(Over)tourism in the Udawalawe National Park


In February 2018, we were taken on a Udawalawe National Park Elephant Safari in Sri Lanka. Our transport was a 4×4 safari jeep with a capacity of six tourists, although there were only the two of us, accompanied by the driver and a guide.  They sat in the cab, while we sat in elevated seats in the back.  Our tour was only for a half day, and so we sped through the preserve from sight to sight (birds and beasts).  We were not alone.  There were many other jeeps also jockeying to see the sights.  As jeeps passed each other, guides shared what was available to be seen, and all jeeps in the area converged to the latest find.  In between the big finds, we enjoyed seeing birds and other smaller creatures at a more leisurely pace.  Here is a typical view: the tourists outnumber the elephants.

This photo was taken on February 5, 2018. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 320, f/16, 1/80 sec, 55 mm.




Stilts in the Seascape

This is our entry in Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #56: Seascapes and/or Lakeshore.

As we traveled near Galle along the coast of the Indian Ocean in the south of Sri Lanka, we came across these stilt fishermen.  The practice of erecting stilts for fishing was born of necessity during World War II, but came to the world’s attention only after Steve McCurry’s iconic photographs in 1995.  The growing interest of other photographers soon educated the fishermen in the lucrative occupation of posing for money.  The actual fishing occurs at dawn and dusk when schools of fish are present.  Tourists like us drive by at all times of the day.  To get maximum profit from their stilts, the fishermen can either (a) pose for tourists on their own stilts, (b) rent their stilts to other locals to pose as fishermen for tourists, or (c) charge tourists to sit on their stilts.  We didn’t see any fish being caught. We got our pictures and we paid a fee.  Having seen photos of the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami, which still affects their livelihood, we do not fault the stilt fishermen.


This photo was taken on February 18, 2018.  Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/250 sec, 100 mm.

Five Swan Boats — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 5+ Items

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 5+ Items.

Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka, offers many types of pleasant water activities for the whole family, including whimsically-painted paddle boats in the shape of large swans.

This photo was taken on February 9, 2018. Specs are:

Olympus TG-4, ISO 100, f/9, 1/320 sec, 5.87 mm.


This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Roll.

After a journey spanning three days (17 hours in the air), we were finally deposited at a tiny hotel in Negombo, Sri Lanka.  Since the local time was approaching 5 AM, we were most anxious for sleep in a real bed.  Checking out the bathroom, we discovered the sum total of toilet paper supplied for us.  We decided to dig out our own reserve supply (we have traveled in this part of the world before).


This photo was taken on February 1, 2018. Specs are:

Olympus TG-4, ISO 500, f/2.0, 1/30 sec, 4.5 mm.

Bentota Fisherman — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Diagonal Line(s)

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Diagonal Line(s).

This young man is fishing from the beach near Bentota, Sri Lanka, just before noon. His fishing pole, held on a diagonal, is no fancy rod and reel. Close to 15 feet long, reaching easily beyond the crashing waves, it appears to be bamboo rather than fiberglass, with a monofilament line shorter than the pole.

The body of water is the Laccadive Sea, which is a rich source of fish for the local population.  In fact, directly behind him on the sand (not visible in the photo) is a long fishing net stretched out to dry and the drift gillnet fishermen who just brought in and distributed their catch are walking back home.

This photo was taken on February 20, 2018. Specs are:

Olympus TG-4, ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/320 sec, 18 mm.

Stupa Dome in Dambulla Cave Temple — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Arch, Dome or Half Circle

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Arch, Dome or Half Circle.

One of the most interesting places we visited during a trip to Sri Lanka this February is the Buddhist Dambulla Cave Temple. It would be easy to spend hours visiting the site. Inside the temple, which comprises multiple caves, are bell-shaped stupas surrounding relics. There are beautiful views in every direction. The following image shows one of them.

This photo was taken on February 3, 2018. Specs are:

Olympus TG-4, ISO 800, f/2, 1/13 sec, 7.6 mm

Fishing Boats near Colombo

We visited Sri Lanka for the month of February. One of our early stops was at a harbor for fishing boats just outside Colombo. The daily catch is either sold in stalls and outdoor markets or left drying in the sun for later use.

This photo was taken on February 1, 2018. Specs are:

Canon SL1, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, 50 mm