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The Truth about Udawalawe National Park – Safaris and More!

The Truth about Udawalawe National Park – Safaris and More!

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Seeing elephants is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. And for me, seeing some at an elephant orphanage wasn’t going to cut it – I wanted to see WILD elephants!

There are multiple national parks in Sri Lanka, and they are all known for their own thing. While Yala National Park is famous for its leopard population, Udawalawe National Park is home to the elephant population!

There is a wide variety of information out there about safaris in Sri Lanka. After going on one for myself, I discovered that it wasn’t exactly what all of the rumors and blogs say. So I wanted to share a few things you should know about going on a safari in Udawalawe National Park before you go!

So without further ado, here is my honest TRUTH about visiting Udawalawe National Park including what to expect from a safari, the best safari tours, and more!

Don’t have time to read the full article? We LOVED our visit to Udawalawe National Park, but we also found it to be extremely busy and information on how to visit can be a bit confusing. To make your visit seamless, I recommend booking a safari in advance that covers all fees- like this 4-hour safari! You can also purchase your entrance tickets in advance, which will save you time and money in the long run.

6 Things to Expect from a Safari in Udawalwe National Park

1. You WILL See Elephants in Udawalawe National Park

An elephant walks away from us in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka'
An elephant walks away from us in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka’
Bailey looks out of a jeep in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
On the lookout for elephants!

If you came to see elephants, then you’re in the right place! On a safari in Udawalawe National Park, you will undoubtedly see elephants. In fact, chances are that you will see many of them – babies, too!

The reason for this?

Udawalawe National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s smaller national parks at only 308 square km (119 square miles). It is estimated that within this space over 500 elephants live. It’s simple really, a smaller space with a higher density of elephants increases your chances of seeing them!

Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places to see elephants
A mother elephant with her two children in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka.

On our safari through Udawalawe National Park, we saw tons of elephants! Within minutes of entering the park, I saw a group of about 7 elephants. Then, throughout the safari, we saw many more including a mother with two babies (one was very small) as well as large male elephants crossing the road only meters from our jeep!

Any time of year it is pretty much guaranteed that you will see elephants on an Udawalawe safari – this is a great reason to visit!

Related Read: Looking for a beach escape? check out the best beaches in Sri Lanka!

2. Udawalawe National Park attracts lots of tourists

Crowds of jeaps in Udawalawe National Park
So many jeeps!

The downside to the “elephant guarantee” in Udawalawe National Park is that there will be lots of other people there too. Tourists come from all over the world to Udawalawe to jump in a jeep and see wild elephants for themselves!

As you drive into the park there are tons of jeeps everywhere you look. If your guide spots an elephant or any animal for that matter, chances are the other guides will too. This creates a traffic jam around the elephants.

Basically, don’t expect a peaceful jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park with just your group and driver. There will likely almost always be another jeep (or 10) nearby fighting for the prime spot to watch the animals. That’s not to say you won’t get to see them alone, it’s just rare.

3. The safari jeep drivers are competitive

two safari jeeps chasing an elephant in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
The safari jeep drivers in Udawalawe National Park all want to give their tourists the best view (so they earn a large tip!)

The jeep drivers/guides all want you to tip them, so they work hard to find you as many animals as possible.

That sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, it isn’t actually.

The drivers all race each other around the park trying to find the animals first to get their group the closest spot. They are all speeding around and getting as close to the animals as possible to box other drivers out. It is all very intense, to be honest, and feels hectic.

This race to get to the animals first is one aspect of the safari in Udawalawe National Park that I didn’t like.

Related Read: Heading to Sigiriya? Check out all the best things to do in Sigiriya before you go!

4. The elephants are very tame

elephants being followed in Udawalawe National park
This elephant was being followed by around 10 cars and honestly just wanted to get away!

The other thing you should be aware of is that while these elephants are free in the wild, they are almost tame. The elephants in Udawalawe National Park have become so accustomed to hundreds of jeeps and people around them every day that they don’t react the same as how a regular “wild” elephant would.

The elephants in Udawalawe just go about their business no matter how close the jeeps get or how many of them there are. Eventually, if they get sick of being bothered, they will walk off, but for the most part, they seemed unbothered.

While this was good for observing elephants, I couldn’t help but think about how “normal” this way of life has become for the elephants who call Udawalawe National Park home. A real wild elephant would likely walk away immediately from people or cars, or even get aggressive/curious and approach the people (thus becoming potentially dangerous.)

So, don’t think you’ll be observing elephants in the wild how they would normally act on this safari, these guys are just too used to seeing people and safari jeeps!

5. Seeing elephants in Udawalawe National Park is AMAZING!

Large male elephant in Udawalawe National Park, sri lanka
A close-up of just one of the elephants we saw that day!

Despite all the chaos and touristicness of it all, you can’t deny how amazing elephants are. When I was on the safari in Udawalawe, I was in awe the entire time of these incredible animals. Observing them from afar or getting right close up, they are incredible!

Seeing elephants on a safari like in Udawalawe National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one I’ll always remember.

6. You’ll see lots of other animals in Udawalawe National Park

Water Buffalo in Udawalawe National Park
A Water Buffalo plays in the mud as we watch!

But enough about elephants… a safari in Sri Lanka isn’t supposed to be ONLY about elephants, right?

When we went on the safari in Udawalawe National Park we also got to see water buffalo, monkeys, crocodiles, lizards, a variety of birds, and insects.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many other animals we saw on the safari. People had told me that I would ONLY see elephants in Udawalawe, and this wasn’t the case at all.

A large lizard in Udawalawe
A massive lizard that at first we thought was a crocodile!

No leopard though. In fact, you won’t see leopards in Udawalawe National Park. You’ll need to go to Yala National Park or Wilpattu National Park for that.

This is one sacrifice you need to make if you choose to do a safari in Udawalawe National Park. No chance of seeing leopards, but a 100% chance of seeing elephants!

The BEST Udawalawe National Park Safari Tours

Jeeps get close to an elephant inside Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
This was the largest one we saw!

As you research Udawalawe National Park, you’ll begin to realize that it’s a bit difficult to find out EXACTLY what is included in your safari or what the actual price will be. For this reason, we think booking a safari through Viator makes things a hundred times simpler. Many tours through Viator provide a full refund if you have to cancel or change your tour 24 hours before departure, and they offer a “reserve now pay later” option. It is also more secure and you can read reviews – so you have a better idea of what you’re getting.

This is how we booked all of our safaris in Sri Lanka, and we had a great experience on each one. There are a lot of safari tours out there, but we did the research to pick out our favorite safari tours to Udawalawe National Park!

Udawalawe National Park (including entrance fees)

elephant crossing in front of a safari jeep in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
An elephant in Udawalawe National Park!

Many tours you book will still require you to pay entrance fees to the park, but not this one. This is a fantastic tour because it gives you the option to book entrance tickets and a safari, or just entrance tickets only. 

I highly recommend booking the entrance tickets with the safari. It will save you more money in the long run, but mostly it’s for the sake of convenience! You don’t want to have to wait to book your safari until you get to the park, as you’ll have to haggle prices, they might be booked up, and you don’t really know the quality of the tour you’re getting. 

But, booking the combo deal will let you go on a 3-hour safari, either from 6 to 9 am or 3 to 6 pm. These are the hours that the animals are most active, so you’ll surely see a lot of elephants and other animals. Three hours is just about the perfect amount of time for a safari, as you will enjoy bumping around in the jeep and spot wildlife, without spending all day out there. 

Do keep in mind that this tour doesn’t include transportation, so you will have to figure out how to get to the main entrance of Udawalawe National Park. 

Purchasing just the entrance tickets to the national park is $61 USD per person, and the safari and entrance tickets combined are $80 USD. It’s best to book this in advance, as this is one of the most popular Udawalawe tours out there – book it online, here!

Udawalawe National Park safari from Colombo

Meditating golden Buddha statues surrounding the floating Gangaramaya Temple Colombo, Sri Lanka
Escape the city and head to the national park!

Udawalawe National Park is one of the most accessible parks in the country, as it is only 157 kilometers (98 miles) from Colombo – which is about a 4-hour drive. This full-day tour from Colombo is a great way to get out of the city and see some wildlife, even if you’re on a short timeline! You’ll also get to visit the Elephant Transit Home, which only certain tours visit. 

This tour includes hotel pickup and roundtrip transportation from Colombo. You’ll first stop by the Elephant Transit Home, and while visiting here is an extra cost it’s totally worth it! I loved this part of visiting Udawalawe. After, you’ll jump into an open-top jeep for a 3-hour safari to spot elephants, water buffalo, and all sorts of wildlife. 

Once your safari is done, you’ll take the journey back to Colombo. This is a long day, but it is incredible and makes for a memorable trip. This tour does not include entrance to the national park, entrance to the Elephant Transit Home, or meals, but it does provide transportation from Colombo and your jeep safari (which is a big cost in itself). I recommend contacting your tour provider before you go so you have enough cash for the day!

You can reserve this tour for $175 USD per person. Check all the details and book this tour in advance here!

Udawalawe National Park Safari trip from Galle/Mirissa/Ella

Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka
Mirissa to Udawalawe is only a 2-hour drive!

You probably have either Galle, Mirissa, or Ella added to your Sri Lanka bucket list, and you can actually reach Udawalawe within 2 to 3 hours of each of these cities! This private tour is another convenient way to visit the national park, spot lots of elephants, and make it back in one day. 

The tour will pick you up from any of these three towns, bright and early in the morning! It includes all national park fees and your jeep safari, making this one of the most inclusive Udawalawe National Park safaris out there. It will be a long day, about 12 or more hours, but think of everything you’ll see during that time!

You’ll enjoy a 4-hour safari, which is plenty of time to spot exotic animals and gorgeous landscapes. You can also choose to add a visit to the Elephant Transit Home, which I definitely recommend! It doesn’t include any food, so be sure to bring extra money to grab lunch. Best of all, this is a private tour, so you can tailor it to best suit you!

This tour is $200 USD from Galle or Ella, or $190 USD from Mirissa. You can book this tour in advance here, which offers free cancellation 24 hours before your tour!

Udawalawe National Park 4-hour safari tour

An elephant walks away from safari jeeps in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
The elephants sometimes try to avoid the jeeps!

If you’re staying in Udawalawe town (like we did), this 4-hour safari tour is my top pick to visit Udawalawe National Park. This is a great option for those who don’t want to have a long 12-14 hour tour day and have a more flexible timeline. The best part is that it includes your national park and safari fees, plus transportation from your hotel and snacks. What more could you ask for!?

This tour has morning and afternoon departure times, and you can choose which best fits your schedule. Morning tours get to the park at 6 am, so plan on an even earlier pickup time. This is also the most popular time to visit the park  – anticipate seeing a lot of other jeeps! The afternoon tour gets to the park by 2 pm. These are both great times to visit and spot wildlife, as they are most active during these cooler parts of the day. 

I love that this is a private tour and accommodates 6 people. If you’re traveling as a family or as a group, this is perfect! You can reserve this tour for $77 USD, and it’s best to book it in advance so it doesn’t fill up

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, read our complete Viator review to learn more about what we think about Viator.

Things to Know About Visiting Udawalawe National Park

mother and bay elephant in Udawalawe National Park
We loved seeing the mothers and babies!

How much does a safari in Udawalawe cost?

You need to know how much it costs to properly answer the question “is it worth it” – right?

Well, I asked, and asked, AND asked when I was in Udawalawe town to try and figure out how the prices work because it is all very confusing.

We were getting told it would cost us 11,000 rupees for the two of us to join four other people in one jeep (so a full jeep) or it would be 4,000 plus entrance fees for us to get our own jeep… what does this even mean?!

After much research, I finally found the answers to break down how the prices work for going on a safari in Udawalawe National Park.

First of all, the entrance fees to national parks in Sri Lanka are confusing. There is a fee paid per person, then a fee paid per vehicle, a service fee, and then a tax added on top of all of that.

So basically, if you go in a larger group your overall total entrance cost is cheaper because you all split the entrance fee for the vehicle, the service fee, and your guide’s entrance fee between everybody. Whereas if you go in your own jeep, you must cover the total entrance fees for everything on your own.

Here are the prices for a Udawalawe National Park safari broken down:

  • Entrance Fee per person (foreigner) – $25 USD. Yes, it’s officially in USD, so depending on the exchange rate, the entrance fee (which must be paid in LKR) changes.
  • Entrance Fee for a local (your driver) – 150 LKR
  • Service Charge – $8 USD per group (again the exchange rate fluctuates the price in LKR.)
  • Jeep fee – 250 LKR
  • VAT (tax ) – 15% of the total
  • Jeep and driver rental fee – 4,500 to 5,500 LKR for a half-day safari depending on the company and booking commissions.

These have been the posted prices for years, and while you can’t always find a straightforward answer, you can check the official website for any further updates.

What this means is that although it seems like it isn’t much more for your own private jeep, it actually is. I think they make it this confusing for a reason as they get to charge tourists more since nobody can work out the entrance fees. Honestly, the easiest way is to book one of the tours mentioned above, like this 4-hour safari that includes all fees, so you don’t have to worry about getting overcharged.

While some of these safari tours seem more expensive, they really aren’t by the end of the day! Plus, not having to hassle with negotiating prices and finding a reputable tour provider makes paying a few extra dollars worth it – trust me.

What to Wear on an Udawalawe Safari

Me on safari in Sri Lanka
Me, in the safari jeep!

One thing you need to know before jumping in your safari jeep is that you will get dirty! I think this is true for any safari anywhere. Unfortunately for me, I wore a nice cream-colored top on our safari in Udawalawe National Park – and that was a mistake!

The jeeps have open sides which means you’re exposed to the elements whether that be rain, dust, mud, or anything really! Wear clothing you are okay with getting a little bit dirty.

Also, be sure to bring a rain jacket just in case, a waterproof bag for your photo or camera if it does rain, sunscreen, and sunglasses. You’re outside for a couple of hours so be prepared for all weather and conditions.

Getting to Udawalawe National Park

driving in a tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka
Daniel, driving our tuk-tuk around Sri Lanka!

Udawalawe National Park is accessed right from the town of Udawalawa in central Sri Lanka.

Udawalawe National Park is about a 2-hour drive from Mirissa, 1.5 hours from Ella, or 4 hours from Colombo.

If you plan on spending a night or two in Udawalalwe you can either take the public bus, hire a private driver, or drive yourself in a tuk-tuk (that’s what we did!) There are plenty of hotels and guesthouses around so this is a good option for those with time.

Alternatively, you can go on a day tour from places like Colombo, Galle, Ella, or Hikkaduwa to Udawalawe National Park. This is probably the easiest option, as you won’t have to worry about transportation and they usually include park entrance fees, as well as safari fees. Having a local guide the whole day is an excellent way to learn about Sri Lanka, so you really get the most out of your day!

You can check all of the day tours to Udawalawe National Park here!

Related Read: Enjoy the ultimate adventure in your own tuk-tuk. Check out our guide to renting a tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka!

The Elephant Orphanage in Udawalawe

Baby elephants getting fed at the elephant orphanage in Udawalawe
Little babies getting fed!

One of the main reasons you should spend more time in Udawalawe is to visit the elephant orphanage. The elephant orphanage is just on the outskirts of the national park border near some shops and restaurants in town. It is called the Elephant Transit Home.

Here you will find dozens of baby elephants who were orphaned by their mothers!

The Elephant Transit Home’s feeding schedule is 10:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 6 pm. This is when they feed the baby elephants and you can watch! This is a really humane way to see baby elephants as you are in a viewing deck from afar. No touching the elephants, no getting close, and no interacting so the elephants have as little human contact as possible and will grow up to be able to integrate back into the wild.

Udawalawe elephant orphanage
Another baby eating some greens after getting his bottle

A visit to the Elephant Orphanage in Udawalawe costs 500 LKR per person and this fee supports the orphanage.

I honestly really enjoyed visiting the elephant orphanage and would highly recommend it to anyone!

Is Udawalawe National Park the Best Place for a Safari in Sri Lanka?

taking a photo of an elephant in Udawalalwe national park while on a jeep safari
Daniel loves taking photos!

With 26 national parks and an abundance of wildlife in Sri Lanka, there is a lot of variety between them all.

While Udawalawe is undoubtedly popular, I wouldn’t say it is the best place to see wildlife. Its small size and overpopulation make the experience a bit overwhelming. Not to say you won’t see a ton of animals, because you certainly will, you’ll just also see a lot of other travelers too! Here are a few of my favorite national park alternatives in Sri Lanka:

Minneriya or Kaudulla National Parks

If you’re looking for a more low-key elephant-watching experience, Minneriya National Park is a better option. Located in the North-Central dry region, Minneriya is home to a huge reservoir that sits along an elephant migration path, so daily you can see hundreds of elephants (and other animals) drinking water before dusk. Kaudulla National Park neighbors Minneriya, so if the elephants aren’t in Minneriya, many tours will head to Kaudulla instead!

I recommend taking this 4-hour private safari because it includes all national park fees, the jeep safari, and transportation from your hotel – you don’t have to worry about a thing!

This tour is great because the guides are so personal, and it’s an open-top jeep so you can stand as you rip through the forest and make your way to the reservoir (just watch out for tree branches!). Priced at $121 USD, it’s well worth it, as you’ll see tons of animals and just a few other jeeps. While here, check out Sigiriya too – they are only 30 minutes apart! You can book this tour to Minneriya National Park here!

Yala National Park

Alternatively, if you are hoping to spot the elusive leopard, Yala National Park will be your best bet! Located in the southeast, right along the coast, Yala has the densest leopard population in the country. While these stealthy jungle cats are the draw, you can also see hundreds of elephants, peacocks, water buffalo, and more. Yala is a bit busier than Minneriya, so it might feel more like Udawalawe National Park with all of the jeeps.

We took this full-day tour and saw so many animals – we even saw a leopard! It is a long day, with pickup at 4:30 am and getting home by 6:30 pm, but it’s a fun day the whole time. It is totally inclusive with park and safari fees, breakfast, lunch, and your amazing guide. You can book it in advance here for $99 USD per person!

If you’re really coming to Sri Lanka for the wildlife then I recommend going on more than one safari anyway, so Udawalawe might as well be one of them!

Is a trip to Udawalawe National Park Worth it?

Bailey poses for a photo with an elephant in the background on Safari
An elephant!
A male elephant near our jeep inside Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
So cute!

YES! Visiting Udawalawe National Park is worth every penny in my opinion. I loved seeing the elephants and other wildlife. When else do you get to see animals in their natural habitat?

I will say that our experience wasn’t exactly what we expected, and that’s why we wanted to be honest about it on this blog. This way, you can know what to expect as you visit Udawalawe, and be prepared to see a ton of elephants, and a ton of jeeps as well! Although it wasn’t perfect, it was enjoyable, affordable, and a great safari experience.

If I were you, I would go!

Staying the Night in Udawalawe vs. a Day Trip

Elephants roaming in Sri Lanka
Overnight safari in Sri Lanka
Sunset is the best time to see Elephants and on an overnight Safari you’ll get plenty of chances to see them!

One thing I learned was that on the border of Udawalawe National Park is actually a small town with tons of accommodations to choose from!

I recommend actually going to spend a night or two in Udawalawe town. Not only is it a nice little getaway from the cities, but this way you can choose to do the safari whenever the weather forecast is looking the most favorable.

We stayed two nights in Udawalawe and it was perfect. We arrived late one afternoon in town, checked into our guesthouse, and then we were able to organize a safari for the next morning. We left for our safari at 5:30 am and returned to our guesthouse around 11 am where they had breakfast waiting for us.

That afternoon we visited the Elephant Transit Home and then got a good night’s sleep before hitting the road again. We weren’t too rushed and actually had time to enjoy everything.

If you don’t want the hassle of organizing a safari when you arrive in Udawalawe then book online in advance! This particular safari is really good value and with a reputable tour operator!

Where to Stay in Udawalawe

Grand udawalawe safari resort pool
The Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort

Luxury – $$$

Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort – This place in paradise in the jungle! They have a massive pool, beautiful rooms, and gardens that will remind you that you’re on holiday! With an onsite restaurant and bar as well as a kiddie pool it is the perfect vacation getaway for families or a romantic stay for couples. Rooms start around $110 USD and can be booked on Booking.com.

Jungle Paradise – These guys offer luxury at a reasonable price! They have a gorgeous onsite pool and restaurant and offer large rooms with balconies for relaxing. The staff here are also very friendly! A night here ranges from $70 to $100 USD – check availability and book on Booking.com!

Mid-range – $$

Green View Safari Resort – This small hotel offers guests incredible service and private cottages with everything you would need. For less than $50 USD a night, you have your own cottage with air conditioning, wi-fi, breakfast included, and a TV. This is where we stayed and loved it! Book this hotel in advance here.

Ele Camp Udawalawe – These guys are perfect for families or groups as their large rooms sleep up to four people for only $85 USD. Breakfast is included in the room rate and served at the onsite outdoor restaurant (right next to the pool!). This is a popular place to stay, so book your room on Booking.com.

Budget – $

River Edge Holiday Resort – This small family-run guesthouse offers budget travelers a comfortable room with AC, breakfast included, wi-fi, and a private bathroom all for $7 USD a night! This is not a joke, rooms are actually that cheap. Snag this deal on Booking.com.

Nature World Udawalawe – This guesthouse takes budget-friendly to the next level! Equipped with private rooms that sleep 1 to 4 people, you’ll get a private bathroom, breakfast included, and meet the nicest local people. Best of all, this guesthouse starts at $3 USD a night and has over 100 positive reviews. Don’t just take our word for it, check it out on Booking.com.

Getting Around Sri Lanka

tuk tuk parked at the beach in mirissa sri lanka
We rented a tuk-tuk for our entire trip around Sri Lanka.
Watching sunsets in Sri Lanka from our tuk tuk
Tuk-tuk is a great way to get around Sri Lanka.

To visit all of the best places in Sri Lanka, you’re going to need a mode of transport. You have a few choices when it comes to getting around Sri Lanka:

Rent a Tuk-tuk

Easily the most popular (and most fun) way to travel around Sri Lanka. We actually rented a tuk-tuk on our trip and absolutely loved it! Tuk-tuks are easy to drive, cheap to rent, and the freedom that comes with your own wheels is unmatched.

If you do decide to rent a tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka, be sure to go with a reputable company that provides quality tuk-tuks, such as Tuktuk Rental (who we rented from.) These guys not only offer an amazing service, but their tuk-tuks are actually rented from local families, providing income for the local community.

If you decide to rent from Tuktuk Rental, be sure to use the coupon code ‘DEST‘ for 5% off!

For more info, read our blog: The Truth about Renting a Tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka.

Hire a Driver

If you’re only planning on going to a couple of destinations, then a private driver is not a bad idea. In the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle, your driver can take you to your next destination. All you have to do is sit back and relax!

You can hire highly-rated drivers in advance to pick you up right from the airport when you arrive in Sri Lanka. This driver will take you to your hotel in Mirissa, Galle, Bentota, or Unawatuna. Whereas this driver will take you to Kandy.

Of course, every time you want to change destinations you will have to arrange for another driver (unless you book this driver who will drive you around for an entire week). Car transfer can easily be organized through your hotel.

Take Public Transport

This is a choice I only recommend for those on a very tight budget and with plenty of time. Public transport is everywhere in Sri Lanka in the form of public buses and trains. It is also very cheap, costing less than a couple of dollars per journey.

However, it isn’t the most comfortable way to travel. The buses don’t have air conditioning and neither do many train services. They can also be slow-moving, stopping every couple of minutes to pick up more passengers.

With that said, public transport is popular with budget backpackers, and it is mostly safe. This is one way to travel for those who want to get around as the locals do!

Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!

We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.

They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!

Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)

Thanks for reading!

You’re in for a great trip as you plan a safari at Udawalawe National Park! There is a lot to know, and sometimes the information on the internet can be confusing, so hopefully this blog sorts it all out. While visiting Udawalawe wasn’t quite what we expected, we truly had a great time and loved seeing so much wildlife. Sri Lanka is full of it!

Thanks for reading our blog. Be sure to check out all of our other blogs about traveling Sri Lanka as you continue to travel through this remarkable country. Some of our favorite places and experiences include:

17 Things to do in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

5 BEST Colombo City Tours + Our Top Choice

Complete Guide to Nilaveli Beach

Climbing Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

Allie

Monday 3rd of April 2023

Thanks so much for your informative blog! There seems to be a big increase in price since your post? I am liaising with a tour company (3 Apr'23) and this is what I was quoted: $25 p/person tour + park entrance fee of Rs.13802 ($43). I questioned the high entrance fee and the agency sent me a photo of the ticket kiosk with pricelist on a board fixed to a window. The board doesn't have the detailed breakdown (jeep cost, 15% taxes etc) that you have listed above, just one total amount for 1, 2, 3 etc passengers. The photo looks very legit and the company has a few reliable reviews on tripadvisor as well, so I think it's not a scam. I hope this helps.

Gabo

Monday 29th of August 2022

Nice post! I am thimking to rent a tuktuk with a group of friends and make a DIY SriLanka tuktuk trip (using the tutktuk company you suggested). Do you think is possible to make Udawalawe Safari with our own TukTuk? Thanks, Gabo

destinationlesstravel

Friday 2nd of September 2022

Hey Gabo,

You cannot take a tuk-tuk into Udawalawe National Park.

Thanks Daniel

Thomas

Wednesday 16th of March 2022

Hi! Thank you for your review, it was really helpful to plan our visit!

Quick note: the Elephant Transit Home's feeding schedule has changed and is -- as of March 2022 -- 10:30, 14:30 and 18:00.

My partner and I just did a 6h safari/tour accompanied from a naturalist and that was well worth the price. It's offered by Lakpura, and does seem pretty expensive, but as mentioned, once you add up all fees + the hassle, it sounds more interesting.

Cheers Thomas

Taryn

Friday 15th of April 2022

@Thomas, I was there 3 weeks ago and the entrance fee was closer to $27.

destinationlesstravel

Wednesday 30th of March 2022

Hey Thomas,

Thanks so much for the update!

Luisa

Wednesday 19th of February 2020

Hi! The safari link you provide on this blog is not available anymore, would you be able to recommend any other to book in advance? Thanks!

destinationlesstravel

Wednesday 19th of February 2020

Hey Luisa!

Sorry about that I have updated the links.

It doesn't include the entrance ticket but it will still work out a lot cheaper than other overpriced tours online. Also, the reviews are really good!

Hope this helps!

Have fun!

Thanks Daniel