Spotting Elephants in Habarana Eco Park

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Spotting Elephants in Habarana Eco Park

elephant in Habarana Eco Park (5)

 

Elephants and Sri Lankan civilization have been associated for thousands of years. Killing an elephant was once a capital offense. The animals are still revered and there are a surprising number of them still in the wild here.

 

There are several national parks across Sri Lanka with healthy numbers of elephants and other wildlife. While visiting the cave temples of Dambulla we decided to try to see the elephants of Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks. The month was late May. At this time many of the elephants are in nearby Habarana Eco Park.

 

If you are here in late summer, be sure to visit Minneriya, which hosts one of the most famous wildlife spectacles in Asia. Known as “the Gathering” over 200 elephants come together at Minneriya Tank (an ancient reservoir) to socialize and drink.

 

While our safari wasn’t quite as spectacular, we were pretty satisfied with the number of elephants we saw. And since it was the first time I saw an elephant in the wild, it remains a special experience for me.

 

The photo essay will take you through our afternoon searching for elephants in Habarana Eco Park:

 

Habarana Eco Park

At the beginning of our safari through Habarana Eco Park.

habarana eco park

Our driver spotted this Imperial Pigeon.

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A beautiful rose-ringed parakeet. But no elephants yet.

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Our jeep.

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Lots of elephant poop. But no elephants, yet! Starting to get nervous.

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Our driver taking us through Habarana Eco Park. Still on the lookout for an elephant.

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Finally we spot our first elephant! He’s hiding behind some brush.

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The male elephant is cautious of us.

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Male elephants tend to stick to themselves most of the time.

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Elephants can smell food up to 15 km away. Here he is smelling us.

habarana eco park

Driving away from our first elephant.

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Look carefully. It’s our second elephant of the afternoon.

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Enjoying the safari.

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Getting a little bit closer to elephant number two.

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Other jeeps below and a panorama of Habarana Eco Park.

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Another jeep looking for elephants on the side of the highway.

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Our final two elephants–a mother and child–along the roadside on the way home.

 

More Info: We hired a jeep through our guesthouse (Healy’s) in Dambulla. $50 got us a 4 x 4 and driver for four hours in the late afternoon. The elephants are most active and dawn and dusk. The entrance ticket and additional fees to the Eco Park was an additional $15 per person.

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 15 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Google +, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

3 Comments

  1. Mike Bugno says:

    This is awesome!! Great pictures.

  2. […] see elephants, we went to Habarana Park  which is very close to Sigiriya. We never actually went to Sigiriya, the $35 entrance fee […]

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