An Elephant Euphoria
It’s 5.30am and the sun is beginning to rise as we set off on our morning safari. Udawalawe National Park is the 3rd largest park in Sri Lanka, ranking in as one of the best places in the world to spot wild Elephants (que the squeals) With a packed breakfast, binoculars and River’s new, I can justify the money, camera lens!! Ready, eyes peeled, lets go!
Staying at Kottawatta Village which is located just on the outskirts of the National Park. This eco-friendly retreat offers luxury camping and individual cabins to feel at one with nature. A perfect nights accommodation prior to your safari tour.
We booked our safari through Kottawatta, although there are many safari tours nearby; price dependent on the length and package of your tour. We opted for the 5.30am start, 6 hour total tour. Seems a long time but believe me it goes fast, it’s surprising how long you can sit and watch Elephants eat grass…
There is a fee to enter the park which is your responsibility to pay for, depending on how many of you are in the jeep you can split the entry fee - it’s around $30 per jeep.
Once inside, your tour feels extremely personalised. The queue of jeeps split off from one another, confidently mastering the off-road tracks interlaced through the park. Seemingly having a route planned out, our driver took us to all the key spots ticking off dozens of wildlife sightings on the way. His keen eyes made sure we didn’t miss a thing, not even the smallest kingfisher got by him.
As with most people who come to see Udawalawe, the Elephants are no.1 on your list to see. We had been lucky enough to witness a handful of Elephants during our time in the park. As our tour was nearing the end, to our delight we came across a herd of 8 Elephants including 3 babies. Happily eating and frolicking in the mud, it was so joyful to see them wild and free, at ease in their environment as it should be.
Udawalawe may come in at a 3rd of the size of Yalla National Park, however what it lacks in size it makes up for in animals. With a larger animals to size ratio, less jeeps crowding the viewing spots and more Elephants- Udawalawe, you ticked every box for us. Now, where's next…we’ve got the safari bug!