Tuesday 9th October 2018
Woke up bleary-eyed to a full on rainstorm. ☔️
It had been an interesting night!! Although we were the ‘only’ guests staying in the hotel, they had catered for a large non-resident dinner party which later in the evening moved from the restaurant to the garden area literally below our first floor bedroom. Although it would seem no alcohol was involved, the party did consist of gigantic speakers with loud dance music and lots of chattering and raucous laughing till the early hours of the morning! Grumble grumble!! Oh well, I’m sure we’ve been the guilty party many a time in the past!
Luckily by late morning the rain eased off – just as well as we had booked a safari trip from lunchtime. So, at 12.30pm we climbed (literally) into our jeep and headed out on the 40 minute journey to Minneriya National Park. We had a super friendly driver who secured himself in with his seatbelt – then turned round to apologise that there were no seatbelts in the back …. we also had no view out of the front (just a board and a low down window between us and the driver) and open sides … so hurtling along the crazy Sri Lankan roads at 50mph was interesting to say the least.
We nevertheless arrived at the National Park in one piece and, after a short rest break, commenced the safari. We discovered pretty soon that we were in for a bumpy ride … starting off through some fairly narrow rainforest paths – spotting local bird life, monkeys and deer. And then we hit the open plains and very soon were whizzed off for amazing viewings of large herds of Sri Lankan elephants, eating, playing and bathing in their natural environment. Such beautiful animals – dusty brown in colour, all shapes and sizes and ages, so peaceful to watch. They apparently eat for 20 hours a day and there certainly seemed little let up in their munching. They elegantly twirl the end of their trunk around in the grass until they’ve gathered a sufficient trunkful, then they swing their trunk backwards and forwards as though drying the grass out … finally placing their pickings into their mouths. I could watch them all day.
There were plenty of other jeeps out and about on the safari and the afternoon was spent in rally style manoeuvring through muddy terrain and deep puddles to spot the various herds gathered. And we were given plenty of time to just watch – it was not just being zoomed from one place to another for photo opportunities.
Apart from the elephants, it was mostly a bird-spotting activity but that was magnificent in itself. We saw varying types of eagles, cranes, pelicans, egrets, peacocks and pretty bee-eaters. Oh and we did see one crocodile – apparently they hide away during the rainy season – suited me!
Although very much a bone-shaker and probably not for the faint hearted, it was a helluva ride! Fabulous experience to see these majestic animals in their natural environment and not chained up or being used for rides.
And so we made our way home, back on the tuk tuk/bus/lorry and car filled roads … only to come across one of our Nellie friends walking along the road!! …trump trump trump!