So this brings me to the final stretch of my Sri Lanka trip.
From Ella, I took a particularly hairy bus ride to Tissamaharama for Yala National Park. The bus was full and I had to sit upfront by the driver with my feet almost dangling out of the door. I nearly lost my shoes and felt pretty sick with all the winding roads!
There isn’t much to do in Tissa so I paid to use the pool at a nearby hotel for the afternoon.
The following morning, we were up at 5 for a safari to Yala. I was debating whether or not to go on safari again, but Yala is famous for having the highest concentration of leopards in the world and I was keen to see one. Although it’s still quite rare to catch sight of one of the thirty leopards, we found one sunbathing on a rock within half an hour of entering the park. It ran away before we could get any photos but it was still pretty exciting. We saw elephants, peacocks, lots of beautiful little birds and even a few crocodiles, and had a fun morning in the jeep.
From Tissa, I got the bus to Mirissa, looking forward to some time on the beach. I stayed at a wonderful hostel in Mirissa which was super clean, fun and backpacker-friendly and I spent a great few days doing yoga classes and sunbathing.
I had some delicious smoothie bowls, made the most of the hostel’s kitchen to finally do some cooking, visited the beautiful ‘Secret Beach’ and even got the bus to Weligama for my first surfing lesson.
At the weekend, I went back to Galle to see my friend Rachel who was over from England. I joined her for the annual Tuk Tuk Polo match which is organised by her uncle, Geoffrey Dobbs. I was planning on watching the hilarious games, which involve playing polo out of the side of a racing tuk tuk, but one of the girls wasn’t up for playing so I ended up taking part in the third second match. It was really good fun and a total culture shock after my earlier Sri Lankan experiences!
I spent the weekend with the Dobbs at the amazing Dutch House hotel, drinking cocktails in the Colonial bar at the Sun House and heading to Mirissa at night to find the party. It was a real weekend of luxury and comfort after two months of backpacking, and it was obviously amazing to catch up with my much-missed friend.
On the Monday, I returned to Mirissa for a few more nights. I continued with my delightful routine of yoga, smoothies and making friends at my hostel, and started to feel very at home in the touristy beach town.
On Wednesday afternoon, in between bursts of a heavy rainstorm, I got the bus to Weligama (10km away) to visit Rachel on Taprobane Island, where she was staying. You have to walk through the sea to reach the island, and I was pretty nervous walking back to the mainland in a heavy rainstorm after sunset! We had a lovely relaxed afternoon swimming round the island and reading our books before it was time for me to say goodbye. What a treat to visit Taprobane!
After Mirissa, I got the express bus from Galle to Colombo for my final two days in the country. I had been told not to bother visiting the capital, but I wanted to get some city time before heading to India. I stayed at another lovely backpackers hostel (Drift BnB, if you’re looking for recommendations) and met up with my volunteering friend who happened to be flying out at the same time as me.
We had cocktails on the rooftop and then treated ourselves to a fancy meal at Gallery Cafe. It was such a treat and so nice to be back with a friend after a month of adventures. She had been volunteering in the wilderness on the elephant conservation project, so we had many stories to share.
The next day, I went for a long walk around all the main sights, visiting Independence Square and the National Gallery. We took the bus into the fort and had a quick walk around to see what all the Colombo fuss is about.
To close our time in Sri Lanka, we had a typical meal at a well-reviewed restaurant – lots of dal and vegetable curries for one last time. We then headed to the airport together, sitting for a couple of hours in the entrance before we could even check in and then waiting for hours (four for me, about ten for Vicky) to board our flights. Good old Sri Lanka, how I’ve come to love your laid back schedules!
I was quite sad to be leaving the country that had been so kind to me over the last seven weeks, but was feeling ready for the next stage of my journey. Next stop, India!