After spending a majority of the previous day travelling from Kandy to Katharagama, I wasn’t pleased with the prospect of waking at 4.00 a.m.the next morning. But none the less, on this cold October morning, I woke up excited for the main activity planned for the day! I packed my camera equipment and headed off to Tissamaharama where we rendezvoused with our Guide. From Tissa we drove our Safari jeep to the main entrance of the Yala National Park.
I remember the first time I visited Yala. It was during an annual company excursion. I remember it being a lot of fun because the colleagues who were in my group were all wildlife enthusiasts and we engaged in a very interesting and informative discussion with our Guide that included many stories based on his personal experiences. I also remember Yala being very dry, warm and dusty! I spent hours cleaning my camera after we got back to the Hotel. Sadly the only animals we were able to see were Wild Boars, lot of Peacocks,a couple of herds of Elephants and Deer, Crocodiles and a variety of Birds.
Growing up in an average middle class family, the idea of camping seemed to be somewhat farfetched. To be honest, when we were growing up, we didn’t have the opportunities or facilities available today for camping. As far as I know the only people who regularly went camping those days were the scouts. The family camping trips and father-son camping trips were “cool stuff” that happened in soaps and movies.
My first taste of camping was at Interact Youth Camp at Pedro Scout Camp, Nuwara Eliya. And boy that was one heck of an experience! Trekking through the forest on treasure hunts, having to face different physical challenges like crossing a river on a rope bridge and completing obstacle courses, learning how to build a fire and make ‘roti’ for dinner, sitting around a bonfire singing songs and spinning yarns were some of my most cherished memories. I honestly feel that youth camp changed me for the better! It took me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to rough it in the great outdoors!