There is no doubt in my mind that Sri Lanka is a beautiful country. Ella and other cities in the hill country are known for their scenic beauty. These are usually the pictures that you see on postcards of Sri Lanka, and the postcards aren’t even as beautiful as seeing it in real life.
Tissamaharama is the city that you need to go to access most jungle safaris to Yala National Park- the only reason anyone would ever visit this city. When I arrived in Tissamaharama at the bus station the city didn’t seem like anything special. I heard that there was a lake so my friend and I jumped on some bicycles and went to go find it.
Before we left we asked out host if we could go swimming in the lake. He replied yes- like Sri Lankan’s do to all questions. I had previously been bitten by a leech on my trip so I asked him if there were leeches in the lake. Once again he said yes…and crocodiles.
“But we can go swimming?!” I asked again. “Oh, no, no, no” he replied. Geeze, now I know to ask questions twice just to make sure that they understand me. If I hadn’t been concerned about leeches I probably would have been eaten by a crocodile.
So without our bathing suites we biked to the lake. The lake but it was unlike any lake that I had ever seen before. It was absolutely stunning with lily pads covering it and all sorts of vegetation growing around it. The rolling mountains were in the background and the sun was shining brightly in the blue sky.
Within a few minutes of pedaling around a local boy called us over towards him. Out of curiosity I biked over to him and he pointed to the lake and told me that there was a crocodile. Sure enough there was- sitting still as a rock under a tree. You can see it in this picture if you look close enough.
We continued pedaling around the lake on the dirt path- with locals waving hello to us as we passed by. The landscape around the lake was so green that when you took a photo of it and it looked like it had been photo-shopped. We were in awe of the beauty of this place and couldn’t fathom why nobody visited here.
We then came across a small reservoir feeding off of the lake- and safe from crocodiles. There were some locals were bathing in it and when they noticed us they invited us to join them. It was very hot day and the water looked very refreshing so we jumped in- getting out clothes soaking we. They were a very friendly family who was on a weekend trip together. We shared a drink of Arrack with them, chatted for a bit and then continued on our way.
The next group of locals that we approached were young boys that asked if we wanted to go in their fishing boat with them. The boat was the skinniest most insecure boat that I had ever laid my eyes on. There was no way that I was going into that tiny boat on a lake swarming with crocodiles!
But then I thought about it a bit more- or a bit less- and jumped in. It was very nerve-racking. Every time they pushed their long pole along the bottom of the lake to move the boat I kept thinking that they were going to disturb a crocodile. Eventually the paddled me far away enough from shore that I had to accept my fate if a crocodile were to attack.
They paddled me out to where some water buffalo who were cooling off it the water. The buffalo had birds perched on their backs- like in the pictures that you see in National Geographic. This was quite possibly one of the most beautiful things that I had seen in my life. I was blown away by the beauty and tranquility of the lake in Tissamaharama.
This lake is not on a postcard that you will see or in any travel guide that you will read but if you are fortunate enough to visit Sri Lanka you should visit this untouched lake. It blew me away and it will blow you away too.
Note: When you get off at the bus terminal here there will be many people lying to you that they are from your guesthouse of that your guesthouse told them to come and get you. They are lying and trying to get you to stay at their accommodation instead.