Elephant Safari

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October 11th 2013
Published: October 12th 2013
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Elephant mum and babyElephant mum and babyElephant mum and baby

A delightful sight, near the beginning of our safari, and very close to the van. I was a bit skittish, but our guide said the mother elephants don't charge. Not quite true, in fact.
Elephant Safari:

A most unforgettable adventure for us--definitely one of our top experiences this trip. "The Gathering" of elephants that happens here toward the end of the dry season each year (August-September) is listed as 6th in the top wildlife experiences in the world. (Lonely Planet?)

Our guide, with 8 years experience, was very helpful. He spotted many things we wouldn't have seen, including the larger native squirrel up a tree, a mongoose skimming across an opening, a monitor, a native hornets nest (big guys flying around it--2 cm long)...

Our guide also explained how to tell a male elephant from a female one at a distance. The female has a boxy shape, with a flat back. The male has a rounded (convex) shape to his back. (I hope I got that right. No one would hire me as a chicken sexer either.)

For the most part, it's only the males who charge the vehicles. They get riled up when their "must" is on, when they're in mating season.

However, the torn-ear mother is an exception, which the guides all knew. Her baby was killed by a vehicle several years ago and she hasn't forgotten. She
Elephant baby snack timeElephant baby snack timeElephant baby snack time

Mum is a walking kiosk.
has been known to charge over 50 times (or so they say). So when we came upon her group, late in the afternoon, our driver--and the other three drivers who also were parked near her--all turned their vehicles around so the back was toward her, in case they needed to make a quick escape. But she was calm that day.

Nonetheless, as she began to stroll our way, we left.

We also found an idyllic situation up a quiet little road off the highway from where we were overnighting. Cinnamon Lodge (mentioned to us by Sunetra) is built on a serene lagoon and has huge grounds and walking trails, with lots of birds and monkeys. We enjoyed strolling around there at different times of the day.

Travel tip: After many weeks of barely palatable instant coffee, we have developed a few survival skills. One is, if ever near a 5-star hotel, go there for a genuine cuppa. You never need to be a guest to eat at their cafes and they're always glad to have more customers, especially in this off-season time.

BTW: Be sure to go to page 2 on this blog as well.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 23


Minneriya Tank area Minneriya Tank area
Minneriya Tank area

Up to 400 elephants have been known to come to this area for water near the end of the dry season. This natural event is called "The Gathering".
Sindul,our guide, and Martha in jeepSindul,our guide, and Martha in jeep
Sindul,our guide, and Martha in jeep

This day was so exciting--like being in a wildlife film ourselves. Well, in a way we were.
Elephants arrivingElephants arriving
Elephants arriving

We saw a disturbance in the bushes, so the driver stopped the jeep, and suddenly they emerged at the edge of the road.
Oh look! There's a baby!Oh look! There's a baby!
Oh look! There's a baby!

The elephants spend the day sleeping in the jungle and come out in the afternoon to eat and drink all night.
Herd of girl elephants Herd of girl elephants
Herd of girl elephants

Further down the track we came upon a larger group, about 35 of them. All Mums, aunties and babies.
P&M on safariP&M on safari
P&M on safari

Yep, can this be real? Pinch, pinch.
Solitary male elephantSolitary male elephant
Solitary male elephant

The only male elephant wanders off alone. Secret men's business? The guide could tell his gender by the slope of his back.
Moving toward the waterMoving toward the water
Moving toward the water

After a good munch of grass, it's time for a drink and a cool-down. Small groups break away toward the water.
Walking in a huddleWalking in a huddle
Walking in a huddle

They walk in tight formation. A tangle of trunks and legs to the uninitiated eye.
Protecting the baby elephantsProtecting the baby elephants
Protecting the baby elephants

But what's really happening is the mothers and aunties keep the babies between them, presumably for safety.
Hairy little bubHairy little bub
Hairy little bub

There's one in every class who marches to a different drummer!
Getting to the waterGetting to the water
Getting to the water

Oh yes, Mum! This is the good part of the day, now I've eaten my veggies.
Phil videos elephantsPhil videos elephants
Phil videos elephants

Looks like binoculars--does the videocamera zoom work as well?
Elephants enjoy the waterElephants enjoy the water
Elephants enjoy the water

What a gorgeous place! Can they see (appreciate) the mountain scenery?
Elephants leave the waterElephants leave the water
Elephants leave the water

OK, now it's getting late...
Leaving the waterLeaving the water
Leaving the water

Time for more eating.
Bird bankBird bank
Bird bank

Lots of birds mean lots of fish. Those fish would have to swim quickly to avoid those gargantuan feet coming down on them.
Open bill craneOpen bill crane
Open bill crane

This is called an "open bill crane". Can you see why? Double click to see a bigger picture (in case you haven't discovered that already).
Open bill crane and heronOpen bill crane and heron
Open bill crane and heron

Dinner time for them, too.

12th October 2013

What a fantastic experience! M xx

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