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.
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.