Once you are in Wasgamuwa Park you need a guide to show you around; I likened the experience to original settlers needing an Indian guide in North America because this person knows all the routes through the park and behaviour of the animals. Our particular guide couldn’t speak English so there were constantly translations from Sinhala to English. The wildlife in this park is feral, especially the elephants. We were told that yesterday a herd of elephants attacked a van full of tourists who got too close. They will charge if they feel threatened. The roads are not and are simply pathways full of bumps, rocks, logs and animals. The only way you can get through the park is by jeep and even by jeep you are in for a rough ride.
There are so many sights I couldn’t keep my head in the window. I saw monkeys jumping from tree to tree; barking deer running in herds; a giant lizard running beside our car; a herd of buffalo bathing in the lake; and many different types of birds. There were so many birds that I swear I couldn’t find the same species twice. They were big, little, blue, red, yellow, neon, flying, sitting, standing, etc. The birds here are amazing.
The forest itself is relatively untouched and very very wild. All the things you read in biology about creepers, vines and trees which grow on other trees exist here. There are vines everywhere, they are thick and look like pythons. I expected to see Tarzan flying through the air at one point.
Our first campsite is by a river with a rocky waterfall. The river is dry because of the drought. There is enough water flowing through to bathe and do laundry. This site is on an elephant pathway and we have to be very cautious at night and surround the camp with fires. Elephants are like grizzlies. They can smell food and will trample everyone to get to it. Up top are two elephant skulls.
We pitched tent and everyone had bread, sausages and chicken for supper. We arrived in the park too late to go in search for elephants; it was getting dark and we had to get campfires started before animals began to move to their nightly resting spot. It was my job to start the campfire. And, like a good little Canadian girl I set up three fires in strategic places. The guide was completely useless when it came to fire, which surprised me.
After dinner we all sat around, chatted and took turns playing the guitar. Then we all headed to bed. Rather than stay in the tent I sat/slept by the campfire; there is something special about sleeping under the stars in the jungle. Also, I wasn’t sure our guide would be able to keep the fires going. We had tons of night time visitors and I could hear action in the jungle around our camp. In the morning we found fresh leopard, buffalo, elephant, bear and monkey tracks. I can’t imagine what sort of chaos would have ensued if we’d let the fires go out.