Sri Lanka Travel Tours

Uda Walawe National Park

Uda Walawe National Park

Sum up

Udawalawe, in Sri Lanka’s south-central sector, is the area that most resembles an African game park. Elephant sightings are pretty much guaranteed in a national park that is conveniently positioned between the southern highlands and the south coast. It centres upon Udawalawe reservoir and although it is about a third of the size (at around 300sqkm) and less well known than Yala, it can be somewhat quieter and it generally packs a punch. Opened in 1972, as Sri Lanka’s fifth national park, It is open all year round for safaris even in the dry season in September and October. The nearby Elephant Transit Home is another attraction with good ethical credentials.

Duration: 3 hours

Best Time: Year-round

Additional Information

Wildlife reports say there are more than 500 elephants in the park and they often roam in herds of up to 100. Buffalo, deer and sloth bears keep them company along with mongooses, bandicoots, foxes, water monitor lizards and crocodiles. A few leopards can be found in Udawalawe but they are rarer than Yala. A half-day tour in your own private jeep with driver and guide is the best way to see what the game park has to offer. The landscape is varied, consisting of marshes, scrublands, forests, hilly areas and open grasslands. Most nearby accommodation is mid-range but there are plenty of upmarket choices if you are prepared to drive an hour or two after your safari.


Udawalawe is undoubtedly the best place in Sri Lanka to see wild Asian Elephants throughout the year. Unlike other parks, Udawalawe does not have a seasonal variation in elephant numbers and it is easy to encounter a few of them at any time of the year. Morning and evenings are the best time to visit the park and late evenings give the best lighting for photography with amazing sun sets. Other mammals that can be seen include Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Jackal, Samber, Water Buffalo, Black-naped Hare, the endemic Toque Macaque and Gray Langers. If lucky, you can also see Leopard and some of the other smaller cats like Fishing cat & Jungle cat.


Udawalawe can be one of the best places to see the dry zone avifauna of Sri Lanka. By spending just two days in the park you can easily see over a 100 species during the migrant season. Udawalawe is specially known for its many species of Raptors. Some of the common birds seen include Spot-billed Pelican (Globally threatened) Little Cormorant, Grey Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Large Egret, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Painted Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Green Bee-eater, Crested Tree-swift; Common, White-throated, Pied and Stork-billed Kingfisher; Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Ceylon Green Pigeon, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Crimson-backed Woodpecker, Black-shouldered Kite, Brahaminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Serpent Eagle, migrants include Booted Eagle, Common Kestral, Harries, Rosy Starlings, Black-capped Kingfisher, Wood Sand Piper, Common Sand Piper, Little Ringed Plover, Whiskered Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Forest Wagtail & Citrain Wagtail.


Being in the Dry Zone, Udawalawe is home to many species of butterflies of Sri Lanka including the beautiful Banded Peacock that is attracted to the host plant – the Satin Tree which is found in the park. Other species found here include the Common Jezebel, Common Indian Crow, many species of ‘Yellows and Whites’ Common Mormon, and in the riverine forest areas Common Blue-bottle can also be seen. Udawalawe has become a haven for Butterflies in the resent past with the large number of ‘Lantan’ trees which have taken over the vegetation of the park. This being an invasive species to the park it is considered a pest; extensive work is being carried out by the park authorities husband this tree. It cannot be eaten by any of the herbivores in the park and competes with the endemic trees. However the flowers the Lantan are a big favourite of all the butterflies and the birds.

Popular Activities

Leave a Comment