Tsunami Memorial in Yala National Park

  - darkometer rating:  4 -
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)
Location: near Palatupana, just inland from the beachfront, at the southern end of Yala National Park, in the south-east of Sri Lanka.
Google maps locator: [6.3443,81.4975]
  • Yala Tsunami monument 1 - little more than foundations leftYala Tsunami monument 1 - little more than foundations left
  • Yala Tsunami monument 2 - wavy metal monumentYala Tsunami monument 2 - wavy metal monument
  • Yala Tsunami monument 3 - memorial stoneYala Tsunami monument 3 - memorial stone
  • Yala Tsunami monument 4 - elephant in the backgroundYala Tsunami monument 4 - elephant in the background
  • Yala Tsunami monument 5 - calm seaYala Tsunami monument 5 - calm sea
  • Yala Tsunami monument 6 - smashed-up sinksYala Tsunami monument 6 - smashed-up sinks
  • Yala Tsunami monumentYala Tsunami monument


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