Udawalawe National Park


Udawalawe is situated in the southern end of the island bordering the Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces and just below the central hills. It is about 170 km from Colombo and can be accessed along the Colombo Ambilipitiya Thanamalwila road. The National Park comprises of the Udawalawe Reservoir which was built across the Walawe River in 1971 and as a result of the displacement of animals, the region around the reservoir including the catchment area was designated a National Park in June 1972. The total area of the Park is 30,821 hectares.

Being on the boarder of the dry zone and intermediate zone, the national park enjoys a vivid climate of both wet and dry regions. The region on the boundary of Ratnapura takes a wet climate while the region with the boundary of Monaragala takes on a dry climate. The Park contains Riverine forests as well as scattered grasslands and thorn shrubs. Lack of dense vegetation makes game watching easier in the Park. The annual rainfall is 1,500 mm with the rainy season between October to January and a short dry season between February and March; the lowest temperature records at 17.7 C and the highest at 37 C. Apart from the Udawalawe reservoir another large tank known as the Mau Aru Reservoir can be found within the park.

The wildlife of the Park includes around 40 species of mammals out of which the Elephant is the most common and is one of the main attractions of the Park as it is one of the best locations in the country to witness herding elephants numbering over 400. Other prominent mammals include the Leopard, the Spotted Deer, the Sri Lankan Sambhur, Jackal, Wild Boar, Giant Squirrel, and also several species of Mice. There are about 225 species of birds with 30 being migratory and 9 endemics. The Park also has a large number of reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish.

The National Park also maintains the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home established in 1995 and run by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, which rehabilitates orphaned Elephant calves for their release into the wild.

The National Park faces many threats as it is surrounded by villages which include illegal chena cultivation, deforestation, illegal weed cultivation, mining and hunting.

Main attractions:
  • The Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus)
  • Birds
  • Routes: The main access route and entrance is at the 7th milepost on Udawalawe-Thanamalvila road.

  • Route – Colombo -> Ratnapura -> Pelmadulla -> Colombage Ara junction on Pelmadulla-Embilipitiya road –appx. 170 km.