Our Sri Lanka elephant safari

In second grade, my class was assigned with the task of writing a report on our favorite animals. At the time, I had a million “favorite” animals. That was back when I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. Didn’t everyone? After much deliberation and a few cartons of chocolate milk, I made the difficult decision to write about elephants.

Now, believe it or not, this was a time before the wonderful world of Google. Dial-up internet wasn’t even an option. We had to research our animals using these strange devices called encyclopedias and books.

Ever since that report (I received an A+, by the way), I’ve been obsessed with elephants. I love how an animal so huge and gray and wrinkly could also be so ridiculously cute. Those ears though!

When I discovered that our trip to Sri Lanka was going to include an elephant safari, I nearly lost my peanuts. Seeing these animals in the wild is one of my favorite things (aside from cheese) and something I haven’t done since our Serengeti safari back in 2008.

Kaudulla National Park is located in the heart of Sri Lanka and is home to a slew of unique creatures. Wild boar, sloth bears (these sound both cute and terrifying), and Sri Lankan axis deer abound, but the true royalty of Kaudulla are its 200+ Asian elephants that migrate to the park in early September in search of food and-more importantly-water.

With the help and organization of our friends at Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, as soon as our SriLankan Airlines flight touched down in Colombo we found ourselves on a bus and bound to Kaudulla National Park. Did you know that one of the best ways to avoid jet lag is to see elephants in the wild? It’s scientific fact. Trust me, I was almost a vet.

Loading up in jeeps for our Sri Lanka elephant safari

As soon as we reached Kaudulla we loaded ourselves into open air jeeps and hit the open plain. Our jeep just happened to be bursting with travel blogging talent. We rode dirty (quite literally, at times) with our good friend Brock from Backpack With Brock, the lovely Erin from Travel with Bender, Craig, the current president of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association and owner of Indie Travel Podcast, and adventurous Nellie from Wild Junket.

We bounced through the park and took in the scenery. I’m sure our guides knew exactly where the elephants were, but they gave us a little teaser by pointing out certain trees, driving through questionable looking mud puddles, and pretending that huge rocks were elephants. They got me every time. However, after a lot of patience delivered by yours truly, they finally rounded a bend and watched as our entire jeep leapt with glee.

Before us was a bonafide herd of hundreds of elephants.

Commonly referred to as “The Gathering”, the meeting of elephants is due to their search for water during the country’s dry season (July to November). Did you know that most elephants need around 200+ liters of water every day? Kaudulla is in ideal place to quench their thirst as the park is home to a large lake.

Elephants in Kaudulla National Park Sri Lanka

One of my favorite parts of our visit to Kaudulla was the adorable babies that seemed to be everywhere. Given that their mother’s undergo the longest pregnancy ever (seriously, 22 months! I’d be like, Get.It.Out.), you would expect them to be the cutest animals on the entire planet. They had all of those extra months to really develop, after all. And you know what? They don’t disappoint. I even caught one adorable little baby sucking on his trunk like a human baby would on its thumb.

One of the most memorable moments? When a family of elephants was momentarily frightened and all of the vigilant matriarchs formed a protective ring around the babies. It was easy to see how tight knit each family was and how they literally rallied around their loved ones.

Herds of elephants at Sri Lanka's Kaudulla National Park

Did you know that elephants have no natural predators? In fact, the number one threat to these magnificent creatures are people. That’s us. Due to poaching (guys, I heard a rumor that the possession of illegal ivory causes one’s face to literally melt off. Trust me, I was almost a vet) and changes to their habitats, more elephants are dying at the hands of humans. In a world where seeing animals in their natural habitat is an experience few and far between, we’re thrilled that places like Kaudulla exist. Somewhere where we can watch from a respectable distance.

A trip to Kaudulla is a wonderful way to appreciate these beautiful creatures in the wild. And like my report all those years ago, I give this experience an A+.

 

While this amazing experience was provided by our generous hosts, Cinnamon Hotels and SriLankan Airlines, all opinions remain our own. We freaking love elephants and recommend a visit to Kaudulla as a way to enjoy these animals in the wild.

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18 Comments

  1. Mark
    December 17, 2014 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Great story should cause more people to visit the Elephants

  2. Kristin Addis
    December 17, 2014 at 10:33 am - Reply

    The safaris were such a magical part of my time in Sri Lanka. It was cool seeing so many people I knew in the same places I had been almost exactly a year prior. That, just like this post, brought back so many fond memories.
    Kristin Addis recently posted…Underground Berlin: The Fringes of SocietyMy Profile

    • Captain & Clark
      December 18, 2014 at 11:37 am - Reply

      How long were you in Sri Lanka? We’re already talking about making a trip back as there’s so much more we want to see. We would love to hear your recommendations!
      Captain & Clark recently posted…Our Sri Lanka elephant safariMy Profile

  3. Erin (Travel With Bender)
    December 17, 2014 at 10:35 am - Reply

    One of the best days of my life. Elephants & Captain and Clark: a star-studded cast! Loved reliving the memories 🙂
    Erin (Travel With Bender) recently posted…$1000 Visa Prepaid CardMy Profile

    • Captain & Clark
      December 17, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

      All of those happy memories are made warm by the furnace that is you, Erin.

  4. Emily
    December 17, 2014 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Oooh – I am envious that you got to see Sigiriya from above!
    Emily recently posted…Crunching the NumbersMy Profile

  5. Best holiday destinations
    December 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Wow!! I want to go there. Its a amazing place. thanks for sharing nice views.
    Best holiday destinations recently posted…Heidelberg Old City in Germany: Best tourist destinationMy Profile

  6. Nishadha
    December 18, 2014 at 7:09 am - Reply

    I’ve been on plenty of safari tours while in Sri lanka but never seen it written in such a beautiful way. And have to agree watching Elephants in their natural habitats is one of the most awesome things you can do. If you want to get very close to them, pat them and even bottle feed some baby Elephants then Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is a must visit place.
    Nishadha recently posted…Villas for Rent in Galle, Sri LankaMy Profile

    • Captain & Clark
      December 18, 2014 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Ah, yes. We’ve heard about the Elephant Orphanage. I think we’ll just need to return to Sri Lanka. There’s still so much of the country we long to see. What a gorgeous place! Thank you so much for stopping by.
      Captain & Clark recently posted…Our Sri Lanka elephant safariMy Profile

  7. Kieu
    December 22, 2014 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    OMG Chris’s cow call.. LOL! That video tho — pretty extraordinary. Nice work, you two. Sri Lanka is on our list too. We hope to visit in the near future.
    Kieu recently posted…Getting high in CuzcoMy Profile

  8. Gregory
    December 28, 2014 at 4:11 am - Reply

    Travel Bloggers Association? Wow, I heard it first time. I will mention it in my travel site.
    Gregory recently posted…Explore Ouagadougou, the Heart of Burkina FasoMy Profile

  9. Mike Huiwitz
    February 13, 2015 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Aaah. This makes me want to go to Sri Lanka.
    Mike Huiwitz recently posted…The Revelation EffectMy Profile

    • Captain & Clark
      February 13, 2015 at 9:58 am - Reply

      YES! It makes us want to go BACK to Sri Lanka. 🙂 Seriously, we loved the country and would love to go back to explore more.

  10. Jenny @ Best Western Colombo
    February 16, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Yala National Park is one of the best place for elephant safaris… I have been there twice and I still want to go again…

  11. Carole
    March 18, 2015 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    I LOVED Kaudulla National Park and watching the elephants! This brings back such amazing memories though seeing SO many Jeeps around was disheartening. Thanks for sharing!
    Carole recently posted…Tanah Lot Bali Temple Timelapse Video, Indonesia, HD – OOAsia OOAworldMy Profile

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