For the first time in 27 days I wake up with a chill in the air and some cold rain clouds gathering. Nuwara Eliya really is a little bit English 🙂
During the morning we faced a 4 hour ride down the mountain range as the weather changed remarkably over just half and hour back to the heat and humidity that Southeast Asia is famous for. Along the way to Udawalawe we stopped a couple of times, once we see a waterfall and later for a toilet stop that ended up with us watching a local cricket match for a couple of overs.
We settled into the magnificant Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort at around 2 pm and about half the group elected to go on the optional visit to the Baby Elephant Sanctuary (officially known as the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home). The Sanctuary has been operating for over a decade now and is run without Government funding (but their support). The Sanctuary looks after baby elephants (those up to three years old) that no longer have their mothers and therefore would die as they need milk during these years.
The Sanctuary allows these elephants a wide area to wander around and then feeds them milk three times a day. The milk is paid for by visitors donations. Currently there were 48 baby elephants in the sanctuary. They have successfully returned over 100 elephants to the wild. You must watch this video to understand the good work this group does and how happy the elephants are.
After 45 minutes we meet up with the rest of the tour group to visit the Udawalawe National Park for our safari. The National Park was established in June 1972 and covers over 30,000 hectares and hosts spotted deer, elephants, peacocks, leopards, eagles, crocodiles and water buffalo. We didn’t get to see the leopards but did run into all the rest of this beautiful creatures during the safari. Watching the elephants bath and eat in the wild was breathtaking. They eat by breaking up the ground to loosen the grass using that front feet, then they pick up the grass and shake it to get ride of any dirt or sand before eating (check it out here).
The safari went for roughly 3 hours, sometimes we were getting thrown around the jeep going over the rough surface, other times we just sat still watching the wildlife go about their business. This experience has re-enforced why I want to go back to Africa and do a longer safari.