Tsunami Memorial in Yala National Park
Yala National Park, rather than a decidedly dark place, is actually Sri Lanka
's premier wildlife spotting area, It's not quite Kruger Park (in South Africa
), but on jeep safaris in the park you can still see a lot of wild elephants, crocodiles, huge monitor lizards, eagles and other magnificent birds, and if you're really lucky, maybe even a leopard.
So animal spotting was what I was prepared for when I went on safari in Yala National Park – but then there was a stop right at the beach. Yala is on the southern coast – you can even see the odd sight of an elephant with the blue sea in the background! And at this beach was a monument and the ruined foundations of a house – swept away by the 2004 tsunami
It's a sudden and sobering sight. Of the house hardly anything remains, just the foundations and a tiny bit of tiled wall of a bathroom with smashed up hand wash basins and toilets.
A memorial stone explains what happened: "In memory of the forty seven lives taken by the tsunami / as an act of past revenge [sic! – I don't know what they mean by this either] / At 9.20 a.m. on the 26th of December 2004 Tsunami waves struck the Yala National Park taking the lives of fifteen Japanese & German visitors, twenty nine local visitors & two foreigners & one local reported missing …".
Despite the slightly dubious logic of these lines, it does hammer it in what a ravaging disaster the tsunami was, even though this was but a tiny element of the full scale of the horror.
Next to the house's foundations a steel monument representing towering waves has been erected.
To get there you'll have to be on one of the safaris in the park – they usually stop at the memorial (otherwise ask for it). The safari is an enjoyable excursion anyway, and the tsunami memorial just a dark addition. Unless you're really not the type for wildlife spotting it's well worth it.
(For travel in the country in general see under Sri Lanka
near Palatupana, just inland from the beachfront, at the southern end of Yala National Park, in the south-east of Sri Lanka
- Yala Tsunami monument 1 - little more than foundations left
- Yala Tsunami monument 2 - wavy metal monument
- Yala Tsunami monument 3 - memorial stone
- Yala Tsunami monument 4 - elephant in the background
- Yala Tsunami monument 5 - calm sea
- Yala Tsunami monument 6 - smashed-up sinks
- Yala Tsunami monument