As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Apparently in the city of Dambulla in Sri Lanka, this humble adage applies also to elephants. We learned this for ourselves when we stumbled upon a herd of wild elephants in Sri Lanka…right at the Dambulla trash dump. Where is the best place to see elephants in Sri Lanka, you ask? Read on, and find out!
- 1 Off-the-Beaten Sri Lanka Tourism Path in Dambulla
- 2 Dambulla Sri Lanka Elephant Trash Dump
- 3 Want to Learn More About Sri Lanka Elephants?
- 4 Want to See the Dambulla Elephant Dump for Yourself?
- 5 Like this post?
- 6 You Might Also Appreciate…
- 7 Do you have any of your own elephant stories?
Off-the-Beaten Sri Lanka Tourism Path in Dambulla
Where is the best place to see elephants in Sri Lanka? Rasta Bob would say Dambulla.
The Sri Lankan rasta named Lucky Bob with a red beard like fire and a reggae tuktuk had taken us in and made us his own. He filled us with curry, rice, vegetables, fruit, Lion beer, philosophies we half understood through his accent, took us around his little corner of the universe, told us his memories of the Tamil Tigers, about the way Sri Lanka used to be, about the way it is now, and, emphatically, with his thin wispy dreads blowing in the wind, his voice deep, hoarse but excitable, his narrow face pulled up almost comically in a smile identical to the rasta doll dangling from the side of his tuktuk—about his many joys in life (not least of all was a good joint).
It was this charismatic yet elusive figure known as Lucky Bob who had led us to discover the wild elephants that come to feast in Dambulla’s garbage dump.
Don’t go to Sri Lanka unprepared! Check out our ultimate Sri Lanka Travel Itinerary!
Dambulla Sri Lanka Elephant Trash Dump
It’s not every day you stumble upon an entire herd of wild elephants chomping at the bit in a field of garbage. And yet, two days into our Sri Lanka trip, that’s where we found ourselves with Lucky Bob.
Lucky Bob drove us over to the dump on our way back from climbing Sigiriya rock. The rain (which had been going hard most of the day) had finally stopped, but not without first turning the dump into a muddy quagmire. The mush would eat Lucky Bob’s little ol’ tuktuk alive if it attempted to traverse it, forcing Bob to pull over and lead us through the mud on foot. Out of the tuktuk, and into the muck, I could finally see what must be one of the most beautiful trash dumps ever, even with the filth and litter. Billowy cotton candy clouds embellished a sky as blue as Jared Leto’s eyes. A patchy yet lush green carpet of vegetation covered the sludgy deep brown mud, and on top of it all, of course, sat piles and piles of garbage.
We also climbed the Lion Rock of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. Make sure to check out our guide!
True to his word, Lucky Bob extended his arms and gestured to the reason we were ankle high in mud and rubbish at all—in the distance stood a herd of about 20 wild elephants, babies included. There they were, in all their glory, the amazing wild elephants of Sri Lanka. The trek itself was made difficult by the quicksand state of the wet mud, and Lucky Bob recommended we keep our distance, for the animals’ sake as well as our own. Because of the rain that day, we had left our big cameras at home and only had a GoPro and an iPhone 4s with us. Thus, we only have a grainy iPhone snapshot of the herd to offer you. Still, Lucky Bob certainly delivered on showing us where is the best place to see elephants in Sri Lanka.
If you love Sri Lankan wildlife, you can’t miss a Safari at Yala National Park!
For some beauty without the trash, you’ll love the Secret Beach in Mirissa, Sri Lanka!
Want to Learn More About Sri Lanka Elephants?
For more information regarding the safety of wild elephants in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Elephant is a fantastic place to start. If this cause is something you care about, you can also donate to Saving Ganesh , an organization of elephant conservatists whose explicit goal is to serve and protect the elephants of Asia.
We hope to use this as a gentle reminder that above all else, good travel is mindful travel! Be mindful of the places you are visiting and living in and your impact on them, not just for the local people, but for the wildlife as well!
Want to See the Dambulla Elephant Dump for Yourself?
If you stay at the Relax Guesthouse, Lucky Bob can hook you up and show you the ropes (or if you’re more adventurous, you might want to rent a tuk tuk yourself!). Lucky Bob was a fantastic host, and very helpful in divulging Dambulla’s local flavor to us during our very short stay there. If you want to go to major Sri Lanka tourism sites like Sigiriya Sri Lanka, Rasta Bob can help you. If you’re looking to get off the typical Sri Lanka tourism path, Rasta Bob can also help you.
For more Sri Lanka travel, check out our guide to How to Spend a Day in Kandy, Sri Lanka!
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Do you have any of your own elephant stories?
Let us know in a comment below!