This journey was the longest leg on all of our travels and we knew it was going to be a tricky one. The difficulty in travelling from the south to the east coast of Sri Lanka comes in getting around Yala National Park, a colossal chunk of land that, understandably, you cannot just drive straight through. We travelled by bus, as there are no train lines further east in the country than Badulla, which is still a good two hour drive from Arugambay, our final destination. The other option is to go by private car, or even by tuk tuk, but we’re travelling on a budget, and the buses are comfortable and easy enough, once you get the connections sorted.
We started from the Statue of Andare, just East of Hambantota, and caught the number 32 to Tissamaharama. Pretty much every bus along that road seemed to be going to Tissa, as it’s a large city station. Once at Tissa, we managed to, with the help of the ticket collector, somewhat chaotically make an almost instant connection onto a bus to Thanalmalvila that was just leaving from across the road. From Thanalmalvila, we then caught another bus to Monaragala, again simply by asking anyone who was around and looked official. I would advice against asking passers by, as sometimes they might try to convince you to pay more by getting a tuk tuk, or ask for some money for helping you out, or just simply not really know themselves and just get you confused! We found it easiest to ask the drivers, ticket collectors (who were on every bus), or at the desk of the main stations.
Monaragala is a large town that is also known as the gateway to the east, and is surrounded by jungles hills (a taste of what’s to come when we visit the hill country properly in a few days time). From here we finally managed to catch a direct bus to Arugambay.
For bus travel, as with any travel, the best advice I can give is just to always get up and get going as early as you can, particularly as you want to get as much done before the heat of the day really kicks in as possible, but also to give you plenty of time in case of unseen delays! We left at 8.30am and arrived at Arugambay around 3pm. We were really lucky and only ended up waiting half an hour for a direct bus in Monaragala (other options are to go instead to Pottuvil, and then get a tuk tuk for around 200SLR on to Arugambay). The whole journey by bus cost us only 555 SLR for the two of us (that’s about £2.50) so it really was the cheapest option. However, even just half an hour of waiting around in the heat was a bit unbearable, and by the time we finally arrived, we were both completely drained.
Either way, we have arrived in one peice. And the next few days are looking good… Surfing in the warm seas of Sri Lanka? Tropical cocktails on the beach front? Palm tree cabanas? Yes please.
Hope you’re well, the next message will be more fun and less logistics I promise!
Stay breezey 🍹🏄☀️
Ps. Sorry for lack of quality photos once more, it’s tricky to upload them out here, expect improvements when we’re back!