Udawalawe is basically synonymous to its Udawalawe National Park. This destination can be easily visited from Colombo and is one of the nearest national parks to Colombo. It is situated at a distance of approx..one hundred and sixty kilometres from Colombo and can be reached by road in around four and a half to five hours.
What to See
Udawalawe National Park is one of the largest national park in Sri Lanka. It is the best place to view herd of wild Asian elephants. There are nearly five hundreds of elephants.
This national park was built in the late nineteenth century. The sole purpose of establishing this park was to protect the area of reservoir located at the centre of the park. This reservoir provides water for agriculture. The thorny-shrub forest with grasslands is quite similar to an Africa game reserve. The reservoir is surrounded by a number of Teak, Kumbuk and Mandorang trees.
There is an Elephant orphanage - Udawalawe Elephant Transfer Home within the National Park, which was established in the late nineteenth century by the wildlife Conservation department. This orphanage is home to over 40 orphaned elephants. The orphaned animals are brought and raised with care and are released into the park, once they are grown and healthy. Once they enter the park, their responsibility is taken by the Park authorities who keep constant track of the elephant until they get accustomed to the new life of the park. Other than the elephants, there are other animals like Water Buffalo, Water monitor lizards, Wildboar, Spotted Deer, Sambur Deer, Crocodiles, Jackal, Samber, Black-naped hare, mongooses, bandicoots, foxes, the endemic Toque Macaque, GrayLangers and many more.
This park is considered to be a photographer’s paradise as it offers excellent opportunities for photography. One can spot innumerable birds of different species like Sri Lanka spurfowl, Sri Lanka green pigeon, Sri Lanka woodshrike, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Sri Lankan junglefowl, Little cormorant, Sri Lanka swallow, Green bee-eater, Spot-billed pelican, Grey heron, Indian pond heron, Cattle egret, Great egret, Little egret, Sirkeer, Intermediate egret, Painted stork, Woolly-necked stork, Yellow-wattled lapwing, Crested treeswift and Blue-faced malkoha. During winters, some birds like Booted eagle, Common kestrel, Harris’s hawk, Rosy starling, Wood sandpiper, Common sandpiper, Black-capped kingfisher, Little ringed plover, Whiskered tern, Western yellow wagtail, Forest wagtail &Citrine wagtail migrate to this region. Apart from the birds, one can spot many beautiful butterflies like Delias eucharis, Papiliocrino, Euploea core,Graphiumsarpedonetc.
Full day and half day jeep safaris are arranged by the park authorities. Morning safari begins from 0600 hrs. and ends at 1000 hrs., whereas afternoon safaris starts from 1500 hrs. and ends at 1800 hrs.
Best Time to visit
Peak summers can be very hot with temperatures reaching almost thirty seven degrees Celsius. Months of October and April turn out to be the best months to see elephants and varied species of migratory birds at this park. The months of May and June are very hot and dusty.