On Safari!: An Epic Day At Udawalawe National Park

You weren’t going to visit Sri Lanka and not go on a safari, were you?! An elephant safari has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and was actually a big draw to Sri Lanka for me. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Seeing huge and rare animals in the masses in their wild habitat was awesome. I had heard Udawalawe National Park is one of the places in the world to see elephants, and as soon as we entered the park, we were greeted by a herd of 5!

Tips for an epic day safari at Udawalawe

What Animals You Might See

There is said to be around 300 elephants living in Udawalawe National Park, and they travel in herds of up to 50. Udawalawe is your best bet at seeing elephants in the wild in Sri Lanka. Additionally, we got to watch several water buffalo, deer, peacocks, mongoose and many species of birds that live in symbiotic relationship with the mammals. We even spotted a little crocodile!

Getting Around Udawalawe

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As I was on safari leading a retreat group at nearby Talalla Retreat, we had our organizer set up a Super Jeep experience complete with a guide to tell us all about the wildlife. I definitely recommend doing this over renting a car and driving through the park, as you’ll be happy to be in a big vehicle without the task of driving. A quick Google search will return many similar safari companies, expect to pay around $30 per person.

On top of the transportation, you’ll need to pay the park entry fee which is 4400 LKR per person, and goes down the larger your group is.

Udawalawe Vs. Yala National Park

Chances are you’re trying to decide between a safari to Udawalawe or Yala National Park. While both provide great chances at seeing wildlife, I chose Udawalawe because it is about a third of the size and therefore less crowded than Yala. Leopard sightings are more popular however at Yala, so you can choose what’s best for you!

The Landscape

Aside from getting really lucky and seeing loads of animals on our safari, I also really enjoyed the landscape that the national park offers. It’s lush and green with vast grasslands and marshes and random barren trees. The space is remote yet so alive with life all around.

You really don’t want to miss this beautiful part of the country while you’re here. For more to do and see, check out my full Guide to Adventure in Southern Sri Lanka!