After spending the morning in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, we headed back to the hotel for a light snack and beers by the pool (which felt much-needed and deserved in the Sri Lankan scorching sunshine) before heading out a mere 10 minutes away from our hotel to Minneriya National Park.
Minneriya National Park is home to hundreds of elephants (as well as other animals) but I’m obsessed with elephants so I’d been looking forward to this moment since I first found out about!
I’d actually never heard about the park and probably wouldn’t have know to visit if Evaneos had recommended it on our bespoke itinerary. This is one of my favourite parts about organising a trip like this with Evaneos Travel – you get to chop and change your itinerary, totally assisted by the knowledgeable locals on ground so the trip is exactly what you want it to be, you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing (or you can if you want to) and everything is set to your own pace and preference! 🙂 (It worked so well for us too!)
Arriving at the park, you set off on bumpy (and very dusty) dirt roads contrasted by the lush green backgrounds and beautiful blue sky! Then again, if you were as excited about seeing the elephants as I was, you’d be forgiven for not taking the time to soak this in and instead darting your eyes left and right in search of these magnificent animals.
You do see some other wildlife as you tarry along…
Before long though, we saw our very first elephants but they were shrouded in tall grass that I gave up any hope of being able to get a decent photo of them! Still, see them meant that the promise of seeing more lay ahead…
…or so I thought!
We actually ended up carrying on for ages without a single elephant sighting and after about an hour of searching, we decided to take a higher vantage point on top of the rocks – surely we’d spot one of two from here!!!
Again, we saw some in the distance but still not close enough!
One thing being high up on the rocks does have though is one pretty fantastic view point…
From up here, you can see all around the park for miles and miles and it most certainly makes for quite an amazing sight!
*At this point, I wished I’d brought a bottle (or two) of wine to watch the sunset with but alas, all I had was ice cold water. Not that I’m complaining… in that heat, water trumps wine!
We carried on in search of the elephants (thankfully assisted by our vantage view of the grassland)…
…and before long, we hit the jackpot! Right there in front of us were not one or two elephants but as many as thirty, lazily ambling along as they munched their way through the tall grass!
FYI, this was totally worth the wait!
Then, something they decided to cross the road and it’s only at this stage we saw the baby elephants! Baby elephants!!!
It was at this stage I totally lost all decorum and proceeded to clamber onto the jeep, while fighting off Yaya, Georgia and Chris to get the best viewing spot for the elephants! Hehehe! Those 3 put up a good fight but my elephant obsession meant that I was always going to win this! 🙂 😀
Elephants don’t seem to just walk, they plod across the land in a very graceful way. It’s quite magical and somewhat surreal to just watch a herd of elephant amble along, almost as though they’d choreographed the entire thing!
Looks like we weren’t the only ones keen to get a pretty fantastic view point! 🙂
The elephants all seemed so happy and content in this beautiful national park.. then again, why wouldn’t they be, surrounded by so much lush green food!
We stayed on for ages, moving every so often to get a better view and before long, the sun started to set and the moon began to show it’s face at which point we decided to call it a day on our safari.
Being able to see elephants wander so freely away, deeper into the national park was something that felt so natural and right. No chains, no cages, no weapons.. . just elephants doing their own thing while we get the privilege to watch them do it.
It definitely so reassuring to see that these elephants have been protected within this most beautiful national park and I can’t recommend this enough as the best way to try to see an elephant when you’re in Sri Lanka.