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 :-)
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.
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.