After our brilliant night, we got up bright and early to set off on a long drive to Udawalawe National Park where the plan was to safari in the morning and lunch in the afternoon! (I kinda think the folk at Thomson knew of my predilection for safaris before we arrived… 😉 )
Thankfully free of a hangover (or perhaps still ‘merry’ from the night before), I hurried through breakfast and promptly fell asleep for the entire ride over to Udawalawe.
Udawalawe is known for its huge herds of elephants and within minutes of arriving, we spotted our very first elephant! (We’d spotted a herd of water buffalos already on the roads as we drove to the park).
We also spotted some more water buffalo as we went through…
…but the cutest sight of the day has to go to this mother elephant and her calf! They were just too cute for words and had everyone “Ooohing” and “Aaahing” for ages until our driver decided it was time to carry on.
Peacocks and eagles also made some pretty strong appearances, along with king fishers and monkeys!
One of the biggest surprises of that day were the crocodiles lying on the river beds. Sounds silly but I wasn’t expecting to see crocodiles at all that day. In fact, come to think of it, this is the second time we’ve been on safari in Sri Lanka (the first was on our previous trip earlier in the year) and we hadn’t spotted a single crocodile the time before.
One of my favourite things about Udawalawe, in addition to being able to see these animals in their natural habitats, is the dramatic beauty of the landscape here. Rivers run through forests of barren trees, surrounded by lush green grass on either side. It was incredibly warm on the day albeit cloudy and the clouds added even more to the dramatic-ness of the landscape.
After a couple of hours of driving around, we finally said farewell to the elephants and headed to the restaurant for lunch, in prep for the long ride back home.
Udawalawe and its crooked trees are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and is definitely worth seeing when you’re in this beautiful part of Sri Lanka.