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The park is good for elephants with herds of 50 to 60 individuals regularly seen and game drives are in open-top jeeps and accompanied by local wildlife guides.

The Sri Lankan elephant, a distinct sub-species of the mainland Asian elephant of India and Thailand, is the easiest to see. Its gentle demeanor and indomitable size has made this gentle giant a much-loved wildlife icon the world over.

Although as many as 10,000 elephant roamed Sri Lanka at the turn of the century, only some 5,000 live in the wild today. This is largely to the ’Human Elephant Conflict’ (HEC) that leads to the death of 150-200 elephants each year, causing its classification as an endangered species.

Besides elephant, other mammal species in the park include, sambar, chital and wild boar. Dry zone birdlife includes greyheaded fish eagle, black-shouldered kite, changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, white-bellied sea eagle, shikra, common kestrel, brown fish owl and western marsh harrier.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: chital, Asian elephant, sambar, wild boar, rusty-spotted cat
  • Where: Sabaragamuwa & Uva Provinces, Sri Lanka

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Blue Whales & Dolphins

This itinerary endeavours to show you the wealth of cetacean life to be found in the balmy waters around Sri Lanka, from spinner dolphins around Kalpitya to blue whales and sperm whales off the south coast. The trip also visits Udawalawe and Yala National parks for sightings of elephants and leopards.

  • When to go: Nov-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,995 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Elephants, Blue Whales & Leopards

This superb 10-day wildlife itinerary takes you to see Sri Lanka’s big three. See huge herds of elephants on wildlife safaris in Udawalawe National Park and some of the world’s largest leopards at Yala, before continuing to the south coast to see charismatic blue whales on boat trips at Mirissa.

  • When to go: Nov-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 10 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,795 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Sri Lanka Wildlife & Culture

This trip idea uncovers some of the many wildlife, cultural and historical highlights that Sri Lanka has to offer. As well as safaris in Yala, Udawalawe and Bundala National Parks, home to leopards, elephants and leatherback turtles (seasonal), you will also visit Sigiriya Rock and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 10 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,195 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife enthusiasts! Immerse yourself completely in the stunning scenery of a variety of National Parks and the heritage sites of this beautiful country. This itinerary takes in several parks, where you can spot leopard, elephant and a myriad of bird species, including some endemics.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 16 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,645 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Centauria Lake Resort

This hotel lies on the edge of Chandrika Reservoir, just south of Udawalawe National Park. Accommodation comprises 42 rooms and four lakeside cottages, and the hotel has a swimming pool and Ayurvedic centre. Activities include excursions with naturalist guides to see the park’s 250-strong elephant population.

Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort

This modern hotel is just 10 minutes away from Udawalawe National Park’s entrance, and is set in lush tropical gardens, which attract numerous birds. Rooms all have a garden view, with private terrace or balcony overlooking the garden; facilities include a swimming pool and spacious restaurant.