After leaving our nice Bungalow in Talalla we headed for Udawalawa, a small town infront of Udawalawe Nationalpark, one of the many national parks in Sri Lanka.

We got there by bus which was not too bad. Unfortunatly I left my modem in Talalla, so we had no internet... (On the way we got us a cheap Dialog Prepaid Sim for around 5€ with internet and talk time) Somewhere on the journey it struck my mind that the gear levers of the Lanka Ashok Leeland busses are pretty cool. In general I like these busses, and that they always have a lot of detailed decoration. Many of them also have monitors that show some concerts or funny videos.

Udawalawe is most famous for the many elephants you can see there. We checked in in the Greenwood Safari Resort, the only available option on Holstelworld.com
From all the booking platforms we used Hostelworld the most since it offers only hostels, most places have breakfast included and the price range is more or less always similar, but sometimes we also used booking.com

Greenwood Safari Resort was a neat little hostel, almost infront of the park, and in walking distance from the local elephant`s orphanage. (Behind our Hostel we could already see elefants as we discovered the next day) Since most of the travel guides we studied recommended the place we decided to go there in the afternoon. At 6 o’clock the place had it’s feeding time and we went there together with the other guests from the hostel. The orphanage was basically a museum that was already closed and a big viewing plattform. Several school classes where also present. The ticket price was 500 LKR per person.

During the ongoing sunset we watched around 35 young elephants walking up to a little hut where they where fed with milk and then lead to some shrubbery on the ground which they started to eat as well. We watched the spectacle while wondering about the amount of animals and what might have happened to them. Here are some pictures that I took:

Since the owner of the hostel convinced us that a morning safari is much better than one in the evening we got up at 5 am to go on safari at 5:30. The jeep took us and the other guests including Tarik and Missi, a german couple, to the park. There was also a middleaged english lady who did not stop talking for a minute during the whole trip. The costs for the safari where actually pretty decent, 1700 per person for the jeep, but then we had to pay 3600 LKR to get the tickets to the park.

When we entered the big gate of the park twilight was almost over. Together with probably a hundred other jeeps we entered the park. Inside we saw a lot of animals, mainly birds, peacocks, water-buffalows, aligators and of course elephants.

Even though there are 15 leopards in Udawalawe we did not see any. That is manly because of one difference to Yala National Park (the one most famous for leopards): the height of the shrubbery. Yala’s bushes are lower and so it is slightly easier to spot the animals.
I was really happy to have my 55-210mm lens with me and I was using it heavily. Here you can checkout some pictures of the safari, if you click on them they also have a description :-)

Waterbuffalos

The first animals we saw when entering the park

Little Green Beeeater

These little cute birds eat bees as lunch, they are quite comon and we saw several of them

Peacock

We saw so many peacocks, it would have been hard to count them. All over SriLanka we stumbeled over them in many places

Peacock

Only the male peacocks have the blue feathers and can form a wheel

Axis Deer

These kept hiding during our safari. It was hard to spot them in the bushes

Elephants

After some time we saw elephants in the bushes, we waited for around 15 minutes and then one of them came out.

Elephant

... happily showing us his but

Elephant

Elephant

Several jeeps where waiting...

Elephants in the shrubbery

Lake

In the middle of the park there is a big lake, the waterreservoir during the dry periods

Waterbuffalos

Waterbuffalows apeared in large herds. Their presence indicated the absence of predetors

A wild Jo

This specific animal is especially dangerous and known for it’s friendly grin before it eats his prey

Early Morning

Some people on the other cheeps tried to get some more sleep during the safari...

Waterbuffalos

Most of the buffalos we saw where tagged in the ear

Elephants

We only saw male bulls, wandering around alone.

WaterBuffalos

Lizards

Besides a very well hidden chamlion we also saw this lazy peukilotherm friend.

Lizards

It was lurking right next to the street so I could zoom in really close

Indian roller

This guy was balancing on the branch all the time, althoug I would have liked to picture him in-flight

Aligators

In some other place we saw many aligators, a little further away from the water buffalos

Aligators

Elephants

Elephants

This guy was specifically posing for us...

Elephants

Elephants

Elephants

...and the 10 other jeeps...

Ceylon Chicken

Pretty similar to the european chicken

The drivers where talking and discussing on the tour, constantly on the phone to see where other animals are. Since we where in a full jeep we did not get a additional guide which was quite a pity. The driver told us on some spots to look out but that was about it. Also interesting: Almost all of the cars where Bolero MaxiTrucks equipped with 6 seats.

A wild Lukas

This specific animal can be found in two states during any safari: either taking pictures or sleeping. Keep in mind that it can draw it’s long-lensed weapon faster than it’s shadow

On the way back from the park we saw another elephant standing along the road and posing for the tourists. Though we could not really figure out if he enjoyed that or why he was standing there on the fence.

We came back at around 11:00 and had some breakfast with the others, then we packed our stuff and left in the direction of Ella. At the bus stop we met Tarik and Missi again, they were waiting for the bus for quite some time already. As some local guys approached us we decided to trust them and let their friend drive us to Ella, which (after some slight additional diversions) worked out quite well and cheap.