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.
A Local Find in Dambulla, Sri Lanka
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).
Don’t go to Sri Lanka unprepared! Check out our ultimate Sri Lanka Travel Itinerary!
Dambulla’s 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. 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. 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.
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?
For more information regarding the safety of 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. Lucky Bob was a fantastic host, and very helpful in divulging Dambulla’s local flavor to us during our very short stay there.
*Relax Guesthouse, Dambulla: 265/1, 3rd Lane,Yapagama Side, Dambulla, Sri Lanka 21100
For more Sri Lanka travel, check out our guide to How to Spend a Day in Kandy, Sri Lanka!
Like this post?
Share it on Pinterest by hovering over the picture below and clicking the red “Pin It” button!
You Might Also Appreciate…
More Sri Lanka Posts
- Safari at Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
- How to Spend a Day in Kandy, Sri Lanka
- Mirissa, Sri Lanka: the Secret Beach (A Hidden Gem!)
- Sri Lanka Travel: the Ultimate 8-Day Backpacker’s Itinerary
- Sigiriya: Climbing Sri Lanka’s Lion Rock
- O’Sulloc Tea Museum and Green Tea Fields: Jeju Island, South Korea
- Sapa Trek with the Hill-Tribes in Vietnam: 10 Things You WON’T Expect
- 5 Memorable Things to Do in Beijing for Chinese New Year
- (Shark?!) For the Soul: Willala Fish and Chips on Jeju Island
- At the Foot of Sunrise Peak: Yellow Submarine Guesthouse on Jeju Island
- The Bone Church of Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic: A Scary Places Travel Guide
- Sand, Sea, and Jeju-si: Iho Beach on Jeju Island, South Korea
- A Girl’s Guide to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
- Romantic Spots to Enjoy Autumn in Korea: A Couples Travel Guide
- Essential Cameras for Every Traveler
- What I’ve Learned from Traveling to 25 Countries
- Travel Hack: Do a Cheap Flight Search Like a Pro
- Best Travel Drone Bag: Backpacking with a DJI Phantom
Do you have any of your own elephant stories?
Let us know in a comment below!