Udawalawe National Park and Safari: A Complete Guide

The southern region of Sri Lanka is home to the renowned safari wildlife reserve Udawalawe National Park. Elephants, leopards, birds, and many more animals and plants may be found in the park. Udawalawe National Park and Safari is the ideal location in Sri Lanka for an authentic wildlife encounter. Here is a complete guide to help you plan your trip.

Fauna and Flora at Udawalawe National Park

Being a sanctuary for those who enjoy the outdoors and animals, the park is home to a vast diversity of flora and fauna. A deeper look at the plants and animals you may find at Udawalawe National Park is provided below.

Fauna: The park is a must-visit location for everyone who enjoys animals because it is home to diverse fauna. Here is a closer look at some of the fantastic species that may be seen in Udawalawe National Park.


The elephant population in Udawalawe National Park is its main claim to fame. The park is one of the most significant places in the world to observe these beautiful animals up close because it is home to over 500 elephants. Visitors may witness elephants moving freely throughout the park, and they can also be seen gathering around the last water holes during the dry season.


Another attraction of Udawalawe National Park is its leopard population. These secretive creatures have a robust population in the park, even though it might be challenging to see them. Tourists can boost their chances of spotting one of these majestic animals by participating in a leopard safari.

Sambar Deer

Sambar deer frequently visit Udawalawe National Park. These big deer’s enormous antlers and shaggy coats make them easy to identify. Visitors can observe them grazing in the park’s open woods and meadows.

Water buffalo

Another typical sight in Udawalawe National Park is a water buffalo. These enormous creatures can be observed wallowing in the mud or grazing in the grasses since they are well adapted to the park’s wetlands.

Wild Boar

In Udawalawe National Park, wild boar are frequently seen. Their bristly coats and curving tusks make this giant, strong creatures easy to identify. Throughout the park’s meadows and woodlands, visitors may observe them scavenging for food.

Spotted Deer

In Udawalawe National Park, spotted deer are frequently seen. These graceful creatures may be identified by their thin physique and white spots on their coats. Visitors may see them grazing in the park’s meadows and open woodlands.

Mugger Crocodile

The Mugger Crocodile often referred to as the Marsh Crocodile, is a widespread reptile species found in Sri Lanka’s Udawalawe National Park. One of the enormous reptiles in the park, these crocodiles may reach lengths of 4 metres. Most mugger crocodile habitats are in swamps, marshes, and slow-moving rivers. They also inhabit artificial water bodies such as reservoirs and irrigation canals. These crocodiles may be found in the Walawe River, which runs through Udawalawe National Park.


With approximately 180 different types of birds, Udawalawe National Park is also well-known for its bird population. Sri Lankan junglefowl, Malabar pied hornbill, and white-bellied sea eagle are some of the favourite birds to view. Tourists may take a birding trip to see these lovely animals in their natural environment.

Fauna and Flora at Udawalawe National Park

Flora: From imposing trees to delicate wildflowers, the park is home to various plant species. This is a closer look at some magnificent flora you may discover at Udawalawe National Park.

Palu Trees

At Udawalawe National Park, palu trees are frequently seen. These tall, thin trees are members of the Acacia family and may grow up to 30 metres tall. Their unusual, umbrella-like design provides cover for wildlife and people alike.

Ebony Trees

Another prevalent sight in Udawalawe National Park is ebony trees. These lovely trees’ dark, solid wood has been cherished for generations. They are a vital food source for several species in the park and may reach heights of up to 20 metres.

Satin Trees

Satin trees are a lovely and rare plant found in Udawalawe National Park. These trees’ smooth, silver-grey bark is widely prized for its aesthetic appeal. In addition, satin trees feature exquisite pink blooms that blossom in the spring and may reach 20 metres.

Indian Almond Trees

At Udawalawe National Park, Indian almond trees are frequently seen. These massive trees feature glossy, dark-green foliage and may reach up to 30 metres. Several creatures in the park rely on their nuts as a significant food source.


During the year, many wildflowers bloom at Udawalawe National Park. The delicate and vibrant blooms stand in striking contrast to the park’s untamed landscape. Some popular species are the bluebell, scarlet clock vine, and cobra lily.


Many of the broad plains in Udawalawe National Park are covered in various types of grass. Several of the park’s herbivorous species, like elephants and deer, find food and refuge among these grasses.

Things to Do at Udawalawe National Park and Surrounding 

For nature and animal enthusiasts, Udawalawe National Park is a must-see in Sri Lanka. The park provides a variety of experiences and activities that are sure to leave you with priceless memories. Here are some of the best things to do in Udawalawe National Park.

Jeep Safari

One of Sri Lanka’s most well-liked safari locations is Udawalawe National Park, renowned for its abundant elephant population and variety of animals. A jeep safari is the most significant way to explore the park and get close to its residents. Here is all the information you want on a jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park.

Cost of Entrance fees: Udawalawe National Park has a different admission price depending on the visitor’s nationality.

  • LKR 150 per adult and LKR 100 per kid for Sri Lankan nationals and residents (between 6 and 12 years old).
  • USD 20 per adult and USD 10 per kid for SAARC nations (between 6 and 12 years old).
  • USD 25 per adult and USD 15 per kid for other foreign nationals (between 6 and 12 years old).

Visitors are urged to consult the Department of Wildlife Conservation’s official website or contact the park directly for the most up-to-date information on admission costs since these prices are subject to change. There are also extra fees for escorted safaris and other park activities.

Booking a Jeep Safari: Several local tour companies and hotels provide Jeep safari booking services. It is advised to reserve in advance, especially during the busiest seasons of the year, to guarantee a space and reduce wait times. The cost might vary based on the operator, the length of the safari, and the number of passengers in the vehicle.

Experience with Jeep Safaris: Jeep safaris are led by skilled drivers and trackers familiar with the park and usually run between two and four hours. Early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the animals are most active, is when the safari experience begins. Open-sided, specifically made jeeps are used for jeep safaris, giving tourists a clear view of the animals and surroundings. In addition, to provide a safe and pleasurable experience, the jeeps are outfitted with comfortable seating and safety equipment.

Tips for a Great Safari Experience: These are some suggestions to remember to guarantee a wonderful safari trip.

  • Dress comfortably and light-weight by the climate.
  • Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bug repellent.
  • Bring binoculars and a camera to record any animal observations.
  • To guarantee a secure and pleasurable experience, adhere to the driver’s and tracker’s instructions.
  • Respect wildlife and their natural environment by staying away from them.
Bird Watching

Udawalawe National Park is a birdwatcher’s dream, providing the chance to witness some of Sri Lanka’s most exquisite and uncommon bird species. When birding at Udawalawe National Park, respecting the birds and their natural environment is crucial while adhering to the park’s laws and regulations. Avoid disturbing the birds by making loud noises, making rapid movements, or utilising flash photography. Moreover, be careful to dispose of any litter properly to minimise any environmental damage. These are just a handful of the many bird species that may be seen at Udawalawe National Park.

Grey-headed Fish Eagle: a massive bird of prey frequently spotted sitting high in a tree, looking for fish in the water below.

Crested Serpent Eagle: Another raptor that may be seen swooping high over the park in search of prey.

Indian Peafowl: the national bird of India, these colourful birds can be seen strutting around the park, showing off their vibrant feathers.

Malabar Pied Hornbill:  a large, colourful bird with a unique curved beak that can be seen flying around the park.

Sri Lanka Junglefowl: a brightly coloured bird with a distinctive crest on its head, similar to a rooster.

Brown-capped Babbler: a small, social bird that can be seen hopping around on the forest floor, foraging insects.

Little Green Bee-eater: a small bird with striking green and yellow plumage that can be seen perched on a branch or flying around, catching insects.

White-bellied Sea Eagle: a large bird of prey that can be seen soaring above the water, searching for fish.

Black-headed Ibis: a wading bird with distinctive black feathers on its head that can be seen searching for food in the wetlands.

Common Kingfisher: a small bird with bright blue and orange plumage that can be seen diving into the water to catch fish.

Visit the Elephant Transit Home

A unique conservation initiative called The Elephant Transit Home is next to Udawalawe National Park. The effort attempts to save, treat, and release orphaned newborn elephants back into the wild. Here’s all you need to know about visiting the Elephant Transport Home. Around 5 kilometres from the Udawalawe gate, The Elephant Transit House is situated close to Udawalawe National Park. The house is in the vital elephant habitat region, the UdaWalawe National Park buffer zone. Daily feedings are open to the public at 10.30 a.m., 2.30 p.m., and 6 p.m. You may purchase entry tickets at the ETH ticket booth—no need for early reservations.

The following are the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home ticket prices:

  • For Foreigner Adult: USD 5 Child: USD 3 (below 12 years old)
  • For locals: 100LKR for adults and 50LKR for children

Visit Udawalawe Dam

The large reservoir Udawalawe Dam is next to Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka. The Dam was built in the 1960s across the Walawe River, which flows through the island’s southernmost region. The Dam’s primary function is to supply water for hydroelectric power production and agriculture.

At 100 metres tall and 665 metres long, the Udawalawe Dam is a striking structure. The Dam’s reservoir, which can hold more than 140 million cubic metres of water, is pretty sizable. Moreover, the reservoir is a well-liked location for fishing and picnics because of the verdant green woodlands that surround it.

One of the primary advantages of the Udawalawe Dam is that it has assisted in irrigating vast tracts of land in Sri Lanka’s southern region that were previously arid and unfit for agriculture. Almost 30,000 hectares of agricultural land are now supplied with water by the Dam, which has also boosted the local economy.

The Udawalawe Dam offers more than only valuable advantages; it also has beautiful scenery. Tourists may stroll around the Dam and take in expansive views of the surrounding landscape. In addition, the Dam is charming around sunset, when the sky becomes orange and pink, making for an incredible backdrop for photos.

Camping Experience near Udawalawe National Park 

Camping near Udawalawe National Park offers visitors the opportunity to experience the wildlife and natural beauty up close, with the sounds of the jungle as the backdrop to a memorable camping trip. With its diverse ecosystem and abundance of wildlife, camping in Udawalawe National Park is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Both adults and kids who visit the enticing Udawalawe National Park are keen to stay at least one night at one of the park’s four primary campgrounds. 

Our Top three Picks for Camping places to book your next trip to Udawalawe 

Mahoora – Udawalawe by Eco Team: Level 1 Safe & Secure offers tents with contemporary and private bathing amenities, a bed, and a private patio near the eastern edge of Udawalwe National Park in Sri Lanka. An intimate jungle dining experience and barbecued food cooked over a campfire are available to guests. Book Now 

Greenwood Wild Camping: offers accommodations with a garden, a bar, and room service for your convenience and is 15 kilometres from Udawalawe National Park. Complimentary Internet and private parking are available at the campground. Book Now 

Big Game – Udawalawe by Eco Team: The campsite is 45 minutes from the Elephant transit station and 30 minutes from the park’s main gate. Bandaranaike International Airport is 111 miles from Colombo, around 101 miles distant. Book Now 

Best Time to Visit Udawalawe National Park

Depending on your interests and preferences, there may be an optimal time to visit the park. For example, while the rainy season, which lasts from October to January, is suitable for birding, the dry season, which lasts from May to September, is the best time to see animals. On the other hand, if you want to stay away from crowds while still having an opportunity to see animals, the shoulder season, which runs from February to April, is a fantastic choice. No matter what time of year you travel there, Udawalawe National Park will surely give you an unforgettable glimpse of Sri Lanka’s breathtaking natural splendour. The ideal time to visit Udawalawe National Park is detailed below.

Dry Season (May to September): The best time to visit Udawalawe National Park is during the dry season, which lasts from May to September. The park is less humid, and there is less precipitation during this period, making it simpler to see animals as it gathers around water sources. The dry season also offers improved visibility for safari outings and photography.

Wet Season (October to January): If you appreciate birding, the rainy season, which lasts from October to January, is still an excellent time to visit Udawalawe National Park. There are fewer people than during the dry season, and the park’s vegetation and animals are lush and bright. Unfortunately, the continuous rains can make some areas of the park inaccessible, and it can be challenging to observe wildlife because it is distributed across the park.

Shoulder Season (February to April): If you want to escape the crowds of the dry season while still having a chance to see wildlife, the shoulder season, which lasts from February to April, is a perfect time to visit Udawalawe National Park. The park is less busy, and the weather is moderate, creating a more tranquil atmosphere. Nevertheless, some park areas could be closed due to upkeep or attempts to preserve the species.

How to Reach Udawalawe National Park

The southern region of Sri Lanka has the Udawalawe National Park, which is conveniently reachable by road. The many routes to Udawalawe National Park are shown here. However, it’s crucial to remember that the streets going to Udawalawe National Park are sometimes small and twisting. Therefore, you should hire an experienced driver or use a bus instead of driving yourself. For a safe voyage, it’s also critical to adhere to traffic laws and speed restrictions.

By Car: The most convenient method to access Udawalawe National Park is via vehicle. The park is 170 kilometres from Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city. You may rent a car or take a cab/ Tuk Tuk to the park. Depending on traffic, the trip takes from 4-5 hours. 

If you travel from Ella, Ella and Udawalawe distance of around 70 kilometres, the trip there might take up to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. However, you’ll travel through several picturesque regions and small towns, so take your time and enjoy the ride. Also, since few gas stations are along the road, filling up your tank before leaving Ella is a brilliant idea.

By Bus: Using a bus is another way to get to Udawalawe National Park. From Colombo to Udawalawe, buses run every five to six hours. Additional buses go from other significant cities, including Galle, Matara, and Hambantota.

Sure, you may take a bus from Ella to Udawalawe. However, if you carry luggage, the bus ride can be congested, protracted, and uncomfortable. Yet, it is less expensive than using a cab or renting a vehicle. Also, it’s a great chance to interact with people and experience local transportation.

Via train: Although there isn’t a direct train to Udawalawe National Park, you may take a train to the nearest station at Matara. You may get to the park via bus or cab from Matara. From Colombo to Matara, the train ride takes three to four hours.

Places to Visit near the Udawalawe National Park 

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