Having seen the giants of the Indian Ocean from our luxurious Catamaran, we are eager to now go and search for that other great Sri Lankan animal, The Elephant!
Leaving our fabulous tree houses, our driver takes us north-east, were there are plenty of affordable newly build hotels to be found. Pro-tip; cough up the cash for an air conditioned room; it keeps away the mosquitoes, of which you’ll find plenty here.
Not the kind of animals we are looking for on this safari.
The next morning we rise with the sun, 6AM, and find one of the many safari-jeeps to guide us through Uduwalawe National Park. Your hotel can arrange a jeep for you, and if not, there are plenty of drivers waiting at the entrance of the park; hakuna matata, no worries!
The national park is most known for its abundance of birds and Elephants. All safari jeeps have lifted outdoor seats so we have an excellent view all around. Knowing that you are entering a park filled with wild animals like jackals, monkeys, buffaloes and so on, this ‘cabrio’ feel is very exciting and, to be honest, a bit scary! Adventure awaits.
Knowing this is a very popular tour, we are hoping on indeed experiencing a wildlife safari instead of a wildlife traffic jam. But once on the trail all the other cars disperse on the many little tracks meandering through the savannah, and it is soon only our car and nature.
The first half hour in we spot lots of colorful birds, and even a couple of jackals, but no Big Friendly Giants. Whilst dozing off a bit, the guide starts jabbering to the driver in a hushed tone, and the jeep suddenly reverses.
There it is, the very first elephant on the tour; or at least the back of it. We see a HUGE butt with a small wiggly tail disappearing through the foliage. A feeling reminding of that first blue whale’s tail we saw emerging from the still water a mere 2 days ago.
Driving on, we see water buffaloes bathing in the cool springs, turtles resting at the edges of said springs, and elephants, elephants everywhere.
At one point, the car stops as a huge bull steps out from the bushes, and crosses the path in front of us. Its alleged wifey, and 3 small elephants in pursuit behind us. We now find ourselves surrounded by these huge, wild and free beauties. Can this trip get any better?
After a few hours, the driver drops us off back at our hotel, were breakfast is now served. Wildly discussing everything we had just seen, Julie and I decide we want more. And guess what, a 10-minute drive away, you’ll find an elephant orphanage!
Normally we stay clear of elephants in captivity because of obvious reasons, but after some research this orphanage seems to be doing a very noble and necessary job.
Whenever a crippled, sick or rejected baby elephant is found in Sri Lanka, it is brought here. They raise the elephants, without bull hooks, keeping them wild, and once ready release them into the national park to join one of many wild Elephant tribes.
We arrive right on time for one of the daily feeding times, and Julie’s heart melts when she sees a little Jumbo playing in the water, feeding on the provided leaves.
These few days on the southern shores of Sri Lanka have been truly magical, seeing the elephants and blue whales, sleeping on luxury yachts and tree houses, and eating that darn good banoffee roti in Mirissa.
I can highly recommend this blooming region, which is still off the beaten track, not feeling like yet another tourist trap, but truly an awesome and inspiring adventure.
Find more info on the Elephant Orphanage Here.
Please leave any comments below and reach out to us, we would love to hear from you!