Tissamaharama with its Yala National Park at Sri Lanka
We left behind Ella with its Ella Rock to go to the Yala National Park. To go there, we took the bus 31 Bandarawela-Matara at 8h40am (the bus stop is down to the main road, just at few step from the small tourism-police stand) to get off at Pannegamuwa (just at 6km to Tissamaharama).
It exists a direct bus from Ella to Tissamaharama but during our stay, this bus was cancelled. If you want to know if this option is still valid, ask the police-tourism stand, they have a paper with all bus schedules going through Ella.
Luckily, the bus was not full so we got seats and we paid to the ticket guy 150 rupees each (1 euro) once on the road.
Also we asked him to tell us when to get down. We reached Pannegamuwa at 10h45 and from here, we thought to take a bus but a tuk-tuk came to see us asking 200 rupees to go to Tissamaharama but we negotiated for 150 rupees.
In 15 minutes, we were at our hotel City Guest House (108, rubberwatte road - 16 euros per night without breakfast). The hotel is correct, we got a clean room with terrace, good wifi, air conditioning, ceiling fan, mosquito net for bed (useful because we detected some inside our room) and a clean all-in-one bathroom.
Situated in the downtown, it is quite peaceful. Just at 3 minutes walk to the main bus station, to the local market, shops, restaurants and supermarkets like Food City. We went to eat at Amanda Bake House & Restaurant (main street) situated at the main road, it was the only place we found that looks good and I ordered a curry chicken rice for 350 rupees (2,15 euros).
We used the service of Yala Safari Sri Lanka for our tour in the Yala National Park contracting the special 5-12 leopards safari package that includes everything for 5500 rupees each (34 euros, I did the booking by email, at this time, they didn't propose a booking online). The tour starts at 5ham so the tour guy came to pick us up at 4h30am to be the first to get in.
According to the company, this is because they will try to get in before everyone and animals are more willing to show up with fewer jeeps. This is the commercial part, the truth is different. The park opens at 6ham to everyone so there is no chance to get in before. At 5h, when we arrived to the park, few jeeps were there already waiting and meanwhile the time was running, more jeeps came making the line (there were at least 4 or 5 different lines).
At the end, all tried to get in the first. Fortunately, we were amongst the first ones but few jeeps, no way. Just near the entrance, we started to see some deers and after that, it was the hunt !!!
We were lucky to see 1 bear, 1 elephant, some crocodiles, 2 eagles, a lot of different birds, peacocks, boars, buffalos, 1 dog (what was he doing here !!!), foxes, monkeys, mungos and almost one of the "star" animals. Our driver received a call, then he started to drive quickly, saying we had to be quick because there was a leopard drinking in a pool, when we arrived, there were already so many jeeps that it was too late. In fact, when a driver saw an elephant or a leopard, they are calling each other to give the information and it is when you can start to see jeeps like Speedy Gonzales.
At the end, we get out of the park around 11h30am and the driver drove us back to our hotel. Once we arrived, the hotel owner invited us to eat a very good homemade of curd (a typical Sri Lanka dessert made of buffalo milk). The treatment from this man was great caring about his customers and very helpful.
After talking a little with him, we said goodbye because our next destination was Udawalawa with its elephants. To have the chance to do 3 different national parks including this one, if you have to choose one, do the Minneriya National Park, we saw more elephants but the most important, groups of them in family.