On the way there we took in both modern and ancient Buddhist temples, stopping at Weherahena Underground Temple for a look around.
A whistle-stop tour of the underground temple takes in some gaudy paintings as a friendly guide explains the history of Buddhism.
We were then blessed by a Buddhist monk before emerging back into the light to take in the gigantic Buddha statue. It’s not the most tasteful of temples, but it does have its own unique charm.
Onwards to Yala we stopped at Refresh for lunch and to jump into the safari jeep for a further 12km until we reached Yala. On the ride there we saw locals washing their clothes in a stream and drying them on the bushes en-route. We ain’t in the ‘burbs of the Midlands now Toto!
The journey around Yala is bumpy, very bumpy. My arse felt like I’d been beaten up the day after our safari! But it’s so, so worth it.
We might not have spotted Sri Lankas native leopards, but we did see elephants (lots of elephants), crocodiles, water buffalo, various species of deer and lots and lots of birds.
There are beautiful vistas and the opportunity to stretch your legs on the beautiful beach which neighbours the reserve is a fitting finale to the tour.
The tribute to the tsunami victims is humbling and makes you appreciate the enormity of the waves that hit Sri Lanka on 26th December 2004.
On our way out of the park we were fortunate enough to encounter a family of elephants, complete with four-day-old baby and then, later, a friendly elephant who was literally so close to us that I couldn’t fit him in my viewfinder. Amazing!
Cost: Get a quote from your hotel it depends on seasons (and again you might be able to haggle)
Top Tip: It’s a long day, so try to have a restful day either side of this trip.