Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is a beautiful wildlife sanctuary located in the southern region of Sri Lanka. It is one of the best places to see elephants in the wild and is home to a wide variety of other animals and birds as well. However, like all other tourist destinations, there are certain times of the year when it is best to visit Udawalawe National Park.

Early History

Udawalawe National Park is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in Sri Lanka,
It was established in 1972 as a sanctuary for wildlife. The park covers an area of approximately 30,821 hectares and is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, sambar deer, wild boar, water buffalo, and several species of birds.

The park was created as part of a project to build the Udawalawe Reservoir, which was designed to provide irrigation water to the surrounding areas. The construction of the reservoir led to the displacement of several villages, and as a result, the Sri Lankan government decided to establish a national park to protect the area’s wildlife and provide a natural habitat for them.

In 1977, the park was officially declared a national park, and since then, it has become a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world.

 Flora of Udawalawe National Park

The vegetation of Udawalawe National Park is predominantly composed of dry evergreen forests, which are characteristic of the lowland regions of Sri Lanka. The park is also home to grasslands and thorn scrub jungles. The dry evergreen forests are dominated by trees such as satinwood (Chloroxylon swietenia), ebony (Diospyros ebenum), and ironwood (Mesua ferrea). These trees provide a habitat for a variety of bird species such as the Sri Lankan junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii), Malabar pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus), and brown-capped babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillum).

In addition to the dry evergreen forests, the park also has a number of wetland habitats such as the Udawalawe Reservoir, which is home to a variety of aquatic plants. Some of the notable aquatic plants found in the park include water lilies (Nymphaea nouchali) and lotus (Nelumbo nucifera).

Fauna of Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is home to a diverse range of fauna, including 94 species of mammals, 183 species of birds, 33 species of reptiles, 43 species of fish, and 12 species of amphibians. The park is best known for its large population of Sri Lankan elephants (Elephas maximus maximus). These majestic creatures can be seen grazing along the park’s grasslands and waterways throughout the year.

The park is also home to several other large mammals such as the Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya), sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), and sambar deer (Rusa unicolor). The park is also home to several endemic bird species such as the Sri Lanka grey hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis), Sri Lanka spurfowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata), and Sri Lanka wood pigeon (Columba torringtoni).

Other notable bird species found in the park include the painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala), white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), and crested serpent eagle (Spilornis cheela). The park is also home to several reptile species such as the mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), Indian python (Python molurus), and Sri Lankan flying snake (Chrysopelea taprobanica).

Udawalawe National Park is a unique ecosystem that is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The park’s dry evergreen forests, grasslands, and wetlands provide a habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to Sri Lanka. Visitors to the park can witness the majesty of Sri Lankan elephants, the grace of the Sri Lankan leopard, and the beauty of the park’s many bird species. Udawalawe National Park is truly a nature lover’s paradise.


The weather is an important factor to consider when planning a trip to Udawalawe National Park. The park is located in a dry zone, and the weather can be quite hot and humid throughout the year. However, the best time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from December to March. During this time, the weather is warm and dry, and there is little chance of rain. The temperature during the day can rise to 32°C, but it can drop to around 18°C at night.

Tourist Crowds

Udawalawe National Park is a popular tourist destination, and it can get crowded during peak season. The peak season is from December to February, and the park can get quite crowded during this time. If you want to avoid the crowds, it is best to visit the park during the off-season, from April to November. During this time, the park is less crowded, and you can enjoy the beauty of the park in peace.

the best time to visit Udawalawe National Park is during the dry season, from December to March. During this time, the weather is pleasant, and there are more chances of spotting wildlife. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, it is best to visit during the off-season, from April to November. Regardless of when you choose to visit, Udawalawe National Park is a beautiful place that is definitely worth a visit.

Exploring Udawalawe National Park

A safari in Udawalawe National Park is an exhilarating experience, where visitors can observe animals in their natural habitat and immerse themselves in the beauty of Sri Lanka’s wild frontier.

Getting There,

Udawalawe National Park can be accessed by road from Colombo, which takes about 4-5 hours. Alternatively, visitors can take a train or bus to Embilipitiya, which is the nearest town to the park. From there, it is a short drive to the entrance of the park. It is important to note that the park is closed during the months of September and October due to the monsoon season.

The best way to explore Udawalawe National Park is on a safari. Safari tours are available throughout the year and can be booked through tour operators or at the entrance of the park. The tours are usually conducted in open-top jeeps or trucks and can last between 2-4 hours.

During the safari, visitors can expect to see a wide range of animals, including elephants, buffaloes, deer, crocodiles, and various species of birds. The park is especially famous for its large population of elephants, which can often be seen grazing or bathing in the park’s many waterholes. Visitors can also spot leopards, although they are relatively rare and elusive.

The park’s varied terrain, which includes grasslands, forests, and wetlands, provides a diverse range of habitats for the animals. The safari tours usually cover different areas of the park, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience the different ecosystems and the animals that inhabit them.

To ensure you have an enjoyable and comfortable safari, here are some items you should consider bringing with you:

  • Camera and Binoculars
    The Udawalawe National Park offers fantastic opportunities for wildlife photography. Make sure to bring a good camera with a zoom lens and spare batteries. Binoculars can also be useful for getting a closer look at animals that may be far away.
  • Sunscreen and Hat
    Safaris typically take place during the day, when the sun can be intense. Bring a hat and apply sunscreen before your tour to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Insect Repellent
    Udawalawe National Park is also home to many insects, including mosquitoes. To avoid getting bitten, bring insect repellent with you.
  • Comfortable Clothing and Shoes
    Wear comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the weather conditions. It can get chilly in the early morning or evening, so bring a light jacket or sweater. Closed-toe shoes are recommended as well, as some walking may be involved.
  • Water and Snacks
    It is important to stay hydrated during your safari, so bring a reusable water bottle and some snacks to keep you energized throughout the tour.
  • Cash and Identification
    Make sure to bring some cash with you in case you need to purchase souvenirs or snacks during your tour. It is also a good idea to have identification with you at all times.
  • A Sense of Adventure
    Most importantly, bring a sense of adventure and an open mind. Safaris can be unpredictable, and you never know what you may see during your tour. Relax, enjoy the scenery, and take in all the amazing wildlife that Udawalawe National Park has to offer.

By bringing these essential items with you, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable safari experience in Udawalawe National Park.

Conservation Efforts

Udawalawe National Park was established in 1972 as a sanctuary for elephants displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir. Today, the park is not only a sanctuary for elephants but also plays an important role in the conservation of other species of wildlife. The park is managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and is supported by various non-governmental organizations, including the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home, which provides care and rehabilitation for orphaned elephant calves.

Visitors to the park are encouraged to practice responsible tourism and to respect the park’s rules and regulations. These include not feeding the animals, not littering, and not disturbing the natural environment.

A safari in Udawalawe National Park is an unforgettable experience, where visitors can witness Sri Lanka’s wildlife in its natural habitat. The park’s conservation efforts and responsible tourism practices make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Whether it is watching elephants bathe in a waterhole or spotting a leopard hiding in the bushes, a safari in Udawalawe National Park is an adventure that will stay with you for a lifetime.

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