The Udawalawe National Park is located by the boundaries of the Uva Provinces and Sabaragamuwa. Initially the Park was conceived as a safe haven for wild animals that needed a new habitat following the important construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir, which itself is attached to the Walawe River nearby the Park. It is within the top three of the most visited National Parks in Sri Lanka and with good reason.
While many animals know the Udawalawe National Park as a sanctuary, it’s most well known for the beautiful Sri Lankan Elephants. These majestic creatures roam freely and under the protection of rangers who make sure the elephants are kept safe from poachers. Allowing them to live and breed in peace. Currently, there are several hundred elephants in the park and luckily the number is growing. There are about 500 elephants in the park and you can see them often roaming in large herds
Thanks to the protection and peace they enjoy in the Park and places like it, Sri Lanka now boasts the highest number of wild Asian elephants in the world. The figures at the time of writing are nearly 6000 in the whole world and nearly 200 in captivity. While these numbers are still worryingly low, at least they are increasing.
They are however a huge attraction for nature lovers who are welcome to visit the region on safari to catch a glimpse of the Sri Lankan Elephants in their natural habitat. Booking one of these safaris couldn’t be easier; they can be booked online before your visit to Sri Lanka or as part of a holiday package. Or you can arrange one when you arrive. Lots of hotels and tourist spots in the country are committed to the conservation and protection of the Elephants and the Udawalawe National Park in general.
Many of the top hotels have links to the safari companies and will be more than happy to help you arrange the ideal trip for a time that suits you. That includes transfer to and from the park in a lot of cases. Most tourists arrive here by car or coach from locations such as Colombo and Ella. A standard journey is around 4 to 5 hours but the journey itself features some breath-taking sites in their own right. From other wildlife like Flamingos to stunning scenery, this journey is not a chore, but part of the adventure itself. Those new to safari though would be wise to select an afternoon safari for 3 hours. From 3 pm to 6 pm.
An average safari can last around three hours if it’s a day trip, but of course, this all does depend on the company arranging it. Others are reported to last as long as five hours but chances are these are more expensive. Some visitors choose to stay overnight to get more from their stay. With this option, the visitors can stay at a nearby hotel located in the heart of the park.
Here guests can relax knowing the elephants and other wildlife will be waiting for them in the morning and that they won’t have far to go to see them. For the more adventurous visitor, there are camping options. Camping in the park, however, is subject to many more rules. As the park and it’s animals are protected by the Sri Lankan government it’s important to understand the impact human activity can have on the park and to respect the rules that are in place. This experience, however, will be unforgettable, as visitors and their guides can sleep under the stars in the very epicenter of nature itself.
As the Udawalawe National Park is a large location, seeing all of it by coach or on foot isn’t possible. It’s possible however to hire a jeep for the duration of the safari, this way your guide can take you closer to the action and to off-road sites that would be otherwise inaccessible. The average cost of a jeep per person is 7000 LKR, but savings are possible for booking as a group. Always bear in mind that one seat must be taken up by your guide.
The most ideal time to visit the Udawalawe National Park is during the dry season when the elephants are most likely living near the river for access to fresh water. This is between the months of May and September, so if you’re planning an adventurous summer holiday then look no further.