An Udawalawe Safari Tour is a perfect way to get up close and personal with some of Sri Lanka’s most exotic wildlife.
The Udawalawe National Park is a sanctuary that covers 31,000 hectares and it’s an important habitat for many species of birds, water buffalo, crocodiles and elephants. The Udawalawe National Park is 165 km from Colombo and 95km from Matara.
An elephant on the Udawalawe safari tour
WHERE TO STAY AT UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK
The best place to stay is in Udawalawa, a small town which is located 10km away from the entrance to the Udawalawe National Park. The best time of day to do the Udawalawe Safari is when the park opens at 6am, so it is ideal to stay one night in the nearby town of Udawalawa and be ready for an early start.
There are also camping options available in the area which is a great experience that I highly recommend. My friends and I stayed one night at a campground called Makulu Safari Camping. Our accommodation for the night was a safari tent on the edge of a river bed, nestled in the jungle. The tents are raised off the ground on a wooden deck with 2 large double beds and a bathroom inside. This place has some magic about it. Surrounded by coconut palms, beautiful flora and fauna and the staff are super kind and welcoming. We paid AUD $60 split between 4 people and breakfast was AUD $10 each. Definitely go and check this place out, I promise you will not regret it!
Camping out at Udawalawe Safari
Breakfast is served at Makulu Safari Camp
WHERE TO BOOK AN UDAWALAWE SAFARI
Most Udawalawe Safari Tours can be booked through your accommodation when you arrive. The cheapest option is to share a Jeep with some other people staying at the same accommodation as you. The approximate cost of a Jeep that seats 6-8 people is 6,000 Rupees (AUD $60). The entrance fee to Udawalawe National Park is 3,500 Rupees (AUD $35). I booked my Udawalawe Safari through the staff at Makulu Safari Camping which was really convenient.
ARRIVING TO UDAWALAWE SAFARI
My morning started at 5:30 am. I had breakfast and tea at the Makulu Safari Camp before jumping in the back of the Jeep to make my way to the entrance of Udawalawe National Park. There were quite a number of Jeeps already in line to enter the park and straight away I thought that we would be in line for ages and then once entering that we would be behind a conga line of other Jeeps. This wasn’t the case luckily. We waited in line for around 20 minutes and then once we entered the national park our driver took us on our own track away from the other Jeeps.
The dirt roads inside the park are quite bumpy though our driver was considerate of this and drove appropriately over the bumpy sections. The fog was very thick at the beginning of the safari but then eased off as the sun began to rise. Whenever I spotted some wildlife, I would yell out to the driver and he would stop the Jeep and turn the ignition off so I was able to take some photos and videos.
The Uawalawe Safari Tour takes around 3-4 hours and as I said earlier, the best time to do the safari is early morning. This is the first safari I have been on and it definitely did not disappoint.
Looking for elephants on the Udawalawe Safari
Water buffalo on the Udawalawe Safari Tour
Another elephant inside the Udawalawe National Park
WHAT TO EXPECT AT UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK
There were hundreds of peacock’s either perched high on the branches of a dead tree or scurrying around in the bushes below. There are many different bird species that call this place home and a passionate bird watcher would be in heaven on this safari. I also spotted several crocodiles as we approached the reservoir inside the park and not too far away was a herd of water buffaloes drinking from the lake.
But of course, the main attraction on the Udawalawe Safari is the Sri Lankan elephants. There are approximately 600 male and female elephants roaming around so your chances are very high that you will come across these magnificent creatures. Our driver was communicating on the phone to the other drivers inside the park to seek out the elephants. I was fortunate enough to encounter 15 elephants and even though stepping out of the vehicle is prohibited, we still managed to get as close as we possibly could to the elephants.
Sri Lankan elephants at the Udawalawe National Park
A huge crocodile we spotted on the Udawalawe Safari
Saw lots of these peacocks on the Udawalawe Safari
HERE IS THE EXACT PIN LOCATION OF UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST NEAR UDAWALAWE SAFARI
Be sure to read my 2 week Sri Lanka Itinerary Guide to discover the best locations that Sri Lanka has to offer.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you have any questions about the Udawalawe Safari please drop me a comment below.
Happy Adventuring 🙂