Elephant Safari in Udawalawe National Park: Sri Lanka

Elephant Safari in Udawalawe National Park:

Did you know that Sri Lanka is said to have the highest density of Elephants for any country in Asia? I certainly didn’t, but after an Elephant Safari trip in Udawalawe National Park in the south central part of the country, I quickly realized this could be true.

Elephants on Elephant Safari in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Elephants seen while on an Elephant Safari in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka

How to Get to Udawalawe National Park

A visit to Udawalawe National Park should be on your itinerary for Sri Lanka if you want a good chance to see Elephants and other wildlife. It’s not out of the way, as you can add it to your itinerary on the way to Ella from the Southern Beaches of Mirissa or Tangalle.

For myself, I came to Udawalawe from Tangalle. I first got on a bus headed to Embilipitiya and then from there it’s a short bus ride to Udawalawe. While you could do a day trip to this area and go further on toward Ella or elsewhere in the same day, I recommend spending one night in the town or nearby Udawalawe. That way you can fully enjoy the experience, and do the afternoon safari which I recommend. You can see on the map below the location of the town of Udawalawe.

How to Arrange an Elephant Safari

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links through booking.com, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

I arrived to my accommodation at Udawalawe late morning and took a small nap. After that, I spoke with the owner of Shadows Safari House where I was staying, about arranging the Elephant Safari in Udawalawe National Park that afternoon.

So they quickly called up a 4×4 and arranged an elephant safari for me. Even though I was just 1 person, they still arranged it and it wasn’t too much more expensive than had I gone with a group.

Safari Vehicle in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Safari Vehicle in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka

I would recommend that if you want to go on an elephant safari in Udawalawe National Park to first consult where you are staying, as often the homestays and hotels have connections with drivers to get you a good deal for the national park. Typically the charge will be between 4,000 and 5,000RS.

You can arrange it on your own if you want to save a little bit of money by going to the national park entrance and finding a driver on your own, however, you don’t know how experienced they are. The driver I got through my guesthouse was really experienced and knew how to spot all the various animals we saw that day.

Elephant Safari Experience

Around 1pm in the afternoon, I got picked up at Shadows Safari House by the 4×4 for my safari. We drove to the entrance of the park where I paid the entrance fee. From here we started our safari.

Not too long and already the guide had spotted a chameleon on the one tree.

Chameleon in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Chameleon blending into the tree at Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka

And then a bit further down the road we spotted some domesticated Buffalo enjoying their time in a mud bath.

Buffalo in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Domesticated Buffalo in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka

As we continued down the road, and entered through some bushes, we got our first glimpse of a family of Elephants. Was so spectacular to see them so closely!

Elephants
Mother Elephant with children while on Elephant Safari in Udawalawe

As we continue to drive around, we spotted many different types of birds, like bee eaters, peacocks, and falcons.

Green Bee Eater in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Green Bee Eater in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Peacock
Beautiful peacock on the Elephant Safari at Udawalawe

As the afternoon progressed and got further into the park, the scenery around us became even more beautiful with the sun, clouds and water in perfect harmony.

Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Stunning Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka

One of the best moments of the safari, was coming upon a big group of elephants enjoying the water and even spraying themselves with the water to cool off.

Elephants while on Safari in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Elephants cooling down while on Safari in Udawalawe

As the afternoon got later, and our safari was nearing an end, we stopped to observe yet another group of elephants by the water enjoying the late sunshine.

Elephants at Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Elephants in the sun at Udawalawe

As we finished up and headed out of the park, we found a group of monkeys and also got to admire more of the beautiful scenery that makes up Udawalawe National Park. Even without the animals, the scenery alone here makes it a worthwhile stop.

Some of the animals seen on the safari
Monkeys and a Peacock in the park while on the Elephant Safari
Scenery in the park
Beautiful scenery in Udawalawe National Park

We finally exited the park gate and continue back to the guesthouse. Even the drive back was an experience admiring the outstanding scenery along the road with the with blowing in your face in the open air safari vehicle.

Road back to town after Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
Road back to town after the Elephant Safari in the National Park

Hotels in Udawalawe

There are many types of places to say in Udawalawe from upscale to homestays. Many of these places will arrange the elephant safari for you. For me, I would personally like to recommend the place I stayed called Shadows Safari House. It was an easy walk from the bus stop at Udawalawe Junction and the rooms were really clean, comfortable and had a nice fan to keep the room cool.

Not to mention the safari they arranged was perfect as the driver was really experienced at spotting wildlife and took good care of me while on the safari to make sure I was spotting what he was.

In the evening they made one of the most delicious curry I had on the whole trip. So I would highly recommend a stay there. Not only that, it’s less than $10USD for a stay in their deluxe room!

However, if they are booked up, use the search box below to look for other accomodation in Udawalawe:

Booking.com

So, I hope you enjoyed this first hand account of the Elephant Safari in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka. If you have any questions about setting up a safari for yourself or getting to Udawalawe, please post a comment for us in the comments below!

Michael Mellinger

Having traveled to over 50 countries, travel is in my blood. When not working, I love to take trips to the countryside in Korea or go to other countries to experience the culture and sights. Travel enriches so much of our lives and hope to promote travel through my posts.

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