Eating Grass
Obviously this one’s raised.


Rice Field

Rice Field
Rice FieldRice Field
Rice Field


Pack of Buffalo

Pack of Buffalo
Pack of Buffalo
Near Tissa Lake, they were probably raised.


Tree near Tissa Lake


Tree near Tissa Lake
Packs of bats hanging on the branches. At dusk they would fly out in search of food, which was quite a spectacular sight as introduced by our hotel manager.


For these bats, our hotel maintained a rooftop terrace for residences to watch bats flying at dusk. But for our only night in Tissamaharama, we chose to watch sunset on the other side of Lake Tissa instead.
Cows by Tissa Lake

Cows by Tissa Lake
Cows by Tissa Lake


Lunch


Lunch


We had this lunch in a restaurant just outside Tissamaharama, after which we headed West towards Mirissa.

On the way there we passed Weerawila Airport, which was one of the handful airports in the country and our driver proudly pointed that out for us. It was a half-military airport, where a small soccer field was located at the end of the runway presumably for soldiers’ recreation. I was sort of curious as they never seemed to worry about balls hitting airplanes, so I did a little search online and found that the entire Sri Lanka Air Force consists of four fighter jets, among many things.

After that, we approached the city of Hambantota, a port city located on the Southern shore of the country with heavy Chinese investment. So for the first time in ten days, we saw roads with more than one lane per direction, which the locals would call “highway”. Obviously these highways were built by the Chinese and only covered the span of the city. On our way past the city of Hambantota, our driver pointed out the a modern roadside convention center and the distant port of Hambantota which was built by the Chinese, a brand-new Shangri-La hotel, things looked good on the outside.

Highway Surrounding Hambantota


Highway Surrounding Hambantota
In Sri Lanka, a highway was defined to be “at least two lanes in one direction”, which there weren’t many. But more than that, this one comes with a central barrier.


Distant Port of Hambantota


Distant Port of Hambantota

However, we didn’t need to leave the highway to see the truth of Sri Lanka lives. The truth was, this highway was so scarce in traffic that there were more cows than vehicles on it. And if you bothered to look on Google Earth, more than half of the Hambantota port were empty concrete sitting with nothing.

Raging Indian Ocean


Raging Indian Ocean


Squirrel


Squirrel
Near a roadside cafe where we took a brief stop.

Hummanaya Blow Hole

On our way to Mirissa we made a brief stop at Hummanaya Blow Hole, the geological structure of which I didn’t bother to cite from Wikipedia. Basically, it’s a hole that intermittently explodes with sea water, of which Hummanaya Blow Hole is one of the largest.
A notice to potential visitors, that Hummanaya Blow Hole was most visible in high tide, of which (judging by online review) the ticket officer won’t tell you in advance. We didn’t check tide before we visit, but we did watch some spectacular water blasts.

Ocean by Hummanaya Blow Hole


Ocean by Hummanaya Blow Hole

It took patience waiting for Blow Hole blasts, but not too much that day as we witnessed several explosions. It’s nice to play game of chickens with my friends by the hole, the result of which was expectedly for all of us to get drenched after several explosions.

Hummanaya Blow Hole was not a very popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka, probably because it’s not close to any major city and only those that hired a private driver like us would pay it a visit. So apart from four local younglings who were laughing puzzled at us as they probably couldn’t figure out why people would deliberately get themselves drenched, there was nobody else. But strangely, the narrow street leading to Hummanaya Blow Hole was lined with shops selling dried fish, the strong smell of which I guess wouldn’t attract foreigners. Is there such a high local demand?

Hummanaya Blow Hole Blasting

Hummanaya Blow Hole BlastingHummanaya Blow Hole Blasting
Hummanaya Blow Hole BlastingHummanaya Blow Hole BlastingHummanaya Blow Hole Blasting
Hummanaya Blow Hole BlastingHummanaya Blow Hole BlastingHummanaya Blow Hole Blasting
Hummanaya Blow Hole Blasting


Railings at Hummanaya Blow Hole


Railings at Hummanaya Blow Hole
There were many smaller explosions, which all fell within these railings by the way. So these railings made watching the blow hole safe (the grounds within these railings were mostly wet), but at the same time, less exciting.


Indian Ocean


Indian Ocean


Toilets at Hummanaya Blow Hole


Toilets at Hummanaya Blow Hole
There were a foreigner toilet and a local toilet, which shouldn’t be uncommon in Sri Lanka I guess. But it’s interesting that they used English to mark the “local” toilet, which was not how things normally went in Sri Lanka (they never marked “local price” in menus in English). I tried to “explore” both toilets to see whether there’s any substantial difference (apart from better threshold for the foreign one). A group of (definitely local) dogs resting outside the local one barked me off. (So this segregation was actually enforced.)


Indian Ocean


Indian Ocean

After that, we were on the road again.

Uthpalawanna Sri Vishnu Devalaya


Uthpalawanna Sri Vishnu Devalaya
A Hindu/Buddhist temple. Our driver stopped at its entrance so that we could take some photos.

As we passed the city of Matara we paid a brief visit to Paravi Duwa Temple, which was a temple on the sea that’s said to resemble Bali’s Tanah Lot. (No, the Bali one is much better.) It was close to dusk so we just took a few photos and left.

Paravi Duwa Temple


Paravi Duwa Temple
Paravi Duwa Temple


Matara Coastline

Matara Coastline
Matara Coastline

For the first time during our trip, we didn’t plan a specific city or town to spend the night. We just wanted to spend the following night in Galle (which ended up to be Unawatuna). Our driver suggest the town of Mirissa and to be honest we didn’t care, and that’s it. Of course Mirissa is famous for its whale watching activity and if it’s winter it’s got to be it, but summer is not the whale watching season in Mirissa and to be honest, spending the night in the bigger city of Matara would also be nice.

Dinner


Dinner
We had this dinner at I&I Roti Shop, it’s so good that we decided to have breakfast here the next morning too. In a generally overpriced tourist town, this I&I Roti Shop knew how to make non-spicy Sri Lanka food that foreigners can enjoy at a decent price, and it’s just in the center of the town.


END

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Day 11 of Sri Lanka Trip, Yala National Park on July 21, 2017 by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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