Located approximately 165 km south-east of Colombo, the Udawalawe National Park sits on the boundary of Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones spreading over 30,821 hectares. Udawalawe National Park is home to approximately 12 species of amphibians, 33 species of reptiles, 43 types of mammals, 21 kinds of fish and 184 varieties of birds, all of which includes the 400 elephants, the water buffalos, water monitor lizards, sambar deer and monkeys which reside in the Udawalawe park vicinity and are a common sight on Udawalawe safaris.
The Udawalawe National Park was originally created to provide sanctuary for the elephants displaced by the construction of Udawalawe reservoir covering 30,821 hectares in 1972. The Udawalawe National Park currently stands as the third most visited park in Sri Lanka.
The chance of witnessing a herd of Sri Lankan elephants is extremely high near rivers and the reservoir of Udawalawe National Park. During the dry season, between May and September, elephants gather around the Udawalawe reservoir and little patches of water, in search of water, thereby improving chances of spotting large herds at Udawalawe National Park.
But don’t sweat if you can’t make it during the dry season, since Udawalawe National Park has the highest probability of spotting these majestic mammals in herds anytime of the year.
The Udawalawe National Park is most famous among nature photographers, in view of the fact that the park offers excellent opportunities to capture rare and endemic species. It also offers an ideal opening for birdwatchers to observe the Sri Lankan junglefowl, Sri Lankan spurfowl, Sri Lankan green pigeon, Sri Lankan grey hornbill, Sri Lankan woodshrike and Sri Lankan swallow, spot-billed pelican, little cormorant, grey heron, Indian pond heron, cattle egret, great egret, little egret, intermediate egret, painted stork, woolly-necked stork, yellow-wattled lapwing, green bee-eater, crested treeswift, sirkeer and the blue-faced malkoha in their natural habitats.