A big male elephant lifted his trunk toward us. Looked like he was yawning, or talking.
“He’s smelling us.”
Said our guide, smiling. Elephant’s sense of smell is four times better than a bloodhound. The first elephant we saw was quite curious about us. I thought elephants would be terrified by humans, but they seemed pretty calm. He didn’t turn around, just casually walked parallel to us.
Seeing wild animals is one of the best activities to do in Sri Lanka. This tear-drop shaped island is amazingly diverse with its nature and wildlife (it has the highest biodiversity density in Asia). It is a home to birds, leopards, elephants, monkeys, and many more wild animals.
We went to Hurulu Eco Park, that is located right next from Minneriya National Park. This is the season when the elephants are hanging out at the eco park region, before they move to Minneriya in a few weeks. We rented a safari jeep for 6,000 Rs (from Dambulla to Hurulu and back), for a half day tour. Entrance fee was 1,000 Rs each (because we are foreigners), and they charged 750 Rs for the car.
We didn’t see any elephant for the first half an hour. So many birds, but no elephants. Unfortunately the grass was pretty high, made it hard for us to stop them. We drove around for a while, and our guide finally spotted a big male elephant. He drove into the bush to follow him. And there he was, the beautiful gray giant, with curious eyes. He was graceful. Seeing the delicate movement of the trunk with 150,000 muscles reminded me of the human-like hand of orangutans. It was a magical moment. I never thought I’d see a while elephant this close.
For 2.5 hours, we saw about fifteen elephants, including families and very small babies. The babies were shorter than the grass – I could only see the back of them. It was an amazing experience.
Due to my love of animal, visiting animals became one of the favourite activities during my travel. The passion and love led me to visit and photograph orangutans in Indonesia, panda bears in China, gray whales in Mexico, and now elephants. I’m no master at wildlife photography, but I tried my best to capture this beautiful gray giant.