Uda Walawe National Park
The sun shimmering on the horizon. A lake stretching as far as the eye can see. More elephants than you could possibly count. Water buffalo and deer grazing on the vast wetlands. The cough of a leopard in the still of the night. Birds galore.
Sound like a scene out of an Attenborough documentary? Well it deserves to be. For this is the breathtaking reality of Uda Walawe national park.
Uda Walawe is the Sri Lankan national park that best rivals the savannah reserves of Africa. In fact, for elephant-watching, it often excels many of the most famous East African national parks.
It’s animal magic!
And Yonder can be your ideal wildlife guide when it comes to Uda Walawe accommodation. Uda Walawe gained national park status in 1972. The lake and wetlands were formed by the flooding of a vast area following the creation of a dam. The interior of the park is crisscrossed with dirt tracks which 4×4 safari jeeps traverse in search of the perfect spot for viewing the wildlife. And the lack of dense vegetation makes game-watching easy.
Unfortunately there is little in the way of regulation within the park, which means it can get busy, especially on public holidays.. That said, the park area is huge and you’ll have excellent drivers and naturalists who will know exactly which quarters to head for to find the best wildlife (and avoid the masses).
If you only do three things in Uda Walawe…
- An early-morning Uda Walawe safari watching the sun rise over the wetlands is a memory that will last for ever. Take a jumper – depending on the time of year, it can be surprisingly chilly.
- Get up early for breakfast on top of the rock at the edge of the safari camp. You’ll feel like the king of the jungle, commanding a view stretching out over the park.
- Take a little time armed with binoculars to study the astonishing birds, such as the woolly necked stork or the green bee eater. A Uda Walawe safari is twitcher heaven!
These guys are blessed with hawk-like eyes which means they can spot a sauntering jumbo where all you can see is a shimmering heat haze.
Unlike Yala National Park, Uda Walawe accommodation is limited. We’ve stayed in most of it and in reality there is little in the way of sophisticated lodgings.
Out and about
This is the middle of nowhere. You will come for an amazing wildlife experience, with a specific focus on elephants, and will leave content in the knowledge that you have seen the jewel in the crown of Sri Lanka’s elephant kingdom.
The park timings coincide more or less with sunrise and sunset. We always recommend a minimum of two game drives: one in the early morning and the other after lunch. If time permits, further game drives can be arranged.
Eating and Drinking
You’ll feast well at Mahoora Safari Camp, your Uda Walawe national park accommodation selected by Yonder. There isn’t anywhere further to venture out, so enjoy the moment.
Thoughts on a postcard
On our second Uda Walawe safari of the day we had perfect luck. A female elephant with her calf (only a few days old said our naturalist) wandered out of the dense vegetation.
OUR FAVOURITE PLACESEast Coast / Tangalle / Gal Oya National Park / Yala National Park / Uda Walawe National Park / Tea Country / Jaffna / Cultural Triangle / Kandy / Galle and the southern beaches / Colombo /
Uda Walawe National Park : The map
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