How To Plan A Wildlife Safari At Sri Lanka's Breathtaking Udawalawe National Park

15th Mar 2017

A visit to Sri Lanka is not complete until you are immersed in the breathtaking outdoors and surrounded by wildlife. Udawalawe National Park is the perfect place to make this happen. It is here that you can sit back and gaze at herds of elephants wandering by or crocodiles soaking up the sunshine on the river bank. You may even see families of cheeky monkeys climbing trees and pulling each others tails. There’s certainly a lot of beauty to be seen during this experience that will leave any wildlife lover fulfilled.

Photo of Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka by Katie McIntosh

How to get there

There are a range of different operators to choose from when planning your visit to Udawalawe National Park including different Jeep and boat safari tours. I can only speak for my own experience which was a Niluka Safari Jeep tour organized through my accommodation provider. Talalla Retreat is an all-inclusive, eco-luxe resort in southern Sri Lanka and provides a relaxing home-away-from-home base for your trip. The friendly staff at the reception desk can arrange all aspects of your tour to Udawalawe National Park. Prices vary depending on how many people are in the group but for two people budget approximately 19,500 Sri Lankan Rupees(LKR), $127USD at time of writing, which covers the cost of the transportation to the park, Jeep safari tour and entrance ticket to Udawalawe. Tipping is recommended so budget an extra 1000LKR, 6.50USD, for each of your drivers and your guide (3000LKR total).

Photo of Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka by Katie McIntosh

What to see

I hope you like elephants because there are so many beautiful elephants that roam this park. The females and baby elephants travel in a group, with the adults keeping the babies protected, while the male elephants remain on their own. Aside from elephants, you have the chance to see monkeys, crocodiles, peacocks, eagles, buffalo, lizards, toucans and a range of other birds. The guides have a keen eye for spotting animals and are quick to offer information about each animal throughout the tour.

Photo of Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka by Katie McIntosh

What to expect

Sitting in the open back of the Jeep, you have an uninterrupted view of the landscape around you which is perfect for viewing wildlife. It’s not the kind of experience that will chase or exploit the animals though, instead, when the guide spots an animal he will point it out and the Jeep will pull to the side of the road and stop. It’s a relaxed tour which allows you to stay longer by the animals you are more interested in. The rest is up to the animals. They may stay out in the open or they may hide behind some bushes - it’s all up to them and you are simply the spectator.

Photo of Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka by Katie McIntosh

When to go

No matter which company you book with, be sure to book an early morning safari because this is the best time to see the greatest amount of animals while they are active. For the morning safari from Talalla, you will leave the Retreat at approximately 4am and be back by 1pm - just in time for lunch and a coconut by the pool. If you cannot make it to an early morning safari, you are still very likely to see animals, though, they may be resting and less active as compared with the morning.

Photo of Talalla Retreat, Talalla, Sri Lanka by Katie McIntosh

What to bring

A camera is the most essential item to bring because you are going to want to take some pictures of all the beautiful animals as you watch them roam. Other than that, you will only need your cash to pay for the excursion, a bottle of water and a hat or sunglasses to keep the sun out of your eyes. It’s also a good idea to apply sunscreen and mosquito repellent before your trip. If you stay at Talalla Retreat, they will pack you a breakfast for the road so you don’t need to worry about going hungry.

Photo of Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka by Katie McIntosh

Useful Links:

Udawalawe National Park

Talalla Retreat

The Katie Show Blog

Have you been on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka? Share your tips or experiences in the comments below to inspire other Tripoto travelers.