We hadn't planned to visit the national parks of the south as the cost for us on our own was prohibitive, however the opportunity came up to share with two Frenchies staying at the same guesthouse in Ella. We could leave from the door in an air-conditioned car, travel slowly, slowly down the treacherous mountain road (as opposed to the death wobble in a public bus), and share the cost of the compulsory jeep into the park. We chose the Udawalawe park over the more visited Yala Park to the east.
As with the other major attractions in Sri Lanka, the foreigners price is far greater than the local rate - more than 30 times more - which is a bit hard to swallow. Where these "generous donations" go I am not sure, but it is not toward services such as toilets, information signs, or brochures.
Still, how often does one get to see an elephant's butt up close? I admit that I was as excited as a child at my first close encounter in the wild. Lots of inner squealing and bouncing on my bucket seat. Elephant sounds even more delightful in French, so we adopted our travel buddie's' language for the animals we saw on our two hour cruise through the savannah. I am certain the word for peacock will come in very handy when I go to Paris. Un latte et un paon s'il vous plait.