With this blog post, I am glad to reminisce the thrilling memories that came my way at Hurulu Eco Park in Habarana in Sri Lanka. I had one of the best safari adventures there. I visited the park in June this year during my sojourn to Sri Lanka and it turned out to be one of the most surreal experiences. Sri Lanka is known for its forest lands and natural beauty and Habarana showcases the country’s rich wildlife heritage. This was the first time that I saw more than fifty wild elephants in their natural habitat. The three wildlife parks in Habarana are popular for glorious elephant gatherings and sightings. The area around Habarana is a wildlife haven and it is a favorite among elephant lovers. It has two National Parks, Kaudulla and Minneriya, and the Hurulu Eco Park, a biosphere reserve.
Where is Hurula Eco Park?
Habarana is popular for its safari trips to Minneriya, Kaudulla national parks, which offer some of the island’s best elephant-watching. The jeep safari options are in plenty. Hurula Eco Park is around the edge of the Habarana area. It is not just a park but a protected area recognized by UNESCO. It became a Biosphere Reserve in the year 1977. It comprises of 25,500 hectares covered by tropical dry evergreen forests of Sri Lanka. It makes a significant part of the elephant corridor in the North Central region of Sri Lanka which is the island’s best elephant-watching region. Located in the Habarana province, it is known for its beautiful landscape and wilderness. Habarana is a city located in the Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka and is popular for its proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Sigiriya. Visitors on the way to Sigiriya, often love to stop at the Habarana Village for its nature, calming lake, and delightful views of the rock.
All about my safari inside Hurulu Eco Park
After spending the first night in the capital city Colombo, we were headed to Habarana on the second day. ‘We’ here comprises of 5 travel bloggers from India exploring Sri Lanka on a FAM trip with Sri Lankan airlines. During my last visit, I had not touched around this area and thus, I was looking forward to the Sigiriya climb and the safari in Habarana. It was a hot day but the drive was beautiful. The greenery on both sides of the road made the road trip picturesque and soothing. The distance from the capital city to Habarana is hardly 180 kilometers and it takes 3 and a half hours to be precise. After reaching there, we indulged in the local village experience and had an authentic Sri Lankan lunch. And soon after, we made our way to the top of Sigiriya. In the evening, we checked in Cinnamon Lodge Habarana. The safari was slated for the following day.
The second day was about basking in the beauty of nature. Cinnamon Lodge in itself is so beautiful that you feel like you are waking up in a jungle. After an early lunch, we were headed to the Hurula Eco Park, which is situated in the North Central province of Sri Lanka. When we reached the gate, our safari jeep was waiting for us. Our driver-cum-guide was excited to show us around. For the first 40 minutes, we wandered around in search of big animals. but all in vain. The forest was beautiful though.
The landscape of the Hurula Eco Park is exciting and unique in itself. There are huge rocks inside and it is a dry forest for most of the months. The most special part is that it is part of the jungle corridor that connects the Hurulu Eco Park and the two other larger national parks nearby (Minneriya and Kaudulla). Herds of elephants are seen moving freely among the three places, so the chances of witnessing elephants are often high for the wildlife lovers. All of the three parks are immensely popular among locals and foreigners for their large herds of elephants. Every year, in the months of July to September large groups of elephants are spotted in the Minneriya National Park. When the rainy season comes, they begin to migrate to Kaudulla National Park during the months of October to November as some part of the national park strats filling up due to the heavy rains. In the last leg of the journey, the elephants move on to Hurulu Eco Park during the month of December to January. But one must remember that this is just the cycle that goes on based on the weather, else the elephant movement happens throughout the year.
We drove around with great enthusiasm and anticipation but did not see anything for the first forty minutes. There were birds and chameleons but where were the elephants, we wondered. The sun was in its elements and our excitement was wearing off, just when we heard some movement. A baby elephant was standing with a bigger one and we stopped to stare at it. It was a surreal moment. A few minutes later, we spotted 7 more hanging out together. It was so much fun to see one of the big five in their natural habitat. We thought we were lucky but not yet until we saw two huge herds. This was an extraordinary moment. There were so many, doing their own thing. Some were eating grass. Some were walking with their family and some were playing with their friends. I am talking about the elephants. And this was the best sighting ever.
Our jeep stood there for a while as the elephants continued to move around. We were absolutely silent, lost in the beauty of the moment. And we remained that way till it was time to make an exit. Until I am back to Yala, this will be my best safari experience in Sri Lanka.
Things to Remember about Habarana
- Habarana is the perfect holidaying place for those who love the calmness of nature.
- Many hotels and lodges are available. They can also help to arrange a private jeep safari.
- The driver and the guide take you around for a 2-3 hours safari inside the park, depending on the zone that you have picked.
- June to September is the best period for seeing several elephants.
- These parks are also important for bird watchers.
- Don’t miss to see the beautiful Habarana lake when in Habarana
- The popular Sigiriya, Pidurangala, and Dambulla cave temples are close by.
- One can also enjoy a bullock cart experience, a catamaran ride, and an authentic Sri Lankan meal to indulge in the village life of Habarana.