Kaudulla national park Sri Lanka
Kaudulla national park of Sri Lanka’s north-central province is home mountains, lakes and crystal-clear water, and is one of the best places in the world to see elephants.
Kaudulla national park is one of the national parks on the island for an up-close encounter with wild elephants. The national park is nestled in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka and surrounded by hundreds of historical monuments, is absolutely stunning.
History of Kaudulla
Kaudulla tank, which dates back to the 11th century is one of the most important irrigations works in Sri Lanka and surrounded by the thick forest. Part of the Kaudulla forest is a mountain, which cascades down to the lakeshore, the mist-covered forested mountain rises up in the background and crystal-clear waters teeming with fish.
The extent of Kaudulla National park
The Kaudulla national park, one of Sri Lanka’s most remote and one of its most alluring, is an important hideout for wild elephants. The wild elephant population in the park estimated to be around 1000, and they are spreading over a 6900 ha. Kaudualla is not included in most Sri Lanka trip packages and it is offered as an optional activity.
Kaudulla, Minneriya and eco-park
Kaudulla national park, Minneriya national park and eco-park Sigiriya are 3 important wildlife reserves located near each other. They are connected to each other with elephant corridors. These elephant corridors are passages that enable the wild creatures to change their habitat between this trio at any time they wish. The wild elephants change their habitat due to many reasons such as food, water, flood, safety etc.
Spotting wild elephants in Kaudulla
Due to the large concentrations of wild elephants, it is not a challenge to spot wild elephants in the park at any time of the year. However, the dry season is the best time of the year to spot wild elephants at Kaudulla because during the rainy season jumbos retreat to the interiors of the national park, where the ground is drier.
What to wear
Cotton trouser, Cotton t-shirt, and hat and a surgical mask is the new norm for the visitors of Kaudulla park and prepare yourself for some sweaty, and warm ride through the dense vegetation.
You may not see any wild elephants until your driver takes you to the area where elephants gather. The water holes and the Kaudulla lake is the best place to spot elephants at Kaudulla national park. Usually, elephants spend a lot of time in the flatland near the park, where the undergrowth is less dense, where they get plenty of grass to feed themselves. Elephants gather in great numbers near the lake, sometimes in many hundreds.
You should not necessarily be at the lake to spot elephants in the park. They can occur at any place in the park. You might encounter wild elephants as you drive through the park and the elephant might turn up from the woods without any signal. The experience itself is captivating: almost without warning, an elephant brushes past you on the trail, several individuals become visible in between trees and bushes. Time stops, and the three to four-hours safari permit by park authorities is over in a flash.
During the rainy season, parallel to the north-east monsoon, from November to February, the wild elephants keep away from the lake due to the rising water level, immediate surrounding areas of the lake also comes underwater. Therefore, wild creatures move deep into the jungle and avoid the muddy ground. On the other hand, it is difficult to extract grass from the muddy ground, which is another reason for them to abandon the flooded area.
During the rainy season, the elephant may switch their residence eco-park, which remains dry throughout the year, even during the highest rainfall. The trails of Minneriya and Kaudulla get saturated during heavy rainfall, and trails may become unpleasantly muddy and slippery.
In between elephant tracking expeditions, Kaudulla lake beckons for bird watching and crocodile-spotting forays. Kaudulla national park is home to a large number of bird species, immediate surrounding of the lake is the main lodge of the birds living in the park.
More than 2/3 of the bird species occurring in Sri Lankan, numbering 160 species of bird can be witnessed here. Large aqua bird species such as spot-billed pelican and lesser adjutant are very common birds in the vicinity of Kaudulla tank. The forest around the lake is full of birds, with hornbills, kingfishers and many more all readily seen on the safari.
In the evening, the setting is magical as the sun sets over the Mountain in the distance, and tiny lights from Firefly (disambiguation), flicker across the lake. The mountain of Kaudulla park rises about 1000 meters from the ground but it is not ready for an adventure as its not climbable.
The elephant is the most common animals in the park while Sri Lankan sambar deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, chevrotain, wild boar, Sri Lankan leopard, and sloth bear and many other creatures are also wandering in the park. 24 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 160 species of bird are recorded in the national park.
Kaudulla forest reserve is home to grey slender loris, which is very rare to find in the world and it is at the brink of extinction, can be spotted in the park very rarely. This creature occurs only a very few places in southern Asia, in fact, biologists believed that it disappeared from the world many years ago.
More common are land monitors, and mongoose, Sri Lanka axis deer and warthog. Polonnaruwa, the closes major town, is 34km south of Kaudulla along A11 main road. However, the drive to Kaudulla is much easier and quicker on 21km journey from Habarana on A6 highway, Habarana a small town near Sigiriya. The remoteness of the national park makes it is fun to get to and from the park, you can take a scenic jeep tour amidst the pristine forest cover from Polonnaruwa (1 hour) or from Habarana (30 minutes).
You can hire a safari jeep, which are 4-wheel drive jeeps that specially designed to travel in the park, for a regular 3 hours jeep safari or a full day jeep safari. The jeep can be booked from Habarana, Polonnaruwa or Sigiriya and the charges may differ depending on the pickup location.