The whole day safari was unfortunately very underwhelming. Not really because of the lack of animals (even tho we just saw a few elephants in the first 2 morning hours, after that we drove around for 2 more hours basically seeing nothing) but because of the organization. The tour guide could not speak English at all and there was no plan which was told or shown us. We just hopped in the jeep and drove around. Then we parked the car somewhere and the driver took off for over 20 minutes to talk with his buddies. Didn't tell us what was going on (because he couldn't speak English..). For lunch he brought us 2 chicken and rice which looked really not good (chicken pieces with bone in rice) for 1600 rupies. After lunch we left.
We have been met at our hotel and taken without delay strait into the park. Our guide Ruwan Kumara has made the trip a great experience for us. His knowledge of the wild life made it possible for us to see all we would have missed otherwise. A well trained driver turned of the engine whenever we stopped to watch animals (drives of other cars did not care as much) so we could enjoy the sounds with the sights. We have been dropped of at our hotel at sunset with great memories and experiences.
Prabath was definitely one of the nicest people we met in Sri Lanka! He got in touch via WhatsApp after we booked the tour to arrange everything and already answered some questions we had. Then he picked us up earlier from the ETH, took us to lunch and then to the safari. He and the park ranger were a good team, both spoting the animals and talking to us, we had a really good time and saw lots of elephants, crocodiles, buffaloes and birds! In the end he even gave us a ride to his area so we could get a taxi, introducing us to his family while we waited. Really nice, trustworthy guy! Thanks Prabath!
It was poring with rain when we entered the park and didn’t really expect to see much wildlife, but fortunately within 5 minutes it stopped and out it came. The first small herd of elephants were happily munching away very close to the road, quite oblivious to us snapping away. Next we saw a Mongoose who posed just long enough for me to take a photo. After a perfect opportunity to snap a rather soggy Kingfisher, there was the usual posing Peacocks. Next another herd of elephants with a month old baby. We followed a single male elephant who I don’t think was too happy to see us so we rapidly continued to a lake and where we were greeted with the sight of a herd of Water Buffalo with a few very young ones. There were numerous water birds and the ever present Crocs. I’ve seen much larger Crocodiles in other national parks in Sri Lanka but I managed to snap four just in one photo. What we didn’t expect to see was a Jungle/Reed/Swamp Cat. Wow, what a lovely surprise. It was almost hidden in the bushes but we still managed a few photos and then it disappeared. On our way out of the park, we saw a Python crossing the road. Again something else we didn’t expect. This was the fourth national park we’d visited in Sri Lanka and yet again we weren’t disappointed.
So much seen that I can't remember them all! Elephants in big and small groups. baby elephants and their mothers, a bull with enormous tusks....a troup of Macaque monkeys including a baby only days old clinging to Mum's belly.... and it goes on! We saw two sorts of eagle, peacocks, parakeets, Mina birds, bee-eaters, pine swallows and many more. Foxes and rabbits are twice the size of those at home in England.....an unbelievable experience!
The guide and driver were both knowlegeable, helpful and very nice people....dare I say it, like everyone in Sri Lanka!
A treat well worth the money!