Ashley, Ryan, and I traveled to Wasgamuwa National Park for the latest video. Our main purpose was to see elephants and this day trip didn’t disappoint.
Our hotel was in Dambulla, which is the central hub of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle and Wasgamuwa is a fairly easy commute from the city center. By easy, I mean a couple of hours. However, you’ll need to hire your own jeep which is easily booked through your hotel.
Sri Lanka’s has more popular parks, such as Yala as it has leopards as well as a large population of elephants. We opted for Wasgamuwa for a few reasons discussed below.
Elephants Treated With Respect
All you need to do is a simple Google search for elephants and Sri Lanka and you’ll see some close encounters between guests and these beautiful animals. There are many videos showing elephants charging or chasing after jeeps. Guides in other parks, to please their guests, sometimes get too close to the elephants by offering them food. Elephants need their space and shouldn’t be crowded by a bunch of tourists trying to take photos.
Wasgamuwa National Park has a different philosophy. Leave the elephants alone. In fact, there was only one incident in which we came across this group of three elephants by surprise.
The mother elephant wasn’t too pleased and the guides were able to read her body language. They slowly backed up the jeep allowing the elephants to run across the road and into cover away from the roads.
Let me know if this plan sounds familiar. You plan to show up in Sri Lanka and head out to the nearest national park where you’ll have numerous magical encounters with these magnificent animals.
Elephants migrate throughout Sri Lanka and may or may not be in that park when you show up. In fact, migrating elephants are the source of many traffic accidents on major Sri Lankan roads built on or near migratory paths.
We were in Sri Lanka in February and researched the various parks in our guidebook which tells you where the elephants will be in a particular time of year. I learned that they would be in Wasgamuwa in February, which made this a simple decision to go due to the park’s proximity to the Cultural Triangle. More on that below.
Location, Location, Location
All tourists head to the Cultural Triangle in Central Sri Lanka. Why wouldn’t you? It’s the home of Polonnaruwa (video below), Sigiriya Rock, Kandy, Anuradhapura, the Dambulla Cave Temples, and many other attractions you can read about in my recommended guidebook.
Wasgamuwa is a fairly easy commute from these locations. It was just two hours from Dambulla. Yala, by comparison, is in southeastern Sri Lanka and is fairly isolated from other major attractions. If you’re pressed for time due to a limited number of vacation days, budget, or even small children that don’t enjoy spending hours and hours of time in the car, then Wasgamuwa may be an ideal solution for you. For us, it was a no-brainer.
Time is Limited
Time is the enemy of us all, or at least the enemy of a short vacation. We were in Dambulla for three days and there is a lot to see. Polonnaruwa takes the entire day. Sigiriya Rock is also a day trip.
Sigiriya Rock is a long and tiring hike to the top and a day at Polonnaruwa is spent riding a bike in the tropical heat. Trust me when I say that you’re doing nothing after these two-day trips except relax by the pool and ordering a beer.
That left us with one more day and a lot of choices. How can we fill one day with as many attractions as possible? Don’t worry, I’ve answered that question for you.
You begin the morning at the Dambulla Cave Temples, then head back to your hotel for a quick lunch.
The jeep you booked through your hotel shows up just as you finish that curry and you jump in the back around noon for the 2-hour journey to Wasgamuwa.
You arrive at the park around 2pm. The park closes at dark, so you have at least four hours to explore the park. Wasgamuwa is one of the smaller parks, so this is plenty of time.
It also means you get to see the sunset in the park. If you’re lucky, like we were, you may come across the elephants at sunset making for a beautiful scene.
Hopefully, this was helpful. Consult the guidebook, do your research, and choose the park that’s best for you. Questions? I’m happy to help. Leave a question in the Comments below.