We got off the train in the city of haputale_. With a lot of help from the locals we were able to get on a,bus to pelmadulla where we got off and took another bus to embilipitya. Although we see other travelers and tourists when we arrive at popular destinations we never see any en route so im not entirely sure how people get around this country. I seem to have missed that memo! We found a,place to stay in a lovely homestay with a family. Although we overlooked the fact that there was no window covering or mosquito net so the night was spent in misery. we had arranged to go on a safari at 530 am ( 5 th morning in a row being up before the sun) and were picked up in a wonderful safari machine. It was at one point a truck and was now retrofitted to be a jeep. We drive through several little villages which were full of Sri Lankan hustle and bustle. we picked up our safari "volunteer" guide after paying a hefty entrance fee (more than I've paid for any one day activity on this trip) our guide was great though and immediately gave our driver instructions to take us where we could watch the sun rise behind a family of elephants
. Wow is all I can say about that. The atmosphere was calm and still, the birds were waking, the mist was rising, elephants stirring and the sky a soft pink. The rest of the safari didn't disappoint either. We saw water buffalo, mongooses, elephants, crocodiles, jackals, eagles, peacocks, countless of other birds. I honestly don't think I've seen or head so many birds in an area in my life. Watching the different flying techniques, different feather patterns and hearing the different calls really is amazing and I can (almost!) See why people become birders. We saw a jackal family eating a buffalo that had died a few days ago from a snake bite. We saw a family of 12 elephants with a baby only a month old. The mom was teaching it to bath in dirt. Adorable! We saw crocodiles chilling with birds, birds kamikaze into the small lake after fish, eagle nests the side of small cars and much more. It was really great to see how the wild world interacts in a natural setting rather than a zoo or orphanage. It was so much to experience and take in all at once. We were there so early that we were practically the only ones in the park (it gets so busy in the afternoon that there can actually be mini traffic jams!) there are over 500 elephants in the park in heards of up to 50. 75%of the park is off limits and the other quarter is only accessible with a guide on the safari. We spent a few hours exploring this untamed area before we headed back to our homestay and figures out how to bus to our next destination; beach !