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

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

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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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