We climbed Adam’s Peak Monday morning — a 3:00 a.m. departure, a gradual climb into the hills and then a grueling staircase for the last couple of kilometers. We arrived in time for a glorious sunrise as wispy clouds swept like meringue over the hills below us. Photos to come later!
We departed Dalhousie at 9:00 a.m., our legs worked from the morning, ready to sit and rest for the long journey to Yala National Park. Dalhousie to Haputale was the first leg — by train, with verdant hillsides and misty mountain views from every open window (2nd class is way more fun than 1st). What a magical way to see the Hill Country, with our blue ribbon of train cars winding past rows and rows of green tea bushes.
Arrived Haputale and hired a driver on the spot who drove us safely down the mountains toward Tissamaharama. We stopped along the way at this waterfall — the second highest in the country and so similar to the Bridal Veil falls we know so well. Continued past Tissa, made a left turn to Yala and arrived at Chaaya Wild just before dark. The quiet, tropical greens of Hill Country have changed to dusty brush, tall twisted trees and thundering surf at the coast. We walked the deserted beach this morning, all alone on the south edge of the country that was thrashed by the tsunami in 2004.
This afternoon we set out on our first safari ever! Beginner’s luck, I’d say, given the number of things we saw: parakeets, mongoose, hornbills, crocodiles, water buffalo, wild boar, spotted deer, lizards, sambur, and a family of elephants. Mom in front, baby next (two months?) followed by two more young elephants — all making their way through the bush in single file. And last but not least, just as the sun was nearly down, our driver Priantha saw it laying in the road, drove quickly there and turned off the vehicle. We leaned out the side and waited… there…in the shadowed brush… a leopard slinking quietly into the night.