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It’s not every road trip you find your traffic lane blocked by a wild elephant. But that’s exactly what happened to us when driving in Southern Sri Lanka, on our way from a safari in Yala National Park
I was sitting in the back seat when my driver started braking and gesticulating about the road obstruction ahead. After a glance, I quickly grabbed my camera and started snapping away — not ideal photography circumstances, but that’s often how it goes.
There blocking our lane stood an elephant, interacting with passengers in a small bus in the opposite lane. I’m not sure what was going on — whether he wanted some food (most likely), or just to interact with the people.
I have a …
I love watching elephants — who doesn’t? To me they’re endlessly entertaining! Their massive size, their cute babies, their magical gentle trunks and soulful eyes (that seem to see and understand all)…..I think they’re great! A child and its grandparent can equally enjoy them.
There’s no better time to watch elephants than when they’re bathing. Every day at the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala, the elephants are taken to the nearby river to bathe for a few hours. Their pleasure at being in the water is self-evident. At Pinnawala, you won’t see just one or two, but dozens of elephants. To read more about the Elephant Orphanage, please click here.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)
There’s something special about elephants! They’ve a complex social structure, care for each other, are curious, intelligent and fun to watch. They’re at the top of the life pyramid in Africa and know little fear (except for man). African elephants can be distinguished from Asian elephants by the size of the ears — African elephants have huge ears shaped like the African continent, while Asian elephants have ears less than half this size.
Botswana has a very healthy population of elephants, so pachyderms are commonly seen on safari. It appears the tough anti-pouching laws have been effective because they’re extremely punitive (e.g. years in prison for just possessing an elephant tusk, even if the animal died of natural causes).
This photo …
Yala is the most visited National Park in Sri Lanka. It’s remotely situated in the southeast corner of the country, a long day’s drive from Colombo, and covers almost 1000 square kilometers (378 sq mi). Originally a hunting preserve, it was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and became one of the country’s first national parks in 1938. Yala is known for its large variety of animals and is the best place in Sri Lanka to spot wildlife, especially herds of Sri Lankan elephants, but also deer, crocodile, boar, and aquatic birds; it has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world …
Adam’s Peak (also known as Sri Pada, or “holy footprint”) is located in the southwestern part of Hill Country. It’s 2,243 meters (7,359 ft) high, the tallest mountain in this region and the fourth largest in Sri Lanka. Because of its size and distinctive pyramidal top, Adam’s Peak stands out when one is traveling through the region; on a clear day it can be seen from the ocean. The mountain is set in a region of wilderness so much of its vegetation and fauna are pristine.
I was first introduced to Adam’s Peak in Arthur C. Clarke’s book, THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE (which also features Sigiriya, hence the title). In this story a mountain bearing an uncanny resemblance to Adam’s Peak is the earthbound terminus of Arthur’s …
One of the highlights of any trip to Sri Lanka is a visit to the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. Pinnawala is small town just north of Kegalle, east of Colombo (just over half way on the road to Kandy). Its a great place to stop if you’re traveling from Colombo to the central Hill Country or to the Cultural Triangle further north. Its also an excellent day-trip destination from Colombo if you have limited time (eg. cruise ship stop) because the journey and visit to the orphanage will give you a much better understanding of Sri Lanka than a short stay in Colombo would.