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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
If you enjoy my work, please consider upvoting/ resteeming it and follow me for more travel blogs around the world.
Similar posts that you may like:
- What to do in Hanoi: TRAVEL TIPS for the capital of Vietnam
- Ta Van, a good alternative for busy Sa Pa
- Beautiful Ha Long Bay. One of the seven wonders of Nature part 1, part 2, part 3
- Caodaism and their unique temple in Tay Ninh
- A visit to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
- Must do: walking tour through Ho Chi Minh City
- Traveling Vietnam off the beaten track
- Northernmost point of Vietnam!
- Vietnam backpackers route for 4 weeks Part 1
- Vietnam backpackers route for 4 weeks Part 2