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We take to a jeep for a safari of a national park that rivals the savannah of Africa. As the sun sets across Udawalawe dam, we search for elephants, the elusive leopard and crocodiles on our Sri Lanka Safari.
We descend from the high country and travel into the plains of Sri Lanka’s south. Along the way, we see the landscape change from the jungle-covered hills to the savannah-like plains of southern Sri Lanka. We explore historic railway bridges, waterfalls and ancient rock carvings before arriving at Udawalawe National Park. We take to a jeep for a safari of a national park that rivals the savannah of Africa. As the sun sets across Udawalawe dam, we search for elephants, the elusive leopard and crocodiles on our Sri Lanka Safari. After an exciting day witnessing the circle of life, our evening ends with a group dinner.
After a restful evening in the village of Ella we depart for Udawalawe National Park. Prior to leaving the hill country behind us we visit one of the iconic rail bridges in Sri Lanka. The aptly named nine arches bridge sits on the outskirts of Ella and our short hike provides amazing views as a morning train crosses the bridge. The steel destined for the bridge was diverted to the war effort in the 1920’s and thus this impressive bridge is made entirely of stone.
We depart Ella and begin our descent from 3,500ft to the southern plains of Sri Lanka. On the outskirts of Ella we pass Ravana Falls. The falls cascade over rocks as local families use the cool fresh water to shower and escape the Sri Lankan heat. High above the falls lies caves where historians have found evidence of human habitation dating back 25,000 years. As we descend, the jungle landscape becomes dryer and the winds can pick up as we are no longer sheltered from the Indian Ocean winds. As the land flattens more farms and villages crop up beside the road with many roadside stalls selling local fruits and vegetables.
Our journey continues to Udawalawe National Park as we make a detour to a hidden buddhist temple. Home to seven statues of Buddha, the Buduruvagala monastery is rarely visited by foreigners. Often we are the only people on site admiring the 16m tall statues carved directly into the rock wall in the 10th century. The jungle surrounding the site is home to a small lake providing water for local monkeys and beautiful birdlife. The cheeky monkeys often follow us to the carvings in search for a free snack.
As we arrive in the Udawalawe National Park we cross a striking feature of the park, the Udawalawe Dam. The dam spans almost 4km and generates electricity for much of the region. The large lake behind the dam provides water for the sprawling Udawalawe National Park. We arrive at our hotel to freshen up before our afternoon Sri Lanka Safari by jeep in the national park.
Our Jeep collects us from our hotel and zips us to the gate of the Udawalawe National Park. Unlike the northern parks this park contains dense low lying vegetation surrounding the sides of the lake. The scrub provides many nesting opportunities for peacocks which are common within the park. In the skies above large birds of pray circle the skies in search of small meals. Tiny birds feed on the banks of small ponds as the summer waters recede while crocodiles lay on the banks waiting for prey.
Elephants are the largest animals that reside in the park and are often a drawcard for visitors. The local population of 250 elephants is supplemented by transient elephants that visit the park as they transverse the country. We may be lucky enough to see a mother and calf digging for fresh water hidden beneath the muddy ponds. The skills of these large animals in survival in this rough climate are amazing and our open
The circle of life is apparent in this park, with the highest concentration of crocodiles in Sri Lanka residing in the park. Larger animals often become stuck in the mud while seeking water with the patient crocodiles waiting for their opportunity to strike. Witnessing nature at play reminds us that these parks provide sanctuary and survival for many of these large predators.
As the sun sets we leave the park while maintaining a look out for leopards who prefer to hunt in the shadows. There is often swirls of dust in the air as each Jeep speeds out of the park, taking guests to the comfort of their hotels. On arrival at our hotel we enjoy relaxing dinner with other travellers before relaxing by the pool.
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