Udawalawe Revisited


Udawalawe National Park in the Uva Province was established as the fifth national park of Sri Lanka in 1972. Its 31,000 hectares of dry grassland and scrubland and the lack of dense vegetation makes game-watching easy.

Most people take a tour organised by their guesthouse or hotel and it will cost about Rs 4000, but a trip with one of the 4WDs waiting outside the gate should be around Rs 3000 for a three hour safari for up to eight people.

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You often see elephants as you drive along the Udawalawe Reservoir to enter the park. They are separated from the road by an electric fence.

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Tickets are sold at the visitor centre a short drive into the park from the main gate. Last tickets are sold at 5pm and the cost depends on whether you are a local or a foreign tourist (Local adults Rs 60 and foreigners $15 pp. http://www.dwc.gov.lk/index.php/en/park-fees). The vehicle registration number and the time of entry are noted by rangers at a check point as you drive in to the park. Visitors have to leave the park by 6.30 pm.

The park is a mixture of abandoned teak plantations, grassland and scrub jungle and a riverine forest along the Walawe River (which feeds the Walawe Reservoir within the Park) and Mau Ara it boarders. The hills in the background across the grasslands reminds one that the hill country is not far away. In dry weather, all 30 kms. of track in the Park are passable for cars.

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It is estimated that there are about 500 elephants in the park. They are easy to see and some times mock charge jeeps. An elephant proof electric fence around the perimeter of the park prevents elephants from getting out. Other animals that can be seen are jackals, sambhur and spotted deer, wild pig, black-napped hare, ruddy mongoose, crocodile and water monitor. Leopards are rarely seen.

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Mongoose

Mongoose

The Park is rich in birdlife and a game drive can yield upto 100 species when northern migrants are in.

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Udawalawe village has many hotels and guest houses to suit all budgets. Grand Udawalawe Resort is the most luxurious and expensive but sadly, the food there is almost inedible! Udawalawe Safari Village Hotel is a cheaper option.

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Udawalawe Safari Village Hotel

Animals seen on a recent visit to Udawalawe National Park:

  1. Elephant
  2. Wild Buffalo
  3. Jackal
  4. Mongoose
  5. Spotted Deer
  6. Crocadile
  7. Giant Squirrel

Bird species spotted:

  1. Babler, Yellow-billed
  2. Bee-eater, Green
  3. Bee-eater, Blue tailed
  4. Bee-eater, Chestnut headed
  5. BulBul, Red-vented
  6. BulBul, White-browed
  7. Buzzard, Common
  8. Crow
  9. Cormorant, Great
  10. Cormorant, Little
  11. Coucal, Greater
  12. Dove, Spotted
  13. Drongo, White-bellied
  14. Duck, Whistling
  15. Egret, cattle
  16. Egret, Little
  17. Egret, Intermediate
  18. Egret, Great
  19. Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
  20. Grebe, Little
  21. Harrier, marsh
  22. Hawk eagle, Changeable
  23. Heron, Black-capped Night
  24. Heron, Pond
  25. Heron, Purple
  26. Hoopoe
  27. Hornbill, Malabar Pied
  28. Ibis, Blackheaded
  29. Iora, Common
  30. Kite, Brahmini
  31. Kingfisher, White-fronted
  32. Kingfisher, Pied
  33. Koel, Indian
  34. Lapwing, Red wattled
  35. Moorhen, Whitebreasted
  36. Mynah, Common
  37. Parakeet, Rose-ringed
  38. Peacock
  39. Pigeon, Rock
  40. Pied Cuckoo
  41. Pipit, Paddyfield
  42. Plover, Common Ring
  43. Robin, Magpie
  44. Robin, Black backed
  45. Roller, Indian
  46. Sea Eagle, White bellied
  47. Skylark
  48. Spoonbill, Eurasian
  49. Serpent eagle
  50. Starling, Rosie
  51. Stilt, Blackwinged
  52. Stork, Openbilled
  53. Stork, Black
  54. Stork, Painted
  55. Swallow, Barn
  56. Swamp hen, Purple
  57. Tern, Little

 

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