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Going On Safari In Sri Lanka! (Spoiler: 🐘!)

My friend Rajja has been trying to get us to go to one of the National Parks on the island for a safa
Living My Legend
Going On Safari In Sri Lanka! (Spoiler: 🐘!)
By Nico Atienza • Issue #7 • View online
My friend Rajja has been trying to get us to go to one of the National Parks on the island for a safari and that day finally came!

Hey friends!
My bad for missing last week’s newsletter and you’ll soon see why as you keep reading.
Now, for your regularly scheduled programming.
Last weekend, a friend got a gang of us to celebrate her big 3-0 in a beautiful villa on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. That in itself should make for a pretty amazing weekend but Rajja had a glint in his eye while he did the Birdman hand rub (highly dramatized, obviously). He proudly proclaimed that the following day was going to be HIS day and we hatched a plan to visit Udawalawe National Park since it was only 3 hours away from where we were.
We said goodbye to our friends and soon made our way to the park. Since we were doing the Safari in our own vehicle, we only needed to pay the park’s nominal admission fee. I couldn’t pull out a copy of my Resident Visa in time so I got stuck paying the tourist price which was over 10X more than what a resident pays. 
Cue fail trumpet..
The Park entrance
The Park entrance
Rs. 180 for locals and I got stuck paying Rs. 2,332.50 as a tourist. Don't be like me!
Rs. 180 for locals and I got stuck paying Rs. 2,332.50 as a tourist. Don't be like me!
I, for one, get especially salty when I waste money for no good reason but that awful taste vanished within 5 minutes of our drive when we ran into this gentle giant!
The price of admission also included a tracker who rode shotgun and helped guide us through the twists and turns of the park’s many winding trails. Sad to say, that was all he was really good for because his lack of enthusiasm really negated his usefulness. He did point out some species of birds to us but he remained rather quiet most of the time like a kid waiting at the Principal’s office.
Rajja (right) with our tracker (left). I never even got his name.
Rajja (right) with our tracker (left). I never even got his name.
If you didn’t come in your own personal vehicle, you can get a seat onboard one of the many open top safari jeeps. Each jeep sat around 8 - 10 people with a clear view of the surroundings. Depending on the time of year, it can be a literal hot seat so I was extremely fortunate to have a working AC in Rajja’s truck.
Safari jeeps
Safari jeeps
As we drove through the park, we saw so many elephants by themselves, in pairs, and even in large groups. The pinnacle of our experience was witnessing a whole parade of elephants bathing in the lake to cool off from the heat of the day!
In the end, my first every Safari experience in Sri Lanka was a smashing success. The number of elephants we saw along with a supporting cast of water buffalos, peacocks, birds, and a lone monkey sighting in a couple of hours made the trip really memorable.
While Yala National Park remains the landmark National Park in Sri Lanka that welcomes thousands of visitors every year, the smaller, overlooked parks in the country, such as Udawalawe, can end up being a much more worthwhile experience.
Enough with the words, enjoy a few more snaps I took from the park below.

My best,
Nico

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Nico Atienza

A third culture kid discussing expat life in Sri Lanka, technology, travel, and food.

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