Saturday, 8 February 2020

Sri Lanka January 2020. Part 7 Mirissa bound.

When planning this trip there was one place I knew I wanted to include, the lovely Spice House Guest House in Mirissa. 
Guest House? Well the proprietors call it that but it's more like a boutique hotel really.
I first discovered it about 6 years ago and it's been a pleasure to watch them grow the business. Their eye for detail and personal service is superb, the hotel is kind of quirky. It's set on a hillside just out of town. The main building houses some guests whereas other stay in separate rooms within the grounds. The rooms are very tastefully built and furnished using reclaimed materials for things like doors and windows which make an interesting different experience.
Last time we stayed we stayed in the Lemongrass House and I made a special request to have this room again because it offered superb wildlife viewing.
Leaving Cinnamon Wild behind I fully expected to have an improved garden experience. The taxi ride  had been arranged by Phil, the owner of Spice House. R10,000. Our driver did the journey in 3 1/2 hours, We were greeted by Spice House staff who carried all our gear to our room...thankfully... while we had a refreshing welcome drink in the garden.
Since our last visit they have continued to expand and progress and have built a new unit housing three rooms and another  swimming pool. 
Our room had changed significantly too.
The bedroom was now a living area.
The Spice House, Mirissa
The shower and toilet area remained as before.
Spice House,Mirissa
but a new bedroom had been added.The Spice House, Mirissa
a full window leads on to the balcony
The Spice House, Mirissa
where outside you can relax on the huge lounger!
Spice House,Mirissa
I mean what's not to like!! 
For 99.9% of the visitors they would say fabulous. Me, a tad disappointed if I'm honest.
In the 4 years since my last visit, the wrap round balcony that offered perfect viewing of the glade in the woods and stream of visiting birds had now been taken up by the bedroom extension.
Not that it mattered. The glade had disappeared too. Things grow at an incredible rate when you have sun and rain! Sri Lanka is incredibly green as a result. The trees towered above the level of the balcony. Ah well, it wouldn't stop me visiting again. No way. I love this place and it's very handy to wander in to town for a beer on the beach or a browse of the shops.
Oh, and the food is exceptional. £60 per night B&B, R3000 (£13-£14) the price for two for the wonderful banquet of local food they provide in the evening.
No, the answer would be to choose another room where the open aspect gives more avian opportunities and there are several to choose.
I wandered up to a more open area and did get some decent shots.
This was the only place I had a Drongo opportunity, strange because in many similar climate countries they are very common.
White-bellied  Drongo  Dicrurus caerulescens
I'm always delighted to see Paradise Fly-catchers
Indian Paradise-flycatcher  Terpsiphone paradisi
and the garden had both females and the long tailed males too.
Another bird that can be quite skittish is the Black-hooded Oriole.
Black-hooded Oriole   Oriolus xanthornus
That one posed brilliantly for a few seconds.
Back on our balcony though, the Toque Macaque were far from lacking in confidence. 
Our balcony was invaded every morning but they behaved themselves unlike the last time when one hurled itself at me with teeth bared having chased me down the balcony. Fortunately I'd managed to step inside the room and shut the door in the nick of time.
That particular beast is no longer, and I didn't ask too many questions as to his fate either.
No, the rest were far more amiable but still had a certain arrogance about them.
Toque Macaque
On one morning we had 15 on our balcony!!
The other monkey species seen in the garden , and I was pleased to see they were still there, were the Purple-faced Langurs. They are fairly shy and don't allow close approach. from that point of view our room was perfect when they arrived in the evening to feed.
Purple-faced Langur   Semnopithecus vetulus
Hopefully they will continue to survive in the area which is currently being developed quite intensively. The Langurs are a threatened species for this very reason.
No, our 4 nights in Mirissa were very enjoyable despite my disappointment.
Mirissa is famous as a whale watching departure point and for it's surfing opportunities. It was fairly windy while we were there so there were some decent waves. We were not too concerned as surfing was never on the agenda and neither was whale watching really. Well, not unless something special was out there. Not that Blue Whales are not special but once seen is enough for me. They might be the worlds largest but they are not exactly spectacular as they only show a tiny proportion of their body and the only action is a flip of the tail as they dive in to the ocean depths.
it was time to head back to Negombo and a return to where we'd started. We'd have 2 whole days to fill and I was considering a day trip to Kalpityia where the dolphin watching can be spectacular.

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