After exploring Wippattu National Park, I went to visit the majestic temples and stupas in Anuradhapura.Even there, specially around a lake near the temples,nature still manifests in any possible ways.Tufted Grey Langurs and Cattle Egrets are embedded in this particular landscape of precious and defiant temples !!
Afterwards i got into a bus and head towards Nilaveli.Nilaveli is a small town,near Tricomalee, that can be reached by bus or tuk tuk from Tricomalee ( 800 rupees ).Accomodation here seems to be somehow expensive,but Pigeon Island View Guesthouse gives some decent rooms with reasonable prices.
My main reason to stay there was to visit Pigeon Island National Park,a small island located 1 km offshore that offers a great chance to see beautiful corals,reef fish, blacktop reef sharks ( not dangerous ) and turtles.Further offshore,Sperm Whales can be spotted in its peak season ( April-May ).
Next day i went by boat to the island.It took me only 15 minutes.Once there there are 2 areas to snorkel.You need a guide to bring you to the shark area,in case you are not enough fit to swim for a long time.In that area,i have clear views of 2 blacktop reef sharks swimming very close to me and one sea turtle that appeared a meter deep.On the other side of the island,there is an excellent area where you can snorkel spotting great coral fish of stunning colours.
From there i got a private bus to Dambulla,where i visited its fantastic caves and Sigiriya,a massive rock which on top lays the remains of an old civilization.
Finally, after 3 hours driving from Dambulla i arrived in Kandy,the gate to the mountain area of Sri Lanka.Kandy seemed a bit disappointing, crowded with cars.However,the superb lake and its old town and temples help to maintain its old flavour and charm.
Once there,I stayed in Expeditor Guest House,a great value accommodation which owners are expertise in birds and organise trips to Knuckles Range,a birdwatching hot spot worth to explore.Near Kandy,just north of the lake, there is a forest called Udawattakelle Sanctuary, good for birdwatching, that offers good chances to spot Layard’s Parakeet,an endemic bird that seems quite common in this forest,among other bird specialities of that area.
Surprisingly,i found a roosting area on the trees that hang around the lake.Indian Pond Herons(see picture above ),Black-Crowned Night Herons,Little Egrets and Little Cormorants choose this lake as a roosting place.It offers plenty of opportunities to take close pictures of these birds,that seem not disturbed by human activity.I got some poo of the roosting birds when taking photographs,so a cautious “warning” is advised ! 😉
From Kandy, train is the most recommended mode of transportation to visit and get excellent views of the mountainous part of this beautiful island, where you can enjoy the sights of the famous tea plantations.
Nuwara Ellya and Ella were my next stops, ( explained on my next posts ) that are excellent locations to spot some of the endemic bird specialities of the island !!