Udawalawe National Park

A park that claims to surpass even many East African wildlife parks, the Udawalawe National Park is an idyllic setting for the nature lover. Boasting of some of the largest populations of wild elephants in the country and a variety of migrant species of birds, along with many other unique flora and fauna, the national park in Sri Lanka has become one of the most visited animal sanctuaries in the country due to the relative easiness of game spotting.

Best Known For

  • If you Google about the wildlife of Sri Lanka right now, some of the first images you see are herds of elephants that are clicked from the Udawalawe National Park, which undoubtedly justify the large presence of the herds of elephants in the park.
  • If you are still delving into images of wildlife, the other image that will most likely spring up, almost immediately is the Sri Lankan leopard that the park is famed for providing a safe haven to.
  • The park is also known for being one of the easier parks to traverse through, while partaking in a safari, due to the little vegetation and the low grassy plains, therefore making game spotting of majestic animals in their natural habitats a real treat for all.

Interesting Facts

  • The national park was established in 1972, in order to provide sanctuary for displaced animals, as a result of the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River.
  • Before the park was designated a national park, the area was used for shifting cultivation (chena farming).
  • Due to the sustainable agricultural pursuits undertaken in the area, much of the area is virtually untouched by man, thus allowing the government to designate more than 30,000 hectares of land area as a national park.
  • Although known for housing more than 250 elephants and a number of leopards, the park is also known for boasting other species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish.
  • The more popular species of mammals being the Sri Lankan sambar deer, the water buffalo, the wild boar and the Sri Lankan sloth bear to name but a few.
  • The number of birds that migrate and reside permanently in the park are around 210, making it a haven for the bird watcher too.
  • Boasting of species like the Sri Lanka spur fowl, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, brown-capped babbler and Sri Lanka jungle fowl to name but a few of the resident species, there really is enough to even entice the more serious birdwatcher too.
  • Oriental garden lizards, painted-lip lizards, mugger crocodiles, Asian water monitors, Bengal monitors and 30 species of snake are some of the reptiles found in the park.
  • The Udawalawe National Park is the third most visited park in the country, further justifying its status as one of the foremost safari parks in the country.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The season to visit the park is during the dry season when the animals are easily spotted at the watering holes. This generally runs from May/June to October.
  • The park is open from 6.00am to 6.00pm, however, the best time to witness the animals is during the mornings and evenings.
  • It is highly recommended that you arrange a safari through your accommodation provider since you can get picked up and dropped back to your lodgings, covering all other expenses as well.
  • Last tickets are sold at 5.00pm, since it can get quite dangerous at night.
  • If you are willing to arrange a safari by yourself, then it is a must to hire a 4 wheel drive with a guide, which would cost LKR 3,500 and upwards.
  • It is important to listen to the tour guide’s advice, especially when there are animals in close proximity.
  • Apart from the guide’s advice, it is important to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the relevant authorities, so no pollution and refrain from bringing polythene.
  • As for the equipment, it is best to be clad in comfortable, but protective clothing. Bring some layers too, if you are embarking in the morning since it can get quite chilly.
  • It would be a shame if you do not bring your camera too.

In conclusion, many might be quite skeptical if one was to talk of a Sri Lankan wildlife park that surpasses parks in East Africa. However, all that skepticism will be put to rest, even if you catch a little glimpse of the wonders, this particular park holds.

Title image by: Jehan Gamalathge The information displayed is provided by Udawalawe National Park


May - October


Entrance Fee
LKR 1,945


Nature and Outdoors

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