If you're wondering where to see elephants in Sri Lanka then let me help you!
The best place to see elephants in Sri Lanka is on a safari at one of the beautiful national parks where you can watch elephants in their happiest place ever - in the wild. Please don't visit 'sanctuaries' like Pinnawala as while you may get a carefully staged photo for instagram, it's not the nest place for elephants.
We had an incredible time in Minneriya National Park in Sigiriya - it’s part of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, a few hours north of Kandy.
It’s a beautiful part of the world with rolling hills, huge boulders and massive magma rocks like Sigiriya, forests and palms trees and big reservoirs or tanks as they are called, and temples and dagobas scattered around the mountains.
We stayed for two nights in Sigiriya in a wonderful guest house called The Hideout - it has a two fabulous pools, the rooms and bathrooms are big and very clean and tidy. The grounds are large and green and perfect for kid fun with treehouses for climbing and one pool is a shallow baby/toddler sized. It’s about 10 minutes from Sigiriya town and it’s really easy to get around with tuktuks. All this for around $50 a night - and a lovely smiling welcome from our young hosts who were super helpful and sweet. It was a big difference form our Kandy hostel experience!
The guesthouse organised our jeep ($50 for the whole jeep so very economical if you’re a big fam or can get a few people together) and we had it all to ourselves. It was a proper safari jeep with open sides and roof so we could stand up and get a fabulous open view of all the fun.
Our driver was just lovely and found us awesome spots to watch the elephants while being very careful to stay a good distance away and not be pushy or competitive with the other drivers. [CONTACT: Dulaj Anuranga - +9471 041 3023 or email firstname.lastname@example.org]. You can also choose to get a driver and a guide who will stay in the back of the jeep with you and give you lots of ele info.
We drove about 40 minutes to the park entrance where I bought our tickets - it cost $60 (6300 rp) for Emmie and me. We then drove along a dirt road into the park spotting a few elephants along the way. This was alright and it’s what I was expecting, although I was getting a little frustrated we were behind tree lines and not getting a super close view. There were about four or five jeeps on the road with us.
Then all of a sudden we rounded a corner and there before us where around 150 elephants grazing on a plain and splashing in the lake.
I was in tears. What a huge, amazing and overwhelming surprise. Emmie had the hugest smile on her face and we were just speechless. I have never seen anything like this before and it was so so magic.
There is a path that the jeeps take around the elephants and the lake. I reckon there were about 40 jeeps on the path but it is very quiet and everyone stops and starts at their own pace. Our driver would stop for us and let us sit and watch until we asked to move on and then we’d move up a few metres and sit and watch again.
We saw families, babies, a bit of a tussle between two adolescents. We saw elephants rolling in the water, toddlers chasing birds and lots of trunk touching, ear flapping and tail wagging.
We were there for a few hours and our driver was super patient with us, giving us all the time we wanted and letting us just sit and watch and enjoy the elephant happiness in front of us.
STAY: The Hideout in Sigiriya
SAFARI: Dulaj Anuranga; +9471 041 3023 or email email@example.com