Kaudulla national park – Habarana


Kaudulla national park is the newly established national park near the city of Habarana, Sri Lanka. Kaudulla is in the country and has excellent potential for viewing elephants and other species of wildlife.

Topography is varied with hills, lowlands, forest and scrubland. Kaudulla is an old irrigation tank with a capacity of 104,000 feet acres. The primary source of water is a giant canal which is around the tank. The central annual rainfall is about 1500-2000 mm; the mean annual temperature is 20°C.
The national park vegetation consists of tropical dry mixed evergreen forests, abandoned chena cultivated lands, grasslands and wetlands. Tropical dry mixed evergreen forest predominated.
Twenty-four species of mammals in Sri Lanka have been recorded from this park. The several majors of them is the wild elephant, the population of which is about 200. Twenty-six species of fish are found in the reservoir; these fish are economically important. In this park, 435 species of birds are reported to be endemic birds to Sri Lanka.

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Location and Background

Located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, Kaudulla National Park spans over 6,900 hectares and is part of the elephant corridor that connects Minneriya and Wasgamuwa national parks. During their annual migration, the park was established in 2002 to provide a haven for wildlife, particularly elephants. The lush forests, grasslands and the scenic Kaudulla Tank create a picturesque setting for visitors to immerse themselves in nature's wonders.

Flora and Fauna

Kaudulla National Park is home to a remarkable variety of flora and fauna. The park's vegetation includes dry mixed evergreen forests, grasslands, and shrublands. Exploring the park, you'll encounter towering trees, vibrant orchids, and other endemic plant species.

However, the real highlight of Kaudulla National Park is its impressive wildlife population. The park is renowned for its elephant gatherings, where herds of these majestic creatures can be seen grazing and bathing in the Kaudulla Tank. Apart from elephants, you can also spot sambar deer, spotted deer, wild boars, leopards, sloth bears, and numerous bird species, including endemic and migratory birds.

Key Attractions

  1. Kaudulla Tank: The centrepiece of the national park, Kaudulla Tank is an artificial reservoir dating back to the 12th century. It sustains the park's ecosystem and provides a stunning backdrop for wildlife sightings.
  2. The Elephant Gathering: One of the most captivating events in Kaudulla National Park is the elephant gathering. From September to November, hundreds of elephants congregate near the Kaudulla Tank, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for visitors.
  3. Minneriya-Kaudulla Wildlife Sanctuary: Kaudulla National Park is contiguous with Minneriya Wildlife Sanctuary, forming a vast protected area. The sanctuary is renowned for its elephant migration and offers additional opportunities for wildlife encounters.

Wildlife Safaris

To truly immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Kaudulla National Park, embark on an exciting wildlife safari. Safaris are typically conducted in jeeps with experienced guides who will take you on an adventure through the park's diverse landscapes. These safaris provide an opportunity to observe wildlife up close and capture stunning photographs of elephants, leopards, and other fascinating creatures.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Kaudulla National Park is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this period, the water levels in the Kaudulla Tank recede, resulting in a more significant concentration of animals around the reservoir. August and September, in particular, offer the incredible sight of the elephant gathering, making it an ideal time for wildlife enthusiasts to plan their visit.

Conservation Efforts

Kaudulla National Park plays a vital role in wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka. Efforts are made to protect and preserve the natural habitat of various species, particularly the elephants. The park management actively engages in anti-poaching initiatives, habitat restoration, and raising awareness about sustainable tourism practices.

Nearby Accommodation

Several accommodation options are available for visitors seeking a comfortable stay near Kaudulla National Park. From eco-lodges nestled amidst the wilderness to luxury resorts, there's something for everyone. Some popular choices include Kaudulla Eco Lodge, Elephant Safari Village, and Habarana Village by Cinnamon.

How to Reach Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park is easily accessible from major cities in Sri Lanka. The nearest town is Habarana, which is well-connected by road and rail. Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo is the primary international gateway, and from there, you can hire a private vehicle or take a taxi to reach the park.

Tips for Visiting

  1. Dress appropriately: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing in earthy tones to blend in with the surroundings and protect yourself from the sun.
  2. Carry essentials: Don't forget to bring binoculars, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a camera to capture the remarkable wildlife sightings.
  3. Respect wildlife: Maintain a safe distance from the animals and avoid any actions that may disturb their natural behaviour.

Local Culture and Traditions

In addition to its natural wonders, Kaudulla National Park offers insights into the local culture and traditions of Sri Lanka. Visitors can explore nearby villages, interact with friendly locals, and learn about the traditional practices and customs passed down through generations.

Photography Opportunities

For photography enthusiasts, Kaudulla National Park is a paradise. The park's scenic landscapes, vibrant wildlife, and mesmerizing elephant gatherings present endless opportunities for capturing stunning images. From wide-angle shots to close-ups of animals in their natural habitat, you'll have plenty of subjects to fill your camera roll.

Kaudulla vs. Other National Parks

While Sri Lanka has several national parks, Kaudulla stands out for its unique experiences. Its proximity to Minneriya Wildlife Sanctuary, the mesmerizing elephant gatherings, and the lesser crowds compared to other parks make Kaudulla a top choice for wildlife enthusiasts seeking an authentic and immersive safari experience.

Sustainable Tourism Practices

Kaudulla National Park is committed to sustainable tourism practices. It encourages responsible visitor behaviour, supports local communities, and educates tourists about conserving the park's fragile ecosystem. By practising sustainable tourism, visitors can contribute to preserving Kaudulla's natural treasures long-term.

Kaudulla National Park offers a mesmerizing journey into Sri Lanka's wildlife wonders. From the awe-inspiring elephant gatherings to the diverse flora and fauna, this national park provides an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Plan your visit to Kaudulla National Park and immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of this sanctuary.


  1. Is Kaudulla National Park open throughout the year? Yes, Kaudulla National Park is open year-round for visitors to explore its natural wonders. However, the best time to witness the elephant gatherings is September to November.
  2. Can I visit Kaudulla National Park without a guide? Visiting Kaudulla National Park with a guide familiar with the park's terrain and wildlife is highly recommended. They can enhance your experience by providing valuable insights and ensuring your safety.
  3. Are there any accommodations inside the national park? No, there are no accommodations inside Kaudulla National Park. However, nearby towns have several options, such as Habarana and Minneriya.
  4. What is the duration of a typical wildlife safari in Kaudulla National Park? A wildlife safari in Kaudulla National Park usually lasts 3-4 hours. This duration allows ample time to explore the park's different habitats and encounter various wildlife species.
  5. Are there any restrictions on photography within the park? There are no specific restrictions on photography within Kaudulla National Park. However, respecting wildlife and following ethical photography practices is essential to avoid causing any disturbance.



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