Udawalawe Safari Tours, best place to see elephants in sri lanka

Udawalawe Safari

Wildlife reserves are always being very popular in Sri Lanka wildlife tours and they offer a valuable opportunity to see wild creatures in its natural habitat. Udawalawe is one of the popular wildlife reserves among the 2 dozens of national parks in Sri Lanka. This off the beaten track tourist attraction is loved by a large number of foreign tourists. Unlike most other national parks such as Yala, it is not overcrowded and wild animals do not encounter hordes of tourist every day. That’s the most interesting part of Udawalawe safari.

Where is the Udawalawe national park?

The national park tucked away from Colombo towards the interior of the island. Udawalawe safari has become one of the very interesting activities on the island, especially for foreign travellers. Venturing on an Udawalawe safari allows the tourist to sport a large number of wild elephants, numbering hundreds most of the time.

Udawalawe safari from teh beach resort

It is very easy to visit Udawalawe national park from popular beach resorts on the southern and western coast. Therefore Udawalawe safari and beach holiday on the west coast or southern coast is a very good combination. If you are looking for a Sri Lanka one day trip from Colombo, Udawalawe would be a good option, however, it is necessary to leave Colombo early morning. You can also add Udawalawe safari to your road trip such as 5 days Sri Lanka trip or one week Sri Lanka trip.

Udawalawe national park is a popular for Sri Lanka one day trips, due to its proximity to west and south coast of Sri Lanka. Udawalawe safari is also a very good alternative to Yala wildlife tour. When the Yala national park is closed during the drought, the tourist traffic heads to Udawalawe national park, Which located neat Yala national park and offers similar wildlife experience.

Observing wild animals is a very popular activity among the foreign travellers of Sri Lanka and the government authorities have taken many steps to promote wildlife tourism on the island. Sri Lanka is a good place to spot many species wild animals such as leopards, bear, crocodile, monkey, jackal…the list goes on.

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Udawalawe safari one of the best program for the beach holiday lovers

There are many dozens of wildlife reserves that are suitable for Sri Lanka safari tour. Udawalawe safari tours are particularly popular on the island due to location of Udawalawe national park. Udawalawe national park is located in the Sabaragamuwa province, which can be easily reached from west and south coast resorts. Udawalawe safari is the best wildlife activity for travellers stay in west coast beach resorts, south coast beach resorts as well as Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela and other mountain resorts mainly due to the convenience of reaching it.

The Udawalawe national park is one of the places to explore the fascinating wildlife of Sri Lanka. The Udawalawe national park is one of the biggest national parks in the island and occupies a 978 km of dry-zone forests in southern Sri Lanka.

Udawalawe consists mainly of dry-zone and arid zone forests. The park is situated at the south-west part of the island in the Sabaragamuwa province. A dominant feature of Udawalawe national park is the formation of huge granite rocks formations with caves. These rocks are so big, they resemble small mountains.

Vast plains and lakes with shimmering water are a great spectacle and provide a great opportunity to photographers. These plains are occupied by many species of animals such as wild buffaloes, elephants, deer, crocodile etc and lakes are occupied by a large number of bird species such as Flamingo, pelican, whistling thrust, buffaloes and crocodiles.

What to do in udawalawe?

  • Jeep safari at Udawalawe national park
  • Visiting Udawalawe elephant transit camp
  • Visiting Sankpala temple

Sri Lanka Safari Udawalawe-what do we see?

The Udawalawe park is one of the popular wildlife reserves in Sri Lanka and included in many Sri Lanka beach and wildlife exploration tour packages. Udawalawe is is a laid-back village and most popular due to the Udawalawe national park.

The national park is very popular for Elephant safari and enables the travellers to see a large gathering of wild elephants. The Udawalawe park can be easily reached from any beach resorts located in west and southern sea border, therefore Udawalawe safari tours are a very popular short program that can be booked from western and southern Sri Lankan beach resorts.

Where is the Udawalawe national park?

Due to its convenient location in the Sabaragamuwa province, Udawalawe safari tours are the best wildlife activity for travellers stay in west coast beaches, south coast beaches as well as Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela and other mountain resorts. Undoubtedly the most popular safari tour on the island is Yala safari while Udawalawe safari tours rank the second for best wildlife exploration. The national park is located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, and it has a picturesque majestic mountain range in the background.

Udawalawe park nestled in the cradle of the Ruhuna Rata and epic Sabaragamuwa Province filled with an abundance of antiquity from relics of Dagobas, stone anicuts (sluice), carved motifs on pillars and Brahmi inscriptions, ancient rock cave hermitage (like those in Madunagala, Karambagala, Bambaragala, Sankapala) and finally interlaced with nature’s bounty of scenic mountain frontiers. The ancient concept of the Dagoba, weva (Tabk), keth yaya (rice field) has been well portrayed in this historic region.

Udawalawe reservoir

Udawalawe reservoir is another important part of the national park. It provides water for wild animals throughout the year.  The combination of Udawalawe reservoir, national park and the mountain range in the backdrop makes an awe-inspiring sight that you will not find anywhere else in Sri Lanka.

You encounter the huge Udawalawe reservoir even before you step in into the national park. Today reservoir is the lifeblood of the region since it is the main source of water for agriculture. There is a good chance of spotting many species of aquatic birds around the reservoir.

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Sri Lankan safari Udawalawe – What is the best time of the year?

The best period to visit the national park is from November to April in parallel to the peak holiday season on the west coast. During this time the national park is relatively dry and has a good chance of spotting animals. During the raining, the terrain is very difficult to drive due to the muddy and slippery surface. During the peak-season be prepared to encounter a considerable number of foreign travellers, who spend their winter holiday in Sri Lanka. During the off-peak, the park is visited a very limited number of travellers.

Udawalawe safari morning or afternoon

Safari can be done in the morning and afternoon. This dry-zone national park is not very suitable for mid-day safari as the animals move to shady areas in order to avoid the midday heat. The animal movement also very minimal during the midday making it difficult to spot animals. Therefore in order to have a best Sri Lanka safari at Udawalawe national park, it is recommended to start your wildlife adventure early morning or afternoon.

Udawalawe sunrise safari

Udawalawe sunrise safari or the early morning safari starts between 05.00 am to 05.30 am. This is the best tome to starts the udawalawe safari if you can, thereby you can cover much of the ground in the park before the heat buildup.

Udawalawe leopards

Leopard is the biggest carnivore on the island and they are restricted to national parks and wildlife reserved. Leopards are occurring in most national parks on the island, however, it is very difficult to spot them in the jungle. Although there are few leopards in Udawalawe, it is a well-known fact that udawalawe is not a place to spot leopards and Udawalawe is popular for spotting Elephants. If you like to spot leopards you should head on to Yala national park further south from Udawalawe.

Udawalawe elephant

Udwalawe is mainly an elephant spotting wildlife reserve, where the visitors can spot a large number of an elephant within a short period of time. Therefore, Udawalawe elephant safari is very popular among travellers.

Udawalawe safari jeep contact number -0094-77-4440977

Best time start your Sri Lanka safari Udawalawe

  • 5.00 am to 6.00 am
  • 2.00 pm to 3.00 pm
Places to visit in Sri Lanka in 3 days

Udawalawe safari day tours from Ella

Sri Lanka one day safari Udawalawe is a one of the very popular activity among the travellers that visit mountain resort, Ella. Most travellers stay in Ella and make short trips to various places of Sri Lanka.

Udawalawe national park is one of the very popular attractions for those travellers, who stay in Ella due to the convenience of travelling to the national park. The distance from Ella to Udawalawe national park is just 90 km and it takes only 2 hours to reach Udawalawe form Ella. Therefore Udawalawe safari is very suitable for one day tour from Ella.

Which Udawalawe safari package should I Book?

udawalawe safari tour should not be restricted to a wildlife experience because it can be combined with many other activities such as visiting temples, historical monuments, tea plantations, Forts and many more. Therefore it is suitable for all age range and suitable Sri Lankan adventure in for families, couples as well as individual travellers.

Udawalawe safari package is available in many variations. Whatever the Udawalawe safari package you book try to avoid the midday heat because it can considerably limit the number of animals that you encounter in the park. The Udawalawe safari package available as a standalone activity for the travellers, who can reach the national park themselves.

Most Sri Lanka tour operators organize Udawalawe safari package from beach resorts and central highland and the prices may differ based on the beach resort you stay. These Udawalawe safari packages include hotels transfer as well as the jeep safari at the National park. Here are a few most popular Udawalawe safari packages.

1.Udawalawe safari package from the Colombo

Udawalawe safari package from Colombo USD 110 P.P based on 2 persons – The safari package start early morning due to the distance to cover on the trip (180 km). The pick up from the hotel in Colombo at 04.00 am and you will reach the national park at 06.00 am and start the Udawalawe jeep safari.

  • 04.00 am Meet the driver/guide at the resort and start the journey
  • 07.00 am Reach national park and purchase the entrance ticket
  • 07.15 am Start the Udawalawe jeep safari
  • 10.15 am Finish jeep safari and start the return journey
  • 12.00 am Visit Saman Devala, which is one of the oldest Buddhist temples on the island
  • 02.00 pm Reach your hotel in Colomb0

2.Udawalawe safari package from Kalutara

Udawalawe safari package from Kalutara USD 90 P.P based on 2 persons– The distance to cover from Kalutara to Udawalwe (142 km) is little less than the distance from Colombo to Udawalawe. You can reach the national park in 2 hours drive from your hotel, and the tour starts at 04.00 am.

  • 04.00 am Meet the driver/guide at the resort and start the journey
  • 06.30 am Reach national park and purchase the entrance ticket
  • 06.45 am Start the Udawalawe jeep safari
  • 09.45 am Finish jeep safari and start the return journey
  • 11.45 am Visit Saman Devala, which is one of the oldest Buddhist temples on the island
  • 01.30 pm Reach your hotel in Kalutara

3.Udawalawe safari package from Bentota

Udawalawe safari package from Bentota USD 110 P.P based on 2 persons – you have to travel 180 km on this safari tour to Udawalawe from a beach resort in Bentota. the early morning journey will take around 2 hours 30 minutes. However, the return journey might take around 3 hours due to the busy roads.

  • 04.00 am Meet the driver/guide at the resort and start the journey
  • 07.00 am Reach national park and purchase the entrance ticket
  • 07.15 am Start the Udawalawe jeep safari
  • 10.15 am Finish jeep safari and start the return journey
  • 11.20 am Visit Gall Fort and make a walking tour
  • 01.30 pm Reach your beach resort

4.Udawalawe safari package from Galle

Udawalawe safari package from Mirissa/Galle USD 75 P.P based on 2 persons – It is very convenient to reach Udawalawe national park from beach resorts such as Galle and Mirissa on the south coast. It juts 125 km to Udawalawe from the south coast and it takes only 1 hour 30 minutes to reach the national park. This one-day Udawalawe safari tour start at 5.00 am from beach resorts on the south and finish at around 03.00 pm.

  • 05.00 am Meet the driver/guide at the resort and start the journey
  • 06.30 am Reach national park and purchase the entrance ticket
  • 06.45 am Start the Udawalawe jeep safari
  • 09.45 am Finish jeep safari and start the return journey
  • 12.45 pm Reach your beach resort

5.Udawalawe national park from mirissa

  • 05.30 am Meet the driver/guide at the resort and start the journey
  • 06.30 am Reach national park and purchase the entrance ticket
  • 06.45 am Start the Udawalawe jeep safari
  • 09.45 am Finish jeep safari and start the return journey
  • 11.45 pm Reach your beach resort

Mirissa is one of the most popular beach resorts on the island not only for leisure holidays but also for wildlife tours such as swimming with sea turtles, whale watching tours etc. Mirissa is located on the deep south of Sri Lanka and it provides easy access to udawalawe national park with less crowded roads. The time takes on the journey from mirissa to udawalawe is just 1 hour.

6.Udawalawe safari package from Ella

Ella is one of the most convenient tourist resorts to start your one-day Udawalawe safari package. This is mainly due to its proximity to the national park. The distance from Ella to udawalawe national park is just 90 km and it takes about 1 hour 30 minutes on the journey. The journey is very convenient between Ella and udawalawe due to the well-maintained road and it is free of traffic most of the time.

  • 05.00 am Meet the driver/guide at the resort and start the journey
  • 06.00 am Reach national park and purchase the entrance ticket
  • 06.15 am Start the Udawalawe jeep safari
  • 09.15 am Finish jeep safari and start the return journey
  • 10.45 am Reach your beach resort

7.Udawalawe safari from Tangalle

  • 05.00 am Meet the driver/guide at the resort and start the journey
  • 06.00 am Reach national park and purchase the entrance ticket
  • 06.15 am Start the Udawalawe jeep safari
  • 09.15 am Finish jeep safari and start the return journey
  • 10.45 am Reach your beach resort

If you spend your holiday on deep south Sri Lanka in a beach resort such as Tangalle, Hambantota and Ranna. It is very easy and convenient to visit Udawalawe national park from your resort. It is between 60-70 km from the most beach resort on the south coast to udawalawe and it takes about 1-hour drive.

How much does it cost for Sri Lanka Safari Udawalawe?

Udawalawe safari tour cost USD 40 per person based on 2-8 persons. The safari tour includes 2 hours jeep safari in the national park and entrance fees, all taxes. You have to report to the main entrance of the national park, where you meet our jeep driver.

Udawalawe Safari Bungalow

If you wish to spend a day or two in the Udawalawe safari bungalow, which located within the park, it will be possible with the permission of the wildlife department. You have to make an advanced booking for Udawalawe safari bungalow with Udawalwawe safari tour.

It is very difficult to grab a chance to have an overnight stay at Udawalawe safari bungalow, due to the high demand. Therefore the travellers, have to reserve the rooms at Udawalawe safari bungalow, well in advance to make sure that they are able to enjoy the fantastic opportunity of sleeping in the untamed wilderness.

Udawalawe safari accommodation

Finding Udawalawe safari accommodation is very easy and it is very affordable too. There are several good hotels (star class hotels) and many other types of accommodation facilities such as cabanas, camping available bordering the Udawalawe Park as Udawalawe safari accommodation.

These options are very good alternatives for expensive Udawalawe safari bungalow. If you wish to find good Udawalawe safari accommodation in a nearby place, you can contact Serendipity tours and they can arrange a convenient location at the very best rate. Seerendipity tours organize daily Sri Lanka safari to Udawalawe national park.

Nature of Sri Lanka Safari Udawalawe

Several tracks are been used during the Udawalawe safari tours by the jeep drivers and rangers, usually, it is a choice of the driver, who look for the best route to encounter a maximum number of creatures. Having a well-experienced jeep driver is large helps you to select the best trails, thereby having a better chance of spotting more animals.

The vegetation of the national park is mainly consisting of various types of grass providing ample foods for Elephants. You will encounter many numbers of wild elephants even before you enter the national park, due to the large concentration of jumbos in Udawalawe. Udawalawe is considered to be one of the best places to spot elephants in Sri Lanka.

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If you go deep into the jungle the vegetations changes dramatically and huge trees with irregular upper canopy are dominating the deeper areas. A number of elephants are also very low in the deep jungle due to the lack of grass and another type of vegetation that elephants love. Here you have the opportunity to spot other animals such as deer, monkey, sambhur, crocodile, leopard and bear instead of elephants.

Sri Lanka Safari Udawalawe -resting places

There are two places to stop your jeep during the safari. There you can get off the vehicle and have a walk in the immediate surroundings. Te travellers are not allowed to get off the vehicles in any other places, during the safari due to the wild animal attacks. There had been several incidents in the past, in which many travellers were killed by wild animals, as they have got off the vehicles during the safari.

Udawalawa Elephant Transit Camp

The Udawalawe Elephant orphanage was started in 1995 in a plot of land bordering the Udawalawa national park Sri Lanka. Udawalawe Elephant orphanage was a project initiated by Department of Wild Life conservation and it was patronized by Born Free Federation of UK, who is also funding the project run by the University of Colombo, in which elephants that are released to the park are being monitors for their behaviour. Orphan elephants are monitored with a special collar, which produces radio signals.

Even though the Udawalawa elephant orphanage shows some similarities to the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala, Udawalawa elephant orphanage is considered to be more nature-friendly compared to its counterpart. In fact, more and more tourist are refusing to visit pinnawala while they are prioritizing the visit to Udawalawa elephant orphanage over pinnawala.

Udawalawa elephant orphanage was introduced to overcome the major disadvantages of the elephant orphanage Pinnawala. One of the serious shortcomings of Pinnawala orphanage is that the animals are not released to the jungle due to their inability to survive, it is mainly due to the living style they practice over many years at pinnawala.

colombo zoo

However, at Udawalawa elephant orphanage, the elephants are allowed to go to the jungle, upon reaching the proper age. It is one of the major setbacks of elephant orphanage Pinnawala, not being able to release the animal to the natural habitat even they are matured. Different lifestyle and feeding habits in the Pinnawala elephant orphanage make it difficult for them to survive in the jungle. Unlike earlier, now the orphan animals are found in the jungle are being brought to the Udawalawa elephant orphanage.

The calves were brought to the Udawalawa elephant orphanage have very limited contact with human and furthermore, the young animals are given the freedom to roam in the jungle when they are fit to walk. Thereby enabling them to be familiar with the natural habitat in the jungle, where they live once they make social contact with a group.

Elephants of the Elephant transit camp are freed in various places in the national park, in small groups. The members of these small groups get separated after a few months and live with the wild animal once they get acquainted the wild herds. Some of the animals carrying the radio-collared enabling to monitor their integration with wild animals.

What are the Bottle-feeding hours at Udawalawa Elephant transit camp?

Orphan calves of the Elephants transit camp can be seen only during the feeding hours when they are fed with milk bottles; 9 AM, 12 Noon, 3 PM and 6 PM. Orphan babies can be viewed from the viewing gallery that is a specially built platform for the visitors. Duration of the feeding is 20 minutes and the animal leave the Elephant transit camp after the feeding.

History of Udawalawe

The Udawalawe region sits on an ancient seat of a bubbling civilization that was the grandeur that was Ruhunu Rata of over 2000 years of history. Relics of these souvenirs of a forgotten heritage lay in the form of dagobas, tanks, stone sluices, stone pillars, Rock cave hermitage, Brahmi inscriptions, sculptures, Moon Stones, cobra stones, and a host of other priceless archaeological artefacts.

The very earliest remains of this ancient civilization date back to the 3rd century B.C of king Mahanaga’s epic reign in the ancient kingdom of Magama in Ruhunu rata. Such relics are those of the Uru Sita Weva ancient stone sluice and it’s Biso Kotuwa. Among the other kings mentioned in the chronicles of Sri Lanka in whose reigns some of these Dagobas and tanks were built are those of King Kavantissa of the 2nd century B.C and Prince Dutugemunu.

bear

In the heart of the Embilipitiya Bazaar, lies the historic site called Kavan Tissa Raja Maha Vihara. The Dagoba is in utter ruins and in the folds of the shrub jungle. Stone and dwarf pillars are scattered here and there. A Nissankamalla’s partly broken inscription slab lies at the site.

The remains of the ancient feature of the Dagoba, weva and keth yaya are still retained, though in ruins. The other dagoba that was significant to Kavantissa temple is the Panamure Raja Maha Vihara on the road to Kolonne about ten miles away from Udawalawe. The next significant one is the well known Sankapala Raja Maha Vihara about 12 km away from Udawalawe by the side of the main road of Pelamadulla- Nonagama near its 24th-milepost.

Sankapala Raja Maha Vihara is reminiscent of the famed giant called Pussadeva of Prince Dutugemunu of the 3rd Century B.C. the rock cave hermitage harbours Buddha statues and its murals are dotted with paintings have vanished into oblivion during the passage of time. There is a shrine room dedicated to the three shrines of Gods, Kataragama, Vishnu, and Goddess Pattini.

One of the greatest assets of the region is the Walawe Ganga (River), which touches this prosperous region, on its way to the Indian Ocean. The Walawe River rising in the Horton Plains, the Haputale and the Kaltota ranges roared down its mighty way through the tortuous jungles infested with wild beasts, cascade down the Haputale slopes and the Kaltota – Balangoda escarpment and finally joins the sea at Ambalantota.

Udawalawe Development Project

The second biggest Multi-Purpose Irrigation-Power-Agriculture Project that transgressed into this area was the Udawalawe Project in 1964. It commenced its vast construction works in 1964. The Gal Oya Development board and later the River Valleys Development Board were entrusted with its works.

The Udawalawe project envisioned to irrigate about 81,000 acres of dry, uncultivated lands into useful lands by constructing irrigation channels and a reservoir. Resettlement program was launched in the developed lands by the government of Sri Lanka. Today Udawalawe is an important contributor to the agricultural products for the country.

Being an important region with historical background and natural wealth such as Udawalawe national park, it helps the country to earn much needed hard currencies with tourism. Today it has become a popular tourist place in southern Sri Lanka. There are many tourist hotels in the region and several development projects have launched targeting more foreigners. A lot of tourists are anchoring for few days in Udawalawe while it provides easy access to many important places in Sri Lanka such as Yala, Kataragama, Embilipititya, Tissamaharama, Hambantota.

buddha statue

Sankapala Monastery Udawalawe

Sankapala monastery was in high activity till Valagambahu’s reign in the 1st century BC, when the infamous famine called Baminitiya Saya struck this place. But later in the late 19th century, Sankapala temple was restored during the incumbency of the famous scholar and erudite Buddhist monk Ven. Karatota Dhammarama Thera around who had woven a tragic story. During the reign of Rajadhi Rajasinghe of Kandy (1782-1798), scandal-mongers had sneaked to the king that this learned Buddhist priest was in secret league with the Dutch.

The king flew into a wild rage and imprisoned the priest in Kandy. While languishing in prison, this learned monk is said to have composed some puzzling Sinhalese verses. The puzzles were written in an intricating way that the lines could be read from many sides. The king sent this set of puzzling verses to all the learned scholars of the time, but none could interpret them. Only Ven. Karatota Dhammarama (monk) was able to tell the meaning of those puzzles.

The puzzles were comprised of the noble teaching of Buddha. The king was convinced of the innocence of the priest. As a reward, he gifted the Sankapala Temple and its lands to this priest. This square type of verses is termed as Barsa poems which are depicted on the door of the shrine room in Sankapala Temple.

A little distance away from the temple, on a rock outcrop is said to contain the hallowed tomb of this great warrior conch blower cum archer Phussadeva. Over his tomb, a stupa was said to have been built. Treasure hunters have destroyed this historical place as they were looking for hidden treasures. On one occasion some foreigners had destroyed an image of Buddha which had been there was pillaged and dragged it to the nearby river.

The other temple of historic importance is the Gothabaya Raja Maha Vihara, Padalangala about eight miles from the Sankapala Temple. This ancient temple perched on a rock outcrop with its restored dagoba is indeed an imposing sight. There are many artefacts were found at the site during the excavation such as moonstones, Asanagaras, an inscription written in Brahmi letters, stone pillars, stone baths etc. On a rock, the slab is the fast-fading Brahmi inscriptions which say that the ancient name of this place was Padangala which corrupted to present name Padalangala.

Temple houses valuable Buddhist Ola leaf inscription with great value in its library. An old sun-dial Horawa denoting time is also can be seen in the temple.  This dagoba and its other treasures are dating back to the reign of King Gotabhaya of the Ruhunu kingdom of the 2nd century BC. Hence it is named as Gotabhaya Raja Maha Vihara. The temple has a beautiful surrounding with mountains, rice fields, streams and patches of forests.

All visitors to these sacred places suppose to dress in a particular manner to uphold its religious value. There is a set of rules that every visitor of religious site observe while visiting sacred places in Sri Lanka. If you are wondering what these rules are? Check this article “13 RULES TO OBSERVE WHILE VISITING SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TEMPLE, SRI LANKA TEMPLE DRESS CODE AND TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH DRESS CODE“.

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