Sri Lanka’s magical South part 3: nature-watching

An hour's drive east from Galle (or 50 minutes west from our retreat) is the scenic Mirissa: a beautiful golden sandy beach, but more importantly the place from which numerous whale-watching boat trips depart.

Sri Lanka is one of the few (and best) places in the world to see endangered blue whales! The opportunity to encounter these graceful giants of the ocean, the largest animals to have ever existed, is a once in a lifetime experience. One that will no doubt move you to wonderment. 

Indeed, the power and symbolism of the whale has long been recognised by indigenous folklore traditions, religions, literature and the arts from around the globe. Some Maori people believe that whales are the descendants of Tangaroa, the god of the oceans, and they appear in the migration legends of many tribes.

Like Moby Dick, the whale is symbolic of that which cannot be easily vanquished. In the biblical story of Jonah, the whale becomes a redeemer, teacher and transformer … the instrument of Jonah’s spiritual awakening.

It is easy to see why whales are so closely associated with wisdom and awareness, being such compassionate and oftentimes solitary creatures. Of course they are also amazing communicators, with the blue whale’s low frequency whistle or ‘song’ reaching up to 188 decibels and stretching for hundreds of miles. It is impossible not to be touched and deeply humbled by the mythical quality of this gentle giant.  

From the world’s largest marine mammal to its largest land mammal, ethical elephant watching is on offer in one of two National Parks, Yala and Udawalawe (both within easy reach of our retreat). Since Sri Lanka has the highest density of wild Asian elephants in the world, it is a sure bet that you’ll get to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Udawalawe is popular with those who want guaranteed sightings, because although it is a third of the size of Yala (and so less bio-diverse), elephants are attracted to its reservoir.       

Yoga Explorers yoga retreat to Sri Lanka - elephant watching at Yala

Yala National park is Sri Lanka’s second-largest wildlife park, and is just 2.5 hours away from Talalla. As well as elephants, it is home to 44 different types of mammals, from beautiful sloth bears to the biggest concentration of leopards in the world.

You can also see crocodiles, monkeys and deer, not to mention 215 species of birds, including peacocks. Multiple companies offer half- and full-day safaris through the park. 

Of course there is much, much more … including something for every type of surfer, a seemingly endless supply of dreamy golden beaches, a tropical climate, and a delicious, spice-filled wholesome cuisine that’s a blend of diverse cultural influences.

Sri Lanka’s south really is a magical place … treat yourself to this balmy paradise and book right away.

We have two upcoming retreats to South Sri Lanka: Sunday 11th - Sunday 18th November 2018 with Jim Tarran and Khadine Morcom and Tuesday 2nd - Tuesday 9th April 2019 with Jonelle Lewis.

jo thornhill