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Elephant Safari At Udawalawe National Park


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ardelia Lavin



Welcome to the world of adventure and excitement at Udawalawe National Park, home to one of the most thrilling experiences – the Elephant Safari. Set amidst the lush landscapes of Sri Lanka, this national park offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.


Located in the southern part of the island, Udawalawe National Park spans over 30,000 hectares, making it the perfect sanctuary for a wide variety of wildlife. While it is known for its significant elephant population, the park is also home to numerous other species, including leopards, crocodiles, water buffaloes, and a plethora of avian species. The park’s diverse ecosystems, comprising of grasslands, forests, and wetlands, provide the ideal habitats for these creatures to thrive.


The Elephant Safari is a must-do activity for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike. It offers a unique opportunity to witness elephants in their natural environment, observe their behavior, and learn more about their conservation efforts. The experience of being just a few meters away from these majestic creatures is truly awe-inspiring and humbling.


Embarking on an Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park promises not only an unforgettable encounter with wildlife but also an immersive experience in nature’s playground. As you venture through the park, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking landscapes, serene lakes, and lush greenery, all providing a picturesque backdrop to your adventure.


Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor to Sri Lanka, the Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park is a must-visit destination. It offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, appreciate the beauty of the animal kingdom, and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of wildlife conservation.


So, pack your bags, put on your adventurous spirit, and get ready to embark on a journey that will leave you in awe of the natural wonders that await you at Udawalawe National Park.


Location of Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is nestled in the southeastern part of Sri Lanka, approximately 200 kilometers from the capital city of Colombo. Situated in the Ratnapura and Monaragala districts, this expansive wildlife reserve is easily accessible and attracts visitors from all corners of the globe.


The park’s strategic location makes it convenient to reach by road from major cities and towns in Sri Lanka. If you’re travelling from Colombo, you can take the A4 highway towards Ratnapura and then follow the A18 road that leads directly to the park. The journey from Colombo takes approximately four hours, offering scenic views along the way.


An alternative route is to travel from Kandy, the cultural heart of the country. From Kandy, you can take the A26 road towards Maha Oya and then merge onto the A4 highway that leads to Udawalawe. This route takes approximately three hours and offers picturesque landscapes of the central highlands before reaching the park.


For those who prefer a hassle-free option, there are tour operators that provide guided excursions to Udawalawe National Park. These tours usually include transportation, an experienced guide, and the opportunity to explore the park’s highlights and wildlife.


Once you reach the park entrance, you will have the option to hire a jeep and a knowledgeable safari guide. The park requires visitors to enter with a safari vehicle and a guide to ensure a safe and informative wildlife viewing experience.


It’s important to note that Udawalawe National Park is located in a dry zone of the country, which means the climate can be warm and arid. It’s advisable to bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout your visit.


Overall, Udawalawe National Park’s convenient location and accessibility make it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers seeking an unforgettable safari experience.


Overview of Elephant Safari

An Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park offers a unique opportunity to witness these gentle giants in their natural habitat. It is an adventurous and immersive experience that allows visitors to observe the behavior, interactions, and daily routines of elephants up close.


The Elephant Safari takes place in specially designed 4×4 safari jeeps, which are driven by experienced guides who are well-versed in the park’s geography and wildlife. These guides have an in-depth knowledge of elephant behavior and are skilled at spotting these magnificent creatures amidst the park’s vast landscapes.


The safaris usually take place during the early morning or late afternoon when wildlife activity is at its peak. As you embark on the safari, you’ll be greeted by stunning scenery and the prospect of encountering an array of wildlife, not just elephants.


The safaris typically last around 3-4 hours, allowing ample time to explore the different sections of the park and maximize the chances of spotting elephants. While the focus is on elephants, visitors may also have the opportunity to encounter other fascinating wildlife such as leopards, crocodiles, deer, and a variety of bird species.


During the safari, the expert guides will share their knowledge and insights about the elephants’ behavior, feeding habits, social structures, and conservation efforts. This allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of these incredible creatures and the challenges they face in the wild.


One of the highlights of the Elephant Safari is the chance to witness elephants in their natural habitat. You may observe them grazing on the vast grasslands, bathing in the park’s numerous water bodies, or interacting with their herds. The intimate encounters with these magnificent creatures leave a lasting impression and provide incredible photo opportunities.


Udawalawe National Park is especially renowned for its elephant population, with over 500 elephants inhabiting the park. This makes it one of the best places in Sri Lanka to witness elephants in their natural environment.


Overall, an Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park is an unforgettable adventure that offers a unique and up-close experience with elephants. It provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat while learning about their fascinating lives and the importance of their conservation.


The Experience of Elephant Safari

Embarking on an Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park is a captivating and immersive experience that takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the wilderness. It offers a unique opportunity to witness the majesty of elephants and the breathtaking beauty of their natural habitat.


As you venture into the park, the excitement builds as you anticipate your first encounter with these iconic creatures. The experienced guides navigate through the park’s rugged terrain, expertly tracking the movements of the elephants and ensuring the best chances of sightings.


As you approach a herd of elephants, you’ll be awestruck by their sheer size and grace. The sight of these magnificent creatures up close is truly awe-inspiring, evoking a sense of wonder and reverence for nature’s creations.


Throughout the safari, the guides provide fascinating insights into the behavior and social dynamics of the elephants. Learn about the unique family structures, the role of matriarchs, and the intricate communication methods employed by these intelligent creatures.


The experience of observing elephants in their natural habitat is incredibly rewarding. Watch as they gracefully move through the grasslands, flap their ears to cool themselves, or playfully interact with one another. It is a rare and privileged glimpse into the lives of these gentle giants.


The safari not only offers extraordinary sightings of elephants but also provides opportunities to witness other wildlife that call the park home. Keep an eye out for other majestic animals like leopards, sloth bears, deer, and a wide variety of bird species.


As you explore the park, take in the breathtaking landscapes and the serene beauty that surrounds you. Udawalawe National Park boasts stunning lakes, dense forests, and sprawling grasslands, offering an idyllic setting for your safari adventure.


Photography enthusiasts will find the Elephant Safari to be a dream come true. Capture the perfect shot of elephants in their natural habitat, against a backdrop of picturesque scenery. The unique lighting conditions and the unobstructed views provide ample opportunities for capturing stunning photographs.


One cannot forget the sounds and smells that accompany the safari experience. Listen to the rustle of leaves, the calls of birds and animals, and the distant trumpeting of elephants. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the wild, creating lasting memories and a deeper connection to nature.


Overall, the experience of an Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park is a sensory adventure. It offers a rare opportunity to witness the beauty and grandeur of elephants in their natural environment, immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, and emotions of the wild. It is an experience that will leave you with lifelong memories and a newfound appreciation for the wonders of the animal kingdom.


Wildlife Encounters during the Safari

An Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park not only offers the chance to witness majestic elephants but also provides the opportunity to encounter a diverse range of wildlife species. As you explore the park’s vast landscapes, keep your eyes peeled for the incredible array of fauna that call this sanctuary home.


Udawalawe National Park is known for its rich biodiversity, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Apart from elephants, the park is home to several other iconic animal species, including leopards, deer, crocodiles, water buffaloes, and various bird species.


One of the most sought-after sightings during the safari is the elusive leopard. Although spotting a leopard is a rare occurrence, the park’s dense forests and rocky outcrops provide an excellent habitat for these elusive predators. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of them stealthily moving through the underbrush.


The park is also home to several species of deer, such as the sambar deer and the spotted deer. These graceful animals can often be seen grazing in open meadows or seeking shelter in shaded areas. Capture their elegance as they move with grace and agility through the park’s landscapes.


As you venture close to the park’s water bodies, keep an eye out for the massive mugger crocodiles. These ancient reptiles can often be seen resting on the banks or gliding silently through the water, camouflaged among the vegetation. Witnessing a crocodile up close is a thrilling experience that showcases the park’s incredible biological diversity.


Udawalawe National Park is also a paradise for birdwatchers, with over 200 species of birds recorded. Look out for colorful kingfishers, beautiful peafowls, and graceful egrets as they go about their daily activities. The park’s wetlands attract a variety of waterbirds, offering a stunning spectacle for bird enthusiasts.


During the safari, you’ll likely encounter several other fascinating animals such as sloth bears, wild boars, mongooses, and monitor lizards. Each sighting offers a glimpse into the intricate web of life that thrives in this protected ecosystem.


It’s important to remember that wildlife encounters are unpredictable and can vary depending on factors such as season, time of day, and luck. However, the abundant diversity of Udawalawe National Park ensures that each safari is a unique and thrilling experience.


Whether it’s observing the grandeur of elephants, the stealth of leopards, or the vibrant plumage of birds, the wildlife encounters during an Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park are sure to leave you in awe of the natural wonders that exist within this pristine wilderness.


Conservation Efforts at Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is not only a haven for wildlife enthusiasts but also a vital hub for conservation efforts. Recognizing the importance of preserving and protecting the park’s rich biodiversity, numerous initiatives have been implemented to safeguard its delicate ecosystems.


One of the primary conservation efforts at Udawalawe National Park is focused on the protection of its flagship species, the elephants. The park authorities work closely with local communities and international organizations to monitor and manage the elephant population. This includes carrying out research on their behavior, migratory patterns, and ecological significance.


The park also collaborates with various governmental and non-governmental organizations to mitigate human-elephant conflict. This involves implementing measures to minimize crop and property damage and to ensure the safety of both humans and elephants.


Another crucial aspect of conservation at Udawalawe National Park is the preservation and restoration of vegetation. The park’s grasslands, forests, and wetlands are essential habitats for wildlife, providing them with food, shelter, and breeding grounds. Reintroducing native plants, controlling invasive species, and implementing sustainable land management practices are key strategies to maintain the park’s ecological balance.


Efforts are also underway to conserve the diverse birdlife of Udawalawe National Park. The park serves as an important habitat for both resident and migratory bird species. Conservation initiatives include monitoring bird populations, protecting nesting sites, and promoting awareness among locals and visitors about the significance of birds in the ecosystem.


Community involvement is a vital component of conservation efforts at Udawalawe National Park. Local communities play an integral role in sustainable resource management. Through education, awareness programs, and the creation of alternative livelihood opportunities, the park works towards building a strong partnership with the communities, promoting their active participation in conservation activities.


In recognition of its conservation efforts, Udawalawe National Park has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This prestigious status highlights the park’s commitment to environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and community engagement.


The park authorities also recognize the importance of ecotourism in supporting conservation efforts. By promoting responsible tourism practices, such as minimizing disturbance to wildlife, adhering to designated trails, and respecting park regulations, visitors contribute to the long-term preservation of the park’s natural heritage.


Overall, the conservation efforts at Udawalawe National Park are a testament to the commitment of the park authorities, local communities, and various organizations towards protecting the park’s invaluable ecosystems. Through collaborative action and sustainable practices, Udawalawe National Park strives to ensure the long-term conservation of its rich biodiversity for future generations to cherish and enjoy.


Best Time to Visit Udawalawe National Park

Planning your visit to Udawalawe National Park requires careful consideration of the best time to experience its abundant wildlife and picturesque landscapes. While the park is open year-round, certain seasons offer more favorable conditions for a memorable safari adventure.


The dry season, which runs from May to September, is widely regarded as the best time to visit Udawalawe National Park. During this period, the vegetation is relatively sparse, making it easier to spot wildlife as they gather around water sources. The lack of rainfall also means that roads and trails are more accessible, ensuring smooth travel within the park.


Typically, the months of July and August mark the peak of the dry season, making it an ideal time for wildlife enthusiasts. It’s during this time that animals, including elephants, gather in larger numbers around waterholes, providing excellent opportunities for sightings and photographic moments.


However, it’s important to note that the dry season also coincides with high tourist activity. The park can get crowded, especially during weekends and public holidays. To avoid the crowds, it’s advisable to plan your visit for weekdays or consider an early morning or late afternoon safari when tourist numbers are relatively lower.


On the other hand, the wet season, which falls between October and January, brings a different charm to Udawalawe National Park. While the rainfall can make the vegetation lush and vibrant, it also makes some parts of the park inaccessible due to muddy conditions. However, the wet season offers a unique opportunity to witness the park’s transformation, with breeding and nesting activities in full swing.


During the wet season, the park bursts with new life as flowers bloom, birds engage in courtship displays, and elephants move through the refreshing greenery. Although wildlife sightings may not be as frequent as during the dry season, the lush landscapes and the dramatic skies provide a striking backdrop for your safari adventure.


It’s worth noting that Udawalawe National Park remains open even during the monsoon season, but it is advisable to exercise caution and check the weather conditions before planning your visit. Heavy downpours can make some areas prone to flooding, affecting accessibility and wildlife sightings.


The shoulder seasons of February to April and September also offer favorable conditions for a visit to Udawalawe National Park. During these periods, the weather is relatively pleasant, and tourist numbers are lower compared to the peak months. Wildlife sightings are still possible, although they may require more patience and luck, as animals are more dispersed and vegetation is denser.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Udawalawe National Park depends on your preferences and priorities. Whether you choose the dry season for optimal wildlife viewing or the wet season for a unique perspective on the park’s ecosystem, each season offers its own rewards and surprises for any nature enthusiast.


Tips for a Successful Elephant Safari

Embarking on an Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park can be an exciting and memorable experience. To make the most of your safari adventure and ensure a successful outing, consider these helpful tips:

  1. Choose the right time: The dry season, particularly the months of July and August, offers the best chances of observing wildlife, including elephants. Try to avoid weekends and public holidays when the park can be crowded.
  2. Plan your timing: Book an early morning or late afternoon safari for optimal wildlife sightings. Animals tend to be more active during these times, and the lighting provides fantastic photo opportunities.
  3. Dress appropriately: Wear lightweight and breathable clothing in neutral colors to blend in with the surroundings. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  4. Bring the right equipment: Bring a pair of binoculars to enhance your wildlife viewing experience. A camera with a zoom lens is essential for capturing close-up shots of elephants and other animals.
  5. Stay silent and still: During the safari, it’s important to remain quiet and avoid sudden movements. This will prevent startling the animals and allow for better wildlife encounters.
  6. Observe from a safe distance: Respect the animals’ space and never attempt to touch or feed them. Maintain a safe distance from elephants and follow the instructions of your safari guide for a safe and responsible experience.
  7. Listen to your guide: The safari guides are experienced and knowledgeable about the park’s wildlife. Listen to their instructions, follow their advice, and ask questions to learn more about the animals and their behaviors.
  8. Be patient and observant: Wildlife encounters can be unpredictable, so patience is key. Keep your eyes peeled for movement, unusual sounds, or signs of animals in the distance. It’s the unexpected moments that often lead to the most memorable sightings.
  9. Stay hydrated and bring snacks: It’s essential to drink plenty of water during the safari to stay hydrated, especially in the warm climate. Pack some snacks to keep your energy levels up throughout the adventure.
  10. Respect the environment: Follow the park’s rules and regulations and avoid littering. The park’s pristine beauty relies on responsible visitors who leave no trace behind.

By following these tips, you can enhance your Elephant Safari experience and increase your chances of having memorable encounters with elephants and other wildlife at Udawalawe National Park. Prepare yourself for an incredible journey into the heart of nature, where the wonders of the animal kingdom await.



Embarking on an Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park is an experience that will leave you mesmerized and in awe of the natural wonders that inhabit this sanctuary. From the majestic elephants to the diverse array of wildlife, this national park offers a captivating safari adventure that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.


Whether you choose to visit during the dry season for optimal wildlife sightings or the wet season to witness the park’s transformation, Udawalawe National Park promises endless surprises and breathtaking moments. As you journey through the park’s landscapes, the vibrant flora and fauna will captivate your senses, transporting you to a world where nature reigns supreme.


The conservation efforts at Udawalawe National Park highlight the commitment to preserve and protect the invaluable ecosystems that make this park a haven for wildlife. A visit to this sanctuary not only provides an unforgettable experience but also supports the crucial efforts aimed at safeguarding the rich biodiversity and promoting sustainable practices.


As you witness the elephants gracefully roaming their natural habitat, the captivating beauty of the park, and the harmonious coexistence of various species, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the delicate balance of nature. The Elephant Safari at Udawalawe National Park not only brings you closer to these gentle giants but also offers a profound connection to the importance of wildlife conservation.


So, pack your bags, don your safari gear, and prepare yourself for an adventure like no other. Udawalawe National Park and its Elephant Safari await, ready to transport you to a world of enchantment, natural splendor, and unforgettable encounters. Immerse yourself in the wild, marvel at the wonders of the animal kingdom, and create memories that will last a lifetime.