No trip to Sri Lanka is complete without visiting and doing “safari” in one of this country’s many national parks. My choice was Udawalawa national park. That is for three reasons. First, geographically it is reasonably close to Mirissa where I stay (about 2.5 hours drive). Second, it is somewhat less visited than other parks – hence, smaller number of people and jeeps competing for the best viewing area. Third, it has – besides other animals – truly abundant elephant population. And I love these animals. The procedure of visiting all national parks in Sri Lanka is fairly the same. First, you need to find a driver who will get you to the entrance (I do not recommend renting a car and driving yourself unless you are super-adventurous). Second, by the entrance to a park you will find many jeeps with guides/drivers waiting for you (you cannot go into park by yourself): you can either have the entire jeep for yourself or split the cost with other people. Finally, after you enter the park by a jeep, you need to buy a ticket. Of course, there is another option. You can find someone where you stay (in my case, these were my hosts in Mirissa) who can arrange the entire package for you. It will not be cheaper, but you will get better/more reliable guides and drivers. Long story short, my entire day of adventure was priced at 19,500 rupees – about $ 110 US. Not bad. Here is my beautiful and very personal jeep.
When we entered park, the first order of business was to locate elephants. Which is not always easy. But we were greeted right away by cheerful monkeys.
I was truly touched by this picture of “nature symphony:” water buffalo accompanied by thre small beautiful birds
And, yes, we did find elephants bathing in one of the lakes
Further, it looked like one family would take turn after another “using” this natural bathroom. A new family arrived with cute baby-elephant
Leaving the park, the last nice sight was that of deers in a company of a peacock
I was fairly hungry after full day of adventures and bumpy roads. Hence, the choice for diner: whole grilled fish – local variety called red mullet.