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The Udawalawe National Park located in the South of Sri Lanka was established in the year 1972, as a sanctuary for the wildlife that was displaced by the construction of the Walawe River Reservoir. One of the top nature reserves on the island, the park covers an area of 308 square kilometers and happens to be the third-largest official sanctuary on the island. Udawalawe National Park is particularly famous for its high elephant population and offers the opportunity for nature lovers to get really close to them. Being able to observe a whole herd of jumbos along with their adorable baby elephants is certainly one of the highlights of the safari.
About the Elephant Population
Udawalawe National Park is possibly the best place on the island to observe elephants in their natural habitat throughout the year, as they’re over 250 jumbos who call this nature reserve home. If you are lucky, you will get the chance to witness a herd of females moving around with their babies in tow or a large herd frolicking in waters.
The Best Time to Visit the Park
Udawalawe lays claim to a hot and semi-arid environment, with an average temperature of 32 degrees Celsius. The chance to observing a herd of elephants out an about in their natural habitat is especially high near the lush Udawalawe Reservoir and other water bodies in the park, and this chance doubles during the dry season when herds gather near watering holes to drink and bath. The dry season in this region begins in the month of May and ends towards the latter end of September.
Nevertheless, even if you are not able to make it to the park during the dry seas, seeing the elephants during the rainy season too is fair. Choosing to embark on your wildlife safari on a three-hour afternoon safari from 3 pm to 6 pm is recommended as the elephant herds tend to venture out to the river for a bath.
How to Organise Your Safari
A safari in Udawalawe can be done in two ways. One can head to the park from Mirissa and spend a night at one of the many hotels or guest-houses located by the park, and arriving early to the park entrance to hire yourself a jeep for a half or full-day tour, that also comes with a driver and tracker guide. This could usually cost anywhere from LKR 3,500 per person for three hours. One can also organise half-day safari with your hotel or guest house, who usually can be resulted to organise a pick up from your accommodation for an additional fee.
An alternative option is to opt for a luxury camping experience. While it might be a bit expensive, the experience promises to be truly unforgettable. Usually, the package comes with a private guide and driver, spacious luxury tents, and much more. Doing your research and choosing an ethical and well-reputed service provider such as Master Campers is a great idea.