How long is an elephants penis? What will a horny elephant do when you put a 4 x 4 in between him and a female elephant? How many beers can we drink when it’s all inclusive?
To find out these answers to these questions we left the surfing lifestyle of Weligama and set off to In search of safari country – Uda Walawe National Park.
Moving from A to B
One of the great things about developing countries is that as long as you have some cash, you can get anything you want. For $55 AUD we bought ourselves a willing local who would take us in his minivan and drop us 3 hours inland. He chucked our suitcases in his van (possibly one of the first minivans ever manufactured) and off we went.
The journey seemed pretty uneventful until the last 15 km. Our driver, who didn’t speak any English, all of a sudden decided he wouldn’t drive us any further. Hmmm… perplexing?!? Stopped on the side of the road, sweat pouring off us, we started trading charades. Apparently ineffectively. You know that moment when you’re travelling when you think to yourself, ‘oh shit, what’s going to happen now?’. All we could grasp was that he wasn’t going to drive the last 15km and he wanted us to get a Tuk Tuk. Why? Who knows. Firmly in our seats, Vic managed to get his phone and call our next accommodations’ contact. Finally after a good litre of fluids was sweated out, a deal was struck that he would drive us 6km (not 15km) and our ‘Master Campers’ would meet us there. Still unsure of what just happened, we were thankful that the car was rolling and more importantly, we had airflow again.
We managed to convince ourselves – yes, rubber arms – that we’d splurge on a safari. Consulting Trip Advisor reviews it appeared accommodation options for Uda Walawe were pretty grim. Until we found Master Campers an all-inclusive camping safari experience, which us Aussies call ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping). Rocking up to the site didn’t disappoint. Greeting us on arrival were refresher towels, cold beers and an amazing Sri Lankan lunch.
I could tell you about lunch, but really, it wasn’t pretty. All I’ll share with you is it was our first fantastic rice and curry for a week, just imagine a scene from a nature documentary… A pride of hungry lions on an injured wildebeest. Yes, lunch time got ugly. After the lunch time scoff, we headed out in our trusty safari jeep to hunt down some elephants. Luckily I had done some research on outdoorempire.com into which binoculars to buy. Binoculars come in handy on safari, trust me!!
Is that a boy elephant?
We picked up a guide at the gate, and our little tour became a party of four. Vic and I, our driver and Chattaranga our walking encyclopaedic guide of all things animal.
WARNING SPOILER ALERT!
We saw elephants. A lot of elephants.
True story. So many in fact that our two evening safaris followed by our two early morning safaris (5:30am), there were so many elephants it’s hard to remember exactly what happened when. So… I’ll just run with a montage of highlights. (Are you hearing the dirty dancing montage music yet? ‘I’ve had the time of my life…’).
Monkeys, mongoose, lotsa birds, crocs, sunset, sunrise, more birds, peacocks, dancing peacocks, fresh leopard tracks, some mossies, dirt in the mouth, jackals, buffaloes, water monitors, land monitors, jungle cat, boar, spotted deer, some erect elephant penises, herd of female elephants with little bubby elephants and…well more elephants. I’ve never been to Africa, but the rumour is that this national park is the best place in the world to see elephants.
Highlights you ask?
We stumbled upon a young male elephant. He was hot and horny and ready to go. Precariously close to our jeep, Vic started to get concerned that the male was either going to a) charge the car or b) hump the car. Either outcome I was ready with camera poised. Turns out it wasn’t us that he was attracted to, but the herd of chick elephants on the other side of our car. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Needless to say we decided to move on…quickly!
On search of some spotted deer we left the herds of tourists and went down the road less travelled. The scenery changed from scrublands to dense forest and shortly dozens of deer taunted me by leaping in front of my lens then quickly dashing away. Tell you what…those cute little Bambi deer are really hard to photograph. Elusive buggers! Calling it a day we headed back to the park entrance and low and behold a couple of those sneaky deers popped their head out to taunt me one last time. We stopped the car and I tried to get the money shot.
Once the engine cut out we could hear some elephants heading our way. One by one they crashed through the trees and scrub to graze right in front of us. Two mums and two little bubs. OMG! How friggin cute. Plus to top it off we were the only ones around. Just us, the sun setting and four elephants. As you can imagine, my camera was firing. I’m positive that I’ve taken at least 200+ pics of elephants!
On our final morning safari, we stumbled upon two male elephants (apparently ‘homosexuals’ according to Chatta our guide). The sun is rising and we’re the only peeps around. The only noise is the two kicking up the grass and shoving it into their mouths with their trunks. Enjoying the scene we get comfy. All of a sudden the larger of the two decides that the jeep is too close. His ears flare up, he lets loose a warning trumpet and starts charging towards us. OMG! Vic freaks. Jumps down from standing on the seat and curls into the foetal position behind the driver. Everything happens so quickly, but Chatta starts laughing so I follow his lead (hoping his laughter means it’s safe). Before any contact is made, the elephant stops. I realise in the panic even though I have camera in hand, I’ve forgotten to hit record. Damn it!
On the road again!
We came, we saw, we conquered. Sri Lanka safari experience complete and thoroughly enjoyed! I’ve even created a new goal for myself. To take my sister and her boys to Africa to see the big five.
So now that Uditha and his team at Master Campers have sufficiently over fed us it’s now to time hit the road… I literally think we could roll out of camp. Our next stop is Ella. Not sure what’s there but we hear it’s good. Embrace the unknown!
So that folks was officially my first post on this page. Yeah me!