The Asian elephant is smaller than its African cousin, the largest living terrestrial mammal (pictured), but is still the largest living land animal in Asia. They live in Southeast Asia and India, where they have been domesticated for centuries and hold special cultural significance. These giants are herbivores and can eat up to 138 kilograms of roots, grasses, fruit and bark in a single day, roaming from place to place in search of food. Cows and their young live in herds while bulls travel solo. Asian elephants can grow up to 3 metres (10 feet) and weigh up to 5,000 kilograms (5.5 tons). They live up to 60 years. Although they have no natural predators, there are only 50,000 Asian elephants left in the wild.

Crib Notes:

  • Elephants are revered in India and indeed there is an elephant-headed god named Ganesh.
  • The Asian elephant’s big ears radiate heat to cool it down.
  • An elephant’s trunk has 100,000 individual muscles.

Time of year: The best time to visit is from December to March, though the weather in Sri Lanka is unpredictable due to two monsoon seasons.

Destination: Kumbuk River Eco Lodge is located on a 16 acre river-front area of pure Sri Lankan wilderness. In-keeping with the eco concept, the lodge has been designed using resources and materials found in the area, without disturbing the natural habitat. The result is a tranquil haven where you’ll feel completely at one with your natural surroundings. Choose between taking a dip in the river or the herbal plunge pool, exploring the many nature trails or taking a hand tractor ride to the nearby Suspension Bridge, visiting ancient temples or spending a night in a farmer’s tree hut as they ward off elephants. Include in these adventures day trips to local national parks where you will come face to face with all kinds of wildlife, and there is something for all the family. The Lodge offers a choice of accommodation – Elephant Villas, 40ft two storey villas in the shape of an elephant, Tree Cabins offering the ultimate in luxury, or Chalets, built to resemble a traditional mud and thatch village home – so your whole stay can be tailored to whatever suits you.

Price Guide: From LKS 9,000 per night for a double chalet, full board.