Getting up close with elephants – Witness these majestic beasts

Everyone that witnesses an elephant is truly fascinated by these majestic beings and their intelligent behaviour. As one of the few remaining megaherbivores on the planet, elephants hold great national value as a major tourist attraction. There are numerous places to see elephants in the country, listed below are a few.

Image result for Udawalawe

Mstyslav Chernov, Bathing elephants. Udawalawe National Park. Sri Lanka, CC BY-SA 3.0

Udawalawe
Declared a national park in 1972 and spanning 30,800 hectares, Udawalawe is home to roughly 500 elephants and other animals. A former teak plantation, they graze in scattered herds in the grasslands amongst the remaining teak trees. There’s an elephant orphanage nearby, where you’ll find injured or abandoned elephants being cared for, after which they’re released into the park.

Minneriya
Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1938 to protect the Minneriya tank and wildlife of the surrounding area, you’ll find between 150 to 200 elephants roaming the park from July to August. In the dry season, an event is known as the ‘elephant gathering’ occurs and is a great opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to observe the social behaviour of the elephants in the wild. Just a 30-minute drive from Habarana Village by Cinnamon, a rather well-known Sri Lanka Resort, Minneriya is ideal for those looking to get a glimpse of these beasts in their natural habitat.

Pinnawala
Located in the central hills, this elephant orphanage was established in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Abandoned and disabled wild elephants get care and protection at this special place that spreads across 24 acres. You can observe elephants bathing, as they play and splash around.

Nature Trails in Habarana – Serenity Among Nature

Lankarama Temple

Lankarama Temple | Image Courtesy : Orient Tours

Cushioned between Sri Lanka’s most prominent historical sites and exuberant nature, Habarana is a tiny town located in the Anuradhapura district. Its strategic location has made it a favourite among locals and tourists. Also, if you want to meet the royalty of Sri Lanka’s jungles – the elephant – Habarana is the ideal place for you. Habarana Village by Cinnamon is an eco-friendly Sigiriya hotel that has developed a lasting relationship with its surrounding nature. Such properties offer the ideal starting point to begin a nature trail.

Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park | Image Courtesy : Cinnamon Air 

Located in very close proximity to Habarana, the Minneriya National Park is a hotspot for elephant lovers. A knowledgeable guide and sporty jeep will take you on a mud strewn track, through a penetrable jungle. Wayward branches and tiny twigs fling tiny blows onto your face. However your eyes stay peeled to spot the undisputed kings and queens of the Sri Lankan wild.

Minneriya Tank

Minneriya Tank | Image Courtesy : Stranger Time

Soon, the waters of the Minneriya tank glisten in the distance and the horizon is speckled with grey dots. Slight movements are visible even from a distance and on a close observation, you will notice that these female elephants show great maternal care as they guide their calves to safety. In order to avoid disturbing the animals, your jeep will be parked a safe distance away from the herds.

Tusker in Minneriya National Park

Tusker in Minneriya National Park |Image Courtesy : The Hungry Grape

A close and rather scary encounter with a lone elephant must also be anticipated. You would be truly fortunate to spot this majestic being, spending some alone-time rummaging through the jungle. Maintain your calm and be as least intrusive as possible, and the King will loosen his defences.

Visit Habarana for adventures with nature!

Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+