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A wild afternoon at Kumana

This leopard’s expression reminded me of that famous line from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: “Jesus, who are those guys?” (Our drivers scared the daylights out of this young male as he was sunning himself on a rock).

“Have you guys ever done this before?”

That’s the first thing I should have asked our drivers before we headed into Kumana National Park,  about twenty miles south of Arugam Bay on the east coast of Sri Lanka.

I know how Robert Capa must have felt after seeing prints of the pictures he took on Omaha Beach on D-Day (June 6, 1944) in Normandy. We had happened upon a small herd of elephants when our drivers lost it and started excitedly yelling “Aliya, aliya, aliya” (the Sinhala word for elephant). The animals bolted, trumpeting indignantly (they were protecting at least two baby elephants). I just had enough time to capture a few blurred images before they disappeared into the jungle.

And yes, we had two drivers: the first guy was the one who drove us from Arugam Bay to Panama in his three-wheeler scooter taxi, and the second guy was the one who drove us from Panama to Okande and Kumana in his jeep. They both sat upfront in the cab (Tyrone and I and the guide from the wildlife department were in back) and between them they managed to startle a leopard and spook a small herd of elephants.

The young buck’s antlers are still in velvet. Kumana’s huge deer population keeps the park’s leopards fat and happy.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because Tyrone and I had the greatest time (you really can’t have a bad day in Kumana). Besides, the drivers are both good guys, and I’ll hire them again without hesitation the next time I’m in Arugam Bay. So what if they were just learning the ropes of the safari business? At least they weren’t learning to drive.

Sir Samuel Baker hunted sambhur (Cervus unicolor) with hounds in Ceylon in the 1840s. Sambhur, often mistakenly called elk by 19th Century British sportsmen, are not as numerous as the spotted deer in Kumana.

Hey, it’s Arugam Bay. If you want to be happy here, just let it happen. The person who probably knows this best is Manfred (Fred) Netzband-Miller, guiding spirit of the Arugam Surf Facebook page, who has tapped into this laidback vibe since he arrived here in 1977.

The marsh crocodiles, also known as mugger crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris) were bigger and more numerous at Kumana than they were at Yala National Park.

Our drivers outdid themselves when we spotted a leopard sunning itself on a rock. They wrenched open the doors of the jeep and burst out of the vehicle, excitedly yelling “Diviya, diviya” (leopard, leopard). The startled young male sprang to its feet and split, pausing once to look back with a wtf expression.

Sri Lanka has 492 species of birds. Seen here are a painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala) and black-headed Ibis, also known as the Oriental White Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus).

Richard Joseph, travel editor at Esquire magazine in the early 1970s, once wrote a feature article about the 400 species of birds at the Kumana Bird Sanctuary.

Birders can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is a little green bee eater. We also saw a tree full of flycatchers.

A more recent account mentions 492 bird species in Sri Lanka.

Hunted for sport in colonial times, the buffalo is now protected like the rest of Sri Lanka’s fauna.

We also saw lots of wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Tourists often mention how amazing it is to encounter so much wildlife just twenty miles from the surf spots at Arugam Bay.

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The above excursion took place in mid- February, 2012.
In the so-called Off-Season
by David and Tyrone Graham



WoWasis tours the Pottuvil Lagoon mangroves near Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Poling through Pottuvil's mangrove lagoon

Arugam Bay in southeast Sri Lanka is fairly well known for surfing and other water sports, but you’ll be missing something extraordinary if you don’t take a nearby mangrove eco-tour in the village of Pottuvil. The tour is by outrigger, polled through the mangrove waters by local people, is managed by the Hidiyapuram Fisheries Cooperative Society, and takes approximately two hours, with two brief stops along the way. Your ticket assists the Society to replenish mangrove flora, caring for wildlife, and assists in the livelihoods of people living adjacent to the lagoon. You can book a tour from any hotel, and a tuk-tuk will arrive to drop you off at the lagoon dock, and take you back.

The only sounds in the lagoon are the sound of the outrigger being pulled through  the water, and the ever-present birdlife. Here, you’ll see four types of kingfishers, cormorants, sea eagles, and spoonbills, among others. Fish-eating snakes and crocodiles live below the water. There are 27 species of mangrove plants here. And you’ll see a number of tiny fishing huts and lean-tos along the way… it’s a working lagoon.

Sunset casts a wonderful glow on the rocks comprising the eastern border of the lagoon

In the afternoon, the setting sun casts a beautiful red glow on the rocks occupying the eastern border of the lagoon. We here atWoWasis recommend the tour as a great getaway from the hubbub of Arugam Bay, especially in high season, and supports local people in their quest to provide for their families in a manner that complements the environment.

Final 16 surfers decided as Arugam Bay continues to pump at the SriLankan Airlines Pro

Posted in Nature & Wildlife, Sri Lanka, Tours Treks Outdoors , Arugam Bay, Pottuvil | No Comments »

Earlier, this tab was labeled:
“Old Arugam”
Which has now moved on to a popular Facebook page in its own right; see link below:

Once upon a Time”

Arugam Bay is now changing very quickly.
Many are concerned. Will history be lost?
Here are our New Nostalgia Pages!
On Arugam.info as well as on Facebook
Please send your best shots taken BEFORE 2005 to:

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anno 1953 Arugam Bay Circuit Bungalow

anno 1953 Arugam Bay Circuit Bungalow

anno 1953 at Arugambay

anno 1953 at Arugambay

Some photos added below, showing one of the oldest establishments of the Bay: Siripala's

Sripala's Hotel

Family at SriPala's

SriPala, Arugam Bay

SriPala and Family. All photos received from Australia, with thanks

SriPala is situated near famous Surf Point

Other photos, below mainly all received from Horst Poos, Germany
Thanks for that, Horst!