Sri Lanka is nature’s best-kept secret when it comes to wildlife. While most of us would associate animal safaris with Africa but Sri Lanka does boast of some great safaris in the spectacular national parks spread across the island. Sri Lanka has the highest density of wild Asian elephants worldwide and each national park has its own set of frequently spotted animals and birds. If you are considering the southern part of Sri Lanka and want to enjoy watching elephants in the wild without too many tourists around, then Udawalawe National Park is where you should be heading.

Being the third most visited national park in Sri Lanka, Udawalawe National Park is located about 200 kilometers from Colombo. The park was initially constructed as a refuge for elephants who were displaced when the Udawalawe reservoir was constructed. It is believed that about 300-400 elephants live in and around this National Park making it one of the best parks to observe herds of elephants. The park is also home to many endemic species of birds and the reservoir attracts a lot of migratory birds and migratory birds.

The heart of this national park is the reservoir that not only creates a beautiful backdrop along with the distant mountains but is also the meeting point for the animals and birds, early morning and in the evening. Rustic dusty tracks from the entrance led us to the sudden calming view of the reservoir as we were driven in our mighty safari jeep. The unsteady roads are surrounded by bushes and trees and are perfect hiding spots to avoid the heat of the day.

We saw quite a few peacocks, snakes, eagles along the road before spotted our first herd of the day. An elephant family with two large animals and two baby ones just crossed the road in front of us to reach a small puddle of water. While we were awed by their magnanimity and beauty, they seemed to be quite indifferent to us, carrying on with their usual business. Realizing the sheer fact that we were surrounded by such large and some very dangerous animals suddenly made the journey even more thrilling.

Our next stop was the reservoir where we saw a group of crocodiles basking in the sun. A treasure trove of wildlife wonders, we could see flocks of cormorants, the Spot-billed Pelican, Asian open-bill, Black-headed Ibis and Eurasian spoonbill in and around the water. There were a variety of eagles flying overhead the large herd of water buffalos that was grazing near the waterbody. The sight looked right out of an animal documentary except that we did not get to see any leopard chases. We were, however, lucky to see another herd of elephants coming out of the nearby bushes to drink water at the lake.

The safari in Udawalawe National Park is short and sweet. The best time to visit is early morning or early evening when you should be able to see herds of animals coming out to the reservoir. Apart from elephants, the park is also famous for leopards, deer, jackals, wild boars and monkeys.

Our Safari was custom-made and by the time we were finished with it, we had a head full of memories that will be cherished for a lifetime especially by our son. For travelers like us, the excitement of traveling begins from the day of researching for unique experiences till we’ve actually experienced the activity in a destination. We will never forget this experience which we booked via a platform called Klook, that offers travelers a seamless way to discover and book popular attractions besides, tours, local transportation, best foods and must-eats, and unique experiences around the world. If you’re an enthusiast traveler and would like to experience this enthralling trip or similar, you can check out www.klook.com or their app (Android/iOS).

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! I’ve always wanted to visit Sri Lanka. Truly we will discover beauty when we travel. We live in a beautiful place! Captivating photos!

  2. I have a friend who traveled to Sri Lanka last year for three years! Looking at your pics and post I can’t wait to go there!

  3. Elephants are truly spectacular creatures. I have never heard of Udawalawe National Park, so thank you for the introduction and informative information. I also never heard ofKlook so again thank you.

  4. This place looks absolutely stunning! I always support parks or sanctuaries that let animals roam around freely and don’t forcibly include them in any profit-making activities like elephant riding. Thank you for sharing, it was a lovely read.

  5. This really sounds like a fantastic place to discover Sri Lanka’s wildlife away from the beaten path. It would be really cool to see the herds of animals coming out to the reservoir in the early morning! I hope we can visit this park when we travel to Colombo.

  6. Reading a lot of blogs regarding different places to travel in Sri Lanka changed a lot my perspectives about the place. I would love to visit this country one day and see these beautiful wildlife animals.

  7. As had many friend from Sri Lanka telling me how beautiful this country is and by the way you described this particular trip, this a place where I that has a priority on my list

  8. Wow! I wouldn’t have guessed this would have been an option there. To see elephants so close looks like such an amazing experience! Def pinning this for later.

  9. Putrajini, this is really an awesome experience. I always think of my nephew whenever I read a post like this. He loves animals, and I love that they let these animals roam around freely and not in cages or straps around their neck. I hope we could visit this place someday.

  10. What an amazing place!! I had no idea that Sri Lanka had so many great places to see wildlife. I’d love to see an Asian elephant in the wild. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I have never been there but this Udawalwe National Park is so beautiful. You were able to see and learn from those animals and I am sure my kids would love to see this.

  12. I have always wanted to visit Sri Lanka as I heard so many great stories about this country. My sister in law just went last year and told us about how many mountain they have conquered. They love the experience so much. Udawalawe National Park is somewhere I would love to visit as I like to see wild animals.

  13. This is incredible! I was considering going to Sri Lanka during my upcoming travels and you just sold me on it! I had no idea there were so many elephants there. I must see it for myself! lol

  14. Yikes! Snakes along the road! But what an absolutely amazing place to visit! A friend is going soon so I’ll suggest this National Park – Sri Lanka is top of my list! Thanks for sharing!

  15. I am always biased when it comes to nature reserves and safari parks as I believe we have the best in South Africa; however your article about the Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka has definitely made me appreciate that our world is filled with beauty! I love the look of the mountains in the background!

  16. What an amazing experience. I’ve done a lot of things and traveled to a lot of places, but a safari is still not checked off of my bucket list. I’d love to go on this tour.

  17. Wow! I can only imagine that this was an amazing experience – to be so close to these animals, so humbling! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos! 🙂

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