Elephant spotting in Uda Walawe National Park

Conveniently located halfway between the tea plantations of Sri Lanka’s hill country and the beaches of its picturesque south coast, Uda Walawe National Park makes the perfect stopover on your Sri Lankan tour.

Uda Walawe National Park Elephants at a watering hole
Elephants at a watering hole

Uda Walawe National Park Elephant Spotting

The prime reason for the park’s popularity is its elephant population. While Uda Walawe National Park doesn’t have the range of creatures of, say, Yala National Park, it does have enough elephants to pretty much guarantee a sighting.

Uda Walawe National Park Elephant
Elephant in Uda Walawe National Park

While many people like to pre-arrange their visit, if you’re travelling with a car and driver, it may be possible to fix up a safari vehicle when you get there for an almost immediate departure, negating the need to stay overnight in the area. In dry season, the vegetation dies back; while the scenery isn’t as stunning, it does make it considerably easier to spot the wildlife. In the wet, the park greens up and large areas flood transforming the park’s appearance. Elephant viewing varies little between the seasons, however, but you’ll have the best chance of seeing the park’s animals and birds if you visit early or late in the day.

Uda Walawe National Park Water Course
Water Course

The park’s home to about 600 or so elephants. Since the creation of an elephant corridor, it has been possible for them to transit between Uda Walawe and Yala via neighbouring Lunugamvehera National Park. Most choose to stay put, cohabiting with the park’s other animals which include buffaloes, macaque and langur monkeys, spotted and sambar deer. If you’re really lucky you might even spot an elusive leopard. Many buffaloes and elephants congregate around the reservoir at the heart of the park whose catchment it was created to conserve. It’s there that you’ll also be able to spot crocodiles.

Uda Walawe National Park Water Buffalo
Water Buffalo

Birds are also prevalent, from the herons picking at insects in the shallows at the water’s edge to colourful kingfishers as green as the algae-tinted water of the ponds they call home. You might also spot a lesser adjutant stork which is said by many to be the country’s ugliest bird on account of its bald neck. Indigenous birds include the Ceylon jungle fowl, Ceylon spur fowl, Ceylon green pigeon, Ceylon grey hornbill, Ceylon woodshrike and Ceylon swallow.

Nearby, there’s an elephant orphanage. Established in 1995 by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Uda Walawe Elephant Transfer Home cares for orphaned pachyderms with the goal of releasing them back into the park to join a herd. Many of these orphans have been successfully reintroduced.

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About JuliaHammond

Website: http://www.juliahammond.co.uk

Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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One Response

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    Nice post, I love your pictures! We have also just been there and had a wonderful time! Your post really makes us want to go back!
    If you want to see what we`ve experienced there check out our vlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5D0s8l8BdA&t=2s


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