Sri Lanka safari - Uda Walawe national park, where the mighty Asian Elephant roams
Sri Lanka safari to Uda Walawe national park
Many visitors to Sri Lanka on safari only utilize Uda Walawe as a stop off en route to Yala national park, but this park famous for its substantial Asian elephant population is worth at least a couple of nights and undertaking both morning and afternoon jeep safaris. There is even an outside chance of seeing leopards here and raptor sightings are common.
How to reach Uda Walawe national park
It is only a relatively short and scenic 4-5 hour road journey from Colombo to Uda Walawe. The road journey goes inland cutting off the SW corner of southern coastal Sri Lanka and heading between the beautiful Peak Wilderness Sanctuary and the Sinharaja forest reserve – a world heritage site. Eventually the road arrives at the massive Uda Walawe reservoir; which of course attracts thirsty elephants from the surrounding districts.
What you will see at Uda Walawe national park
This park is famous for its Asian Elephants and observing small family groups of them as you take a jeep safari inside the park is relatively common. There are also small rocky outcrops within Uda Walawe national park, as although not as numerous or large as some of the Yala outcrops, they do provide shelter and habitat for the parks leopard population. Infact, on our very first morning jeep safari inside the park, we glimpsed a sighting of a female leopard on top of such a rock, warming herself up with the first rays of morning sunlight. It was also noticeable that several raptors were frequently seen perched throughout the park, including birds such as the Grey Headed Fish Eagle and Changeable Hawk Eagle. At the water bodies inside the park it is common to see crocodiles and turtles and in the meadows you will see small herds of spotted deer; which are a favourite prey species of the leopard.
Where to stay at Uda Walawe national park
For our clients Sri Lanka safari we always try to offer them a wide range of accommodation choices and look at the pros and cons of Sri Lanka wildlife lodges verses a Sri Lanka camping safari. Because there are now several operators who can provide camping safaris in Sri Lanka’s national parks, we can offer a mixture of both (wildlife lodges and camps), or focus on one or the other. As a general rule, you will feel closer to nature and experience more of a wilderness feel if you go with the camping safari, as there is less between you and the surrounding wildlife. That said, you must consider the time of year you are travelling, as heavy rains can make camping uncomfortable and even the most organised operators can struggle with the challenges this brings. If you do choose one of the smaller homestays or wildlife lodges, check how close they are to the park entrance and how many hours their power supply is available, as connections can be erratic.
Sri Lanka safari including Uda Walawe national park
All our Sri Lanka wildlife holidays are customised and tailor-made and ultimately it is up to you about how you would like the trip to be organised and how long to stay at each national park – with the benefit of our first hand, expert advice. If you are a real wildlife lover we would recommend a 2 night stay at Uda Walawe before going onto Yala national park for 3 or 4 nights, as Yala is still the ultimate place to see leopards. Uda Walawe is also easy to reach from the hill country colonial capital of Nuwara Eliya, or the birding hotspot of Sinharaja forest reserve; so both these locations could be added in, so you can see Sri Lanka endemics like Blue Magpies and Purple Faced Monkeys en route to Uda Walawe.