Udawalawe National Park

This 30,821-hectare reserve features one of the most top site of attraction in Asia for viewing elephants even though it’s only the sixth biggest wild life park in Sri Lanka. Located 180km away from capital city Colombo, Udawalawe National Park encompasses the Udawalawe reservoir, the center of attention in this dry monsoon forest which gets an annual rainfall amounting up to 1520mm. The park was officially established in the year 1972, with the objective of protecting the catchment area of Udawalawe reservoir, which provides water for agriculture and hydro-power generation.
The park conveniently lies across country’s wet and dry zones, which results in mostly dry weather with the exception of torrential rains. The left most boundary of the reservation lies along the ratnapura district while Monaragala district marks the boundary on the right. The park closes its boundary at the Udawalawe – Thanamalvila road to the south.

Watch Elephants

Due to the naturally abundant grasslands in the reserve, Sri Lankan elephants freely roam the areas and are widely visible to anyone out and about. Being the center of attraction in the park, their number amounts around 600 and in herds of over 30 young and old ones. Also, it’s a rare opportunity to come across a lone tusk bearing elephant in its own mission. Since the lack of dense vegetation makes observing them quite easily, visitors get to enjoy the tiniest detail of their majesty. While there is an elephant-proof fence around the perimeter of the reserve, elephants migrate in and out of the park from unfenced borders. The best hours to observe the wildlife in their own habitat are early mornings and late evenings, when the herds flock to water bodies to quench their thirst.
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Golden Jackal

Native to the Indo-Sri Lankan region albeit a slight difference in appearance, the Golden Jackal is a skilled hunter and a scavenger roaming in groups to surround and subside their prey. Also they gather to consume what is left from a larger predator's hunt, making them natural scavengers. Being smarter than the average quadruped, their unique habits are known to be special and observers will have the thrill of watching them during various times of the day at the national park.

Wild Buffalo

Also known as Asian Buffalo, is an endangered species as listed in IUCN RED list with minimal presence in Sri Lankan agricultural territories. These bovine creatures also engage in herds and consume the lush green grass on river banks and water bodies. It’s not uncommon to see them gathered close to elephant herds when drinking water from the banks of the Udawalawe reservoir.


Considered as endangered due to being hunted as a trophy and a conditional pest dangerous to humans, Leopards are still a work of beauty in nature. Although rarely sighted, as they are stealthy hunters who sneaks behind bushes when preying, some are seen resting on a lone rock or perched on a tree branch. The leopard population is declining at an alarming rate, therefore it’s a must to enjoy these precious animals from afar without endangering on lookers and the animal itself.

Spotted Deer

A commonly seen mammal in Udawalawe, the spotted deer or Axis deer live in lowland dry forests and national parks. They exist in big groups as well, with relatively large bodied males with antlers and females with lighter shade of brown. Being true herbivores living on grass, leaves and fruits, these harmless ones treading along the shrubs is a sight to appreciate.


Country’s largest living reptile is the wetland stroller, crocodile. Sri Lanka has two species of crocodiles. One is the Mugger or Marsh crocodile known as the Geta kimbula in Sinhala and The other is the Saltwater or Estuarine crocodile. Udawalawe is home to the Mugger and probably every visitor ever at the park has seen at least one. Being an uncertain predator, crocs have a bad reputation among the people as they can be potentially dangerous to humans. Still, they play a big part in preserving the balance of the eco system in the reserve.


Udawalawe is considered a haven for bird watchers since it is home to endemics such as the Red faced malkoha, Lanka grey hornbill; Brown capped babbler, Sri Lanka spur fowl amongst many rare migrants such as white wagtail and the black capped kingfisher. Water birds such as the Cormorants, Eurasian spoonbill, Black headed ibis, Asian open bill, and Painted stork live in and around the reservoir. The open grasslands and water bodies of the park are seen to attract birds of prey such as white-bellied sea eagle, crested serpent eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, booted eagle and the changeable hawk-eagle.

Other Notable Animals

Apart from the main animal attractions, visitors will get a glimpse of other animals such as Sambar Deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, Monkeys such as toque macaque and the tufted grey languor, Fishing cat, Wild Boar, Asian Palm Civet, and around 30 different types of snakes. The variety in all types of animals will be a fascinating sight in addition to the information one can gather from a safari ride in the park.

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