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Elephant Watching in Sri Lanka

Updated on February 17, 2013

Elephant watching made easy

Sri Lanka is renowned for Elephants and rightly so since there is a huge Elephant population in Sri Lanka for a relatively small country. It is no secret that Elephant watching and Elephant back safaris are one of the main attractions for tourists. With the end of the civil war there is a huge increase in the number of the tourists the wildlife and tourism ministries are smoothing the way for eager tourists who are looking to get a glimpse of the Elephants. There are many places where you can see the Elephants in Sri Lanka and while some places are fun and entertaining some places could be a little dangerous. One sure things is you will definitely see an Elephant in the below mentioned places but they are a bit hard to spot in some national parks.

Elephant Back Riding is very popular among tourists
Elephant Back Riding is very popular among tourists

National Zoological Gardens - Easiest and the nearest place

Since most of the tourists prefer to stay in Colombo the easiest and the nearest place you can watch Elephants is in the National Zoological gardens in Dehiwela. Its about a half an hour drive from Colombo and there are 10-20 Elephants in the Zoo. There are Elephant back rides available if you are interested at that. One of the most popular items with the tourists is the Elephant show at around 4PM where the Elephants perform some acts to entertain the crowds. The trip to the zoological garden itself is a great experience because you can view lots of tropical animals especially if you are coming from European countries

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage - watch and study Elephants in semi-wild conditions

Pinnawela is an Elephant orphanage which is situated near Kegalla town which is about a two hour drive from Colombo. This is a breeding place for Elephants as well as a place to take care of injured Elephants because of various human activities. There is also a research center where you can study Elephants. Bottle feeding baby elephants and watching them take a bath in the river in semi-wild conditions are two of the main attractions. Check out Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka.

Udawalawe National Park

Of all the national parks or reserves in Sri Lanka this is the best national park to see Elephants. Even during the mid day when Elephant usually go into the bush you can see plenty of Elephants. Another great thing about Udawalawe National park is that Elephants are somewhat used to people so you have a very good chance of getting pretty close to the Elephants. Although I really couldn't see much of a difference other than the size according to the guide that went with us there are three types of Elephants in Udawalawe and you have a very good chance of seeing all of them in one visit.

Elephant Attacks a car in Sri Lanka

Wasgamuwa National Park

Home of the notorious "Kane Hila" Wasgamuwa national park if famous for Elephants that charge and hit safari jeeps. Most of these charges are mock charges but some do actually get hit while visiting there. One main reason for this is somewhat adventurous drivers who gets very close to Elephants and provokes them. This is another national park full of elephants so you must be very very unlucky if you didn't see and elephant over here. If you are the adventurous type and want's something a bit more thrilling than just watching elephants then Wasgamuwa is the place to be.

Its hard not to see an Elephant in Sri Lanka

Almost all national parks in Sri Lanka have elephants so it is almost impossible not to see an Elephant if you go in the right time. The best times to see elephants are from 6AM to 8AM in the morning and after 5PM in the evenings. In places like Udawalawe and Wasgamuwa you can see them almost any time of the day. Although the most famous national park in Sri Lanka its a bit difficult to see elephants in Yala national park but you should be good in any other national park


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