An Udawalawe Safari Tour is a perfect way to get up close and personal with some of Sri Lanka’s most exotic wildlife.
Udawalawe National Park is a sanctuary that covers 31,000 hectares and it’s an important habitat for many species of birds, water buffalo, crocodiles, and elephants.
I have put together this complete guide of Udawalawe which includes the location, where to book an Udawalawe Safari, and what to expect on the tour!
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WHERE IS UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK?
Udawalawe National Park is located 165 km from Colombo and 95 km from Matara.
WHERE TO BOOK AN UDAWALAWE SAFARI
You can book your Udawalawe Safari Tour online in advance with Klook which has great reviews and hundreds of bookings!
Alternatively, you can book the Udawalawe Jeep Safari through your accommodation when you arrive.
The cheapest option is to share a Jeep with some other people staying at the same accommodation as you. The approximate cost of a Jeep that seats 6-8 people is 6,000 Rupees and the entrance fee to Udawalawe National Park is 3,500 Rupees.
I personally booked my safari through Makulu Safari Camping which was really affordable and convenient.
An elephant on the safari
Makulu Safari Camp
My morning started at 5:30 am where I had breakfast and tea at the Makulu Safari Camp before jumping in the back of the Jeep to make my way to the entrance of Udawalawe National Park.
There were quite a number of Jeeps already in line to enter the park and straight away I thought that we would be in line for ages and then once entering that we would be behind a conga line of other Jeeps. This wasn’t the case luckily.
We waited in line for around 20 minutes and then once our Udawalawe Safari began our driver took us off the beaten track away from the other Jeeps.
The dirt roads on the tour are quite bumpy though our driver was considerate of this and drove appropriately over the bumpy sections. The fog was very thick at the beginning but then eased off as the sun began to rise.
Whenever I spotted some wildlife, I would yell out to the driver and he would stop the Jeep and turn the ignition off so I was able to take some photos and videos.
The Uawalawe Safari Tour takes around 3 to 4 hours and as I said earlier, the best time to do the safari is early morning. This is the first safari I have been on and it definitely did not disappoint.
Book Now → Udawalawe Jeep Safari
On the lookout for elephants
WHAT TO EXPECT
There were hundreds of peacocks either perched high on the branches of a dead tree or scurrying around in the bushes below. There are many different bird species that call this place home and a passionate bird watcher would be in heaven.
I also spotted several crocodiles as we approached the reservoir inside the park and not too far away was a herd of water buffaloes drinking from the lake.
But of course, the main attraction is the Sri Lankan elephants. There are approximately 600 male and female elephants roaming around so your chances are very high that you will come across these magnificent creatures.
Our driver was communicating on the phone to the other drivers inside the park to seek out the elephants. I was fortunate enough to encounter around 15 elephants and even though stepping out of the vehicle is prohibited, we still managed to get as close as we possibly could to the elephants.
A family of Sri Lankan elephants
Sri Lankan elephants
Crocodile we spotted the tour
Saw lots of these peacocks
WHERE TO STAY
The best place to stay is in Udawalawa, a small town which is located 10km away from the entrance to the National Park.
The best time of day to do the safari is when the park opens at 6 am, so it is ideal to stay one night in the nearby town of Udawalawa and be ready for an early start.
There are also camping options available in the area which is a great experience that I highly recommend. My friends and I stayed one night at a campground called Makulu Safari Camping.
Our accommodation for the night was a safari tent on the edge of a river bed, nestled in the jungle. The tents are raised off the ground on a wooden deck with 2 large double beds and a bathroom inside. This place has some serious magic about it!
Surrounded by coconut palms, beautiful flora, and fauna and the staff are super kind and welcoming. We paid USD $40 split between 4 people and breakfast was an additional USD $7 each. Definitely go and check this place out, I promise you will not regret it!
Book Now → Makulu Safari Camping
Makulu Safari Camp
BEST TOURS IN SRI LANKA
Another option for accommodation in Udawalawa is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals.
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MORE SRI LANKA TRAVEL GUIDES
Sri Lank Travel Guide: 2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary
Hikkaduwa Travel Guide: 7 Things To Do In Hikkaduwa
Unawatuna Travel Guide: 8 Things To Do In Unawatuna
Ella Travel Guide: Best Things To Do In Ella
LONELY PLANET SRI LANKA
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Sri Lanka Guide!
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I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about the Udawalawe Safari, please leave me a comment below!