Sri Lanka tour day 3
07.10.2012 - 10.10.2012 30 °C
Well it's day 3 of our tour and we are up early again 6.30 am and the sun is already shining.
Today we are all excited as we are off to the hill country to pick some tea ans see how it is made. As we begin our journey we first have to negotiate the rush hour traffic as we drive through Kandy, which is a nightmare, glad its not me driving dodging buses and tuk tuks.
We eventually make it onto the open road and head upwards to the mountains passing through many small villages watching the children all dressed in their bright white uniforms heading to school. The climate change is noticeable, the air is fresher, the surroundings greener with agriculture being the main occupation evidently.
After a few hours on the road the tea plantations suddenly come into view, the estates are all named and sectioned off as we climb higher above sea level. Our driver stops for us to get out and walk around a tea plantation estate to provide us with an opportunity to walk amongst the tea plants and see the top new leaves that are picked each day by the local ladies who are the tea pickers - apparently it does not pay much!!
We all get back into our mini van and climb even higher until we find some ladies picking tea on one of the estates and we stop to watch and take a few photographs. Now it is time to head off to a working tea factory to see how the leaves are processed into tea.
The tea factory is amazing all old machinery is still in use during processing, our guide explains each stage to us as he walks us through the factory. After our tour ends we head to the cafe for a well deserved cup of tea and a bun, a strange eating experience as the bun turns out to be a bread bun filled with a curry product a bit like Bombay potato, it was very nice though.
With breakfast finished we set off towards Yala National Park which is our next destination. It's takes longer to come down from the mountains than it took to drive up, as we pass through 'little England' and stop at a spectacular waterfall for a photo opportunity.
Once we reach the lower levels again a storm (monsoon) is brewing and before we know it day turns to night, the heavens open and their is a spectacular thunder and lightening show above, but our driver papa Patrick does us proud and gets us to Tissa (our home for the evening) in a comfortable hotel. We do a quick check in to the hotel then we are off in our jeep towards Yala. On the way the rain starts gain and we get a bit of a soaking even though the driver stops to let the sides of the jeep down to protect us from the rain.
When we arrive at Yala the rain has stopped again and we enter all in wonder as we ponder whether we will catch sight of the elusive leopard. We see many peacocks, eagles, buffalow, elephants, wild boar, deer and crocodiles as we travel further into the park. Suddenly a jeep races past us and we follow it to a watering hole where to our surprise about 10 jeeps have all gathered to catch sight of a leopard chasing its prey into a watering hole. The prey escaped into the water but the leopard remained and began a posing show for us all to see. He lay down then began washing himself all the while aware of us all watching him. Suddenly he became more curious and headed towards the jeeps which was great as we were able to see him in full flow and what a beautiful creature he was. As he headed past our jeep into the wooded area we thought that was the end of our experience but we were mistaken as our driver had other ideas. We headed to the other side of the wooded area to a clearing when suddenly there he was and as he passed within a yard alongside our jeep we had a special view of this delightful creature and got some brilliant photos. As our guide in the back of the jeep ruffled the canvas the leopard turned to look directly at us and as it was so close it was a scary moment as we anticipated whether it would leap in our direction but no sooner had it turned to look at us than it was on its way again back into the trees. What an amazing experience and how lucky we're we!!
Well that was the highlight of the tour and was the focus of the conversation that evening as we enjoyed a traditional Sri Lankan curry in our hotel and a few drinks to celebrate our experience. Before we knew it time had passed and it was time to head off to bed before the final day 4 of our tour.