Author: Brian W Fisher
Date of Trip: March 2013
Hurulu Biosphere Eco Park near Dambulla
Jeep safaris through the Hurulu Eco Park are becoming ever more popular. A number of private companies provide four/five hour safaris, either during morning or afternoon.
I chose to book one which would end when the sun was low in the sky, when shadows and soft light are perfect for photography.
So at 2pm I boarded an open-top pick-up truck and off we went into the scrubland and virtually untouched wilderness to be found a few miles away from Habarana in central Sri Lanka.
Not for the faint hearted or persons unprepared for the bumpiest ride of their lives…but…for the opportunity to get up close and personal with family groups of wild elephant, a few backside bruises is a small price to pay.
The guides/drivers on all these vehicles are well versed as to what their clients expect to see and make every effort to fulfil those desires. As for me, the hours went by unnoticed as the viewfinders of my camcorder and Nikon SLR were alternately, pressed to my eye.
At such close distances, the elephants are indeed majestic animals. Family groups stick close together, the babies flapping their undeveloped trunks at anything and everything…but constantly protected by their elders and prevented from wandering by delicate nudges of foot or trunk. It’s a joy to behold.
From the safety of the pick-up…after being driven to a spot considered ‘near enough’ by guides, the antics (and smells) of the herd can be savoured (sorry for the pun!) Under no circumstances are those on tour allowed to leave their vehicles. Elephants have become somewhat tolerant of vehicles in their vicinity but are extremely nervous when seeing or smelling a human on foot. They will indeed charge with ferocious force, should they feel threatened in any way by anyone being so foolish as to dismount. So folks, stay put, look, see and leave it at that.
For the price paid the entire experience has few parallels. Not the Serengeti by any means but worth every penny.