Udawalawe National Park is the third most visited park in Sri Lanka, and is located approximately 200 km south east of Colombo. Lying on the boundary of Uva and Sabaragamuwa Provinces, the park is a major eco tourism destination in Sri Lanka, and spans over 30,000 hectares. It lies on the boundary of Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones, with a great diversity of flora and fauna. Udawalawe was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced during development of the reservoir on the Walawe river nearby.
The only way to experience the wonders of this protected reserve is by guided safaris with open top 4WD jeeps, which lets you see far and wide. The park is an excellent location to observe Asian elephants, with a population of around 350 in the entire area. There is no seasonal variation with the elephants, so you are bound to see them year-round, weather permitting. Although the main attraction here are the elephants, there are opportunities to see a variety of other animals such as buffalos, crocodiles, boars, and spotted deers. Bird watching is a delight here – there are over 180 species of birds including quite hawk eagles, serpent eagles and fish eagles. Endemic birds such as the Sri lanka Spurfowl, Grey Hornbill and Junglefowl can also be seen here.
The Uda Walawe Elephant Transit Home is an elephant orphanage situated near the Udawalawe Reservoir. Established by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, the home rehabilitates abandoned baby elephants, with the aim of releasing them into their natural habitat when they are five years old. At the transit home the elephants are allowed to roam freely, and have sufficient food, water and medicine.
There are several hotels located near the national park. We recommend Centuria, Grand Udawalawe and Kalu’s Hideaway. Those that prefer luxury camping will be delighted with Mahoora Udawalawe.