Udawalawe National Park, we saw so many elephants during our visit!!

steef-05
Stephan @steef-05
· December 2018 · 6 min read · Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka counts many many wildlife parks. Some offer similar experiences, others unique. May it because of the flora, the fauna or even both. Udawalawe, Minneriya, Kaudulla, and Bundala are great for elephants. Sinharaja, Kumana and some others are great for birds. Knuckles Range and Horton Plaines are ideal for long hikes. By far the most visited park is Yala, which is located on the southeastern part of Sri Lanka. Just south of the popular beach town Arugam Bay. Mainly because of the best chance to spot leopards. The downside of this level of popularity is the number of people and jeeps in the park. During high season around 600 jeeps can be in the park at the same time (!) Although we were not visiting Sri Lanka in the high season, we were not really in the mood to, maybe by chance, end up in such a situation. We chose to visit Udawalawe National Park, whose landscape is known to be most comparable to African wildlife parks. This park was on our route and we love to see elephants, especially in their natural surroundings.

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Cheap sunscreen solution

We arrived in Udawalwe by bus from Hikkaduwa. Quite easy, I think we did not even need to change bus. In Udawalawe we stayed in a very nice homestay. The owner started it just 9 months ago, so everything was brand new and the price was still really cheap (around € 13 per room per night!).
We arrived just after midday and after a nice chat, we dropped our stuff. The owner, a young guy who lived behind the homestay with his family, offered to bring us to the dam with his car. He told us that we could walk back to the homestay through the village. On our way back we would also pass by the Elephant Transit Home where we could watch the elephants during feeding time. Just check out my previous blog!

After we got back from the Transit Home it was already dark. His mom made us some awesome vegan dinner which we ate with a couple from Cambodia. Together we were the only visitors. The owner sat with us during dinner which was a bit awkward but he just wanted to make sure we had everything we needed. So it was with the best intentions. During dinner, we booked a safari for the next morning together with the Cambodian couple.

The next morning we got up early around 4 am. A friend of the owner was doing the tour and arrived ten minutes later with his jeep. All the jeeps that go inside the park are a bit reconstructed. Just check the pictures and you know what I mean.

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After a 20 minute drive, we arrive at the entrance of the National Park and got our entrance tickets sorted out quite quickly. We entered the park as one of the first and after seeing some monkeys we left the other jeeps and tried to go our own way. Most of the times we were, but the thing is, when a jeep is standing still this usually means it has spotted something. So the next thing you know all the jeeps that are in the nearby area think they need to go to that spot as well.

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Spotted a small one, so cute!

Enough complaining because a visit to this park was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Sri Lanka. After we had lost most of the other jeeps we drove around on our own for a while. The park is mainly grasslands and bush forest so we had good views. It did not take long before we saw our first elephants. Always such a joy to see a majestic animal like the elephant. Udawalawe is the best place in Sri Lanka if you want to spot elephants in the wild. Around 600 of them roam around in the park and you can encounter herds up to 50 elephants. Especially early in the morning or at the end of the day.

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A baby elephant in a herd

After driving around for a bit we were also lucky to spot a big herd. There were even a few baby elephants with them. After a while, other jeeps came to check them out as well and a few elephants got grumpy and started making a lot of noise. Turned out a dog was following one of the jeeps and the elephants were definitely no fan of dogs.

Among elephants, we also spotted some monkeys, a crocodile, herds of buffalo, lizards and some beautiful birds. Our guide's eyesight was out of this world. Like he was a hawk himself. Whilst driving the car through potholes and massive pools of water he still spotted the tiniest camouflaged animals. Even after pointing them out it mostly took us a while to see what he saw.

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Some of the animals that we saw_

In total, we drove around for 2 and a half hours or so inside the park. We saw so many elephants that we left with happy faces. When we got back in the village, Udawalawe was coming back to life again after a night's rest. And we? We were ready for some serious breakfast!


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We also got to see a baby elephant when we were in Sri Lanka .. SOOOO CUUUUTE!


steef-05
Stephan @steef-05December 2018

Yes cute everytime ;D Where did you spot one?


At the Habarana Eco-Park:

TWO :)


steef-05
Stephan @steef-05December 2018

What an awesome photo :D


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steef-05
Stephan @steef-05December 2018

Awesome!


guchtere
Remy @guchtereDecember 2018

Yes a new part of this story! Can't imagine you need to be a hawk for spotting those animals. When I'm walking with my GF she always spots the animals way before I even see them...think she just wants to see them way more than I do so is your guide 😅

What kind of snake is there hidden in the tree?

PS. Loving the picture with the cheap sunscreen! 😍


steef-05
Stephan @steef-05December 2018

Yes true, he spots them everyday. But we were still impressed. I don't think it's a snake but a lizzard. It's hard to spot on the small photo but there are some feet in there as well and his head is not as smooth as that of a snake. Thanks for stopping by!


very adventours and wild trip, I can immagine how exciting was to be face to face with this amazing animals


steef-05
Stephan @steef-05December 2018

Thanks! Yes very exciting. I always enjoy the trips the most where we don't get to close to the animals (as in get to touch them or anything).


Looks like it was a great jeep ride!! Where the elephants getting grumpy because too many jeeps were coming around or what?

And did ypu have for a massive breakfast... I don't know Sri Lanka but it's making me crave a south Indian breakfast!

Thanks for sharing your trip


steef-05
Stephan @steef-05December 2018

Na I'm afraid they are quite used to all the jeeps, they don't seem to be bothered by them anymore (and it was not even high season). But a dog was running next to one of the other jeeps, probably the owners dog and our guide told us that what made them grumpy. They really did not like the dog haha.

I have not been to India but I can imagine the breakfasts are quite alike. Mostly some lighter curries like dahl with springhoppers are served for breafast. And pancakes filled with sweet coconut (think they're called Wellawahum). Delicious!


Haha the dog! Yeah it makes sense they would be used to the jeeps after some time. Oh those pancakes filled with sweet coconut sound really nice!


What a fun trip for less than three hours. It seems like it would have needed to be longer to see so much. And then breakfast after! Wow.

I love your first shot the most. Great action in it. And the bird with the yellow legs is a wonderful catch.

Sri Lanka is one of the top countries I hope to get to in my travels. I looked back at your other posts abut it and now it is even higher on my list.


steef-05
Stephan @steef-05December 2018

Yes Sri Lanka has been such a joy. Very divers landscape, really really kind people, cheap, and the best kitchen so far (especially for vegetarians/vegans) in my opinion. The yellow bird was really easy to snap compared to the green ones, they are really fast. This guy was just standing there next to our jeep, doing nothing ;D Thanks for stopping by!


You're welcome. I really need to get my goals on and get over there.


Very impressive trip. Since I really like elephants I will put Sri Lanka on my bucket list. Count


steef-05
Stephan @steef-05January 2019

You can’t miss them in Sri Lanka :)