This article provides information on the Habarana Elephant Safari in Sri Lanka also including other things to do in Habarana, where to stay in Habarana, and how to get around Habarana.
Habarana is where we met up with H again after seeing him last in Sri Lanka. It is also where we have the fondest memories of our quick trip through Sri Lanka. In Habarana, we witnessed hundreds of elephants migrating through the Minneriya National Park. The island is home to over 7,000 wild Asian elephants.
It was a beautiful and memorable experience (minus the surrounding Jeeps filled with other tourists).
The bus from Polonnaruwa dropped us off on the side of the road in Habarana and we met up with H at a local gas station. He introduced us to his friend and partner of their tour company, L. They offered a great schedule of activities for our stay in Habarana.
How To Get from Polonnaruwa to Habarana
We took the local bus from Polonnaruwa to Habarana – it took less than an hour and cost LKR 75 per person (USD $0.50).
Where to Stay in Habarana: Habarana Hotels and Accommodations
Eagles Wings Guesthouse – stay in a room inside the guesthouse or enjoy the vast backyard and sleep in the cottages at a price of LKR 1,700 (USD $12 – as of September 2013). The host is extremely attentive and accommodating.
Sanjana Home Stay – basic, clean, double room with breakfast included for USD $12. Free WiFi. Owners are very attentive and well located.
Homely Guest – basic, clean, double room with free WiFi and breakfast included for USD $12.
What to do in Habarana – Activities in Habarana
Elephant Ride – though we were not really interested in riding an elephant, it is an experience offered in Habarana.
Visit the Minneriya National Park for “The Gathering” from June to September – to see hundreds of elephants gather to feed, bathe and mate. You’ll be able to see lots of baby elephants in between the legs of the adult elephants. A spectacular experience , in spite of all the Jeeps.
Bathe an Elephant – we met this couple at the Colombo airport, who were so enthusiastic about their experience in Habarana that they made us want to have the same experience. They had slept in a tree house by a river and mentioned bathing (and riding) an elephant in the wild. We naively thought the elephant just appeared by their tree house.
In our experience, the organizers knew exactly where the elephant was, and it was chained on the side of the road, hidden by the tall grass. Though we appreciated having such a close encounter with the majestic mammal, we wouldn’t have participated in that activity had we known it was a chained elephant. Or had we known it was a chained elephant that would get poked by a sharp metal object if it did not behave, and then see drops of blood flowing in the river….
A heartbreaking experience that we will not repeat.
For our experience in Habarana, elephant bathing and Minneriya National Park, we paid LKR 6,000 per person (USD $40) which included Jeep and entrance fees to Minneriya park which cost USD$15 for a foreign person.
Visit Sigiriya – located 5 miles away from Habarana, it could be a nice morning adventure before the sun makes it too uncomfortable to climb up the rock.
Visit Dambulla Golden Temple – located 13 miles away from Habarana. Visit the Golden Temple after your visit to Sigiriya before returning to Habarana.
How To Get Away From Habarana to Dambulla
As in the rest of Sri Lanka, we hopped on the bus from Habarana to Dambulla and were there in less than an hour for LKR 40 per person (USD $0.30). If you are headed to any city in the golden triangle, the ride should not be too long.
We had a wonderful time in Habarana and would surely come back. Instead of hopping from one city to another, we would stay in Habarana instead and do day trips to the various cities in the cultural triangle before heading to Kandy.
H had told us, “if more tourists come, soon there will only be 50 elephants left in Sri Lanka.” Read more about “The Gathering” from CNN.com
View more travel tips to visit Sri Lanka.
Did you go to Habarana? What were your impressions? Share your travel experience with us! We love to hear from you.
Happy Travels !!xx