Out of the highlands…Ella to Tissamaharama

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Having walked 20,000 steps yesterday we fell asleep pretty early and had a good night’s rest. Woke up to another refreshingly cold (!) shower. Thankfully the incredible view from breakfast compensates.

Another mammoth brekkie of pancakes, egg hoppers, fruit and toast awaited. We were absolutely stuffed and then the host brought out one last round of hoppers. Sri Lankan’s must assume the English are real greedy pigs. Needless to say that we saw those off too….well we didn’t want to appear rude. The hospitality of all the hosts and B&Bs has been amazing.

We packed up and headed out into town to catch a bus to Tissamaharama which is known as the gateway to Yala National Park. We’ve both been suffering with dodgy tummies over the last few days and we weren’t much looking forward to the 2 crowded bus journeys we needed to make in the sweltering heat. We’ve heard that Ella in particular is a busy transport hub with buses offering standing room only by the time they arrive. With that in mind we were thankful to be approached by a minivan driver offering to take us the majority of the way in his air conditioned ride. We heard that the journey in a private car would be circa 6500 rupees but we got this for 2500 which is the equivalent of £12.50. Turns out that private drivers often drop tourists off in Ella from various destinations and then tout for business to make their return trip worthwhile. Luckily for us the timing worked well.

We hopped in with another couple who were headed to Uda Walawe National Park. We haven’t had a huge amount of interaction with many other backpackers or travellers but every time we do we seem to have a load in common and get on really well. This couple were from Bradford but now living in Majorca. The guy worked on yachts so Gary had plenty to chat about. They had also travelled to many places on our wish list so we were able to get plenty of tips.

Our minivan driver dropped us at a crossroads and even found us the bus we needed to take to complete the 20km on to Tissamaharama. The bus had plenty of room for our bags, it left almost immediately and then much to our amusement started playing the Sri Lankan version of You’ve Been Framed. Score! The locals were way more tickled by us guffawing at the mishaps than the video itself.

Our new digs called My Village is really special. We seem to have the whole place to ourselves and haven’t seen any other guests all afternoon or evening. We were welcomed with an amazing fruit juice and we embraced the solitude with a couple of lazy hours reading in the modern and comfortable common area outside.

We borrowed a couple of pushbikes to take in the sunset at the nearby lake. We were treated to the spotting of a kingfisher diving down to the lake, taking a fish and flying back to its branch to enjoy. Another first for us which was awesome.

The sunset was lovely, but with the onset of dark came an onslaught of bugs and beasties. Cycling back was interesting as I swerved all over the place trying to cycle with one hand and swat with the other.

A very low key dinner of yet more amazing home cooked curry in a totally empty dining room.

It’s pretty eerie to be completely alone in this place. On the other hand, it’s so thoughtfully designed and architected with loads of inviting sofas and outside spaces that we feel lucky to have it to ourselves. I just found enough time to be shat on by a lizard and buzzed by a bat before turning in for an early night. I wonder if, like a bird, it’s good luck?

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