Our journey to Tangalle started off early, too early for my liking. Scott scheduled a driver to come pick us up at 2am so that we would get to Yala National Park in time for our morning safari. We orginally arranged for a 4am pickup, but we found out because of the heavy rains there were landslides on the main highway so our driver had to take an alternative route (much more windy, uncomfortable, and long). But, after 3 hours of miserable driving we made it to our pick-up point for Safari.
Scott booked our safari through Yala Tours for $35 per person for a half day, including breakfast. A half-day was more than enough time for us! We were picked up in a converted 4×4 safari jeep and flew down the highway to the park entrance, wind slapping us in the face of our fully open air car. We had to wait 45 minutes outside of the gate, which I took a little power snooze and Scott worked on his camera skills. Ultimately, we were thankful we got there early because by the time the gates opened the line of jeeps waiting to get in was at least 20-30.
Once in the park our tour guide explained that the park is known for their leopards, but also contains elephants, water buffalo, birds, alligators, deer, and other various speicies. The only unfortunate thing about it was that because it was rainy heavily it may be hard to see the lepords beacuse they are “lazy” as our guide would put it. We spent the next few hours bouncing around the muddy park roads chasing to find all of the animals listed above. Scott and my favorite was probably the water buffalo bobbing in the water, but the elephants are always amazing too. We were even lucky enough to see a leopard hunting water buffalo from afar. It was an unreal experience, but would’ve been even better without the rain (at least it’s warm when it rains here).
After we were done with our safari we were treated to a traditional Sri Lakan breakfast of breads and curries and then sent on our way. Our driver from Ella was waiting for us at a temple to continue on our journey to Tangalle. We were very thankful to have him because while on safari we were able to leave our large backpacks (we took our valuables with us on safari) with him. Otherwise all of our gear would’ve been soaked in the jeep.
When we pulled up to our air bnb in Tangalle we almost couldn’t believe how perfect it was. The beach was directly infront of the home, with perfect surfing waves and good snorkeling (we were told). Our host was an adorable local family with a restaurant in the front of their home and a small guest house in the back for us. He apologized endlessly for the rainy weather, but it didn’t bother us so much. Regardless, this air bnb was a little slice of paradise (we’ve been getting lucky with these accomodations). Nilan was kind enough to tell us about the three beaches close by and asked if we would like to have dinner at the restaurant that night. Of course we agreed, dropped our bags, and headed to Silence Beach which was just a 6 minute walk down the road.
On our way to Silence Beach we passed by many of the locals in the small fishing village, all so kind with big smiles and hellos. Like I’ve said before, Sri Lankan people are some of the nicest people in the world. Little kids would ask us our names, where we are from, and my personal favorite, “how is your life.” It was very sweet. Something that we didn’t know going in, is lots of kids ask for pens, I’m assuming to draw and be able to express some creativity. After we learned this, we were sure to pick up pens next time we were in town to give to the local kids.
Silence Beach was named that for a reason. When we arrived it was like we had our own personal beach. There was a security guard and a few stray pups, but other than that, it was just Scott and I on one of the most beautiful beaches we had ever seen. The weather had let up for just an hour so we took advantage of getting lots of pictures and walking along the waves. Our host told us it wasn’t much of a swimming beach because, “the waves are like washing machine,” as he would say. It didn’t matter though, there was a swing out over the water, soft sand, and a downed palm tree leading out into the sea that you could climb on. Perfection. We spent all the time we could here before another storm rolled in and then it was back to the bnb for dinner.
Our first night the hosts wife prepared fresh grilled calamari, fried rice, and salad. The other two nights very similar but with prawns or chicken fish (the most meaty fish I have ever eaten). Honestly, it didn’t matter what they put in front of us because everything was so delicious. Nilan’s wife was an amazing cook and we enjoyed everything we ate. It was super fresh and light, we gave her lots of praise after every meal because it was easily the best food we ate in Sri Lanka. Being so good, that we ordered breakfast every morning and dinner every evening. Some people on their reviews complained about the price and having no menu, but for fresh fish caught that day, $7USD a person is a steal. We had no problem with that and were happy to help support this small local fisherman and his family.
The rest of the time we were in Tangalle it was pretty much a downpour and the power was on and off. We are at the end of monsoon season so it is to be expected. It gave us time to work on the blog, Scott was working on planning a road trip for us, and I studied for some tests I have to take in a few months. We enjoyed sitting in the restaurant, drinking tea, and chatting with the family and their kids while we typed away. I can honestly say this was one of the most homey air bnb’s we had been to, we really felt like family and were completely welcomed in.
Our only complaint, which is out of everyone’s control is the humidity during this season. It was mildew-y and moist the whole time we were there. All of our stuff felt damp and needed to be washed at the next place, but it was a small price to pay for the amazing experience otherwise. It also didn’t help that Scott had caught a pretty bad cold, so breathing in damp, poorly circulated air didn’t help with his congestion.
We wandered into town a few times to get water and snacks, but other than that we enjoyed staying at the air bnb and watching the rain come down and the ocean roar. Our last day the sun started to come out so we took advantage of it and headed to Silence Beach one last time for some pictures. Right before we left, Scott was able to fly the drone and take some pictures of the air bnb and the beaches around it so that our host could use it for marketing his place in the future. Their whole family was so grateful and captivated by the drone, and Scott was happy to help them out while perfecting his new hobby.
Our driver arrived, loaded up our bags, and we said our goodbyes to Nilan and his family. I am very sure that we will meet them again. Scott and I both agreed that we could’ve spent weeks at their place and intend to sometime in the future. Sri Lanka is such a gem, and Nilan’s small fishing village is even more so.