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Posts tagged ‘elephants’

travel theme: refreshing

water buffalo taking a refreshing dip in the sea

the elephants at the Pinnewala sanctuary in Sri Lanka get a daily dip too

a walk on the beach will blow a few cobwebs away

iced coffee on the beach

maybe you’d prefer a hot cup of Java

Luang Prabang

the sight of a field of red poppies is always uplifting

as is watching the dancers at a local folk festival

What refreshes you? Is it the sight/sound of water in some form? Is it a drink? a change of scenery?

sharing Ailsa’s travel theme

Sunday Stills: crowd work

It said that ‘three’s a crowd’ so here are my crowd photos, featuring five or more people or animals, for this weeks Sunday Still’s challenge

dancers waiting to greet a wedding party arriving at our hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka

schoolgirls in Kandy

elephants at the Pinnewala elephant sanctuary, Sri Lanka

elephants spotted while on safari in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – up the rose quartz mountain and on safari

We discovered quite accidentally that the largest rose quartz mountain in Asia was not far from where we were staying in Dambulla in Sri Lanka so we decided we couldn’t miss seeing this.


We parked the car and headed towards the shack marked ticket office where a man attached himself to us for ‘security’ (one way of getting money off foreigners) and we walked through the ironwood (Na) forest, which covers a very large area. In the forest clearing where there was a gold plated Thai-style Buddha statue we met the monk whose dream had called him there from Galle (in the south of the country) to find the rose quartz mountain.



the tree he lived in


Apparently he lived in a tree house for 2 years before finding it and it is reputed to be Asia’s largest rose quartz mountain.


It looks black from the effects of weather on it but you don’t have to chip very far to find the pink quartz underneath.




Chandana our driver, the self-appointed guide and I climbed to the top where there was a Buddha figure and a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. Our ‘guide’ chipped off a piece for me at the end of our walk.

a ruined stupa in the old woods

immensely long snake vines tangled their way through the trees.

Our guide then offered to show us another fantastic Budhha figure cut into the rock for which he wanted more money (we’d already given him extra for taking us to the end of the track). We finally agreed to this and drove on another few km to the Aukuna temple where we were charged 750 rps each to enter and take photos.

Aukuna Buddha

prayer flag

This statue was fantastic indeed but the morning was somewhat spoiled by the guide trying to beg still more money off us. Unfortunately this seemed to happen wherever we went.

In the early afternoon we drove to Habarana to meet up with our safari guide and then drove to the Hurulu eco centre where we went off-road in search of elephants. Originally we were supposed to go for a safari in the Minneriya or Kaudulla reserves but the recent heavy rains had rendered all the tracks impassable and this was the only reserve in the vicinity that had passable tracks. Even so, there was one tricky moment crossing a stream which required all our driver’s skills.


We saw a bull-necked stork in a tree and then several family groups of elephants with a couple of babies. We also saw brightly coloured finches? I saw a peacock, and 2 jackals ran across the track in front of us.

our first elephant



Each time a group of elephants was spotted all the jeeps in the vicinity converged on the group so that there were as many as 15 jeeps surrounding them at any one point. I dread to think what this must do to their digestion. We saw more elephants later in the afternoon. As we were driving along the main road back to base we passed one bull elephant right at the road side. I fumbled to remove my lens cap (which of course was already removed) and so missed being able to take a photo as he quickly disappeared into the jungle.


views of the eco park

by bullock cart and elephant

On our second morning we had a hurried and very early breakfast while watching egrets stalking across the lawn close to where the property adjoins the neighbouring paddy fields.
Because of the heavy rains our planned safari in the Minneriya game park had had to be re-organised so we went on a bullock cart trip instead. We drove to Habarana and eventually found the place from which we were due to start. First we were taken on a bullock cart through some of the country lanes.

a typical house, complete with its own tuk-tuk, a very practical method of transport for all the family, complete with waterproof sides that can be dropped down when it’s raining. We thought these were much more comfortable and safe than a motorcyle

the best way to wash your bicycle is in the middle of a rushing stream

paddy field




At the tank (reservoir) where we boarded 2 canoes lashed together with a wooden boards across them to form what the locals called a “catamaran”.

lily pads with rainwater


the latest in fashionable headgear, made from a water lily leaf and held together with cocktail sticks

We were paddled across the lake and saw a large brown heron as well as a number of smaller herons, some cormorants and several kingfishers.


We then walked through a typical fruit/vegetable/herb farm and were fed juice from King coconuts (bright orange in colour here).



living conditions are harsh, this hut is made of mud, buffalo dung and lath

We retraced our footsteps to the boat and were paddled back across the lake. We were then taken by tuk tuk for an elephant back ride. This was quite interesting because our elephant had to walk through the water as the tracks were all under water. It had rained so much the previous week (as we knew well from our time in Negombo) that everywhere was flooded and the mahout told us that the water had been 1 metre higher. This would have meant extensive flooding everywhere in the area.



waterlogged landscape

On the way back to the hotel we stopped off to eat sweet mango and our driver was very careful to ensure that we only ate in clean places. We had to go on to another stall to find the right quality of mango too. When we did, they were delicious with highly perfumed flesh. He took us back to the hotel and we all had a couple of hours rest. Our room wasn’t quite ready so we had a drink by the pool and watched the gardener threaten a troupe of silvery coloured langur monkeys with a catapault. There was an adult male, two females with babies and a couple of juveniles. Monkeys are obviously a big problem here.

the hotel pool with view towards the paddy fields beyond

Later that afternoon we went with Chandana, our driver, to visit the wholesale vegetable market. The area around Dambulla produces most of the vegetables that are consumed in Sri Lanka. It was a scene of utter chaos with trucks arriving laden with vegetables that were offloaded, purchased and driven away by other trucks. It operates 24hrs a day.





snake gourds

Then he took us to Kandalama lake. At the end of the lake are two roads, one crosses a bridge and the other forms the overflow to the lake. Because of the recent heavy rainfall this was completely under water and we watched in amazement as several trucks drove along through water that was ankle deep on the bathers. We watched with even more amazement as 2 guys and a small boy washed themselves in the lake and the small boy scampered back to dry land along the flooded road. If he had lost his footing he would have been swept down the waterfall and probably drowned.