Read the first part of our Sri Lanka travels – Beaching in Sri Lanka.
We left Tangalle in a tuk tuk bound for our next Sri Lanka stop, Udawalawe National Park. The ride would take two hours and while taking a private car was an option, this was a fraction of the price. Halfway through the ride we heard a weird noise underneath us by the wheel and it was clear something wasn’t right. The driver started stopping and asking people on the side of the road something (in Sinhala so we couldn’t understand) and they would point. Off he would drive, repeating this multiple times. At this point we’re far off the main road into the middle of nowhere wondering where the heck we’re going. Then we pull up to what appears to be a repair shop. So, the good news is the tuk tuk gets fixed. Bad news is who knows how long we’ll be stuck and the sun is starting to set. So we load out of the tuk tuk and Trav sees across the street one of his favorite sights on this trip – a volleyball game! Nevermind they didn’t have a net and were bumping right by a rusty barbed wire fence, he joined right in. The local guys loved it. And turns out, the repair shop guys fixed the problem as if they were in the middle of an Indy 500 race. So we loaded back into the tuk tuk and were on our way!
Udawalawe National Park covers 119,000 square miles was initially created as a reserve for wild animals displaced by a large irrigation dam that was built nearby. It’s mostly Sri Lankan elephants and birds in the reserve. We stayed right by the park in a cabin-ish guesthouse that also organized safari tours which made it easy. The manager of the guesthouse was so sweet and check in came complete with a hand drawn card with an elephant collage and my name on it. That Sri Lankan hospitality, I tell you. We woke up early for our safari and luckily for us, no other guests were going that day, so we had the jeep and guide all to ourselves. Seeing the elephants up close was incredible! Of course we’ve seen them at zoos and such, but it’s just not the same. We saw numerous herds throughout the park (including some babies – holy cute) and a few of the males that travel alone. While elephants were our main reason to go, the park is also home to water buffalos, crocodiles, mongoose and peacocks. It was festinating to witness one of the male peacocks doing a mating dance. His long colorful feathers were fully out and he shook his tailfeathers while spinning around in a circular motion for a solid five minutes. From our view it didn’t look like any baes were biting, but cool to see nonetheless.