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A Sea Turtle Excursion at Rekawa Beach

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Snorkel Gear

Sri Lanka has the extraordinary privilege of welcoming five of the world’s seven species of sea turtle to its shores. The turtles, who travel around the world and across entire oceans, somehow know to return to their natal beaches when the time comes to reproduce. At night, they emerge from the ocean and lay their eggs in the sand. At Rekawa Beach, the Turtle Conservation Project keeps a watchful eye over the eggs and provides tourists a rare opportunity to see the giant creatures clamber onto land.

Rekawa-Turtle-Watching

We showed up at 8pm, on April 11th — the same day as the massive 8.6 earthquake in Sumatra which sparked a tsunami warning across Sri Lanka. So we had accepted the possibility that the rough weather and seismic instability might discourage the turtles from braving the shore. But after only a few minutes of waiting in the dark (which afforded us the chance to admire the stars; something we’d missed in bright, densely-packed Sri Lanka), a flashlight down the beach alerted us to the presence of a turtle.

The turtles require a sense of solitude while they make their way out of the water. If they detect a human, they’ll abandon their attempt and return another day. Leaving behind an interesting track that looks like a Monster Truck’s tire, they head towards the shrubbery at end of the beach, and choose a spot for their eggs which is safe from the water and (hopefully) predators. People are allowed to approach only once the turtles have started the process of laying the eggs, which can take over a half-hour and during which they’ll remain absolutely immobile.

We waited patiently while the turtle, barely visible in the dark from about twenty meters away, chose a suitable place for her future babies. Unfortunately, something spooked her, because our guide suddenly urged us to run towards her on the beach, as she was escaping back into the water. A huge and beautiful creature, she could move a lot faster than I would have believed and I felt awful chasing after her, trying to snap pictures.

That was it. The guide brought us back and asked for our 2000 Rupee donation. We were disappointed — the night had just begun, and we didn’t understand why we couldn’t wait for the next turtle. But, he didn’t seem to care; we had seen our turtle, and now he could return to hanging out in the hut with his buddies.

Oh well. We had just seen a wild sea turtle on a deserted beach during a beautifully starry night. In the end, it was hard to complain.

Location on our Sri Lanka Map

Turtle Tracks
Star Night Sri Lanka
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April 24, 2012 at 3:33 am Comments (5)

The Mulkirigala Rock Temple

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Hotels in Tangalle

Twenty kilometers north of Tangalla lies the large rock of Mulkirigala, reminiscent in shape to Sigiriya. The rock houses an impressive series of cave temples dating from the third century, similar to those of Dambulla. A mix between Sri Lanka’s two most famous sites, Mulkirigala sounded like a winner.

Day Trip Tangalle

It was the sleepy Sunday following the Sri Lankan New Year festivities, and public transport was impossible, so we hired a tuk-tuk to reach the temple. After a flat landscape of fields, forests and ponds, the sudden appearance of Mulkirigala Rock, sticking 200 meters into the air, came as a surprise. We paid our entrance fees, removed our shoes and steeled ourselves for what looked like a long hike to the top. But a lot of Sinhalese families were there, taking advantage of the holiday, and where 70-year-old barefoot grannies can go, so can we!

Mercifully, there were a few interludes during the climb — terraces which held small temples, sleeping Buddhas, pools of water, and sweeping views over the surrounding countryside. On the biggest terrace was a set of caves which included the Raja Mahavihara, notable for its Dutch tiles and antique wooden chest. It was here that a British archaeologist discovered the ancient manuscripts of the Mahavamsa: the great chronicle of ancient Sri Lanka.

At the top of the hill, our otherwise pleasant day trip was ruined by two kids who were determined to pester us. We were the only foreigners on the rock, and they would not leave us alone, tugging at our arms and following us everywhere, despite (perhaps because of) our increasing frustration. I am slow to anger, but eventually lost my cool and yelled at them. It didn’t help. “Money? Rupee? Ten Rupee! Bon-Bon!” They continued to follow, grabbing us and pleading for things. When we gave up and decided to leave, they followed us down the stairs! I scolded them, like you would a stubborn dog following you home. “No! Go away! Bad! Bad children!” Nothing worked, not even appealing to other Sri Lankans who were bemusedly watching the drama.

Even though it was a tough ending, we had a good time at Mulkirigala. The site isn’t nearly as impressive as either Sigiriya or Dambulla, but that’s unfair. We don’t compare every movie against Citizen Kane and say, “Not as good, so not gonna watch it!” Mulkirigala is no Sigiriya, but it’s still worth a visit.

Location on our Sri Lanka Map
Budget Rooms in Tangalle

Stairs-Workout-Sri-Lanka
Zig Zag Stairs
Sri Lanka Short Cut
Follow the Stairs
Rock Temple Sri Lanka
Mulkirigala-Tank
Mulkirigala-Pool
One In A Million
Decorated Bo Tree
I want To Eat You
Rock Temple Monster
Mulkirigala-Wall-Paintings
Wood Painting Sri Lanka
Upside Down Painting
Eye Blood
Hungry For Humans
Weird Buddha
Silent Lotus
Stony Temple
Buddhist Moment
Monkey Thief
Cheeky Monkey
Art Sri Lankla
Carved Corners
Broken Buddhism
Buddhist Cemetery
Lilli Pad Pond
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April 23, 2012 at 9:30 am Comments (0)

Tangalla Days

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Dream Beaches

We arrived in Tangalla with mixed emotions. Now on the southern coast, we were undeniably in the final stretch of our tour through Sri Lanka. There was still a lot to see — the attractions of the country’s southern extreme are considerable — but our journey’s approaching end was tangible for the first time. Still, we’d only have a few days in Tangalla, a small town which occupies some of the island’s most beautiful coastline and offers a number of memorable excursions. No time for moping.

Peacock-Rock
Peacocks like to preen atop big rocks. Showoffs.

After unpacking, we set right out into the city. The majority of Tangalla’s hotels and guesthouses are found outside town, toward the east. Which is fine. The town itself isn’t going to win any awards for beauty. A single strip runs through Tangalla, with the usual array of Sri Lankan shops and noisy activity. After our initial exploration, we would venture into town only in search of cheap eats and to get to the bus station.

Tangalla’s harbor is probably the only in-town attraction worth a look. An outrageous number of colorful boats clog the port, all of which were unloading stinking fish when we arrived. The fishermen were boisterous sorts, encouraging us to come aboard their ships (doubtless in search of a few extra bucks).

But though the town is forgettable, our time in Tangalla was anything but. Amazing nature, fascinating culture and interesting day trips are within easy reach. Plus, the beaches are beautiful… if difficult to swim at. Perhaps it was the time of year (early April), but the waters were stormy, and attempting to bathe in the powerful waves was terrifying. I mean, exhilarating. No, wait — actually, I do mean terrifying. Our favorite beach-side game became guessing which tourists might brave the sea, placing bets on whether they would survive, and then debating whether we’d jump in to help save them.

Location of Tangalla on our Map
Great Places to Stay in Tangalle (we chose Nugasewana Eden)

Famous-Mercedes
Tangalle-Bus-Stop
Tangalle-Fisherman
Harbor-Tangalle
Boats-Tangalle
Catch of the Day
Sri Lanka Parrot
Pheonix-Beach-Back
Weird-Fruits
Paradise Beach Cabanas
Sand Stepper
Small Tangalle Island
Stranded Boat
Tangalle Bay
Adventure Couple
Dream Vacation
Paradise-Beach-Tangalle
Storm in Sri Lanka
Rough Sea Tangalle
Sri Lanka Yoga
Palm Sunset
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April 21, 2012 at 6:22 am Comments (4)
A Sea Turtle Excursion at Rekawa Beach Sri Lanka has the extraordinary privilege of welcoming five of the world's seven species of sea turtle to its shores. The turtles, who travel around the world and across entire oceans, somehow know to return to their natal beaches when the time comes to reproduce. At night, they emerge from the ocean and lay their eggs in the sand. At Rekawa Beach, the Turtle Conservation Project keeps a watchful eye over the eggs and provides tourists a rare opportunity to see the giant creatures clamber onto land.
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