Kalawewa National Park


Kalawewa National Park was declared a National Park in 2015; it includes the impressive Kalãwewa and Balaluwewa water tanks built by King Dhatusena in the 5th century. This Park of over 6000 hectares is home to elephants but with a critical feature - the herd has a great group of tuskers, male elephants with tusks (ivory). Only about seven per cent of the male elephant population have them, making tuskers a noble sight to see.

When the water levels drop from the tank beds in the dry zone, a lush grassland reveals itself – which is much interrogated after by the elephants. Resident herds and migratory herds from nearby forests all congregate to have the grass. As the Park is only open during the dry season, the chances of such sightings are very encouraging. And this is in addition to recognising large flocks of open-billed storks.

The monsoons arrive around October – November, and the grasslands disappear to give way to loaded up reservoirs. While the resident elephant herds remain, the migratory elephants return. The Park’s beautiful kumbuk trees and vegetation addition the reservoirs, birdlife and rustic surroundings.

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History of Kalawewa National Park

The historical significance of Kalawewa National Park dates back to the ancient Sinhalese civilization. King Datusena, a ruler of Anuradhapura, built the Kalawewa and Balalu Wewa tanks for irrigation purposes. In addition, these tanks were instrumental in supporting agricultural activities in the region. The area surrounding these tanks eventually became a protected national park to preserve its natural and historical heritage.

Unique features of the park

Kalawewa National Park stands out due to several unique features. Firstly, it is home to a significant number of tuskers, which are male elephants with ivory. These tuskers are a rarity in Sri Lanka, making their presence in the park remarkable. In addition, the genetic structure of these elephants is distinct, contributing to their uniqueness.

Another notable aspect is the beautiful landscape adorned with massive Kumbuk Trees. These trees provide a majestic canopy and add to the park's overall charm. During certain dry seasons, thousands of open-billed storks flock to the park, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

Landscape and vegetation

The landscape of Kalawewa National Park showcases a diverse range of natural beauty. As the water levels recede during the dry season, green grass glades emerge, providing favourable feeding grounds for elephants. This phenomenon attracts herds of elephants to the park, making it an ideal location to witness elephant gatherings away from the bustling crowds in other parks.

Lush forests, open grasslands, and serene water bodies characterize the park. It offers a peaceful environment for visitors to connect with nature and immerse themselves in its tranquillity. The presence of the Kalawewa and Balalu Wewa tanks adds to the scenic charm of the park, offering picturesque views.

Wildlife in Kalawewa National Park

Kalawewa National Park is renowned for its rich biodiversity and abundant wildlife. The park provides a sanctuary for numerous species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. In addition to elephants, the park is home to various other animals, including deer, monkeys, reptiles, and a wide array of bird species.

The park's diverse ecosystem supports a thriving wildlife population. It offers a glimpse into these animals' natural habitats and behaviours, creating a rewarding experience for visitors.

Elephant herds and the presence of tuskers

One of the main attractions of Kalawewa National Park is its elephant herds. These majestic creatures roam freely within the park's boundaries, captivating visitors' attention. In addition, the park is known for its many tuskers, making it a prime location to observe these magnificent animals.

Tuskers, male elephants with ivory, are rare in Sri Lanka. Only a tiny percentage of elephants in the country carry ivory, and encountering them in Kalawewa National Park is a unique opportunity. In addition, the genetic structure of these elephants adds to their significance and showcases the park's conservation efforts.

Birdwatching opportunities

Kalawewa National Park offers excellent birdwatching opportunities for enthusiasts. The park is home to various bird species, both resident and migratory. Birdwatchers can witness the beauty and grace of numerous wetland birds, including herons, bulbuls, swamp hens, water hens, kingfishers, teals, gulls, swallows, egrets, and storks.

The park's diverse bird population provides a captivating spectacle, especially around Thalangama Lake. Visitors can engage in birdwatching activities, capturing these avian creatures' vibrant colours and graceful movements.

Accessibility and best time to visit

Kalawewa National Park is accessible during the dry season when the water levels recede, revealing the lush grasslands. Typically from May to September, this period is ideal for visiting the park as it offers better visibility and opportunities for wildlife sightings. However, duringrk may have limited access during the wet season due to the high water levels.

The park can be reached within an hour's drive from Anuradhapura, Habarana, Sigiriya, and Dambulla. However, visitors often prefer hiring a private car for convenient transportation to and from the park.

Getting to Kalawewa National Park

To reach Kalawewa National Park, visitors can hire a private car from the nearby towns of Anuradhapura, Habarana, Sigiriya, or Dambulla. The park is located within a one-hour drive from these towns, making it easily accessible for tourists.

Private transportation is the preferred transfer mode as it offers flexibility and convenience. In addition, it allows visitors to plan their visit according to schedule and explore the park at their own pace.

Exploring the park by safari jeep

The best way to explore Kalawewa National Park is by taking a safari jeep tour. Safari jeeps provide comfortable and elevated seating, giving visitors a better view of the park's wildlife and natural surroundings. An experienced guide accompanies the tour, sharing insights and knowledge about the park's flora and fauna.

Safari jeep tours offer an adventurous and immersive experience, enabling visitors to get closer to nature and witness the wildlife in their natural habitat. Therefore, itoking a tour in advance is advisable to ensure availability and make the most of the visit.

Opening times of the park

Kalawewa National Park is open from 6 AM to 6 PM for safaris. Visitors can plan their visit accordingly, ensuring ample time to explore the park and enjoy its attractions. It is essential to adhere to the park's opening and closing times to make the most of the experience and comply with conservation guidelines.

Wildlife diversity in Kalawewa National Park

The wildlife diversity in Kalawewa National Park is remarkable. Apart from the elephant herds and tuskers, the park is home to many animals. Visitors may encounter spotted deer, sambar deer, monkeys, reptiles, and various bird species during their exploration.

The park's ecosystem supports a healthy population of different animal species, providing a balanced and sustainable environment. This biodiversity contributes to the park's significance as a protected area and enhances the overall experience for visitors.

Thalangama Lake and its inhabitants

Within Kalawewa National Park, Thalangama Lake is a prominent feature known for its abundant wildlife. The lake is home to approximately 100 species of wetland birds, including herons, bulbuls, swamp hens, water hens, kingfishers, teals, gulls, swallows, egrets, and storks. Birdwatchers can indulge in observing and capturing the diverse avian inhabitants of the lake.

Thalangama Lake is also a habitat for various butterflies and dragonflies, adding to the park's natural beauty and ecological significance. In addition, the presence of purple-faced leaf monkeys and other reptiles further enriches the wildlife diversity in the area.


Q1: What is the best time to visit Kalawewa National Park? Throughout the year is suitable for elephants to watch safaris in Kalawewa National Park. However, the dry season from May to September offers better visibility and increased chances of wildlife sightings.

Q2: How do I get to Kalawewa National Park? Kalawewa National Park is located within one hour from the towns of Anuradhapura, Habarana, Sigiriya, and Dambulla. Hiring a private car is the preferred mode of transfer.

Q3: How can I explore Kalawewa National Park? The best way to explore the park is by taking a safari jeep tour. Safari jeeps provide comfortable seating and an experienced guide to enhance the experience.

Q4: What are the opening times of Kalawewa National Park? The park is open from 6 AM to 6 PM for safaris. Visitors should plan their visit accordingly and adhere to the designated opening and closing times.

Q5: What wildlife can be seen in Kalawewa National Park? Apart from elephants and tuskers, the park is home to various animal species, including deer, monkeys, reptiles, and many bird species. Thalangama Lake within the park is mainly known for its diverse birdlife.



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