Sri Lanka, although it is a small country, it features a beautiful blend of beaches, mountains, jungles, and cities – and has no shortage of things to do and places to see. While many prefer the Yala National Park as a safari stop during their visit to Sri Lanka, those looking for an undisturbed, less crowded safari experience choose Udawalawe National Park instead. A safari experience here is packed with wild elephants, water buffalo, boars, several bird species and more, there’s definitely no shortage of wildlife to see here!

Why Choose Udawalawe?

  • Udawalawe National Park is one of the less popular ones as compared to Yala and Minneriya National Park, but offers a safari experience that is equally amazing and is listed as a must-visit on travel magazines such as Lonely Planet,
  • Each Udawalawe safari excursion is exclusive as all the jeep excursions are individualized. This means you have a 6-seater jeep and a dedicated tour guide just for yourself! Awesome, right?
  • Your personal tour guide is experienced enough to be able to spot wildlife and detect even the most minute details. They are able to point out a crocodile nestled in the foliage, two turtles basking on a distant embankment, a tiny lizard perched on a branch, and a jackal darting through the undergrowth.
  • The wildlife is thriving. In addition to the aforementioned creatures, you will encounter numerous wild Asian elephants, water buffalo, majestic birds (such as eagles), peacocks scattered all around, wild boars (accompanied by their young), deer, monkeys, and much more.

Everything you need to know prior to an Udawalawe Jeep Safari

Accommodation and Itinerary

  • In terms of accommodation, staying near the park is always a plus as you don’t have to drive the distance to get to the park for the morning safari. Udawalawe has some interesting accommodation options such as the Athgira Hotels, Elephant Trails and camp style accommodation for you to experience.
  • You can also choose to do Udawalawe as a day excursion from any southern coast destinations such as Galle, Mirissa or Tangalle. The drive is approximately a couple of hours from there so in that case, only the evening safari would be advisable.
  • Since Udawalawe is a lesser crowded National Park, you are contributing towards sustainable, ethical travel and making it less stressful for the wildlife. Don’t drive too close to the wildlife, thus maintaining a respectable distance. Don’t be loud and do not litter! Especially in a national park where garbage can get eaten by animals (which can kill them).

Before the Safari

  • Before you book a jeep safari tour for Udawalawe National Park, find out what is included in the package. Generally, it includes entrance tickets, the cost of the jeep as well as a driver cum guide. Food and drinks aren’t usually included in the package, but some operators offer water and some local snacks as complimentary.
  • Udawalawe National Park has some designated stops where visitors can get down to stretch their legs or enjoy a picnic with some food. If you wish to spend some time there, plan accordingly and carry the necessary food and other accessories.
  • When organizing your Udawalawe safari jeep excursion, you can choose between a morning or evening tour—or opt for an all-day safari adventure at a higher cost. Arrival at the park entrance approximately 25 minutes before opening is advised. The morning safari tour offers a chance to witness wildlife stirring with the dawn. While the morning safari is enjoyable, the evening may be even less crowded. The choice is entirely yours! If you’re not inclined toward mornings, consider an evening tour. But if you relish watching the sunrise and prefer catching up on sleep later in the day after a busy morning, it might be just right for you.
  • While the jeep driver is experienced enough to be a guide, there are also professional safari guides available at an additional cost. The advantage is that they can speak your language more fluently and you are able to understand the many bits of information about the national park that you are exploring, making the extra bit well worth it!

Clothing and accessories

Appropriate clothing includes casual t-shirt and shorts or pants. The weather is generally warm so don’t wear anything too heavy but be sure to cover your legs and shoulders to keep mosquitoes away. Additionally, choose light colored clothing, as you don’t want something bright to attract and annoy any of the male animals. The Jeep is totally open at the back seating area and gets windy when driving fast. Be sure to keep your hair tied! Sunglasses and a cap are a good idea too, and of course, don’t forget your binoculars!

Additional experiences at Udawalawe

Additional experiences at Udawalawe include cookery demonstrations, river bathing, fishing and pottery making to make your day an exciting, adventurous and memorable one!

  • Village Walk: Each tour is a duration of 2 hours and includes breathtaking views of paddy fields and various type of agricultural areas to mesmerize your eyes. You can join your hands at reaping the harvest and co – work with village farmers.
  • Cookery Demonstration: experience the process of cooking an authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry meal. Farm grown vegetables will be used in the cooking and you will be lucky enough to be let in on some secrets on making your dish more aromatic.
  • Fishing and River Bathing: these activities are possible at the nearby river – a chance to fish as well as dip in the fresh water. Be sure to cook your catch at the end of the day!

How to include Udawalawe National Park to your Sri Lanka tour itinerary?

Ideally, Udawalawe National Park can be explored as day excursions from southern coast destinations such as Galle, Tangalle and Hambantota. In order to save the travel time to and fro, it is best to include an overnight stop in Udawalawe when travelling from the hill country destination Ella to the southern coast beaches or vice versa. Get in touch with our team at Travel Treasures Sri Lanka for more detailed advice on planning your customized holiday in Sri Lanka.