fbpx
tissamaharama
Accommodation,  Asia,  Destinations,  Highlighted Companies,  Hotels,  Sri Lanka,  Tour Groups

Tissamaharama and a Safari in Sri Lanka

Once upon a time, Sri Lanka was barely noticeable on a map. Many people didn’t know where it is located. Now, however, it is an up and coming tourist destination. One of the reasons for the recent attention is the presence of two large national parks: Yala and Udawalawe. Visitors can take a safari in both parks with one of the many tour companies based out of Tissamaharama. There are full or half-day tours to see the magnificent animals and beautiful landscapes Yala and Udawalawe have to offer.

Yala National Park is known in for the elusive leopard, while Udawalawe offers herds of grazing elephants. Other animals, such as Sri Lankan Sloth Bears, Water Buffalo, Wild Boars, Mongoose, Jackals, a variety of Deer, and many, bird and reptile species are present in both parks as well. These safari excursions are not on the same level as the world-famous African safaris, but they are a worthwhile experience.

Galle to Tissamaharama

For us, it was a bit challenging to reach Tissamaharama. We hired a private chauffeured car in Galle to drive us the three and a half hours to the town. Aside from a private plane, this was the only “easy” option to get there. Unfortunately, from Galle (where we were staying prior), there were no straightforward public train or bus transportation options. Even by car, it was an interesting journey to our Tissamaharama hotel. Five minutes into our drive, we witnessed a motorcycle accident. Thankfully, no one was injured, but this only goes to show how crazy driving on Sri Lankan roads can be. It’s a different world out there, with tuk-tuks and motorcycles speeding past you, oncoming traffic barely taken into consideration. I was surprised that it was only one accident that we saw the entire journey. 

Beyond the drivers, the roads were not conducive to easy traveling the further we drove from the coast of Galle. Many of the roads leading into the town of Tissamaharama became narrow, bumpy, and filled with dirt. Our driver handled the conditions well though. We were able to look out the window and enjoy the sights of Buddhist temples among beautiful grass fields.

tissamaharama

Hotel Tamarind Tree

We had pre-arranged our accommodation, so we didn’t need to worry about finding a place to stay once we arrived. This worked in our favor because, despite the many hotels in the area, they were hard to find. This included our accommodation, Hotel Tamarind Tree, as well. Our driver was a local, and it still took him a while to figure out where it was.
When we finally arrived at the front hotel gate, two servers greeted us with fresh fruit and tropical drinks. We had our treats in the beautiful bamboo lined entryway, seated in plush chairs under the cool breeze of two leaf-shaped ceiling fans. When we finished, the bellhop escorted us to our room. We passed a small, covered outdoor dining hall and a pool that looked quite enticing in the humid weather. We discovered that the room itself was a bit disappointing. The lighting was dim, and the bathroom plumbing was a bit outdated. However, the balcony overlooking the lovely pool area seemed to make up for the shortcomings.
tissamaharama

Tissa Lake

We decided that our legs needed to stretch out after the long car ride. We followed the suggestion of a gentleman at the front desk and took the 3km walk to Tissa Lake. The friendly locals waved at us as we walked along the dirt street away from the hotel. Those that spoke English called out to us and wished us well. The young children, not used to seeing such pale skin, stared at us with open mouths. Tuk-tuks sped by, some slowing down asking if we wanted a ride. We politely declined and waved them along. 

The lake was gorgeous, with a few trees poking up from the center, and the sun reflecting off the water. I found out later from some online research that it is a man-made lake, almost 2,000 years old. We watched birds fly low, hunting for their dinner. Boats of tourists were out and several boys were bathing near the shore despite the sign that signaled “no swimming.” After a while, we decided to head back and go for a swim ourselves before dinner.

tissamaharama
tissamaharama
The refreshing pool was welcoming after the hot walk home from the lake. We swam for a while until we smelled food and noticed servers setting the tables for dinner. By the time we changed into our clothes, dinner was served. The spread of Sri Lankan food before me was one of the best international meals I have ever tasted. I could never pronounce or describe what I had that night, but I will not forget how good it was. Dessert (pictured below) was especially phenomenal.
tissamaharama
tissamaharama

The Safari from Tissamaharama

The next morning we woke up at 4 am to go on our safari. We decided to see both Yala and Udawalawe on the same day. We arranged for a morning tour of Udawalawe and an afternoon tour of Yala with Yala Kings Safari. The hotel packed up breakfast to go and our driver, Tharanga, met us at the entrance.

Udawalawe National Park

The road to Udawalawe was bumpy in the huge open-top jeep we took to the park. We arrived right as the sun was rising. We joined a line of about 100 other vehicles waiting for the park to open. Our driver purchased the tickets while we played with the stray dogs that came up to us, begging for food. Eventually, it was time to go in, and it was off to races! Luckily Udawalawe is expansive, with trails in many directions, so the jeeps spread out easily.
tissamaharama
tissamaharama
We came upon our first animal in the matter of minutes. It was a lone peacock who spread its tail for us on approach. We drove on and saw an entire herd of water buffalo grazing in a field. There was a group of Spotted Deer prancing behind them. We came across a group of four elephants, where we sat and watched them feed before we moved on. We saw more water buffalo bathing in a lake when we noticed a crocodile slowly creeping up behind them. Tharanga informed us that it was common to see crocodiles eat baby water buffalo in the park. We didn’t have the chance to witness this, however, because the crocodile’s prey noticed him and quickly ran off. We saw another huge herd of elephants. However, we couldn’t stay for long because there were some baby elephants in the mix and the adults became defensive.
tissamaharama

The Lunch Break

After catching sights of more elephants, buffalo, deer, and crocodile we stopped at a running river for some lunch. The Yala Kings company provided us with a delicious Sri Lankan meal of rice, beans, beef curry, and fruit. While we ate, we had some visitors in the form of two monkeys, a giant squirrel, and some strange insects. After we finished, we headed over to Yala National Park, in hopes of seeing a leopard.
tissamaharama

Yala National Park

Yala was more crowded than Udawalawe. There were jeeps everywhere. However, that didn’t stop us from seeing animals. Tharanga pointed out many bird species to us as we drove. He had a knack for finding the most evasive animals, even while driving! We saw some more water buffalo, elephants, and a sloth bear. During the tour, we came across lizards, native to Sri Lanka, with names I had never heard before. We heard a leopard at one point, and all the tour guides in the area drove tried to locate it unsuccessfully. After a few more elephant and bird sightings, we asked to go back to the hotel. We were exhausted from being in the sun all day. We ended the day taking a dip in the pool, lounging on the deck with a beer. This was all before eating another delicious home-cooked Sri Lankan meal.
tissamaharama
tissamaharama

The Flight Back from Tissamaharama

We following day we were prepared to depart via plane. While more expensive, it was faster and took us directly to Colombo Airport. The hour-long flight from Tissamaharama to Colombo aboard the Cessna 208B was a once in a lifetime experience. It was slightly terrifying, to be honest, as you could feel every little movement on the aircraft. There were a few times I became worried we would crash. However, when we flew over the tea plantations of Ella and Kandy, my worries were washed away by the view. Regardless, I was glad when we finally landed safely at the airport, and I could board a much larger aircraft. We didn’t end up boarding that aircraft, though, due to some major travel complications. But that is another story for another day…
tissamaharama

Save These Pins for Later!

tissamaharama
tissamaharama

Owner and creator of Travels with Kayy. Travel blogger and adventure enthusiast, creating content to inspire and help fellow travelers plan amazing itineraries and explore all the corners of the earth!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.