The air was cold. The rock was slippery. The leeches were everywhere. The campsite was still an hour’s walk away. Just a few hours earlier, we had set out for our two-day trek under a blazing sun. And now, we were all soaked, running towards a safe place to get away from the leeches. In that moment, it was hard to believe that only few days ago, we were in London debating whether to come to Sri Lanka at all.
How did we get there? Let’s rewind a few days. On a bleak Thursday night in London, I found out that I had to be in Lebanon in the middle of our honeymoon. And so, in about an hour, we decided to change our tickets, pack our bags, and head out. After a family weekend in Wales, our honeymoon was starting. We now only had one week in Sri Lanka, and we had to make it count.
We landed in Colombo on Monday afternoon, and hit the road immediately. Our destination for the day: Wilpattu National Park, about four hours north of Colombo. Although everyone advised us against it, we rented a car from Malkey Rent a car and self drove, to ensure we could cram as much as possible within a week. The driving was definitely sporty, and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a VERY confident driving, and have experience driving in developing country. Even as a Lebanese, I was horrified.
Wilpattu National Park
We arrived at Wilpattu House late on Monday, but thankfully, Sereno, our host for the night, waited for us to serve dinner. The bungalow we stayed at (which we booked last minute) was basic and rustic, hidden in between lush vegetation.
However, Sereno made up for that by being an amazing host, giving us tips for the whole of our stay and organising safaris to suit us. He was also interesting to talk to, and we were very glad to have spent two nights at Wilpattu House. The food was also a highlight of our stay there – Kumari, the cook, probably serves the best dinner in Sri Lanka. The guests are also a major attribute of this place – they are all well travelled, multi cultural, and generally very interesting to talk to or to share a beer with !
We did a day long Safari in Wilpattu National park on Tuesday, arranged by Sereno (self driving in national parks in Sri Lanka is forbidden, and as such, we had to hire a jeep and a driver). Although there were some cars around, we spent the majority of the day alone on the roads, which – as we found out – is rare in Sri Lankan national parks.
We saw a wide variety of wildlife – ranging from elephants, land monitors, buffalos and even the elusive sloth bear – but missed the leopard sighting.
Leo even had to fight a monkey that attacked him after he tried to climb on a tree.
Kumari and Sereno had nicely prepared for us a packed breakfast and packed lunch, which we ate in designated areas around the park. In the evening, a huge meal was once again awaiting us at Willpatu House.