Going on safari and spotting wildlife is definitely one of the best things to do when traveling in Sri Lanka. It was one of the highlights of our 3-week travel itinerary and we would definitely do it all over again. Spotting wildlife is therefore a must-do when in Sri Lanka. Udawalawe National Park is home to the biggest herd of wild elephants in Sri Lanka and you will have a good chance to see these majestic animals during your safari. As well as a lot of other animals. If you are a nature- and animal lover like us, going on a safari in Udawalawe National Park is a perfect thing to do.
Wildlife in Udawalawe National Park
The wildlife in Udawalawe National Park is rich. Therefore, your chance of spotting wildlife is very good. The park has around 500 to 700 elephants, so you would be very unlucky if you didn’t see any. Udawalawe National Park is very famous for its huge diversity of species. These include around 184 birds, 43 mammals, 33 reptiles as well as 135 species of butterflies. If you are very lucky you will spot leopards. They can be seen in Udawalawe National Park, but it’s not often tourists get the experience of seeing one. Your chances of spotting leopards are bigger in Yala National Park.
During our safari trip in Udawalawe National Park, we were fortunate to see elephants, crocodiles, peacocks, buffalos, (small) turtles, an eagle, and a lot of other different birds.
Prices and booking of safari in Udawalawe National Park
The entrance fee for Udawalawe National Park can be quite confusing and complicated to figure out. Therefore, we would always recommend you arrange your safari beforehand – with the help of your hotel or on your own. That is a way easier process and not as stressful as figuring it all out on the day of your safari.
If you decide not to arrange your safari trip beforehand there are some things you need to be aware of. There are a lot of fees for entering the national park. These are a fee per person, a fee per vehicle, then a service fee, and lastly, a tax will be added to all of that. If you decide to go in your own jeep you must cover all the entrance fees on your own. That can, for some people, feel like a big expense. Therefore, a lot of people end up going in a larger group. That way the overall cost will be cheaper for you because the entrance fee for the vehicle, the service fee, and the entrance fee for the guide will be split between every person in the group.
Below you can see the prices for a safari in Udawalawe National Park. Some of the prices are in USD but must be paid in LKR at the entrance. That means that the entrance fees vary depending on the exchange rate.
|Type of ticket||Prices|
|Entrance fee per person (foreigner)||15 USD|
|Entrance fee for a local (the driver)||60 LKR|
|Service fee per group||8 USD|
|Vehicle fee||250 LKR|
|Tax (VAT)||15 % of the total|
As said we would always recommend you arrange your safari with a company – either through your hotel or by finding one yourself. We experienced that the prices weren’t that much higher (if they even were) and it was way more enjoyable not to stress around at the ticket office. With most arranged trips, you can still have a jeep of your own, if you want that, and all the fees will be paid. Therefore, we recommend you book your safari online in advance because it saves you time, stress, and potentially money too.
Getting to Udawalawe National Park
Getting to Udawalawe National Park is quite easy – especially if you have arranged for a safari trip beforehand. That way you will get picked up by your chauffeur at your hotel and driven to the entrance of the national park. Afterward, you will be driven back to your hotel.
If you haven’t arranged a safari beforehand you can arrange transportation at your accommodation.
What to bring on safari in Udawalawe National Park
For a safari in Udawalawe National Park there are some things you should bring. Everything you need to bring is as follows.
- An elastic band for long hair (It tends to get quite windy in the jeeps on the drive towards the entry of the park)
- A warmer piece of clothing for the chilly mornings and evenings
- Cash / Credit card
- Drinking water
- Remember to put on sunscreen – the sun is burning
Safari times: Morning and afternoon
The typical safari times in Udawalawe National Park are in the early morning and late afternoon. Your morning safari trip will start at about 5:30. That way you will, at most times, enter the national park around 6:00. By getting up early you can watch the beautiful sunrise of the amazing area. The late afternoon safari starts a few hours before sundown. That way you will experience a stunning sunset and afterward end your safari trip in darkness.
Most of the safaris in Udawalawe take about 3 to 4 hours per trip. A good amount of time, where you have the possibilities to spot wildlife and enjoy the quietness of nature. If you can’t get enough of safari it can be possible to arrange for an all-day-safari.
The best time to go on an Udawalawe Safari
It’s hard to say what time of the day is the best time to visit Udawalawe National Park. Whether you visit the park in the morning or the afternoon you will probably spot wildlife. The animals are most active and thereby visible when the temperature lowers. Which is why the safaris are in the morning and late afternoon.
But it’s difficult to say when is the best time to spot wildlife in Udawalawe National Park. Often it is more about luck and concentration rather than being there at the “right” time. We experienced that the number of animals you see on your safari won’t differ but what kinds of animals you see depends on the time of the safari. Therefore, we would always recommend you visit Udawalawe National park two times; for a morning safari and an afternoon safari.